Often referred to as 'the fruit bowl of Victoria' the banks of the Murray River at Mildura provided a stable food source long before white settlement.
Mildura means 'red earth' in Latje Latje - the aboriginal people and language of the region - and it wasn't until the 1830's when Captain Charles Sturt found the headwaters of the Darling River and later the Murray River that settlers moved in to graze sheep and cattle.
The nearby town of Wentworth became an important point of commerce with the arrival of river boats and in 1887, American brothers, George and William Chaffey arrived from Canada. Their brief was to develop irrigation infrastructure on an old sheep station and the settlement of Mildura was founded. The nearby towns of Gol Gol, Curlwaa and Yelta sprang up and by 1934 Mildura had officially become a city.
A Giant Market Garden
There is no doubt as you enter Mildura that you are in a serious food cropping region. The first indication is when you have to dispose of all your fresh fruit and vegetables as you enter the "Fruit Fly Exlusion Zone" which only allows you to take produce from the region. Penalties of up to $20,000 are on offer for violaters.
The rows of grape vines and citrus trees give a fair indication as to the primary industry of the area and it quickly becomes understandable as to why growers wish to protect their livelihoods from the invasive fruit fly.
A huge proportion of Australia's dried produce is derived from the Mildura region and hoards of backpackers descend on the town for seasonal work picking citrus, almonds, pistachios, olives, snow peas and broad beans and 21% of the country's wine grape harvest.
This most north western area of Victoria is known as "Mallee Country", flat and very low-lying with with a wide distribution of mallee eucalypts. Most of the mallee country consists of sand dunes that have been deposited as a result of movement of sand from the interior of Australia during arid glacial periods, resulting in infertile and sandy soils. Rainfall is fairly scarce with an average of 280mm a year.
The Mildura region hosts a municipal population of around 60,000 with half of these people in the city itself. It rests at the junction of Victoria (Mildura's home state) and New South Wales, and lies near the South Australian state border.
Festivals and Attractions
Mildura has a vibrant social calendar and hosts numerous events and festivals including the Mildura Country Music Festival, the International Balloon Fiesta, the Jazz Food & Wine Festival, Mildura Wentworth Arts Festival, Murray River International Music Festival, Mildura Writers Festival and the Mildura Palimpsest.
Local activities tend to revolve around the Murray River, the world's seventh largest and host to Australia's only inland Lifesaving Club. The club primarily patrols the white sands of Apex Beach while there are numerous other sandy beach locations along the banks of the mighty Murray.
The Willandra Lakes World Heritage Area and the Mungo national Park lie 110km from Mildura and contain ancient aboriginal burial grounds and the fossils of giant kangaroos, wombats, Tasmania Tigers and Tasmanian devils.Other places of interest in the region include the Walls of China Dunes, the Old Mildura Homestead, the historic ‘Rio Vista’ Homestead, Carnegie Library, Lock 11 and Weir Memorial and Psyches Bend Pump Station.
Mildura plays host to a variety of talented craftspeople, artists, writers and performers and combined with the cosmopolitan market, dining and entertainment district of 'Feastreet', Mildura is capable of providing a well rounded tourism package.
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