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Mulwala History

colonial time

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 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. The Mulwala Canal – at 2,880 kilometres – is the longest 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.

Keep a look out for interpretive signs around the lake in Yarrawonga and Mulwala explaining more about the history and importance of irrigation to the area, or pop into our Visitor Information Centres for more information.

Private boat ramp at DC 3

Lake Mulwala – a place to be

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.

First-time visitors and those returning again and again find it easy to connect with the local community: this is truly a place where life is designed to be enjoyed at a relaxed pace.

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.