THE RIO Vista Fountain in Mildura’s arts precinct has stepped back in time with a major maintenance and conservation project to replicate the original paint colours.
The historic fountain was first installed in front of Rio Vista Historic House in the late 1890s but was turned off and left idle following the tragic drowning of one of the Chaffey children in 1897.

It was later donated to the people of Mildura in 1936 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Coronation of King George V. As part of these celebrations it was moved to the Deakin Avenue centre median, at the intersection of Eighth Street, where it remains today.

A replica of this fountain was installed in front of Rio Vista Historic House in 1991 as part of centenary celebrations for the building, helping return the frontage to how it would have looked up until the 1930s.

In another step towards returning this precinct to how it would have looked during our city’s formative years, council has returned the fountain to a paint scheme more in keeping with its original colours, when the Chaffeys occupied Rio Vista.

Council’s Arts and Culture Development Manager Antonette Zema said the important conservation and maintenance project involved working closely with council’s heritage advisor Garry Stanley and Heritage Victoria, both of whom provided valuable guidance to ensure the authenticity of the final colour scheme.

“After exhaustive research and poring through many old photos, we’ve been able to gain an insight into the the original paint scheme, and the traditional colour schemes used at that time. Based on this extensive research and information we finalised the colour scheme to a deep red colour, with cream highlights,” Ms Zema said.

“As part of this project we deep cleaned the fountain structure before it was painted to ensure its longevity, and the final work will focus on painting the fountain surrounds in the same colour scheme.

“This project has been a long time in development and is an important part of preserving our city’s unique and colourful past.”

Mr Stanley said historic photographs played a key role in restoring both the fountain and Rio Vista Historic House.

“Extensive research has been undertaken for interior and exterior finishes and colours,” he said.

“There are a few interior old photographs, however there are a number of images of the Rio Vista garden which clearly show the original fountain a dark colour from its arrival at the Port of Mildura until the fountain was removed in 1936 and placed in Deakin Avenue.”