The twin cities at the border of Victoria and New South Wales, Albury and Wodonga are located around 300km north east of Melbourne, Wondonga being in Victoria and Albury in NSW. The tourism brochure describes the land as where sophisticated urban centre meets untamed countryside.
Albury was first explored by Alexander Hamilton Hume and William H Hovell on their expedition from Lake George to Port Phillip in 1824. The expedition team discovered Murray river on 16th November 1824 and named it Hume River. In 1829 explorer Captain Charles Sturt discovered Hume River at its junction with Murrumbidgee River and named it Murray River and eventually it became known as Murray River. As per records the aboriginal name for the river was Millewa.
In 1835, Charles Hobsen Ebden’s Mungabareena run included the land where Albury now stands. He erected a homestead at Bonegilla and placed William Wyse as stockman in charge. William’s brother James Wyse joined him in 1837. James Wyse was the purchaser of several Albury township allotments in the second land sale in 1841.
The Wiradjuri people occupied the area before the European arrival. They were a fine active race, well built with most up to 6ft tall and courageous. The settlers and their stock were speared by the aborigines, so the stockmen never went out alone or unarmed. But the aborigines were timid at night, owing to which they suffered losses by the attacks of other races.
In 1836 Mungabareena run was sold to Paul Huon, whose headquarters were at Wodonga, a station formed for him by Charles Huon. Paul gave the run to his sister Mrs Michelle and her son Thomas Mitchell took charge of the Station.
Robert Brown, native of Dubbo in NSW , with his brother- in- law A.A.Huon, was the first to settle on Albury in 1836. Brown built a store and later an accommodation house and a ferry. Albury was known as the “Crossing place” on those days. The aboriginal name for the place was Yarra Wuddah, signifying the red soil. Albury was surveyed by Thomas Scott Townsend in 1838 and was named so, after his hometown in Surrey. By 1845, 65 people were calling Albury home. Townsend originally proposed the name Bungambrewatha , which was the aboriginal name for the area.
Horse racing was one of the first organised sports in Albury. First Albury Cup was held in March 1845 with horses invited from Sydney and Melbourne to participate.
On 1st July 1851, the district of Port Phillip became the colony of Victoria. The Murray River was decided as the northern boundary. Originally the border was proposed at Murrumbidgee River, north of Albury, but due to a clerical error, Murray River became the boundary of NSW and Victoria.
There had been considerable friction between the colonies about the goods passing the border and it lasted till the Federation was announced in 1st January 1901. The Colony of NSW stationed Chief Constable Henry Ringwood at Albury to keep record of all dutiable good entering NSW. John Kelly was appointed as Sub Collector of Customs at Albury. Imposition of duties had a detrimental effect on the economy of border towns.
The first bank in Albury, The Bank of NSW was opened in 1856 and the same year the first newspaper “The Border Post” was also published from Albury. Municipality of Albury was proclaimed in 25th June 1859. Wodonga created a shire in March 1876.
Wodonga got its name from an aboriginal word ‘Wodong’ which was pronounced as Wodong – gar, meaning an edible nut or place of pigeon. For a short time the name was changed to Belvoir and then changed back to Wodonga.
In 1848, Paul Huon applied for a lease of his “Woodonga” run, which contained an approx. area of 41,000 acres, had been in his licensed occupation for 10 years. In 1849, it was transferred to his son William and he applied in 1851 for the right to purchase under Pre-emptive privilege.
The township was surveyed in 1852 by Thomas Wedge, Assistant Surveyor. The first sale of land in Belvoir was held at Wangaratta on 28th April 1854.
The Wodonga and Towong Sentinel established by James Ryan was Wodonga’s fist newspaper. This weekly newspaper was printed and published until 1965
The railway was extended from Melbourne to Wodonga in 1873 and connected to Albury in 1881. Wodonga railway station lies on the Melbourne–Albury and Melbourne–Sydney lines. The Sydney to Melbourne railway line, which ran through the centre of Wodonga has been relocated to the north of the town. A new railway station was also recently constructed, and the new line was officially opened in late 2010.
The region suffered the effects of drought during the second half of 1890s, and 1902 was a record drought year. So, there was a need to collect water during the winter and spring to release in drier months to ensure reliable all round supply of water. In 1902 interstate Royal Commission on River Murray recommended the construction of a dam. Construction of Hume dam in Wodonga began in 1919 and was completed in 1936. The Hume weir holds more water than Sydney Harbour and it is a popular recreational Centre. . The Dam also has a small hydroelectric power plant.
What to see at Albury and Wodonga?
Bonegilla Migrant Experience
BME have a range of tours available, all of which provide a rare opportunity to explore a collection of original buildings and to truly walk in the shoes of those migrants who made this their first Australian home.
Open from 10am to 4pm daily. /Closed Good Friday, Anzac Day and Christmas Day.
Address: 82 Bonegilla Rd, Bonegilla VIC 3691
A key landmark of Albury – Wondonga region, the lake Hume is popular with tourist for boating, fishing, camping, sightseeing and other recreational activities. To fish at Lake Hume, you must have a current Victorian fishing licence.
Location: located 16km east of Albury -Wodonga, immediately downstream of the Murray River and Mitta Mitta River confluence.
Around 200,000 people visit the 4-hectare garden situated at the city centre.
Botanic Garden and recreation Ground were dedicated in 1864 and was known as Botanical Reserve. The work of laying out the garden began only in 1878, after Mr John Howard of Lavington was given the job of planning and laying out a garden. In 1901 James Edward Richards Fellowes was appointed his successor and John Edward is credited with remodelling the garden to what it is today.
There is a special garden built for children which features a life-sized dinosaur, a troll cave and a fairy temple.
Albury Railway Station
Albury railway station was built in such a way to show NSW’s colonial pride over Victoria. It is designed in Italianate style under the direction of John Witton. The building was opened on 26th February 1882 and the premiers of both Victoria and NSW attended the official opening ceremony and that was the first time in Australian history both the colonial premiers had attended a public ceremony together. The 455m long platform was the longest in Australia at that time. NSW and Victoria maintained separate format of rail gauges until 1962, due to which travellers from both directions had to change trains at Albury.
In 1915, town planner Charles Reade proposed a plan to erect a monument on the Western Hill to memorialise soldiers fallen in combat. Designed by Louis Harrison and built by Tom Bartleson, the monument was opened on Anzac Day 1925.
The Army Museum Bandiana
This is one of the largest and most diversified army museums in Australia. There is an extensive collection of army vehicles and armoured vehicles.
Address: Gaza Ridge Barracks, Bandiana, VIC 3691
Hours: Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 10am to 2pm. Closed on Sundays, Victorian public holidays and Christmas Eve until New Years Day.
Albury visitor information Centre is located at the Albury Railway Station Precinct.
Address: Railway Place, Cnr Smollett and Young Streets, Albury, NSW
Open 7 days a week. 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday. 10am to 3pm Weekends and Public Holidays.