Rochester is a small town in country Victoria, Australia. It is located 180 km north of Melbourne with a mixture of rural and semi-rural communities on the northern Campaspe River, between Bendigo and the Murray River port of Echuca. At the 2016 census, Rochester had a population of 3,113.
The area around the Campaspe River was known as Yalooka, which for thousands of years was home to the Pinpandoor, the local tribe of Aboriginees.
Rochester (via Rowechester) was named after Dr John Pearson Rowe, who had a hotel here before the township was gazetted in 1855.
The Post Office opened on 11 May 1863 and the town was reached by the railway line from Bendigo (connecting it to Melbourne) in 1864.
The town is famous as the birthplace in 1904 of Australian racing and endurance cyclist, Sir Hubert Opperman, affectionately known as Oppy. There is a museum dedicated to Oppy in Moore street, and a statue of him winning the 24-hour Bol D’Or race in Paris in 1928. On his 90th birthday Oppy donated one of his trusty Malvern Star bicycles to the museum.
The town today
Agriculture plays an important part in the economy of Rochester. Primary agriculture includes dairy, tomatoes, cattle and sheep. There are also some grain and seed farms. The Murry Goulburn (dairy processing) factory was a large employer, unfortunantly it closed late 2017. There are also several other smaller industries.
It has a co-educational public Primary and Secondary College with 470 pupils in 2004.
Spare time in Rochester often revolves around sport, with tennis, cricket, basketball, Australian rules football, netball, lawn bowls, cycling and swimming all well supported. The town has an Australian Rules football team competing in the Goulburn Valley Football League known as the Tigers, and last won the GVFL premiership in 2012.
The town has its own railway station.
Rochester was the birthplace of Sir Hubert Opperman, an acclaimed endurance cyclist and politician.
High intensity rainfall in January 2011 caused major flooding across much of the western and central parts of the Australian state of Victoria. Rochester suffered the greatest flood in the town’s history in January 2011 . Around 80% of the town was inundated with water from the Campaspe River. The Campaspe reached a peak of 9.17m (at the Rochester Syphon) during the late afternoon of the 15th. Recordings at the Rochester Township station ceased on the morning of the 15th after it too was swallowed by the rising river. Many of the town’s residents were evacuated to the town of Echuca, 30 kilometres (19 mi) to the north, with the military being called in to assist the evacuation of the Rochester hospital.
The floods were the result of a large amount of rain falling into the Campaspe catchment at Lake Eppalock throughout the course of the week prior to the flood. Large volumes of water coursed down Eppalock’s spillways directly into the Campaspe, directly affecting towns downstream.
Hubert Opperman statue
- Australian Bureau of Statistics (27 June 2017). “Rochester (State Suburb)”. 2016 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 29 January 2018.
- Campaspe Shire, Placenames, retrieved 2009-05-01
- Premier Postal History, Post Office List
- Sporting Pulse, Rochester, retrieved 2010-12-22
- Golf Select, Campaspe, retrieved 2009-05-11 Cite error: Invalid
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- Harris, Whitney; Henry, Lauren (2011-01-16). “Historic town prepares for the worst”. The Age. Melbourne.
Media related to Rochester, Victoria at Wikimedia Commons