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Robinvale, VIC

Town on the Murray River established in the 1920s.

Robinvale is a small service centre on the southern bank of the Murray River which is surrounded on three sides by the meandering river which, at this point, is only 61 metres above sea level. The primary appeal of the town lies in the river which is popular for swimming, camping, picnics and fishing. The town's most distinctive feature is its huge median strips which are so wide they are actually broader than the roads on either side.

Location

Robinvale is located 477 km north-west of Melbourne via the Murray Valley Highway. It is 88 km south-east of Mildura and 134 km from Swann Hill.

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Origin of Name

Amusingly Robinvale was originally named Bumbang, the local Aboriginal word for the island in the Murray River. It was officially named Robinvale in August, 1924 after Lieutenant George Robin Cuttle, a local boy who joined the British (he had been rejected by Australian forces), fought in France and was killed, aged only 22, over the Somme in 1918. The name means "Farewell Robin".

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Things to See and Do

Southern Cross Windmill
Driving into Robinvale from the north (or heading out of town towards New South Wales) turn right just across the bridge and head down McLennan Drive towards the caravan park. About 100 metres along the road is the huge Southern Cross windmill which was erected in 1948 to supply Robinvale with water. At 18.3 metres and with a wheel that is 9.1 metres in diameter, it is reputedly the largest windmill in the Southern Hemisphere. The parkland around the windmill offers good views of the bridge and the river.

Robinswood
'Robinswood' on McLennan Drive along from the windmill was erected on the site of Bumbang homestead (c.1847). Set in pleasant gardens, it was built 1926 as the home of the town founder, Herbert Cuttle. Both house and town were named in memory of Lieutenant George Robin Cuttle. Consequently, Robinvale was twinned with the French town of Villers-Bretonneux, located near the site of Cuttle's death. In fact, the school at the French town was rebuilt with money raised by the Victorian government and an appeal organised by local schoolchildren. The local Visitor Information brochure explains that it was: "a home that was modern by the standards of the time. The rendered concrete walls, roof tiles, and leadlight windows and doors are all original ... The land surrounding the home still contains shrubs and trees that were planted at the time Robinswood Homestead was built. Several citrus trees and a bougainvillea on the grounds were part of the original extensive gardens. Two large peppercorn trees on the road next to Robinswood mark the site of what was a drop-pine log house that was demolished to make way for Robinswood." For more information contact 0427 530 569. There is a lot of information on http://www.robinvaleeuston.com/robinswood-homestead.

Bumbang Island Historical Reserve
Lying to the north-east of the town, in a huge bend in the Murray River, is Bumbang Island is recognised as a place of great Aboriginal importance. In 2001 a Cultural Heritage Management Plan identified 769 trees that had been scarred to make canoes and other utensils; 44 shell middens and a mia mia. Ask at the local Visitor Information Centre for access. It is restricted and permission has to be sought from the Murray Valley Aboriginal Co-op, tel: (03) 5026 1229.

Rural Life Museum
Located on Bromley Road opposite the Visitor Information Centre, the Rural Life Museum, which was started in 1991, is a celebration of the district's rural history and a reminder of hard the work of the early settlers was. It has an extensive display of historic tractors as well as "small engines, including a working 1897 Hercules Gas Engine (one of only 3 in the world!) and also farming tools and equipment, signs, Depression-era hand-made tools and implements, photographs of the area’s World War 2 Soldier Settlers, as well as household utensils and gadgets relating to that time." Check out http://www.robinvaleeuston.com/rural-life-museum for more details.

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Other Attractions in the Area

Euston Lock and Weir 15
The locks on the Murray are always worth visiting. They are a reminder of the historic importance of the river. The lock was constructed between 1932-1936 and holds back water for 60 km. An estimated 32,000 megalitres of water flows through the weir and lock each day. There is a barbecue and picnic area on the Robinvale side of the river Built to store water for irrigation, it features a fish ladder which allows fish to jump over the weir.

Euston Walking and Bike Track
There is a pleasant 2.5 km walk which links Robinvale and Euston. It passes through bushland and natural wetlands where frogs, pelicans and black swans congregate.

Belsar Island
Belsar Island is a remote state forest area containing flood plain vegetation and waterways. Swimming at the sandy beaches, bushwalking and fishing can all be enjoyed. At dawn and dusk it is common to see kangaroos in the area. The access road is signposted from the Murray Valley Highway south of Robinvale and Boundary Bend.

Murrumbidgee Junction and Boundary Bend
About 45 km south-east of Robinvale along the Murray Valley Highway is the small town of Boundary Bend which is notable for the glorious bend in the Murray River. It is ideal for a picnic, there is an excellent play area for children, and there is an historic bollard recording the life of Archie Conner, a noted local fisherman. A gravel road heads off the Murray Valley Highway to the junction of Australia's two biggest rivers, the Murrumbidgee and the Murray. The 5 km drive to the Murrumbidgee Junction is lined by stands of river red gum and at the junction is a particularly impressive canoe tree - one of the many "scarred" trees in the area.

Lake Benanee
Located 15 km north-east along the Sturt Highway via Euston on the road to Balranald is the freshwater lake, Lake Benanee. It has a beach area, barbecues and toilets and is an attractive place to take a break from driving or to have a picnic. The lake covers 750 ha when it is full.

Lake Mungo
Robinvale is one possible starting point for a journey to Mungo National Park, recognised as an archaeological and geomorphological site of world importance. It is a relic of life in Australia 30,000 years ago when the area was defined by a series of large, deep, interlocking lakes "teeming with large fish. The now dry bed of Lake Mungo would have been 20 kilometres long and 10 kilometres wide, with a depth of some 15 metres. On its eastern side sand dunes provided sheltered campsites by the lake shore" is the way archaeologist Josephine Flood described the area in Archaeology of the Dreamtime.

Aboriginal hunters and gatherers, accustomed to walking from water hole to water hole, settled on the shores of the lakes and established semi-permanent campsites where they could rely on the freshwater lakes for fish and crustaceans. The local fauna, drinking at the water's edge, supplemented their food supply.

About 16,000 years ago, as the whole area became more arid, the lakes dried up. All that was left was a 25 km-long sand dune, called a lunette, which stretched along the eastern edge of the lake and was, in places, up to 40 metres high.

When shepherds, many of whom were Chinese, arrived in the area in the 1860s they called the lunette the Walls of China.

Today that landscape remains unchanged. Arrive at Lake Mungo and from the Mungo Lookout above the Visitor Centre, you can gaze across the flat, barren bed of a long-departed lake with some heavily weathered sand dunes rising on the eastern horizon.

Lake Mungo is one of the most important archaeological sites in Australia and it is worth visiting – but only if you are accompanied by a knowledgeable guide who can explain the region's uniqueness and significance.

Lake Mungo's claims are threefold. It has "one of the longest continual records of Aboriginal life in Australia" having been occupied for over 50,000 years. The skeletons found in the sands of the lunette are the "oldest known fully modern humans outside Africa" and, most importantly, the skeleton of Mungo Woman (or Mungo I as she is officially known), which has been radiocarbon dated to around 26,000 years ago, "has provided the oldest evidence of ritual cremation in the world."

Josephine Flood has written of the discovery: "It is interesting that it is a woman who was cremated. Although no conclusions can be drawn from a sample of one, it at least shows that 26,000 years ago women were considered worthy of complex burial rites. What emotions inspired those rites – love, fear, or religious awe – we will never know, but all show a concern for the deceased which is the essence of humanity."

The way to make sense of Lake Mungo is to gaze across the dry lake bed, walk up the dramatic and unusual lunette, and silently contemplate the idea that once, tens of thousands of years ago, at this lonely, haunted place, Aborigines painted themselves with ochre, ate fish and mussels from the lake, buried and cremated their dead, cooked meat in simple hearths and ovens, sewed skins into cloaks and shaped bones and stones into tools and weapons. There is a unique magic about the place, a strange spirituality which is particularly apparent at dawn and dusk.

If you want to glimpse what life was like for Aborigines when our European ancestors were still living in caves then Lake Mungo is a genuinely unforgettable experience.

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History

* Prior to European settlement the area around Euston and Robinvale had been occupied by the Latje Latje (or Tati Tati) Aborigines for at least 30,000 years.

* In 1830 Charles Sturt passed through the area on his expedition down the Murray River.

* By 1836 Major Thomas Mitchell had passed through the area on the expedition known as "Australia Felix".

* The township grew on the site of the Boomiarcool station, established by seventeen-year-old Edmund Morey in 1846 at what was then the western limit of European settlement.

* In 1847 John and Mary Grant took up a grant of 20 square miles (5,180 ha) on the Murray. They were able to provide the early paddle steamers with fresh vegetables. The area eventually became the town of Euston.

* In 1853 William Randell in the paddle steamer Mary Ann and Captain Francis Cadell in the Lady Augusta reached Robinvale having travelled from the mouth of the Murray River.

* By the 1860s the land on the New South Wales side of the river was devoted to wool production and Euston developed as a river port with a wharf, ferry, courthouse, police station, hotel, a boiling-down works, wool-scouring plant and Eucalyptus factory.

* By 1865 Euston had a police station, a courthouse and a whipping post outside the Courthouse.

* In 1883 the current Euston Courthouse was built.

* Euston was proclaimed a town in 1885.

* In 1912 Herbert Cuttle settled on the future townsite with his family. Cuttle subdivided his land and allotments were advertised for sale in Melbourne in 1924 with a special train organised so that prospective buyers could attend the auction. A townsite was surveyed and named by Cuttle after his son, George Robin Cuttle, who was killed during air combat over France in the First World War.

* In 1924 the railway from Bendigo reached Robinvale.

* In 1926 the Cuttle family built Robinswood Homestead

* In 1928 a road traffic bridge across the Murray joining Robinvale in Victoria to Euston helped sustain the town.

* In 1943 the railway closed.

* In 1946 246 fruit growing blocks were established by the government for eligible returned servicemen.

* In 1948 the huge Southern Cross windmill was erected.

* Herbert Cuttle Jnr, who did much to develop the town, established a large olive grove in the late 1940s. Today, it is the state's largest olive plantation and a major supplier of the country's olive products.

* In 1949 the Robinvale Producer's Cooperative was formed to sell the dried fruit grown in the district.

* In the 1960s Robinswood was sold to the Shire of Swan Hill. By the 1980s it had been restored.

* In 2004 the NSW Road and Traffic Authority and VicRoad began construction of a new bridge across the Murray. It was finished in 2006.

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Visitor Information

Robinvale/Euston Tourist Information Centre, Bromley Road, tel: (03) 5026 1388. Open from 9.00 am - 3.00 pm Monday to Friday.

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Useful Websites

There is a useful and detailed local website. Check out http://www.robinvaleeuston.com/ for information about both Euston and Robinvale. An excellent brochure is also available at https://s3-ap-southeast-2.amazonaws.com/robinvale-euston/Robinvale-Visitor-Guide-web-version.pdf.

 

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Got something to add?

Have we missed something or got a top tip for this town? Have your say below.

2 suggestions
  • If you want Information or view photos of Robinvale and Robinvale family’s there is a Facebook site called.
    ROBINVALE do you remember when you were a kid
    If you have connection with Robinvale you can be a member.

    Phame McCall
  • The local tribe at robinvale/Euston was names tati tati.not latje latje

    Ray kennedy