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Tatura, VIC

Small rural service centre with a strong industrial/rural base

One of the defining historical features of Tatura is the Dethridge water-wheel which can be seen beside the roadside as you enter the town. It was established to regulate the flow of water along irrigation channels and consequently the district's prosperity is a result of an extensive irrigation project which, combined with the rich soil, has resulted in excellent dairy farming, cereal crops, fruit and vegetable cultivation, sheep and cattle. That in turn has led to the establishment of a tomato-processing factory, a dairy products plant and an abattoir. The intensive agriculture of the area is evident in its importance as Victoria's major centre for research into irrigation management related issues and its place as the head office of Goulburn-Murray Water - the regional water management authority. The main attractions of the town are the Tatura German Military Cemetery and the unusual combination that is the Tatura Irrigation and Wartime Camps Museum. It also hosts the International Dairy Week, a huge dairy show.

Location

Tatura is located 183 km north of Melbourne via Seymour and Murchison and 20 km west of Shepparton.

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Origin of Name

It is generally accepted that "tatura" is a Yorta Yorta word meaning "small lagoon with rushes".

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Things to See and Do

The Statue of Private Robert Mactier
Local soldier, Private Robert Mactier, was awarded a Victoria Cross for "most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty on the morning of 1 September, 1918". The VC citation explains that his action occurred "during an attack on the village of Mont St Quentin. Prior to the advance of the battalion, it was necessary to clear up several enemy strong points close to our line. This the bombing patrols sent forward failed to effect and the battalion was unable to move forward. Pte. Mactier, singled handed, and in daylight, thereupon jumped out of the trench, rushed past the block, closed with and killed the machine gun garrison of 8 men with his revolver and bombs, and threw the enemy machine gun over the parapet. Then, rushing forward about 20 yards, he jumped into another strong point held by a garrison of 6 men, who immediately surrendered. Continuing to the next block through the trench, he disposed of an enemy machine gun, which had been enfilading our flank advancing troops, and was killed by another machine gun at close range. It was entirely due to this exceptional valour and determination of Pte. Mactier that the Battalion was able to move on to its jumping off trench and carry out the successful operation of capturing the village of Mont St. Quentin a few hours later." The sculpture by Terrance Plowright was unveiled in October, 2014.

Tatura Irrigation and Wartime Camps Museum
Located on the corner of Hogan Street and Ross Street, the Tatura Irrigation and Wartime Camps Museum, is situated in the original Rodney Irrigation Trust office, built in 1888 for Walter Scott Murray, the engineer responsible for the first local irrigation trust. The building has a hipped veranda roof dressed with an impressive cast-iron valance. The museum is home to an unusual combination (a) the History of Irrigation in Victoria's Goulburn Valley (b) the Local and Family History of Tatura and District since white settlement and (c) the history of the seven World War II Prisoner of War and Internment Camps which were established in the area. It is open from 1.00 pm - 3.00 pm every weekday and on weekends and public holidays from 2.00 pm to 4.00 pm, Tel: (03) 5824 2111 or check the excellent website at http://taturamuseum.org.au.

Tatura Murals 
Located at Stuart Mock Place on Hogan Street are impressive mosaic murals depicting the history and achievements of the local people from the time when Aborigines inhabited the area through to the modern town.

Cow Sculptures
Located around the Greater Shepparton district, and particularly in Tatura, are amusing painted cow sculptures. They are part of an arts program titled Cows on the Mooove. There are now over 90 cows spread around the shire. As the website explains (check out http://www.visitshepparton.com.au/moooving-art/about-moooving-art for more detail): "Moooving Art pays homage to the strength of the dairy industry in Greater Shepparton.  The region produces a large percentage of Australia’s dairy exports, making the bovine a natural and perfect choice for this exhibition.  Moooving Art was initially seen as a unique and innovative way to increase the dairy profile, whilst also increasing public art in the region ... In 2000, Greater Shepparton City Council started crafting three dimensional life sized cows as canvasses for established and emerging artists to paint and decorate for public display for the enjoyment of the local community and visitors alike." 

Catholic Complex
Located in Hogan Street is the distinctive dark red brickwork and cream-coloured mouldings of the Sacred Heart Catholic Church (1912). On one side is the presbytery and on the other is the Sacred Heart School. Over the road are the convent (1940) and, perhaps the finest of all, the school hall, fronted by a large palm tree. The hall is an elegant two-storey red-brick structure built in 1901 as a boarding house for school children. It features some finely detailed cast-iron lacework and highly ornamental decorative mouldings on the facade. 

Cussen Park
Located off Elizabeth and Ross Streets, one kilometre north of the town is the bushland style Cussen Park, a 33 km wetlands noted for its lagoon which is home to a diversity of birdlife. It is home to approximately 100 birds. They are listed at https://cussenpark.wordpress.com/birds/. A network of footpaths provides access to a series of lagoons where bird hides and an observation deck offer an opportunity to observe the wildlife. The vegetation in the park includes grassland, wildflowers, aquatic plants and understorey to the eucalypts and acacias. It has its own website. Check out https://cussenpark.wordpress.com.

Lake Bartlett
Located off Martin Street, Lake Bartlett is a recreation area within walking distance of the town centre. It is home to an art project with over twenty bollards painted by local artists, schools and community groups. These bollards represent community projects from the past, the present and the future. The lake has a number of pleasant walking trails.

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Other Attractions in the Area

Dhurringile
Located 9.5 km south along the Tatura-Murchison Road, and observable from the road, is HM Prison Dhurringile. It is not open to the public but part of the prison is the remarkable Dhurringile Mansion, one of the largest station homesteads ever built in Australia. Consisting of 65 rooms, it was erected in 1876-1877 by James Irving for James Winter on the Dhurringile station which was established in 1836. Winter never occupied the mansion. He died in England. In World War II the huge building was used to house German officers who were prisoners of war. After the war the Presbyterian Church used the building as a home for young Scottish migrants whose fathers had died during World War II. It was used as part of a rural training program. 
The Victorian Heritage Council explains its significance: "Dhurringile is of architectural significance as one of Victoria's grandest homesteads and a fine example of the Victorian Italianate style. It is significant as a rare work of the short-lived but prominent architectural partnership of Lloyd Tayler and Frederick Wyatt. Dhurringile is significant as an early demonstration of the rise of the red face brick aesthetic which arose as a reaction to the predominant use of stucco in the previous decades.
"Dhurringile and its outbuildings are of historical significance as an important example of a substantial homestead built on the proceeds of gold discoveries and subsequent pastoral wealth. It is significant for its associations with its owner John Winter and the prominent Winter and Winter-Irving families who were among the largest pastoral landholders in Victoria." For detailed information check out http://vhd.heritagecouncil.vic.gov.au/places/125244/download-report.

Dhurringile as a POW Camp
In 1925 Dhurringile Mansion was purchased by Vincent Vernon Hart. It had been vacant for many years and remained unoccupied while in Hart's ownership. The Victorian Heritage Council explains: "In 1939, the Commonwealth government negotiated with Hart to rent the property for use as an internment camp for German and Italian aliens. Internees were held at Dhurringile until transferred to other camps early in 1940 and, by March 1940, the Department of the Interior had vacated the property. in 1941, Dhurringile was taken up by the army for use as a Prisoner of War Camp for Germans captured in the Middle East ... the Dhurringile homestead was intended for German officers who were to be given more favourable treatment than other ranks. In July 1945, the German prisoners were transferred to other sites and at the end of the war, the site was cleared of huts and all other military buildings." For detailed information check out http://vhd.heritagecouncil.vic.gov.au/places/125244/download-report.

Tatura German War Cemetery 
One of the fascinating results of the Dhurringile Mansion being used as a POW Camp was that prisoners died there - not because of bad treatment but because, largely, of old age and illness. Located in Winter Road 3 km from the centre of Tatura, the Tatura public cemetery includes the German War Cemetery which is fronted by a white pillared entranceway adorned with a large cross. 
The excellent Monument Australia site notes: "The German War Cemetery contains the graves of German civilian internees of the 1914-1918 War and German civilian internees, German Army and German Air Force of the 1939-1945 War. The cemetery is funded by the Federal Republic of Germany and maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. This cemetery contains the graves of 250 German Servicemen and civilian internees. Almost all German internees and prisoners of war who died in Australia during the war are interred in this cemetery. Those who died in the Tatura camps during the war were buried here. After the war the War Graves Commission wrote to relatives of Germans who died in other camps around Australia seeking permission to disinter their remains and bury them at Tatura in an official war cemetery.  All but 27 accepted the offer and the Australian German War Cemetery in Tatura is now their resting place.
"A memorial located within the cemetery records the names of 27 Germans buried elsewhere in Australia and also commemorates 129 Catholic and 45 Protestant missionaries." Check out http://monumentaustralia.org.au/themes/conflict/multiple/display/33692-german-war-cemetery.
There are also the graves of 239 civilian internees - they were of German origin but had not been involved in the war - (marked with a Latin cross) and a number of the German POW graves denoted by an iron cross. All died while under detention both locally and at other camps throughout Australia. The remains were exhumed for reinterment at this site in 1958. 

The Templers in Tatura
The story starts in Germany in the 1860s. Christoph Hoffmann, a Protestant theologian split from the Lutheran Evangelical Church in 1861, taking his cue from New Testament concepts of Christians as "temples" embodying God's spirit, and as a community acting together to build God's "temple" among mankind. Hoffmann believed the Second Coming of Christ could be hastened by building a spiritual Kingdom of God in the Holy Land and so, with several dozen people, he emigrated from Germany to Haifa in Palestine in 1869. The group were confronted with huge problems. Palestine at the time was very primitive, malaria was rife and much of the ground where they settled was swampy.
The Templers concentrated on farming - draining the swamps, planting fields, vineyards and orchards, and employing modern working techniques. 
They operated steam-powered oil presses and flour mills, opened the country's first hotels and European-style pharmacies, and manufactured essential commodities such as soap and cement - and beer.
By 1914 when World War I broke out there were seven Temple Society settlements in Palestine and when the British occupied the land after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, the Templers were interned and sent to Egypt.
In 1920 they were returned to Palestine and in 1923 the region where they lived came under British mandate.
When World War II broke out the British surrounded the Temple communities with barbed wire effectively making them internment camps. It has been estimated that 75% of them, because of their commitment to the “motherland”, were Nazis.
In 1941 the British decided to move the internees to Australia and in August, 1941 they arrived in Tatura where a German internment camp was already operating.
After the war the Templers who had been interned in Australia were offered the option of starting a new life here or returning to Germany and Templers who were still in Palestine were also able to emigrate to Australia.
They are now dispersed throughout Australia. But, every year the friends and relatives of the internees who died during the war, and who were buried in the Tatura War Cemetery, return to Tatura to commemorate their lives here.

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History

* Prior to European settlement the area was home to the Yorta Yorta Aboriginal people.

* Early settlers arrived in the area in the 1830s. The Dhurrungile run was established in 1836.

* The Dhurrungile run was subdivided in 1870.

* There was a serious flood on the Goulburn River in 1870.

* A village began to develop around "The Whim", a horse drawn device for raising water, in the 1870s.

* A town was formally surveyed in 1873. That year also saw the opening of a school.

* The town was officially proclaimed in 1874.

* The huge Dhurrungile Mansion was built in 1876-1877.

* The railway from Shepparton reached the town in 1880.

* In 1880 Bartlett's soft drink factory opened in the town.

* In 1886 Tatura became the administrative centre for the new Rodney Shire.

* The Rodney Irrigation Trust building was opened in 1888.

* A waterworks trust was formed in 1889 to deal with town water.

* By 1890 the town had six hotels, a library and both a Catholic and Presbyterian church.

* The Tatura Wheat Export Movement was formed in 1906.

* A butter factory was built in the town in 1907. 

* From 1911 the butter factory produced electricity for the town. 

* After World War I dairy farmers from Gippsland moved into the area 

* A cannery was built in 1919.

* In 1926 the Victoria Hall, a World War I Memorial, was officially opened.

* Italian settlers moved into the area from the early 1930s and many more arrived after World War II. 

* An irrigation research farm was established in 1937.

* During World War II the Tatura Internment camp imprisoned German and Italian internees and POWs.

* A Rosella cannery was established in the town in 1949. It specialised in processing local tomatoes for tomato sauce.

* In 1958 a German cemetery for those who died in the internment camps was opened. 

* In 1958 a textiles factory was opened in the town.

* The tomato concentrate plant opened in 1981.

* In 2007 the Tatura Butter Factory merged with Bega Cheese.

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Visitor Information

Tatura does not have a visitor centre. The closest is the Greater Shepparton Visitor Centre, 33-35 Nixon Street, Shepparton, tel: (03) 5832 9330.

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Useful Websites

There is a useful local website. Check out http://greatershepparton.com.au/region/towns/tatura.

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