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The Trail has been strategically planned to capture the history of Gunbower Island Pioneering days from 1844 through to the building of Torrumbarry Weir in 1923 linking the Murray River Trade with Gunbower Island and the development of irrigation in the district.

 

Gunbower Island and the township of Gunbower played a significant roll in the building of Australia as a nation. The River Red gum forests have provided excellent hardwood timber for building homes and bridges.  Hundreds of timber cutters and their families camped in the forest.  Large families of twelve children were not uncommon.  Sawmills sprung up throughout the forest to process the timber.

At least four steamers and seven barges have been registered as being built on Gunbower Island. Railway sleepers were cut from lower grade timber and shipped throughout Victoria and as far away as the Ghan Railway in South Australia. 

 

The forests fuelled steam engine boilers for the town water supply in the pumping stations, the butter factories and the paddle steamers.  Box fence posts were cut for many years and highly regarded for their durability. The rich fertile soils along the Gunbower Creek and the grazing on the Patho Plains increased returns for agriculture produce which was in high demand during the Bendigo gold rush. When the Murray River was in flood the River Trade provided a faster form of transport and a link to stations further out in NSW via the Darling and the Murrumbidgee.

 

Victorian irrigation was pioneered in the district long before weirs and locks were built.  Much of the rich history has already been lost but many of the sites need to be recognised for their place in history.  Every site has a story to tell of success or of tragedy.

 

Site:

1.      Old Gunbower Weir.

The Old Weir structure situated near the new weir provides an excellent architecture and educational perspective of old and new technology. 

 

2.      Gunbower Race Club

First Race was held in 1881.  Colourful history of both thoroughbred races, Harness racing, Polocrosse, Gymkhanas Rodeo events.

 

3.      Pioneer Cottage,  Corner of Gamble and Dormoyle Roads

 

4.      Patho Cemetery

Early settler’s graves and. “Bradshaw” said to be the last of the Gunbower Aborigine tribe is buried here.

5.       Scar Tree on Black Charlie Track

 

6.      Torrumbarry Weir

The Torrumbarry Weir Interpretive Centre which is included as part of the Gunbower

River Heritage Trail contains historical documentation on the development of irrigation.

                   

7.      Scar Tree at the Murray River end of Baggot Creek Track

8.      Toorangabby Cutting

9.      Scar Tree near Black Charlie Swamp

10.    Masters Landing

Gunbower Warf -link to the River Trade and the township of Gunbower.

 

11.  Log Hauling Tree

Tree standing with steel cable imbedded in the trunk.  The tree was used to pull logs across from the NSW side of the river.

12.  McKay’s Mill

Sawmill.  Strong indications that the Paddle steamer Rothbury may have been built here in 1881.

 

13.  The New Head works Pumping Station

Little is left of this huge building that housed four 36inch steam driven pumps which burnt 70 ton of wood in 24 hours.  The area surrounding the pumping station was a tent city during the construction of Deep Creek and channel cutting.

 

14.  The Old Head works & Deep Creek

 A chapter in the history of Gunbower Island that stands testimony to the ambitions and fortitude endured by the men, horses who lost their lives in the making of this project.

15Gunbower Island School No. 3503

Children from the forest families came to school during summer.

When the Murray was in flood they could not get through the forest to go to school.

 

16.  Tobacco Kilns and Research Station

The Development of Tobacco crops and link to the first trials on Myxomatosis rabbit control.

 

The project has enabled the group to engage with the Yorta Yorta Aboriginal Corporation so that a better understanding of cultural heritage and spiritual connection to country can be included on the interpretive signs along the trail. 

The Yorta Yorta Elders visited Gunbower in 2012 and are keen to work with us in other projects that will preserve the natural environment and cultural heritage sites.

 

Yorta Yorta Elders visit to Torrumbarry and Gunbower in May 2012

 

June 2012

 

Australian Government Dept.of sustainability, environment, Water, Population and Communities

Gunbower & Distirct Development Group Secretary has been informed that the group has been successful in obtaining a Community Heritage Grant for "Stories of the Past". 

This will enable the group to produce 5000  Brochures and 2000 Booklets to enhance visitor experience along the Gunbower Heritage River Trail and create a community resource for future generations as well as strengthen connection with and protect both local and indigenous culture and stories of the area.

The group has collected photographs and archived material from oral recollections from decendents of early settler families and have been using some of this information for text on interpretive signage along the trail in partnership with Parks Victoria.  "Stories of the Past" booklet and brochure will compliment the interpretive sign text.

The group are aiming to complete the publications by the early of December 2013.

Gunbower Heritage River Trail Map: