MAY 31 is Mildura Day and this week it celebrated its 135th anniversary with a myriad of events held in the lead-up to, and on the day.
On May 31, 1887, the Chaffey Brothers and the Victorian Government, on behalf of Queen Victoria, signed an Indenture, formalising Mildura as Australia’s First Irrigation Colony.
Each year, on the anniversary of this date, the district celebrates what is now known as Mildura Day.
On Sunday last, the Psyche Pumps, which were built in 1891 by the Chaffey brothers to meet the needs of the irrigation settlement, had a ‘running day’ which attracted people and families who enjoyed lunch and played ‘yesteryear’ children’s games.
On Monday night, Mildura’s historic Langtree Hall, was transformed back to a theatre for the showing of some digitally restored, old-time films of vintage Sunraysia, which was presented by former resident, Ian McWilliams as the patrons enjoyed popcorn!
On Mildura Day (Tuesday), the feature event was the Chaffey Trail’s new guided tour, ‘The Riverfront Ramble’, which was conducted by local historians along the Murray riverfront.
Braving the windy and chilly conditions, the tour began from the top of the ‘old’ Mildura Bridge alignment, located between Nowingi Place and George Chaffey Bridge where a Mildura Day welcome and acknowledgement ceremony was held.
The Riverfront Ramble will take in historic points of significance along the riverfront up to the Mildura Powerhouse, which is currently under redevelopment.
Mildura Rural City Councillor and Chair of the Chaffey Trail Mark Eckel said that The River Ramble tour was a great addition to the Chaffey Trail.
“When the Chaffey Trail was first formed, the whole idea was to develop into a tourism product,” Cr Eckel said. “This is now the first opportunity we’ve had to show visitors when they come to Mildura what the riverfront was really like all those years ago. That was a period when there was a tent city here on the banks of the Murray River.
“Of course all of the Chaffey’s engineering operations were all down here.”
One of the great aspects of the tour is that you can pick it up at any point of the tour and anyone can join in.
Cr Eckel said it was pleasing to see a large number of people braving the cold weather to take part in the inaugural tour hosted by the Chaffey Trail’s Education Officer, Bob Walton.
“It’s a pretty good roll-up given the conditions today and so we are very happy about that,” he said.
Mr Walton told the group in attendance that the tour was intended to provide a total experience, rather than a number of isolated sites.
The Chaffey Trail was designed to bring all the points of interest into a complete package,” he said.
“Hopefully The Riverfront Ramble will become part of that package for tourism, for locals and students alike.
“On Mildura Day, we recognise the genius of George Chaffey and the hard working courage of W.B. Chaffey in providing the foundation that is the Mildura of today.”