Member Society of Genealogical Society of Victoria Inc
Hill at the time of Federation From
Arthur Feldtmann’s “Swan Hill”
Charles Campbell and Alfred Felton purchased
Murray Downs Station in partnership and took possession on 14
February 1884. The property consisted
of 77,725 acres of freehold land and 20,000 acres of Crown
Land. The Station prospered under their partnership. On 30 October 1892
the Swan Hill Guardian reported that 81,000 sheep had been shorn on the
property. In 1900 the partnership was dissolved and Charles Campbell
became the sole owner. When Campbell died in 1905, the estate came
under the control of the Trustee Executors Agency of Melbourne.
When the Swan Hill Bridge over
the Murray River was built in 1896, a customs house was built on
side of the River. The building was occupied
by both the Victorian and New South Wales Customs Officers and
remained there for years after Federation.
Before it was destroyed by fire in 1905, the building was leased as a private
Thomas Pye is recorded in the 1862
Swan Hill rate book as having a butcher shop in the township, which was
constructed of pine logs with a roof made of
cumbungi reeds to keep the structure cool. The building was lost to fire
1902 and replaced by a brick construction. Thomas
Pye was still in business in 1904.
Between 1876 and 1898 Swan Hill's
population increased from 200 to 950. This led to difficulties with overcrowding
at the school, which had been built to accommodate
100 students and now there was 150. The overflow of students was marched
daily to the Wesleyan Church. 1896 saw accommodation at the school
stretched to the limit and some students were catered for at the Church
of England hall. While alterations were made to the school, junior
students were housed at the skating rink at a weekly rental of £1.00.
Disaster struck in 1900 when at 3.00 am on 6 March 1900 the
wooden building of the school was found by the Reverend Father Goidanich
to be on fire. On reaching the scene firemen found that the fire had leapt
20 feet to the brick building before it could be controlled. Cause of the
fire was unknown.
Some committee members fought to have the brick
building repaired, and won their case. The erection of a new school
commenced immediately, the contract being let
to Messrs. Moore & Sons of Echuca on 1 June 1901. The
opening took place on 31 January 1902,
and was celebrated with a picnic organised by Cr. Gray, Shire President.
During the re-building and construction phase, students were housed at
the skating rink after an application to use the shire hall had been refused.
The first local Methodist Preacher, Mr. Robert
Murdoch, came to Swan Hill in 1880. In the 1890’s Pastor
Edmund Baker left Swan Hill after seven years as Home Missionary. When
a parsonage was built in 1894 the Reverend Robert Harris
was appointed. As worshippers were widely scattered, preachers worked hard
to take the message to every community. Churches were built at Lake Boga
in 1898 and 1901 at Goschen, Yassam and Fish Point.
The Reverend John Reid was appointed Swan Hill’s first Presbyterian
Minister in 1871 and until a church could be built, services
were held in the drawing room of the Officers’ Murray Downs Homestead,
the old hall at the north end of the Commercial Hotel, and in the Court
House. In 1872 Suetonius Officer's wife laid the foundation stone
of a new brick church on the north-east corner of Campbell and McCrae Streets.
It was named "the John Knox Church" and was completed in December
of the same year. Reverend Reid was formally inducted at a special
service to celebrate the opening of the Church. Its pulpit and harmonium
organ had been donated by Suetonius Officer. This church was used until
1910 when a site and building committee could be set up. Plans were made
to move the church and it was literally relocated to another site in Campbell
Swan Hill Irrigation & Water Supply Trust
formed and officially opened on 30 May 1890. A special train came
from Kerang. The opening ceremony was performed by John Taverner
in his first appearance following his election to the Legislative Assembly.
The day was interrupted by a typical Swan Hill dust storm, but despite
this it was a great day for the town. Celebrations were rounded off with
a banquet for seventy people well catered for by Mr. F.G. Boys.
The Murray Flats were laid out under the
control of the Swan Hill Irrigation & Water Supply Trust and soon the
channels were full of life-giving water. The
Irrigation scheme however quickly consumed a large amount of money.
Farmers and dairymen on their allotments of 320
acres (½ square mile) faced problems in financing their holdings
meeting imposing rates. The Trust eventually
abandoned the disproportionate struggle, was dissolved and control passed
on to the State Rivers & Water Supply Commission. On take-over the
Commission sited their pumps and engines a few chains (about 50-100 ft.)
downstream at the next river bend, These two pumps lifted water from close
to the centre of the river. Two three-feet pipes carried it to the channel.
These pumps were utilised until 1915 when the gravitation scheme from the
Little Murray Weir commenced operation.
Australian Rules Football commenced under
the formation of the Swan Hill and District Football Association,
and was made up of three teams: Swan Hill, Lake Boga and Goschen
(the land towards the south-west of Swan Hill opened for selection in 1890
with blocks of 320 acres, and the Goschen District was densely populated).
The playing field, also used as the Show Ground, was situated on the racecourse
(also the present day racecourse) immediately in front of the old grandstand,
however it had a number of yellow clay patches and was abandoned after
a few years. The Football Club then moved to a site in Splatt Street, south-west
of the concrete tower. This previously untouched ground had to be cleared
of spinifex and graded before it could be played on. In 1907 the
& Pastoral Society was granted ten acres for use as a Show Ground
on the High Street side of the present football ground. The A &
P Society erected a boundary fence around the arena and the Swan Hill
Football club moved in immediately. The arena was covered with marble-sized
limestone pebbles and was the source of the footballers suffering
Bowling is another of Australia's firmly
established sports, and commenced in Swan Hill well before 1910
meeting was called to revive the game. The move
was successful, and the new greens which were in the centre plantation
of McCallum Street between Campbell & Curlewis Streets,
officially opened in 1910.
Swan Hill Creamery was first mentioned
in the Bendigo Advertiser on 7 September 1892, announcing
that a meeting was being called in the town of Swan Hill to establish a
creamery in the district. Patrick A. Kelly was appointed manager
and although the initial intake of 150 gallons of milk soon increased and
the creamery became an important industry, the business closed due to few
farmers taking up dairying, the low price paid for milk (only 2½d.
per gallon), and inadequate green feed,
made it impossible to produce a supply of milk through the summer months.
In the 1890's lucerne was practically unknown in the Swan Hill District
and the creamery finally closed down in 1904 and afterwards
used as a Post Office and dwelling. It was demolished in
after being a landmark for almost eighty years. (Swan
Hill Creamery/Butter Factory was comprehensively covered in Mallee Roots
Issue No.60, November 1999, which is held at our Library, or those of you
Internet connected can find it at
In 1890 a complete flour mill was transported
to Swan Hill from Nathalia by bullock wagon and erected on
the bend of the Little Murray River at the southern end of Marraboor
Street by its owner Thomas Blake. When a few friends gathered to "wet'
the new mill, a Miss Wood officially opened the mill by breaking
a bottle of champagne over the fly-wheel. With a Mr. Bowen as his
miller, Blake carried on his milling business for some years.
The second flour mill was established in 1895
and remained in operation until 1967, was established by the Gillespie
brothers, trading under the name Eclipse Roller
Milling Co. It was located on a site purchased from the Presbyterian
church and was just north of Pritchard Street, east of Curlewis
Street. The site was adjacent to the railway area, and a spur line
was laid to service the mill. Just prior to the mill opening, an advertisement
in the Swan Hill Guardian stated that to company required
bags of wheat for the milling season. Poor harvests over the next few
years lead to a serious shortage of wheat, much less than that required
to keep the mill going. Gillespie Bros. closed in 1902.
Hill in 1901
||H. St. John Mitchell
|Shire President 1900
||1901 J.H. Stewart
|Shire President 1901
||1902 G. Jeans
|Master of Murray LodgeFreemasons
Of An Era
H.R.H. Queen Victoria died, 22 January 1901.
Victoria was born 24 May 1819 and reigned for 64 Years.
Prime Ministers 1901-1923
||Time in Office
||1 Jan 901 to 24 Sep 1903
||24 Sep 1903 to 27 Apr 1904
||27 Apr 1904 to 17 Aug 1904
||18 Aug 1904 to 5 Jul 1905
||5 Jul 1905 to 13 Nov 1908
||13 Nov 1908 to 2 Jun 1909
||2 Jun 1909 to 29 Apr 1910
||29 Apr 1910 to 24 Jun 1913
||24 Jun 1913 to 17 Sep 1914
||17 Sep 1914 to 27 Oct 1915
||Aust. Labor, National Labor, National....
||27 Oct 1915 to 9 Feb 1923