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Our Kelpie Capital – CASTERTON
Major Thomas Mitchell was one of the first Europeans to pass through the area in 1836 as part of the Australia Felix expedition. Mitchell’s positive perception of the land for farming was one of the factors bringing the Henty Brothers after their arrival Portland Bay in 1834.
Moving north the Henty’s travelled inland from Portland with flocks and began farming. After acquiring the pastoral runs of ‘Merino Downs’, “Muntham’, ‘Sandford’ and ‘Connells Run’. They were followed to the area by others.
The need for a crossing place along the Glenelg River brought about the founding ofCasterton in 1840.
The Glenelg Inn in 1846 was the first significant building followed by a post office in the next decade and racing club and many other businesses formed. During the 1850 surveying was commissioned. From the Telegraph arriving during the 1860’s the Cordial Factory; The Casterton News followed into the 1880’s brought the breakup of the large squatting runs so to encourage closer settlement and also the rail line. By the 1890’s there was a Kangaroo Tannery and Cheese factory
Floods and fires have been a part of the growth of the town giving a number of rebuilding changes around Casterton in its early years. Many re built icons were replaced by grander buildings that showed styles of the original.
The flood of 1946 is remembered as ‘The Big Flood’ of the Sandford and Casterton areas and it was reported that 628 points of rain fell in four days. As with most Victorian regional districts fires have also been a major part of life in the country with the district experiencing its fair share of the state’s major fires: 1901 Black Thursday, 1939 Black Friday, 1951 and 1955.
The area surrounding Casterton is picturesque with its rolling hills and rich agricultural land. The area has many interesting attractions and several events that draw large crowds to the region. The annual Kelpie Muster attracts people from all corners of the state, as do the Casterton Street Drags, Merino Community Festival, and the Vintage Car Rally, Tractor Trek and Pride of Ownership weekend, which is one of the largest car rallies to be held in rural Victoria.
Warrock Homestead just north of Casterton is the birthplace of the Kelpie working dog breed, which was born in the early 1870s, and therefore the area was dubbed “Kelpie Country”. The Kelpie walking trail is testament to the working dog’s ability and links the heritage street precinct with the surrounding parkland reserves with 5 unique sculptures depicting the Kelpie.
Warrock Homestead open to visitors by appointment is situated approximately 26 km from Casterton, amongst rolling hills and large river red gums and epitomizes the richness of the
Overlooking the township of Casterton, and lit up brightly each night, is the Scout Emblem or Fleur De Lys. The emblem was carved into the hill in 1941 and is 300 feet in circumference.
Australia’s largest Red Gum is also found near Casterton. Bilston’s tree stands at 44 metres tall and is 7.26 metres around the girth. It was a sapling in 1200 AD, making it one of the oldest living trees in Australia.