History of Hopetoun

History of Hopetoun

History of Hopetoun Overview

Hopetoun 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 is linked to many relevant historical groups/organisations in Victoria and Australia.

Books about the Mallee

“The Shows Not Over” Kerry Conway camden@netstra.com.au for orders.

Other books of interest are:

  • “A Mallee Shire History of Karkarooc 1896 –1995”  Phil Taylor
  • “The Mallee Pioneers of Hopetoun” by Agnes Hilton 1982
  • “The Story of the Mallee” by Alfred Kenyon 1912
  • “Places of Interest – 1846-2016” A book written by Kerry Conway with Terry Sheehy, a local historian. There are 170 POI in Hopetoun. Order from Kerry, details above.

Significant Historical Buildings

Hopetoun House – privately owned. This house was built in 1891 for town squire EH Lascelles and his 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 – Corrong Homestead was built circa 1846 by Peter McGinnis. He used vertical pine slabs with a grooved frame top and bottom. The roof consisted of a sapling frame covered with wooden shingles. The building consisted of two rooms to which more rooms were added as his family grew.

McGinnis Park plantings were commenced May 1984, as a memorial to the first European Settlers; Peter McGinnis in 1846 and to those who came after. Native trees were planted in complementary groups to a design by Malcolm Hatcher.

The museum has an extensive collection of memorabilia from the early times. Further family history information is available for sale from the Hopetoun and District Historical Society archives. The Museum housed at the Old School in Austin Street, will be open to the public shortly, however enquiries are welcome on Tuesdays from 10 till Noon when archiving is occurring.

Lake Corrong Homestead is open most Fridays from 9.30am to midday. Admission is $5 and group bookings are available.

Hopetoun House

Corrong Homestead

On July 9th, 1846, Peter McGinnis and George Bell arrived at Lake Corrong with their sheep flock. They took up 46,000 acres and named it Lake Corrong Sheep Run. Within a few years, it was widely known as Lake Corrong Station.

McGinnis was hard working and understood the potential of Lake Corrong Station to grow wool.

From the initial 2100 flock, the business grew. In 1848, with considerable investment, the station carried 12,000 sheep. By the 1870s, with continued improvements – fencing and watering holes, the run was 433,000 acres. It was nearly all fenced and carried 93,000 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.

The two-room cottage, Corrong Homestead, survives later additions and renovations. It was erected less than a mile northwest of the lake. The timbers came from the stands of white cypress pine that once flourished on the hill where Hopetoun now stands. The original roof, likely made of split shingles, was replaced by corrugated iron sometime after 1852. By 1860 additional rooms were added to form an L-shaped plan, and the homestead became the central feature in a compound of outbuildings to furnish the station operations.

In 1877 McGinnis sold the station to E.H Lascelles, a wool broker and businessman from Geelong.

In 1889 farmers were able to obtain freehold on 320 acres of land. The new settlers came mostly from South Australia and were experienced in growing wheat. Families of German, English and Irish descent came across, cleared the mallee scrub and began farming in the district. Some descendants still live and farm here.

Lascelles supported the development of farming and the growing community with his considerable talent and energy and financial support. The town was planned. Schools, churches, sporting facilities and businesses all contributed to Hopetoun in the 1890s. He built the railway from Beulah to Hopetoun to cart grain to Portland. He was a personable, compassionate and generous man. His passion to habitat this region and prove it to be bearable and viable has left a legacy of undying respect for this great man known affectionately as ‘the father of the mallee’.

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

The farming community is a mix of descendants of the pioneers or those who settled here sometime 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 farmers can harvest something most years, and in bumper years, the yield and quality are very proud of.

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

Excavation for the Channel System

Key Dates

First Fifty Years 1846 – 1896

1846 Peter McGinnis (pastoralist) and his partner George Bell select their Run at Lake Corrong after following the Yarriambiack Creek with their flock of sheep.
Late 1840’s Corrong Homestead built for McGinnis
18… McGinnis family adopt orphan Aboriginal boy Jowley
1874 Peter McGinnis and 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  Lake Corrong Station was named Hopetoun in honour of John Adrian Louis Hope ( the 7th Earl of Hopetoun) and the Governor of Victoria, after a discussion with EH Lascelles during one of his many visits.
1891 The first blocks of land were sold in the township of Hopetoun
1880s–90s 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 Hopetoun State School was built using lands and materials donated by EH Lascelles. Previously the school was housed in a private dwelling on Lascelles Street.

1893 ~ The railway line reached Hopetoun

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
1910 Fire Brigade formed in Hopetoun
1911 Jowley died after a full life, buried at Hopetoun
1912 Water commission took over management of the 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 was elected to parliament MLC for Northwest
1919 RSL known as RSSILA formed
1920 First plane landed in Hopetoun
1922 Memorial Hall built – opened 1923
1930 First tractor in region
1935 Country Women’s Association (C.W.A.) formed in Hopetoun
1935  The Back To Hopetoun Celebrations were held over several days with many pioneering families attending and sharing in an array of organised activities
1938 First concrete silos built (200,000 bushells)
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

1901 ~ Members Of The Hopetoun Golf Club

1910 ~ Fire Brigade formed in Hopetoun

1923 ~ Memorial Hall opened

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)
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 Extra steel silo built (135,000 bushells)
1963 Court house built (currently rented to others)
1963 Hopetoun High School built & opened

1940 ~ Harvest at Hopetoun

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
1973 Premier Town Award
1973 Caravan Park completed
1973 Corrong Retirement Village opened
1974 Bowls Carnival commenced
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

1963 ~ Hopetoun High School built & opened

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 a loading bay at the railway station in Hopetoun to transport sands to Douglas
2021 Cessation of Hopetoun’s Lioness Club, the last services group in Hopetoun
2022 Renovation and opening of Power House Accommodation and Arts Studio
2022 Re opening of Hopetoun Community Gymnasium in the new location.

2006 ~ New Police Station opened

People who shaped Hopetoun

Edward Harewood Lascelles

Peter McGinnis

George Bell

1819 – 1886 Peter McGinnis
1890 Edward Harewood Lascelles, Lord Hopetoun – Governor of Victoria, the first Governor General at Federation in 1901

1919 George Goudie – MLC for Northwest Province
1919 – 1935 Commissioner for Public Works & Minister for Immigration & Minister for Mines
1932 Mr Albert Louis Bussau – Member for Ouyen, Victorian Wheat Growers Association Foundation Member 1932
1935 – 1938 Mr Albert Louis Bussau – Attorney General & Minister for Transport
1935 –1939 Minister for water supply, Minister for Labour, Vice President of Land & Works
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 MBE
Circa 1970’s – Bert Hilton MBE
Circa 1970’s – Agnes Hilton MBE
1974  Horace Walter Gould MBE
2020 Olive Wellington OAM
2021 Claire White OAM