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History of Berriwillock

Berriwillock has a population of around 100 people and is located 334 km north-west of Melbourne on the Calder Highway, on the “143rd meridian where it crosses the highway”.

Berriwillock district was settled as far back as the early 1890’s. According to “While the Mallee Roots Blaze” by Winifred Nixon, “by 1891 settlement was beginning not only on the farm selections but there was also the nucleus of a small township. The earliest building in the township was a wine shanty made of bags. Several large tanks or dams had been sunk around this area either by the government or the station owners. Water for domestic purposes and for stock was originally carted from Birchip and also from Green Lake where some of the settlers had dug wells”.

Berriwillock was part of Springfield Station associated with E H Lascelles and selected by D. McSwain and R. Sandford. Unlike some surrounding areas, the country was thickly covered in Mallee scrub. Clearing, fencing and vermin eradication were the first order of the day.

As Winifred Nixon recounts “following the line of least resistance the settlers cleared first the patches where the scrub was least vigorous and proceeded to sow small areas as soon as possible. Thus the plots were often of very queer shapes. Hired Mallee cutters worked from daylight till dark clearing the land for 6 shillings an acre. Most of the 6 shillings disappeared in the effort to quench the insatiable thirst created”.

The railway line, completed in 1894, was important to the early life of the town and remains a vital part of the town today even though not heavily used. The town grew up around the nucleus of the rail line and the rail station.

When the “dog netting fence” went through in the 1930’s Berriwillock was on the outside. However the introduction of the channel system for stock and domestic water in the same period made a huge difference to the lives of Berriwillock district people.

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