Location and Historical Links
Hopetoun is on the Henty Highway between Horsham and Mildura and as you pass through town there is a water fountain in the centre of the road which means you have to stop as a roundabout has been designed around the historical fountain which marks the site of the first water tower in the town. To the east of this site is Lake Lascelles, the original water supply for the town and now a jewel of Hopetouns crown as a recreational lake.
The special strength of Hopetoun is that historically it has always justified its existence and continues to do so. It had a strong voice with Government in the early days, then became a town of industrious volunteers via Rotary, Lions and Apex Clubs, and despite many changes, years of drought in the early part of the 20th Century, it simply seems to absorb change and shift focus.
If you take the time to drive around town, you will notice that the housing is of every decade since 1890, which means that someone always felt that Hopetoun had a future or that they wanted to stay here a long time. This town proudly presents a restored home built around 1846 called Corrong Homestead, through to a modern loading bay at its railway station to load mineral sands mined at Kulwin near Ouyen by Illuka Mineral Sands.
When visiting this town, you will learn that it is quite central to many regional cities such as Mildura, Swan Hill and Horsham, and locals access these places on a day trip, yet the town is far enough away from bigger centres to sustain a clothing shop, a footwear shop and all the basics such as Post Office, Baker, Chemist, Newsagent, Butcher, Cafe, Hairdressers, Supermarket, Fuel, and Hotel. There are three schools, a Kindergarten, a Health Service, a Doctor and an aerodrome.
Luxuries and special treats such as commercial take aways can be found about 80 minutes from Hopetoun, however local takeaways are popular, and cafe lattes are available also in the local towns of Rosebery, Lascelles, Beulah and Woomelang.
Hopetoun is also central to accessing Wyperfeld National Park, so any perishable supplies that a traveller or camper may need can be purchased at Hopetoun, even picnic lunches for day trippers, but like all country towns, the general shops close at 12noon on Saturday. The Cafe and Hotel are open much longer. RACV is available from the town, there is good mobile phone access and public Internet facilities at Gateway Beet and the Neighbourhood House. However, Satellite phones are needed in the park areas. Further business details such as opening hours and further services are available in the Business Directory on this site.
The town stands on Yarriambiack Creek, also near Lake Corrong. 'Yarriambiack' is said to mean 'creek tribes' while 'corrong' is a bark canoe. Both words presumably derive from the language of the Yarrikaluk people who inhabited the area prior to European settlement. The last full blooded Aboriginal to live at Hopetoun was called 'Jowley' or Black Peter McGinnis as he was raised by the McGuiness family and died in 1912 as an old man.
Peter McGinnis was granted a sheep run here in 1846 which he named Corrong Station. In 1878 he sold his property to Edward Lascelles. Lascelles was dubbed the 'Mallee King' and 'Father of the Mallee' as it was he more than anyone else who was responsible for the European settlement of the district. He began the process of destroying local vermin such as the rabbits that had been introduced in the 1860s and which had significantly reduced wool production (a rabbit-proof fence was eventually built along the 36th parallel to prevent rabbits moving into the Wimmera region).
Lascelles also agitated for lengthier terms of tenure so that pastoralists could improve their land and he was the first to envisage an agricultural future for an area which was not considered to have much promise. He subdivided his property, developed a water supply and began growing wheat which has since become the mainstay of the region (half of the state's wheat and barley and a good portion of its oats now derive from the Mallee). To the west of Hopetoun he developed a six-acre experimental orchard named the Lochs and he successfully lobbied the government to extend the railway to Hopetoun in 1893.
Lascelles never made a fortune from his Mallee endeavours but never doubted his cause and, by the time he died at Geelong in 1917, he was regarded as one of the state's major pioneers. The drinking fountain in the middle of town near the Memorial Hall is dedicated to his memory.
Lascelles' homestead, built in 1891, became known as Hopetoun House after the seventh Earl of Hopetoun who was Victorian governor from 1889 to 1895 and the first governor-general of Australia (1901 to 1903). He was a friend of Lascelles' and a regular visitor to the house. Hopetoun developed around and drew its name from Hopetoun House. The first township blocks were also sold in 1891.