Mildura is a regional city in north-west Victoria, Australia. Located on the Victorian side of the Murray River, Mildura had a population of just over 31,000 in 2011. When nearby Wentworth is included, the area had an estimated urban population of 50,011 at June 2015. It is the largest settlement in the Sunraysia region. Mildura is a major horticultural centre notable for its grape production, supplying eighty percent of Victoria's grapes. Many wineries additionally source grapes from Mildura. Other key crops produced in the district include citrus, almonds and dried fruit.
The city's central business district is located just a short distance from the banks of the Murray. Langtree Avenue is the main shopping and dining precinct in Mildura, and part of the street is a pedestrian mall. The additional major retail precinct is along Fifteenth Street in the Mildura South area, where a mid-sized undercover shopping mall and several big box stores are located. The city's name was taken from the Mildura homestead, an early sheep station which covered most of the area. The urban area of Mildura is surrounded by a horticulture area, known as the traditional pumped district, where the original grape and citrus blocks were located with water irrigated from the Murray River.
Mildura has a long history of orange and grape farming.
There are several theories as to the origin of the name Mildura. While it was the name of the sheep station, without precedent in the English language, most historians believe it to have originated from Indigenous Australian words. Notwithstanding the etymology of Mildura isn't entirely certain as in several of the local dialects the words have different meanings. The word dura is generally thought to mean "earth", "sand" or "rock", at least in Latje Latje language. Notwithstanding usage of the word mill can vary in dialect and is used to mean "red" or "water", and thus, interpretations of the name can vary from "red earth" to "water rock".
Prehistory and European settlement
The first Europeans in the area arrived in 1857 and brought sheep to graze the rich pastures.
A major drought in Victoria from 1877 to 1884 prompted Alfred Deakin, then a minister in the State Government and chairman of a Royal Commission on water supply to visit the irrigation areas of California. There he met George and William Chaffey.
In 1886, Canadian-American irrigator George Chaffey came to Australia and selected a derelict sheep station known as Mildura as the site for his first irrigation settlement, signing an agreement with the Victorian government to spend at least £300,000 on permanent improvements at Mildura in the next twenty years.
After much political wrangling, the settlement of Mildura was established in 1887. The Post Office opened on 23 January 1888.
The nearby towns of Wentworth, Gol Gol, Curlwaa and Yelta sprang up in the mid-to-late nineteenth century. In the 1890s came the scourge of the rabbit. This devastated the sheep farmers, especially south of the Murray. There was additionally a financial recession at this time. Combined, these factors restricted growth of the new settlement.
After this period, the new settlement grew and grew. It was soon the main town of the district. Suburbs and new satellite towns sprang up. From the 1920s, a number of 'suburban' train services were established to Merbein and Red Cliffs. These were operated by railcars.
Post war Mildura experienced a large influx of migrants particularly from Mediterranean countries including Italy and Greece. Many of these migrants were attracted by the unskilled labour offered by the fruit picking industry.
In 1934 Mildura was officially proclaimed a city.
Nowingi toxic waste proposal
In 2004 there was a controversial proposal by the Victorian Government to build a state-level Long Term Containment Facility (LTCF) for Industrial Waste in Nowingi, approximately 50 km south of Mildura. The site is a small enclave of state forest surrounded by national park, and contains habitat important to a number of threatened species.
The abandoning of the LTCF proposal was received with jubilation by opponents of the LTCF not only in the Mildura area and elsewhere in Victoria, but additionally across the border in South Australia where there were fears that in reputation, if not in substance, the toxic waste could affect the water supply via the Murray River and thereby the fruit-growing industries of the Riverland and Murraylands.
The Mildura Rural City Council and residents spent almost $2 million fighting the Government's proposal for the LTCF at Nowingi. On 10 January 2007 the Victorian Government didn't rule out a few form of reimbursement for the Rural City of Mildura council's legal and additional costs in opposing the LTCF. "The general rule is that people bear their own costs, that's most likely to apply in this case ... but I've indicated and I'm prepared to talk to the council and mayor about the whole issue of how Mildura moves forward and I'll do that," John Thwaites said.
Mildura is situated on flat land without hills or mountains on the southern bank of the Murray River and surrounded to the west, north and east by lakes and billabongs including Lake Hawthorn, Lake Ranfurly and Lake Gol Gol. Several towns surround Mildura on the flat plains including Merbein to the west as well as Irymple and Red Cliffs to the south which can be considered suburban areas or satellite towns separated by small stretches of open farmland.
While the land along the river and irrigation channels is fertile, much of the land around Mildura is additionally dry, saline and semi-arid.
Mildura is a largely low-rise and low density urban area that's overwhelmingly dependent upon private automobiles for transportation. Residential dwellings consist almost solely of single-family detached homes on relatively large allotments. The population has been growing rapidly for several decades and most of the residential growth has occurred in the south-western and southern parts of the urban area.
The central business district is located at the northern end of the urban area, fronting onto the Murray River. The main shopping street of Mildura is Langtree Avenue, which features a pedestrian mall and shopping centre. Notwithstanding this shopping precinct competes with the Mildura Central Shopping Centre, located at the opposite end of the urban area on the corner of Fifteenth Street and Deakin Avenue. Fifteenth Street is additionally the main strip of big box stores and additional commercial enterprises.
The tallest buildings are the two storey 1934 Old Mildura Base Hospital, two storey Marina Dockside apartments completed in 2010 and the three storey tower/spire of the 1920s T&G building.
Mildura has a semi-arid climate (Köppen climate classification BSk) with hot summers and cool winters. It is only about 50 metres above sea level notwithstanding being several hundred km from the coast.
Rainfall totals are about 280 mm a year and are spread evenly across the months and seasons with Winter and Spring having the most rainy days.
Average maximum temperatures range from a hot 32 °C (90 °F) in summer to a mild 15 °C (59 °F) in winter. Minimum temperatures range from around 17 °C (63 °F) in summer to 4 °C (39 °F) in winter, when frost is common and often destructive to irrigated crops. Mildura experiences a few quite hot days in summer with temperatures exceeding 40 °C (104 °F) on a number of days per year.
|Climate data for Mildura|
|Record high °C (°F)||48.4|
|Average high °C (°F)||32.2|
|Average low °C (°F)||16.6|
|Record low °C (°F)||7.6|
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||20.5|
|Average rainy days||3.5||3.0||3.5||4.3||6.7||7.9||9.4||8.9||7.4||6.9||5.6||4.4||72.5|
|Average relative humidity (%)||27||30||33||40||50||56||54||47||40||34||30||27||39|
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||341.0||288.4||297.6||255.0||204.6||168.0||182.9||222.0||254.2||291.4||297.0||331.7||3,133.8|
Mildura is additionally known as the centre of Victoria's Food Bowl and is a major producer of citrus fruits (especially oranges), and wine. It is additionally notable for its grape production, supplying eighty percent of Victoria's grapes. Many wineries additionally source grapes from Mildura.
Fruit Fly Exclusion Zone
Mildura is part of the Fruit Fly Exclusion Zone, in which fruits or vegetables might not be taken into the area (they can, however, be taken out). This is to stop the fruit fly from invading crops and plantations which could have a devastating effect on the economy. Disposal bins into which fruit can be disposed of are located along highways entering the zone.
Tourism is a A$210 million industry in Mildura. Notwithstanding a large percentage (30%) are domestic tourists visiting friends or relatives.
The city's situation on the Murray River makes it a hub for watersports, paddlesteamers and boat cruises. The still conditions make Mildura ideal for hot air ballooning and the Mildura International Balloon Fiesta attracts a large number of visitors. The Australian Inland Botanic Gardens, located nearby in Mourquong is another popular attraction which draws visitors to the city.
Mildura Central’s (Formerly Centro Mildura) extensive redevelopment in 2005 has positioned the centre as the major shopping destination within the Sunraysia region. Mildura Central is additionally the only fully enclosed, air-conditioned centre in this area and offers a retail mix including representation from a number of national fashion stores. Serving a primary trade area population of 60,000 residents, Mildura Central additionally receives consumers from beyond the trade area including the Riverland, Swan Hill, Robinvale and Broken Hill. It includes a large Target and a 19 aisle Woolworths.
Mildura's location in Victoria and consistently strong local lobbying has seen the Government of Victoria take an interest in the city as a possible centre for population and industry decentralisation programs. There have been numerous proposals involving the state government for large scale developments and investments, a large number of ambitious and speculative that have been shelved indefinitely.
Given the large amount of sunlight Mildura receives, it has been proposed as the site for several proposals for large scale solar power in Australia including a massive Solar updraft tower proposals in 2004 and 2010. In 2013, a 1.5 MW demonstration plant was commissioned by Silex Systems and it was expected to be expanded to 100MW by 2017. Notwithstanding in August 2014, the project was abandoned by Silex, due to lack of commitment to renewable energy by the Abbott government, with plans to scrap the praised Renewable Energy Target (RET) in Australia cited as one of the main reasons for the abandonment of the project. This decision has been extensively criticised by international scientists, who claim Australia risks being "left behind the rest of the world" if it cuts its plans for renewable energy. The decision to not build the plant might additionally cause electricity prices to rise significantly in the country.
Another large development which has been the controversial proposal for Mildura to be the site for Victoria's second casino. The Mildura region has additionally been controversially proposed as a site for a waste disposal facility at Nowingi.
Since early settlement Mildura has been home to artists, writers and creative people. Organisations such as the Red Cliffs Musical Society, Eisteddfod, Mildura Ballet Guild and Mildura Country Music Festival have helped grow a reputation for home grown talent and creative community. The hub of this community is the Mildura Arts Centre, which began as a gallery space at Rio Vista House in the 1950s and became fully established in 1956 with the building of a new regional art gallery and performing arts theatre. In 2012, after two years of construction, the new Mildura Arts Centre opened.
Mildura is host to a large number of annual festivals such as 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, Mildura Palimpsest, and the Mildura Show. There is additionally the annual Mildura masters coarse fishing competition held in November which attracts a number of international and local coarse anglers and the Australian Alternative Varieties Wine Show
As of the 2011 census, there were 31,361 people residing in 14,322 households. 81 percent of Mildura residents are Australian born. Of those born overseas: England (1.5%), Italy (1.3%), New Zealand (1.0%), Turkey (0.9%), India (0.7%). English is the only language spoken at home for 83 percent of households.
Notable people from the Mildura district include:
- Leigh Adams, retired Motorcycle speedway rider. Ten time Australian Solo Champion and the 1992 World Under-21 Champion. Including juniors, Adams won a total of 16 Australian championships.
- Jason Akermanis, Australian Rules footballer. Won the 2001 Brownlow Medal.
- Adam Bland, PGA tour golfer
- Jason Crump, retired Motorcycle speedway rider. Australia's only triple Speedway World Champion (2004, 2006 and 2009).
- Phil Crump, retired Motorcycle speedway rider. The father of Jason Crump, he's a four time Australian Solo Champion and thirteen time Victorian Champion.
- Matt Dea, Australian Rules Footballer. Currently plays for the Richmond Football Club in the Australian Football League.
- Patricia Edgar, founding director of The Australian Children's Television Foundation.
- Edward Fowler "Ted" Hill (1915–88), barrister and communist activist.
- Rick Kelly, V8 Supercar driver. 2001 Australian Drivers' Champion, 2006 V8 Supercar Champion, and 2003 and 2004 Bathurst 1000 winner.
- Todd Kelly, V8 Supercar driver. Winner of the 2003 Bathurst 24 Hour and 2005 Bathurst 1000.
- Sam Kerridge, Australian Rules Footballer. Currently plays for the Adelaide Football Club
- Matthew Knights, former Richmond Football Club captain and former Essendon Football Club coach.
- Jason Lyons, retired Motorcycle speedway rider. 1999 Speedway World Team Cup and 2002 Speedway World Cup winner and a three time Victorian Champion.
- Kris McCarthy, Olympic middle-distance runner.
- Ron McEwin, (1928-1979) former Essendon VFL player.
- Ariel Steinberg, Australian Rules Footballer. Currently plays for the Essendon Football Club
- Chris Tarrant, Collingwood Football Club defender.
- Danila Vassilieff, artist
- Josh Waters Superbike rider, Suzuki works rider for 2014, winner of race 2 Brands Hatch BSB, 20 July 2014.
- Alice Ivy Wigmore (1895-1982), violinist and philanthropist.
- Julia Zaetta, editor of Better Homes and Gardens.
- Tania Zaetta, Australian actress and television presenter.
Local newspapers include the Sunraysia Daily, Mildura Midweek and Mildura Weekly. Online news sources include the Mildura Independent Star and Easymix 1467AM News. Local radio stations include ABC Local Radio (National), Easymix 1467AM (3ML)(Commercial), 97.9 Sun FM Sunraysia (Commercial), 99.5 Star FM (Commercial), and Hot FM (Community).
The Sunraysia region, including the city of Mildura, was the first region in Australia to switch off analogue TV broadcast in the implementation of the country's DTV transition process.
Mildura has nine Australian Rules football teams competing in the Sunraysia Football League; Imperials, Mildura, South Mildura, Irymple, Robinvale-Euston, Wentworth, Merbein, Red Cliffs and Ouyen United. Mildura additionally have a Junior Football League, ranging from age groups of under 10's to under 16's.
Roller Derby is a growing sport in the region, with Mildura having their own league, (Mildura Roller Derby League) the team participates in competitions around Victoria and at least annually, will hold a tournament in Mildura.
The Sunraysia Rugby League is additionally based in Mildura and has six senior men's teams competing for the annual premiership. Rugby League matches are played from May to September.
The Sunraysia Cricket Association operates its competition between October and March annually. The SCA consists of 8 teams, Coomealla-Wentworth, Merbein South, Irymple, Mildura East, Mildura Settlers, Mildura West, Nichols Point and Workers-Gol Gol.
Mildura has a horse racing club, the Mildura Racing Club, which schedules around nine race meetings a year including the Mildura Cup meeting in May.
Mildura Harness Racing Club conducts regular meetings at its racetrack in the city.
Golfers play at the course of the Mildura Golf Club on Twelfth Street.
The Sunraysia Baseball Association plays throughout autumn and winter and has six baseball clubs in the league; Hawks, Saints, Eagles, wanderors, Tigers and Tornadoes formed in 2010.
Basketball additionally has a large following in Mildura with hundreds of teams in all divisions entered in the Mildura Basketball Association's summer league.
Association football additionally has a large following in Mildura, with there being a popular junior and senior league played throughout the winter months. The league consists of six teams, those being Three Colours, Mildura City, Mildura United, Irymple Knights, Cosmos and Nichols Point
Mildura is a quite motor sports oriented town. It has several tracks in the region to cater for different types of motor sports including the Mildura Kart Club (Go-Kart racing), Timmis Speedway (Automobile speedway), Olympic Park Speedway (Motorcycle speedway), Sunset Strip (1/8 mile drag racing), and North West Victoria Motorcycle Club. (Off road motorcycle racing). The Mildura TT Circuit hosted the Australian TT in the 1950s.
Mildura is on the intersection of the Sturt Highway from Adelaide to Sydney, and the Calder Highway to Melbourne via Bendigo. Deakin Avenue, the main street of Mildura, is known as the longest straight avenue in Australia, at 12.1 km. Sunraysia Bus Lines, Swan Hill Bus Lines and Dysons Bus Services operate V/Line bus services that connect Mildura to various parts of Victoria and southern New South Wales. Greyhound Australia run buses to Adelaide and Sydney via Canberra. NSW TrainLink run buses to Sydney. The Henty Highway Bus Service runs buses to Horsham.
Mildura has a railway connection to Melbourne, which is used for freight transport. In May 2006, it was announced that the Mildura line would receive a $73 million upgrade using gauge convertible sleepers.
Mildura Airport is the third busiest airport in Victoria, serviced by three QantasLink flights daily to Melbourne(with four services on Thursday &Friday), three Regional Express Airlines flights to Melbourne, with Regional Express flights daily to Adelaide, Sydney & Broken Hill. Virgin Australia has one flight per day in each direction between Melbourne and Mildura.
St Joseph's College
In 1905, a small group of Sisters of Mercy came from Wentworth to Mildura and established a convent in a weatherboard building on the corner of Pine Avenue and Tenth Street.
Catholic secondary education commenced in Mildura in 1906 when the Sisters of Mercy began conducting classes in rooms attached to the original convent in Pine Avenue. The Certificate of Registration of a School dated thirty-first December, 1906, indicates that sub-primary, primary and secondary classes were being conducted from convent at the time.
In 1911 boarding school facilities were provided in Olive Avenue and in 1914 a new school was erected in Walnut Avenue. The first buildings of St Joseph’s College at its present site were opened in 1929. The College has well equipped classrooms, science and computer laboratories, creative arts and design and technology complex, religious education centre, library, sports facilities, staff and student amenities.
Mildura Senior College
The College has been closely linked with the development of Mildura after the opening of the irrigation settlement by the Chaffey’s in the 1880s. For example, in 1890 the Governor of Victoria, Lord Hopetoun, laid the foundation stone of what was to become the Chaffey Agricultural College, but unfortunately, because of financial difficulties, the College wasn't built. In 1911, the Education Department of Victoria agreed to erect a high school on the Chaffey College site, and Mildura High School was officially opened in September 1912. The Diamond Jubilee of the school was celebrated on the 8 and 9 September 1972. They celebrated their 75th birthday in August 1987 and in 2012 celebrated their centenary over the weekend of September 14-16th.
As part of a strategic plan by the Ministry of Education in 1990, Mildura High School changed its name to Mildura Secondary College to reflect the changing nature of educational delivery in secondary schools. Again as a result of restructuring in education provision after 1995 the College has been known as Mildura Senior College, catering exclusively for the final two years of secondary education.
Mildura Senior College has a long and distinguished history of providing quality educational pathways to thousands of young people living in Sunraysia.
Mildura Senior College caters exclusively for Year 11 & 12 students. In 2013 there will be approximately 500 students in Year 11 and 400 in Year 12. Entrance to Year 11 is open to all students living in the Sunraysia District who have successfully completed Year 10. The decision regarding the satisfactory completion of Year 10 is the responsibility of the 7-10 College. Enrolment at the College is additionally dependent on factors such as age, behaviour record and additional achievements. Please see the section on enrolment for further information.
Chaffey Secondary College
Chaffey Secondary College is a Victorian State Government secondary school catering for students in Years 7 to 10 located in Deakin Avenue. In 2012 the college had 640 students enrolled. The college offers 120 to 140 different courses each term as part of its modular learning program. Students and families participate in a programme of course counselling and student-led presentations each term to help students create the most appropriate course for their ability, pathway and interests. The college has a double-court gymnasium which it operates as a joint-use facility with the Mildura Regional City Council. The college operates a small theatre with seating for up to 220 persons.
Sunraysia Institute of TAFE
Sunraysia Institute of TAFE's main campus is located in Benetook Avenue. In 2008, the Institute had 6592 students enrolled.
La Trobe University
La Trobe University operates a regional campus in Mildura, with 322 students enrolled as of 28 May 2008.
In popular culture
The songs Mildura (Home of Mine) and Come to Mildura – the Land of Winter Sunshine were written by Reg. Stoneham in the 1920s.
Mrs G. H. Ball’s My Old Home Town (Mildura) was recorded on the B side of John Collinson’s first recording of Waltzing Matilda in 1926.