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The view of Albury from Monument Hill lookout
 

Albury (including Wodonga and Ettamogah)
Major city on the NSW-Victorian border.
The twin towns of Albury and Wodonga, although they are 7 km apart and on opposite sides of the Murray River, form a large urban area which is the border between New South Wales and Victoria. They have populations of 39 975 and 23 639 respectively. The two are usually referred to as Albury-Wodonga. Albury is indisputably the more interesting and attractive town. Located 567 km south-west of Sydney via the Hume Highway and 183 m above sea-level it has a well-developed manufacturing industry and is an important service centre for the surrounding area which supports agricultural, dairying and pastoral industries.

Building on long-established traditions Wodonga is one of the largest stock-selling and shipping centres in Australia with importing and exporting facilitated by inland port status. It is, however, now little more than a modern suburban area for people who live and work in the surrounding area.

The area around the Murray was once inhabited by the Wiradjuri Aborigines. In 1824 Hume and Hovell explored from Appin in New South Wales to the new settlement at Westernport Bay in Victoria. Arriving at the future site of Albury they carved some remarks into the trunks of two trees. Hume's tree was destroyed in the 1840s by a teamsters' campfire but Hovell's still stands.

They crossed the river, which they called the Hume, 16 km upstream, where the Hume Weir now stands. Unaware of their claim Charles Sturt later named it the Murray River and the two titles initially competed for favour.

Squatters followed the explorers and the first land in the area was taken up in 1835 when William Wyse established the Mungabareena station for Charles Ebden on the northern side of the river.

In 1836 Ebden crossed the river and opened a station at Bonegilla and then at Thurgoona with Wyse as his stockman. In 1837 Paul Huon arrived establishing the Wodonga station.

Albury grew because it was located at a spot where the river was fordable. Indeed it was initially known as The Crossing Place. It became a favourite resting place for drovers and stockmen headed for Port Phillip (i.e., Melbourne).

 

The old Methodist Church, now part of the Albury Police Station which is next door
 

Settlement of Albury began when a police hut was established as part of a strategy to secure both the route to Port Phillip and the settlement of inland Australia from ongoing black resistance. Local Aborigines had been killing the stock of the Europeans, which was displacing their traditional food sources.

In 1838 Robert Brown built a slab hut which he developed as a store near Hovell's Tree. A mail service was established from Yass to Port Phillip, a few tradesmen took up residence and a townsite on the northern bank was surveyed as 'Bungambrewatah', a Wiradjuri term meaning 'the crossing place'. The name was changed to Aldbury then gazetted the following year as Albury, after a village in England.

By the end of the 1830s the journey between Sydney and Port Phillip was being made with sufficient frequency to prompt the government to prepare a plan of the 'road' from Gundagai to Port Phillip, actually a rough bush track following the course of Hume and Hovell.

In 1841 the population was said to be seven. Robert Brown opened the Hume River Inn in 1842, the second house being built by James Wyse in 1843. Brown added a log punt in 1844 to help foot passengers and sheep cross the river. Everyone complained that it was too expensive and too slow. Still, they used it.

A clergyman observed that the Albury races had been established on the flats beside the river before anybody had been concerned to build a church. The Albury Cup was first run in 1845.

Gold finds in Victoria drew the population away from Albury (442 in 1851) and development was slow. Wodonga, gazetted as Belvoir in 1852, became an important river port for the Ovens goldfield. Its name was changed to Wodonga in 1874 and it subsequently became a major stock selling centre.

After Victoria separated from NSW in 1851 the two towns became customs posts enforcing tariffs. Goods tended to be cheaper in NSW so Victorians would swim their stock across the river and women bought clothes and groceries over the border, wearing several layers of clothing home past the customs point. While flour and bread were taxed dough was not so Victorian bakers set up dough houses in NSW and ferried it back across where it was made into bread. During outbreaks of contagious disease, such as the influenza pandemic of 1919, the border was sealed and guarded at gunpoint

After the gold fever passed a number of Chinese settled in Albury and established vegetable gardens on the rich river flats just north of the present railway bridge. By 1878 there were 150 people at a Chinese camp which developed at the corner of Townsend and Hume Sts.

The Albury Border Post newspaper was established in 1856 and the town became a municipality in 1859. The first toll bridge was erected across the river in 1861.

The paddle steamer on the Albury coat-of-arms is a reminder of the role that river transport played in local development after the first river steamer, the Albury, arrived in 1855.

Wodonga was connected to Melbourne by rail in 1873 and the track from Sydney arrived at Albury in 1881. A temporary wooden railway bridge joined the two in 1883.

The two states had different railway gauges until 1962, when the first train ran straight through from Sydney to Melbourne. The states could not initially agree which should be the transfer point so they had an expensive and attractive iron lattice bridge sent from England which accommodated both gauges, 180 m long and 10 m downstream of the temporary structure. It is still standing.

From 1886 passengers and freight had to change trains at Albury. The station had two clocks, one for Albury and one for Wodonga time as there was 25 minutes difference before Eastern Standard Time was instituted. Albury subsequently became an important rail centre and there was talk of establishing it as the capital of a federated Australia. It was declared a city in 1946.

Army camps were established at Bandiana and Bonegilla, east of Wodonga, during the Second World War. Both provided local employment. Bonegilla became Australia's largest migrant reception centre - 320 000 people passing through from the mid-1950s to the mid-1960s. Many chose to settle in the Albury-Wodonga area.

Albury-Wodonga benefited from a political commitment to decentralisation in the 1970s. Wodonga was proclaimed the first 'rural city' in Australia in 1973.

Annual events include the Albury Festival of Sport, which unfolds over February-March, the Albury Gold Cup Festival and the Wodonga Show, which both take place every March, the Albury-Wodonga Wine and Food Festival in September-October, the Albury Show and the Bonegilla Festival in October, the Albury-Wodonga International Festival in November and the Ngan Girra Festival which is held at the Mungabarina Reserve in November.

Things to see:   [Top of page]

 

The Colonial Mutual Life Assurance Building in Dean Street
 

Historic Buildings
The growing prosperity of Albury from the 1850s can be seen in the impressive Victorian civic buildings on Dean St between Kiewa and Olive Sts. The Classical Revival courthouse (1860) is one of the few remaining buildings designed by colonial architect Alexander Dawson. The large and imposing two-storey post office (1875) features arch work buttressed by a colonnade and a clock tower with cupola and weather vane which was added in the 1920s. The largely unaltered Classical building that houses the technical college was formerly the telegraph office (1885). The CML building has a five-storey clock tower with curved copper roof. The ANZ Bank (c.1915) is a large Edwardian bank with terracotta tiled roof. By contrast, the T & G Building, dating from the mid-1930s, features a far more modern design, the highlight being a five-storey tower with extremely long, thin vertical window recesses and a ziggurat summit.

 

Albury Regional Art Centre
The Albury Regional Art Centre is situated within a splendid, ornate and virtually unaltered Edwardian town hall (1907) with cupolas and extravagant stucco. It has an impressive collection of works by one-time resident Sir Russell Drysdale and is open daily (02 6023 8187). Next to the new Town Hall is a hall from the original 1860 house of assembly.

 

St Matthew's Anglican Church
The foundation stone of St Matthew's Anglican Church at 514 Kiewa St was laid in 1857. The original Norman design, by noted architect Edmund Blacket, was never completed. While the nave, choir vestry and campanile are his the contrasting Gothic elements, notably the chancel, vestries and transepts were designed by J. Boles and added in the mid-1870s. The pipe organ was added in 1876 and the church was built of local stone.

 

Kia Ora
'Kia Ora' (1858-59), at 473 Townsend St, is Blacket's former branch building for the Bank of NSW, a two-story Italianate granite building with neoclassical detailing, now restored and part of the Albury Base Hospital. Elm Court (1885) at 435 Townsend St is also of note.

 

 

Albury Railway Station
 

Albury Railway Station
Another major architectural feature of the town is the Italianate red-and-white brick railway station (1881) in Railway Place which which has a 22-m clock tower, original cedar joinery and a cast-iron platform with fluted columns. It is the third-longest platform in Australia (the longest in NSW) owing to its role as changeover point. Its extravagance may owe something to the competition between the two towns. The station master's residence is also worth a look and has attractive gardens.

 

Albury Regional Museum
The Albury Regional Museum is housed in the former (and restored) Turk's Head Hotel (1860s), once the most popular venue in town. It is located in Wodonga Place and is open 10.30 - 4.30 seven days a week (02 6021 4550).

 

Bellevue and Soden's Hotel
'Bellevue' at 592 Kiewa St (c.1860) is an excellent Victorian house with impressive cast-iron decorative work and the primary school (1881), at the corner of David and Smollett Sts, is also a noteworthy addition to the cityscape. At the south-east corner of David and Wilson Sts is Soden's Hotel Australia which has fine wrought iron awnings with glass panels.

 

Entertainment for Children
Frog Hollow Recreation Park in Olive St has mini golf, lawn snooker, a giant maze, theatrical performances, a water playground, a picnic/barbecue/playground area and a cafe (02-6041 1117). There is a performing arts centre in Swift St and Haberfields Mill Dairy Shop, at 482 Hovell St, offers tours and tastings by arrangement during business hours (02-6021 3455). Children may enjoy a trip across the river on the Wymah Ferry, about 1.5 hours drive north-east of Albury.

 

Parks in the area
On the northern riverbank, off Wodonga Place, are a series of parklands - Oddies Creek Park, Noreuil Park, Hovell Tree Park, the Sportsground, the Botanic Gardens, Mates Park and Padman Park. Here are a kiosk, barbecue and picnic facilities, swimming spots, walking tracks and the Hovell Tree. The original inscription has disappeared beneath new growth but a bronze plaque contains a facsimile.

Also in the parklands is a nineteenth-century iron waterwheel from the Tallandoon goldfield, where it powered a stamp battery. It is very rare as most were made of wood and hence have been destroyed. The wheel was purchased by local farmers, the Harper Brothers, who used it until 1948 to power farm equipment. It has a 5-metre diameter with capacity for 60 attached buckets.

 

 

P.S. Cumberoona on the Murray near Albury
 

P.S. Cumberoona
The P.S. Cumberoona, a replica of an 1886 paddle steamer which once used to visit Albury, offers one-hour tours of the Murray every day in season (02 6041 5558). Near its mooring point in Noreuil Park a reproduction Cobb & Co. coach.

 

Botanical Gardens
The Botanical Gardens (1871) has some interesting trees, including a 30-m Queensland kauri, several river red gums grown from seeds of the Hovell Tree and a pine which grew from a seed taken at Lone Pine in Gallipoli. Also in the gardens is the Hume Monument which was built in America and erected in place of the destroyed Hume Tree in the late 1850s. In 1884 it was moved to the gardens from its original site by the riverbank as it was being misused as a mooring point by riverboats. The band stand was built in 1890.

 

Monument Hill Lookout
On the northern side of the Riverina Highway, opposite Mates Park, is the panoramic view available from the lookout at Western Hill, now known as Monument Hill due to the 30-m war cenotaph there. Rising 90 m above the city, the hill offers a views right down Dean St. To the south lie Wodonga and, on the horizon, the Victorian Alps.

Eastern Hill looks north and east with the Snowy Mountains and Hume Dam in the distance. Directly below the hill is Mungabareena Reserve. Here, at this precise location, the Aboriginal tribes from the high plains met for centuries to celebrate spring. They laid aside their arms and their differences, celebrated, then travelled north to Mt Beauty and Mt Buffalo where they feasted on the bogong moth. In its place the Bogong Moth Festival is now held on the last weekend of November. It is a time for the exploration of Aboriginal culture. There is painting, folklore, traditional foods and dance and a wealth of Aboriginal talent. There is also a journey to the high country.

 

The Hume Dam
The Hume Dam, 16 km east of town, built between the end of World War I and 1936, arose out of the River Murray Agreement. At the time it was the largest dam in the southern hemisphere and one of the world's largest. Its surface area is 20 190 ha, its total length 1.6 km, its capacity nearly three million megalitres and it covers 343 km of shoreline.There are 29 regulating gates, each 6 x 8 m, and a hydro-electric station has been established to best utilise the volume.

Spanned by Bethangra Bridge Lake Hume is used for swimming, sailing, water skiing, paragliding, fishing, sailboarding, jetskiing and canoeing. There are picnic, barbecue and children's play facilities, a spectacular dam wall, scenic countryside, swimming beaches, boat ramps, stores, canoe hire, camping and a holiday resort which houses a giant waterslide.

 

Hume Weir Trout Farm
Hume Weir Trout Farm nearby has thousands of rainbow trout from fingerlings to adults which can be hand-fed or fished. Fish food, bait and rids are supplied. There are waterfalls, landscaped gardens and a kiosk. It is open daily from 9-5 (02-6026 4334).

 

Albury Airport
The airport, off the Riverina Highway, has a large DC2 aircraft as a monument to recall the occasion, in 1934, when the people of Albury helped a distressed Dutch airliner lost in fog while it was competing in an international race. They assembled at the local racecourse (adjacent the current airport) and turned on their headlights to successfully guide the plane down. 300 volunteers helped pull it out of its bogged position the next day. After it went on to claim second place the people of the Netherlands took out a public subscription for a monument which was sent to Albury.

 

Ettamogah
12 km north-east of Albury, on the Hume Highway, is Ettamogah Wildlife Sanctuary, established to care for sick, injured or orphaned animals. Open daily there are also barbecue facilities and a kiosk.

The central attraction of Ettamogah, however, is the Ettamogah Pub. Cartoonist Ken Maynard, who lived in Albury, wrote a comic strip in which he depicted the goings-on at an imaginary hotel called the Ettamogah (suitably it is considered to be an Aboriginal word meaning 'place of good drink'). In 1987 an actual pub was made that was an exact replica of the cartoon pub , complete with seemingly impossible design - outward leaning walls and verandahs, a tree that stands in the middle through two floors, a jalopy on the roof and signs everywhere. It is situated on the Hume Hwy, at the corner of Table Top Rd, 16 km north of Albury (02-6026 2366). Cooper's Ettamogah Winery is 400 m from the pub. A little further south on the highway is the Norske Skog, a newprint mill which offers tours by appointment (02-6058 3111).

 

Talmalmo
In Talmalmo the Dora Dora pub (02-6037 3221), once a stopover for Cobb and Co coaches, is still standing 130 years on, though the village has gone. It can be found 26 km south-east of Woomargama, which lies on the Hume Highway 15 km south of Holbrook.

 

Wodonga
In Wodonga the National Museum of Australian Pottery at 66 South St, open Sundays and public holidays from 10.00 am - 4.00 pm, features a collection of 19th-century Australian pottery. Edwards Tavern at 1 Moorefierld Park Rd (02-6056 1356) has an historic photograph display and Sumsion Gardens has a lake, barbecues, picnic facilities, birdlife, walking paths and a children's playground. 5 km south-east of Wodonga at Bandiana is the RAAOC Museum (02-6055 2525). Open seven days a week it has a large collection of material on Australian history as well as barbecue, picnic and playground facilities. Schmidt's Strawberry Winery is located at Allans Flat (02-6027 1454). Follow the signs from Wodonga. Continue along the Kiewa Valley Highway past Bandiana, take the Yackandandah turnoff and follow the signs.

 

Hume and Hovell Walking Track
Lovers of walking can truly get their fill on the Hume and Hovell Walking Track which follows the explorers' path from Albury to Gunning, 370 km north-east. It is a 22-day trek but it is possible to opt for half or whole-day and weekend walks. Contact the Department of Lands, 22-23 Bridge St, Sydney (02-9228 6111).

 

Other Attractions
There is plenty of good fishing in the area for trout, redfin and Murray cod. Albury also has a golf club and Wodonga has the largest tennis complex in the southern hemisphere. Day tours of the area, bush walking, winery tours, horse riding and ballooning can be arranged by phoning the Gateway Information Centre. A.W. Backpackers, at the corner of David and Smollett Sts, furnish two-day camping and canoeing tours along the Murray as well as combined canoeing-winery tours (02-6041 1822).

 

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