Travelling Australia - Journal 2012
22-27 May 2012 - Horsham
Winter had definitely arrived during our stay in Horsham but it was a mild winter. Many days were comfortable, provided we were properly dressed, but a few days were cold, wet, windy and miserable and best spent indoors. Nights were generally cool to cold with temperatures down to 4 or 5 °C not uncommon. Fortunately, on the day with most unpleasant weather I had booked the Pathfinder in for a service and we could not have done any sightseeing anyway.

Despite some rainfall this week there has not been much rain at all this autumn and the Wimmera is fairly dry. Dry enough for farmers to delay seeding in the hope suitable rain will fall to germinate the crop. Seems strange that several weeks ago we were adjusting our plans to deal with flooding in parts of New South Wales and north-eastern Victoria.

Horsham is the largest population centre in the Wimmera region of western Victoria (sometimes informally described as the capital of the Wimmera). Population was 14,000 in the 2006 census. The city is on the Adelaide-Melbourne railway line with three Overlander services a week. It is on the Western Highway between Melbourne and Adelaide and at the junction of this highway with the Henty Highway from Portland on the coast to Mildura on the Murray River. As well, the Wimmera Highway goes from Horsham to Naracoorte in South Australia with onward good road to Mount Gambier and Adelaide.
Firebrace street
Firebrace Street, the main shopping street in Horsham.
Wimmera River
The Wimmera River backed up behind the weir at Horsham.
from mt ar
Cropland viewed from Mt Arapile west of Horsham.
Horsham has a full complement of shops and businesses centered on the main street (Firebrace Street) and extending over two or three blocks in both directions. The shopping area is quite compact as the newer supermarkets have been built relatively close to the main street (within one or two blocks); sometimes availability of land pushes new supermarkets some distance from the formal main street leading to divided shopping areas; not in Horsham. There are three supermarkets (Aldi, Coles, Safeway). More industrial businesses (e.g. tyres and car dealers) tend to be along the highways into town. Firebrace Street does not carry highway traffic so has been improved to suit normal traffic with the knowledge that long B-double heavy transports with 9 wheels on each side will not be negotiating roundabouts and other corners.

The original post office building (completed in 1880) was demolished in 1970; the bell from the clock was retained and incorporated in a special purpose piece of artwork on the footpath outside the new post office building. This artwork is about two metres high and coloured bright red; it easily attracts attention. The clock from the original post office was moved to the T & G building across the intersection when the original post office was demolished.
Post office Post Office in Firebrace Street.

Post office artwork Street art work surmounted by the bell from the original post office clock mounted in the building demolished in 1970.

Average maximum temperature is 21.5°C and average minimum is8.2°C.

Horsham is on the Wimmera River which rises in the Grampians so Horsham, with annual rainfall of 446 millimetres, get the benefit of 1000 millimetres annual rainfall in the Grampians. A weir across the Wimmera backs up an extensive stretch of water serving as a focus for the city with a riding/walking/running track.

Horsham is roughly in the middle of the Wimmera and is the major service centre for the surrounding agricultural area dominated by grain growing. But sheep grown for wool are reasonably common and there is even one dairy farm just outside the town. Tourism is not a major economic activity but there is a useful Visitor Information Centre and proximity to the Grampians ensures tourists visit Horsham. Less well known than the Grampians is Mount Arapiles west of Horsham; this is a 369 metre high granite mountain with a widespread reputation among climbers. The mountain is in a national park with a reasonable bitumen road to the top with excellent views over the surrounding Wimmera so it is attractive to non-climber tourists.

One interesting feature in the city is a small extension under the street name signs explaining in a very few words the origin of the street name. Not surprisingly, many streets are named after pioneers and early settlers of the region.

While driving around the town we noticed that newer houses, built on concrete slabs without using stumps, were very low. Slabs were so widespread that we wondered why stumps were not used. The clue may have been in a display describing brickworks once operated along the river using good clay found there. The brickworks had closed in 1939 for several reasons one being that brick houses and buildings had gone out of favour in Horsham because of the "shifting soil". Concrete slabs may be widely used because the soil is unsuitable for alternative foundations. Whatever the reason, residential areas in Horsham are distinctive because of the low-built houses.