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Mulwala History

Mulwala’s colonial history

In 1842, explorer Hamilton Hume assisted his sister-in-law Elizabeth Hume to form the ‘Yarrawonga Run’. Elizabeth was the first European to live in northeast Victoria. She moved to the area with her nine children after her husband was killed by bushrangers. Elizabeth named her home ‘Byramine’, meaning ‘rustic retreat’.

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Creating Lake Mulwala

Lake Mulwala was formed in 1939 when the Murray River was dammed at the Yarrawonga Weir as part of the Murray-Darling Irrigation Scheme. Prior to this, paddle steamers would traverse the Murray as far away as Albury to transport a wide range of general merchandise, including timber, wheat and wool. This river traffic slowly petered out with the arrival of the railway in 1886.

Raising the water level at the Yarrawonga Weir allows water to be diverted for irrigation along two major channels, the Mulwala Canal and the Yarrawonga Main Channel. The Mulwala Canal is 2,880 kilometres long and is the largest irrigation canal in the southern hemisphere, spreading across the southern Riverina plain to Deniliquin and suppling water to 700,000 hectares. The Yarrawonga Main Channel is 957km long and services the Murray Valley irrigation region, from Yarrawonga to Barmah. It supplies water to 128,000 hectares.

Private boat ramp at DC 3

Creating a tourism industry

While Lake Mulwala still provides a critical role in the supply of irrigation water, it has also transformed the twin towns of Yarrawonga and Mulwala into popular holiday destinations with a booming tourism industry. The lake is a recreational haven for water-based activities including water skiing, wakeboarding, boating, fishing, swimming, sailing and wind surfing.

Visit the Yarrawonga–Mulwala Pioneer Museum to discover more about the pioneering history of Mulwala and its industries and explore the intricate exhibits on display all year round.