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 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. Others are 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.
Today, Murtoa has several industries and a permanent population of approximately 1000. Lake Marma in the centre of town is regarded as one of the States most picturesque small lakes and the town still features many fine buildings and heritage streetscapes.
This delightful lake can only be described as a tranquil oasis with its abundant birdlife 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.
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.
Graincorp Receival Centre
Victoria’s largest inland grain storage with a total capacity of 500,000 tonnes. During harvest, an almost continuous line of grain trucks disgorge their precious cargo destined to be distributed around the world earning Australia millions of export dollars.
Water Tower Museum and Concordia College 1890-1905
The 1886 Railways water tower houses three floors of local artefacts and the famous James Hill taxidermy collection of over 500 birds and other fauna. Concordia College is the last remaining section of the original Lutheran Concordia College established in Murtoa in the 1890’s and subsequently transferred to Adelaide and houses a collection of relevant historical material and DVD presentations. Open Sundays 2 – 5pm and by appointment Phone 5385 2582 / 0429 944 673.
Wimmera Inland Freezing Works Museum
Located on the Wimmera Highway, on the eastern edge of Murtoa, the museum 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. Made operational again by the Dunmunkle Sumpoilers, on certain days throughout the year the engines are cranked into life. For information email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Barrabool Nature Reserve
Just south of Murtoa is a largely undisturbed Wimmera forest with important Aboriginal sites.
3km east of town provides an insight into the early beginnings of Wimmera settlement, particularly the German heritage.