Travelling Australia - Journal 2012
22 April 2012 - Numurkah
We stayed in Numurkah for little more than a week at the caravan park on the banks of Broken Creek which had overflowed and flooded the caravan park and much of the town a few months previously. The term 'Creek' gives the impression of a small stream, but Broken Creek passing the caravan park was at least 20 metres wide and flowing quickly. There are still rows of sandbags along the creek but whether these protected the town is unclear. Although there are few signs of flood damage on buildings, locals say that 70 per cent of the town was flooded to a depth of about a metre and the hospital is still closed because of flood damage. Photographs of the flood confirm the extent of the water.

Whatever damage was caused by flooding, the parkland along Broken Creek has been well restored. The neat and well-trimmed appearance of the grass, gardens and trees along the Creek goes a long way to explaining the pleasant appearance of Numurkah. Judging by the gardens somebody cares about the appearance of the town.
Melville Street businesses Businesses in Numurkah's main shopping street - Melville Street

Red brick building One of several older red-brick buildings along Melville Street. The broad cream trims on most of these older buildings indicate the same architect at work.

This is a town of 4,643 people (2006 census), 37 kilometres north of Shepparton. The Goulburn Valley Highway serves the town but does not run through the main street. The area was settled by squatters in the late 1830s who tied up large areas in their runs. The Victorian Parliament passed legislation in the 1860s allowing small farmers to take up land already used by squatters for grazing sheep. Under these land acts large runs were broken up and used for agriculture instead of grazing; the population soon increased. Numurkah was surveyed in 1875 and the Post Office opened in 1878. The railway station opened on the Melbourne to Cobram line in 1881.

Irrigation schemes introduced after the First World War (1914-18) to dam and divert the waters of the Murray River and its tributaries into irrigation channels serving farming districts provided certainty for farmers in the area. Farming was encouraged and the area remains a patchwork of irrigated paddocks in a network of rivers, creeks and irrigation channels. Herds of dairy cattle are prominent. Other agricultural activities in the area including cropping; Numurkah is the site of a Riverland Oilseed Processors plant specialising in crushing canola seed for oil.

The town acknowledges its reliance on irrigation with an ornamental Dethbridge Wheel designed to measure the flow of irrigation water mounted in the middle of a main street roundabout slowly rotating as water flows underneath it.

Most shops in Numurkah are along Melville Street with a pleasantly busy appearance with very few empty shopfronts which easily depress a shopping area. Many public and business buildings erected a hundred years ago of red brick with an eye-pleasing broad cream trim remain standing in the main street providing colour and a distinctive touch to the town. The Court House building, also of red brick, is more ornate than the other buildings.

Dethbridge Wheel Ornamental Dethbridge wheel in the middle of Melville Street.

Courthouse Numurkah court house.