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History of Hopetoun

statueHopetoun is most fortunate to have a Historical Society that collects, collates and restores records, provides information for a small fee and renovates, restores and maintains buildings, machinery and historical items for future generations.

The historical society are linked to many relevant historical groups/organisations in Victoria and Australia

Ballarat and District Genealogical Society Inc.

Significant historical buildings

  • Hopetoun House – privately owned. This house was built in 1891 for town squire EH Lascelles and family. It reflects the grandeur of the period and the influence of wealthy landowners and politicians and governors of the time. Suitably named after Lord Hopetoun, Governor of Victoria.
  • Corrong Homestead – open for inspection.  Homestead of the first white settlers in Hopetoun, Mr Peter McGinnis and family, who owned the lease on Corrong Station a huge acreage of some 433,700 acres
  • Many other buildings built in the Victorian and Federation era.


When visiting Hopetoun you need to be aware that this landscape was originally covered in thick mallee scrub and considered impenetrable by Australia’s first explorers who labelled it a wasteland. Samples of the scrub remain. There were wild animals such as dingoes, emus, kangaroos, foxes and rabbits. The climate was harsh and the water was scarce except for the Creek. McGinnis travelled up the Yarriambiack Creek to find a pleasant setting at Lake Corrong and considered the area ideal for his large flock of sheep. He had many positive dealings with the indigenous people and raised an aboriginal boy named Jowley who was orphaned after a joint tribal battle close to his homestead. Jowley was considered the last of the Corrong tribe called Yarrikaluk, a clan of the Wotjobaluk nation.

Further to this EH Lascelles, the next owner of the Corrong Station lease was a wool buyer and an entrepreneur from Geelong. His passion to habitate this region and prove it to be arable and viable has left a legacy of undying respect for this great man known affectionately as ‘the father of the mallee’.  Lascelles put faith, energy and money into the region and town and was a back stop for many people who endured the pioneering days of clearing the land and establishing a farming community. He created an experimental orchard as evidence of the viability.

The open channel system providing water from the Grampians has been the life blood for this community since changes were made to regional water supply and availability of water up the Yarriambiack Creek many years ago coupled with a lower rainfall.

The farming community are a mix of descendants of the pioneers or of those who settled here some time later. They identify with the hard work of their forebears as many have family histories and stories to draw from of common connection. Many of these farmers have developed hereditary resilience as each generation may have different challenges it appears they carry a lighter load than the generation prior however there is more complexity these days. New technology is embraced and is improving the reliability of farming immensely. The blessing of this area is that most years farmers are able to harvest something and in bumper years the yield and quality is something they are very proud of.

A visit to Hopetoun will provide more detailed and interesting information and artifacts.

First Fifty Years   1846 - 1896

1846 Peter McGinnis (pastoralist) and Family settle at Lake Corrong
Late 1840’s Corrong Homestead built for McGuiness
18…   McGinnis family adopt orphan Aboriginal boy Jowley
1874  Peter McGinis & family retired to Newtown
1878  Edward Harewood Lascelles (wool buyer) buys Corrong Station
1883  Mallee Pastoral Lease Act passed – settlers had 20 years to prove value
1884  Edward Lascelles also took over Tyrell Downs lease
1885  The Government created the “dingo fence” dividing land north of Galaquil from the south
1886  EH Lascelles lobbied Government to subdivide land at Hopetoun
1890  Corrong Station was renamed Hopetoun in honour of the visit of Lord Hopetoun,  Governor of Victoria
1891  The first blocks of land were sold in the township of Hopetoun
1880’s – 90’s Many pioneers settled around the Hopetoun district to clear the land and grow wheat.
1892   The first newspaper was produced
1892   Cricket club formed
1892   Hopetoun Progress Association formed
1893   The railway line reached Hopetoun (thanks to EH Lascelles)
1893   First Police & lock up in Hopetoun
1893   Football Club formed
1893   First train arrived
1894   Train station & First Stationmaster
1894   Gun Club commenced
1894   Hopetoun elementary school built
1895   Hopetoun declared a town again
1896   Shire of Karkarooc created & 1st Hopetoun A & P Show was held
1896   First rifle club formed
1896   First Tennis Club formed
1896   First Commercial Bank formed

Next Fifty Years   1897 - 1947

1897  Golf Club formed
1900  Commonwealth of Australia was formed (story of Hopetoun blunder)
1910  Fire Brigade formed in Hopetoun
1911  Jowley died after a full life, buried at Hopetoun
1912  Water commission took over management of town water supply
1913  Local generator provided electricity in Hopetoun
1913  Telephone exchange commenced
1914  Church of England
1915   First car in Hopetoun (owned by Mr Turriff)
1917   EH Lascelles died in Geelong in retirement
1917   Soldier Settlers Act
1918   Local George Goudie elected to parliament MLC for North west
1919   RSL known as RSSILA formed
1920   First plane landed in Hopetoun
1922   Memorial Hall built – opened 1923
1924   Hopetoun Bowling club established
1925   Presbyterian church
1927   Lutheran church
1928   Scout group formed in Hopetoun
1929   Granite drinking fountain erected in Hopetoun in memory of EH Lascelles
1930   First tractor in region
1932   Local Louis Bussau MLA for Ouyen
1935   Country Women's Association (C.W.A.) formed in Hopetoun
1938   First concrete silos built (200,000 bushells)
1939   Local farmer Keith Dodgshun became MLA for Ouyen
1940   Swimming pool opened
1943   Hopetoun Bush Nursing Hospital built
1944   Iceworks built
1945  Hopetoun State School became an Elementary school
1945  Wheat price stabilization introduced

A Further Fifty Years  1948 TO 1998

1949  Playground created near pool
1950  Lutheran Church rebuilt
1952  Young Farmers group formed
1953  Nurses home built
1955  Pre school established
1956  2 steel silos (130,000 bushells built)
1957  Cummings House wing built at Hospital
1958  Community Hotel built (1st co-operative in Victoria)
1963  Extra steel silo built (135,000 bushells)
1963  Court house built (currently rented to others)
1961  State Electricity connected – 1st 240 volt power
1961  First Television in Hopetoun
1962  Employment of scientist Vera Molnar- researched skeleton weed and silver leafed nightshade
1963  Hopetoun High School built & opened
1964  New Catholic Church built
1965  Rotary Club of Hopetoun formed
1966  Hopetoun Airport formalised
1966  Apex Club of Hopetoun formed (ceased 19…)
1969  Wheat quotas introduced
1971  MBE Lester Mitchell (local pharmacist)
1973  Premier Town Award
1973  Caravan Park completed
1973  Corrong Retirement Village opened
1974  Bowls Carnival commenced
1974  OBE Dr ADJ Stoutjesdijk
1976  Last passenger train to Hopetoun
1979  New Hopetoun Primary School opened
1985  McGinnis Park established
1985  First Ambulance purchased
1988  New building for Shire of Karkarooc Council
1989  Hopetoun Recreation Reserve Building opened
1990  Regional SES truck purchased
1992  Heritage wall mural completed
1995  Shire Amalgamation
1995  Sports Stadium at Secondary college
1996  Mallee Bush Retreat built
1997  Restoration of Corrong Homestead commenced

Another Fifty Years  1998 – 2048

2000 Rural North West Health amalgamation
2005 Hopetoun Sewerage plant
2005 60th anniversary RSL plaque placed at Memorial Hall

2006  New Police Station opened                                                                                                                   
2006  Upgrades to Sports Stadium
2007  Hopetoun Bush Nursing Hospital demolished
2007  Rotary Club of Hopetoun ceased operations
2009  Lake Lascelles filled - September - December from pipeline
2012  Illuka Minerals Sands commenced using loading bay at railway station in Hopetoun to transport sands to Douglas

Famous People of Hopetoun
- Born or moved here

Peter McGinnis 1819 - 1886
Edward Harewood Lascelles
1890 Lord Hopetoun  - Governor of Victoria then
-          Governor General involved in setting up the first Federal Parliament
1919 George Goudie – MLC for Northwest Province
1919 – 1935 Commissioner for Public Works & Minister for Immigration & Minister for mines
1935-39 Minister for water supply, Minister for Labour, Vice President of Land & Works
1932 Mr Albert Louis Bussau – Member for Ouyen, Victorian Wheat Growers Association Foundation Member 1932
1935 -38 Mr Albert Louis  Bussau - Attorney General & Minister for Transport
1938  Mr Albert Louis Bussau -Agent General for Victoria in London then became Chairman of AWB
1939 – 1952 Keith Dodgshun MLA for Ouyen
1954 – 1991 Dr ADJ Stoutjesdijk OBE
1970-   Heather Mitchell OBE
1970 – Lester Mitchell MBE
1970 – Vera Molnar BEM
1926/29 -  Bert & Agnes Hilton MBE - Agnes arrived (Summer 1926) and 1929 Bert moved.
1974 - January - Horace Walter GOULD MBE
Other professional achievers: