Welcome to Murtoa
Rich rural culture is alive and well in this Wimmera township, located 20 minutes from Horsham. Aboriginal for "Home of the Lizard", the land around Murtoa was occupied by squatters McPherson and Taylor in early 1844 and incorporated into their "Stations" Longerenong and Ashens covering over 200,000 acres.
Following various subdivisions and owners, including Sir Samuel Wilson, after whom Wilson Hall at Melbourne University is named, the Land Act of 1869 divided the area into 320 acre blocks for lease and eventual purchase by selectors, many of whom were German families from South Australia.
The site at Marma Gully Swamp was surveyed in 1873 and settled soon after, rapidly becoming the large grain town of Murtoa with the State's largest grain receival centre on the main Melbourne to Adelaide rail link.
Murtoa is the residence of the impressive Australia Heritage Listed Stick Shed, built in 1941 for grain storage and is capable of holding approximately 100,000 tons of wheat. Recent investment has ensured this towering rustic building will stand the test of time. Currently, access to the building in limited and internal viewing is restricted to the Big Weekend held annually in October.
Lake Marma and Rabl Park, situated within the township, can only be described as a tranquil oasis with its abundant bird life and magnificent treed surrounds. A 2km walking track around the lake provides many varied scenes and the Marma Lake Reserve is an ideal picnic spot with large lawn areas, electric BBQ's and children's playground.
Barrabool Nature Reserve is located just south of Murtoa. It is a largely undisturbed Wimmera forest with important Aboriginal sites.
For those interested in Genealogy and history, the Murtoa Cemetery, 3km east of town, provides an insight into the early beginnings of Wimmera settlement, particularly the German heritage.
If Architecture and Heritage catch your eye, Murtoa abounds in both, with a largely original early 1900's shopping centre & many buildings of significance throughout the town. These include the Sprott Fountain (1884-96), the Rotunda (1907) & the Memorial Gates (1920), all located at the Lake Marma Reserve, CBA Bank (1882), Railway Station (1878), Primary School (1875), Dr Rabl's residence (1897), Marma Gully Hotel (1913) and many other private houses, churches and public institutions of the period 1880 to 1920.
The Water Tower Museum houses the world famous "James Hill" taxidermy collection of over 500 birds, eggs, reptiles and animals and is well worth visiting on your travels in the region.
If you plan to visit Murtoa during the Big Weekend in October, make sure you visit the Stick Shed. This mammoth construction was originally built as a wartime emergency grain storage but has become a memorial to Aussie ingenuity. It gets it's name from the over 560 mountain ash unmilled poles or "sticks" up to 20m high that support the 260m x 60m structure and create an impression of a vast indoor forest. Listed by Heritage Victoria because of its historical significance but currently CLOSED to the public pending restoration and only open during the Big Weekend in October.
The Wimmera Inland Freezing Works Museum is located on the Wimmera Highway, on the eastern edge of Murtoa, and houses four massive single piston, Richard-Hornsby engines. They date back to 1911 when they powered the old freezing works and are believed to be the only set of four remaining in the world.