About Council & Horsham > History
Horsham is the centre of the Wimmera wheat and wool growing district in north-west Victoria, Australia. The first inhabitants of the area were the Djura Balug indigenous Australian tribe who spoke the Jardwadjali language. The Wimmera district was previously know by the aboriginal word “Bogambilor”, meaning place of flowers, because the area was covered with a dense scrub of wattles.
Major Thomas Mitchell was the first European to pass through the area, naming the Wimmera River in 1836. The town itself was named by James Monckton Darlot, the first squatter to take up land in 1842. It was named after his native town in Horsham, England.
The Horsham Post Office opened in 1848 with an elaborate building and clock tower erected in 1880.
In the 1870s, when squatting runs were divided up for smaller selection, a large German population settled in the area and many descendants still remain today.
The main railway from Melbourne reached Horsham in 1879 and was later extended to Adelaide, South Australia, whilst a branch line west to Carpolac began in 1887 and closed in 1988.
The Horsham Borough Council and the Wimmera Shire operated the McKenzie Creek Tramway from the town to a stone quarry, some eight kilometres to the south. The horse tramway opened in 1885 and ceased operating in 1927.
Major flooding affected the area in 1894 and again in 1909, with the Wimmera River reaching 3.87 metres.
Green Lake was constructed in 1933, with a capacity of 5,350 ML. It was originally planned as an agricultural irrigation reservoir.
Horsham was officially declared a town in 1932 and a city in 1949.
The Black Saturday bushfires of 2009 were devastating, with 5,700 hectares burnt around the city’s fringe including the golf club and eight homes. Horsham experienced significant flooding in successive years in 2010 and 2011. During these events, the Wimmera River reached 3.32 metres and 4.71 metres, respectively. The 2011 event was particularly severe, with the Wimmera River reaching a record peak level. Over 1,000 residents were evacuated as flood waters divided the city and damaged 600 houses, pushing up to a metre of water into parts of the central business district.
The municipality currently boasts a population of 19,774 and is aptly named "The Capital of the Wimmera".