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The History of Horsham


First occupants of the Horsham area were the indigenous Djura Balug clan, one of 37 clans of the Jardwadjali language group. The main camping area of the Djura Balug is south west of the Wimmera River near Curran road. This camp is known as Wopet-Bungundilar and today is an important site protected under the State Archaelogical and Aboriginal Relics Preservation Act 1972.

Explorer Major Thomas Mitchell named the Wimmera River on 18 July 1836, after questioning the local aborigines. He travelled on the south side of the river from Mt Zero to Mt Arapiles. This was a very wet year and a glowing report went back to the Government in New South Wales. As a result pastoral pioneers were attracted to the Wimmera. The first in this area was James Darlot who set up a campsite at Dooen on 10 August 1842. James Darlot leased 100,000 acres, which he named Brighton Station, on the northern side of the Wimmera River. Horsham is in the west boundary of Brighton Station.

On 27 July 1847 Thomas Halfpenny was the public servant who accepted the position of Senior Constable of Police for the region. He was the first resident of the area now known as Horsham. The area beside the Wimmera River was named Horsham by James Darlot, who chose the name of a town in England that he had travelled through. Within 18 months he had two more constables and a clerk of Petty Sessions, Patrick McLachlan. The arrival of George Langlands on 1 July 1849 is regarded as the starting date of the township of Horsham, although Thomas Halfpenny had been there two years earlier. George Langlands set up his store on the northeast corner of what are now Hamilton and Darlot Streets.

The first survey of the township of Horsham was completed for the New South Wales Government in 1849. The map, produced by surveyor De Little, showed the Constable's House, a hut, Watch House and Court House, Langland's Store, several huts, a pound and the Horsham Inn. Captain John Campbell ran the inn.


On the 1 July 1851, Victoria was declared as a State, separating from New South Wales. When the first census was conducted by the state on 26 April 1854, the population of Horsham was 57, 33 males and 24 females. The population of the Wimmera Police District was 2,685.

The Horsham township was servicing the Wimmera region at that time, a role it still enjoys.


Important dates in the development of Horsham since 1854 are:

24 April 1862 Horsham District Road Board formed - the first local government body
4 March 1864  Shire of Wimmera formed
1869 Land Act    Resulted in the development of closer settlement and by the 1880s the end of the era of the squatter
17 November 1882 Horsham became a Borough; population approximately 2,100
17 November 1932 Horsham declared a town; population 5,000
25 May 1949 Horsham declared a city; population 5,600
20 January 1995

Horsham Rural City council was formed by merging local government areas of Arapiles, Horsham City and Wimmera; population 17,870, service area 4,300 km2.


Information provided by:-

Horsham Historical Society Inc.