Horsham (//) is a regional city in the Wimmera region of western Victoria, Australia. Located on a bend in the Wimmera River, Horsham is approximately 300 kilometres (190 mi) northwest of the state capital Melbourne. In May 2018, Horsham City had an estimated population of 17,023. with its unofficial subdivisions bringing that total to 17,916. It is the most populous city in Wimmera, and the main administrative centre for the Rural City of Horsham local government area. It is the eleventh largest city in Victoria after Melbourne, Geelong, Ballarat, Bendigo, Wodonga, Mildura, Shepparton, Warrnambool, Traralgon, and Wangaratta.
Horsham was named by original settler James Monckton Darlot after the town of Horsham in his native England. It grew throughout the latter 19th and early 20th centuries as a centre of Western Victoria’s wheat and wool industry, becoming the largest city in the Wimmera and Western Victoria by the early 1910s. Horsham was declared a city in 1949 and was named Australia’s Tidiest Town in 2001, 2015 and 2016.
Recent archaeological research of rock shelters, by La Trobe University, in the Grampians found clear evidence of Aboriginal occupation 3-4,000 years ago and the possibility of occupation up to 22,000 years ago. The rock shelters would have provided reliable access to water and a base to hunt mega-fauna on the plains of the Wimmera. Then “around the time of the arrival of the First Fleet, the Jardwa people were being forced south by either a Murray or northern Victorian tribe called the Wotjo.” By the time of European exploration and settlement, the Jardwadjali language (A dialect of the Wemba-wemba language group common across most of Western Victoria.) was well established across the southern portion of the Wimmera region. Wimmera Aborigines hunted and traded widely, with stone for their tools coming up from the Grampians in the Ararat district. Relations between Europeans and Aboriginal people like across much of Australia were mixed, featuring both conflict and cooperation. One of the last Aboriginal missions in Victoria, Ebenezer Mission was run successfully by the Moravian Order during the 1870s and 1880s, providing education and employment for the region’s indigenous people before it fell into decline in the 1890s and closed in 1902.
Major Thomas Mitchell was the first European to pass through the area, naming the Wimmera River on 18 July 1836. After the explorer Edward Eyre passed through the region seeking an overland route between Port Philip and Adelaide, he reported to The Adelaide Gazette on 14 July 1838 that the region was “well-watered and affording good pasturage for stock.”
James Lawson, Sir William J Bracewell and the Squatters were the first European settlers in the Wimmera. William J Bracewell made the first claim, claiming 100,000 acres at Dooen on 10 August 1842. Although Captain Chris Lewis was the first resident of the Wimmera, settling at Ledcourt Station at Glenorchy in 1840. Charles Carter, a Squatter from Van Diemen’s Land established his property “Brim Springs” nearby in 1845. The Wimmera region was made part of the Portland Bay district in 1843 and then became its own district in 1846. Land ownership was formalised in 1847, and the “Wimmera squatters wasted no time in securing their land cheaply as leasehold.” George Langlands, a merchant from Melbourne was encouraged by James Darlot to move to the Wimmera region and open a store. Langlands reached the Wimmer and opened a general store in October 1849 on what is now the corner of Darlot and Hamilton Street. A Post Office had opened a year earlier on 1 July 1848. By 1851 the small village of Horsham had been established, consisting of an estimated 18 homes.
The 1851 census counted 2,019 people living in the Wimmera region. The Victorian gold rush connected Horsham with the rest of the state, when it became a stop-over point for the Gold Escort in 1851. Governance was formalised in 1858 when the Wimmera area was included in region’s first electoral district, covering an area from the Murry River in the north, then south to the Wimmera River and then east to the Grampian Range. Then in 1862 the Horsham District Road Board was established, which later evolved into the Horsham Shire with the passing of the Local Government Act in 1864. The electric telegraph was connected in 1875 and the main railway from Melbourne reached Horsham in 1879. The Horsham Borough Council and the Shire of Wimmera operated the McKenzie Creek Tramway from the town to a stone quarry, approximately 8 kilometres (5 mi) to the south. The horse tramway opened within the town in 1885 but had ceased operating by 1927. Special picnic trains operated from time to time conveying residents in open wagons along the McKenzie Creek Tramway.
The 1870s saw significant economic and demographic growth in Horsham. During this period the foundry, the hospital, and the Horsham Agricultural Society were established, with the first Horsham show held in 1876. Geoffrey Blainey, notes in his History of Victoria, that the Victorian railway building boom of the 1870s enabled large-scale wheat production to begin in the Wimmera. He also describes a unique migration of German farmers, mostly Lutherans from South Australia, who travelled across east in covered-wagons along with their families and herds of cattle and then settled in the Wimmera district. Blainey writes that “nothing in Australian history so resembles the opening of the American west as this trek of farmers to the Victorian plains in the 1870s’.” Farming production in the region dramatically increased, and wheat was established as the dominate agricultural crop.
Although flooding along the Wimmera River was noted during the early period of the settlement, the first major flood was recorded in 1883 with the first flood causing serious damage occurring in 1889, when several buildings and the tramway were damaged. Several serious floods then occurred along the Wimmera River over the next five decades, in 1894, 1903, 1909, 1915 and then in 1923. The flood in 1923 was the third largest on record. In response to this history of flooding, the council successfully applied in 1946 for money from the State Parliamentary Public Works Committee for flood management.
Men from Horsham fought in the First World War. “By mid-August 1914 the first of Horsham’s soldiers were given a rousing civic farewell at the Town Hall.” However conscription “divided the community”, with the Anti-Conscription League noting the high rate (6%) of conscription in the Horsham district. The Discharged Soldier Settlement Act of 1917 was created to give returning soldiers a head-start establishing farms in regional Australia. According to the act returning soldiers with farm-experience could apply for a block of land. By 1919 2,933 ex-servicemen had taken up the opportunity. The average size of the land grants were 250 to 500 acres. When World War Two started, men from Horsham again volunteered. The war effort was enthusiastically embraced, for example in May 1940, when King George VI made a Commonwealth-wide call to prayer, 1,800 people attended a religious service at the town hall. Returning servicemen were again given the opportunity to take up land grants at the end of the war, with the average size of the blocks being between 650 and 750 acres.
Horsham’s population had reached 6,388 in 1947 and so it was declared a city on 24 May 1949. In 1950 Horsham celebrated its Centenary with a parade through the city. But then tragedy struck on 24 February 1951 when a train and bus collided at a level crossing on Dimboola Road, resulting in 11 deaths. The Horsham Streetscape was dramatically remodelled in the 1960s when planning laws were changed and shopfront verandahs were removed from the Post Office, The Bull and Mouth, and The White Hart pubs. The Horsham City council installed the first parking meters on Firebrace Street in 1963. A major fire damaged the new State Public Office on McLachlan Street in 1971. In 1995, the Rural City of Horsham was formed through the amalgamation of the Horsham City, Wimmera and Aprapiles Shires. Horsham was then named Australia’s Tidiest Town in 2001 and was also named Victoria’s tidiest town in 2015.
The Black Saturday bushfires of 2009 affected Horsham, with 5,700 ha (14,000 acres) area burnt around the city’s fringe including the golf club and eight homes destroyed in the Haven area. Horsham experienced significant flooding in successive years in 2010 and 2011 Victorian floods. During these events, the Wimmera reached 3.32 m and 4.71 m respectively. The 2011 event was particularly severe with the Wimmera River reaching a record peak; over 1,000 residents were evacuated as flood waters divided the city and damaged 600 houses pushing up to a metre of water into parts of the CBD.
The city of Horsham is situated on the floodplain of the Wimmera River, south of the Dooen Swamp and north of the River’s junction with McKenzie Creek. The Wimmera River rises in the western slopes of the Pyrenees and then runs west towards Horsham before turning north at Quantong and heading north towards the Murray, but empties into Lake Hindmarsh. The Wimmera River is damned by a weir at the southern edge of the city. A recent study in December 2017, found that the Millennium drought decimated the Platypus population in the River leaving only a solitary colony south of the weir.
Horsham is classified as a semi-arid climate (Köppen climate classification BSk) similar to Mildura although with less rain and drier for more of the year. As such, although its elevation makes it on average a degree cooler than Mildura, it can receive relatively more extremes of temperature.
Climate data for Horsham Aerodrome (YHSM) since 1997 Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year Record high °C (°F) 46.0
Average high °C (°F) 31.0
Average low °C (°F) 12.5
Record low °C (°F) 1.0
Average precipitation mm (inches) 28.7
Average rainy days 2.8 2.6 2.6 3.9 6.1 6.8 8.1 7.6 7.1 5.2 4.5 3.8 61.1 Source: 
Horsham’s topography is flat, approximately 128 metres (420 ft) above sea level. The central business district (CBD) is laid out in a grid plan south of the train line and is characterised by wide streets and several roundabouts. Firebrace Street, running north-south through the middle of the CBD is one of Horham’s original “thoroughfares” (first surveyed in 1849) and is named after a soldier from the British Army, Major William Firebrace. Residential areas extend north of the train line, west towards Natimuk and south-west towards Haven and south-east across Burnt Creek. A light industrial area is located south of the Wimmera River.
Due to the flat topography and floodplain clay, there are very few multi-story buildings. The five most prominent buildings in the city are the State Government Offices on McLauchlin Street, the T&G clocktower on Firebrace Street, St John Anglican church on the Western Highway, the Horsham Cinema and Horsham Town Hall, both on Pynsent Street.
Due to Horsham’s location in the Murray Basin, the area to the east and south of the city contain extensive deposits of Mineral Sands, primarily ilmenite, zircon and rutile. Preliminary exploration was conducted in the 1980s at Drung, a locality 20 kilometres (12 mi) east of Horsham. However, the Conservation Council of Australia opposed the exploration citing the long-term consequences of mining activity and the possibility of inadequate rehabilitation.
In June 2018 new mining exploration leases for the Wimmera region were granted by the Victorian State Government.
In 1993 the Kennett Government passed the Local Government (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill which resulted in council amalgamations across Victoria. So in 1995 the City of Horsham merged with the Wimmera and Arapiles shires to form the Horsham Rural City Council, making Horsham the seat of local government. The current Mayor of Horsham is Mark Radford.
In the Legislative Assembly of Victoria Horsham is part of the Electoral district of Lowan and is currently represented by Emma Kealy. For the Legislative Council of Victoria Horsham is part of the Western Victoria Region and is currently represented by Jaala Pulford, Simon Ramsay, Gayle Tierney, Josh Morris and James Purcell.
In the Federal Parliament of Australia the city is represented in the Australian House of Representatives by the Division of Mallee. Currently held by Andrew Broad it is considered a very safe National party seat.
The Horsham Police station on Roberts Ave, along with ordinary policing duties also handles traffic, firearm registration and crime investigation. Next to the Police station is the Horsham Magistrates’ Court. 
The Horsham Botanic Gardens, managed by the Horsham Rural City Council, are located between the Horsham City Oval and Horsham Caravan Park and were designed by landscape architect William Guilfoyle. Sawyer park alongside the Wimmera River contains a sound shell and hosts the ANZAC day dawn service, Carols by Candlelight and Australia Day events.
The Horsham Town Hall, rebuilt and enlarged in February 2016, is the city’s main performing arts venue, attracting a wide range of national and international acts. It is operated by the Horsham Rural City Council also contains the Horsham Regional Art Gallery. The Wesley Performing Arts Centre, once the Wesley Church, was, until 2018, a second performance venue. However, it was closed indefinitely in June 2018 due to safety concerns. The Horsham Arts Council, formed in 1972 and based in Old Hamilton Road, regularly stages musicals. Horsham also hosts the annual Art is…Festival, some aspects of the biennial Nati Frinj Festival and Awakenings (Australia’s only regional disability arts festival).
Some of the Horsham pubs host live music and the city hosts both the annual Kannamroo festival and the annual Horsham Country Music Festival.
Horsham is served by two weekly newspapers, the Wimmera Mail-Times and the Weekly Advertiser. MXXFM 101.3 is a local commercial station and Triple H 96.5 FM is the local community radio station. Centre Cimenas manage a movie theatre on Pynsent St.
Most people in Horsham identified with Christianity (60% – which is higher than the national average) in the 2016 census although nearly 30% identified as “no religious affiliation”, which reflected the national average. There are over half dozen Protestant churches (Anglican, Assemblies of God, Church of Christ, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Salvation Army, Uniting Church and independent Pentecostal), a Roman Catholic Church, a Mormon chapel and a Jehovah Witness Kingdom Hall. The local Ministers Association established the Christian Food Depot on Firebrace street and help organise the annual Carols by Candlelight. The Lutheran Church oversees a local school (Holy Trinity College) and Nursing Home (Sunnyside Nursing Home) and maintains a Christian bookshop, Jacob’s Well.
Sport and fitness are popular pastimes in Horsham. The Horsham Aquatic Centre contains an indoor and outdoor pool, gym, kiosk and child care centre, owned by the Horsham Rural City Council and operated by the YMCA. Horsham has an outdoor velodrome, indoor squash centre as well as a Basketball stadium. The Horsham City Oval located between Baker Street and Hocking Street next to the Botanical Gardens hosts a variety of football games and cricket matches.
There are two football and netball leagues based in and around Horsham – the Wimmera Football & Netball League and the Horsham & District Football & Netball League. The town has two Australian rules football teams competing in the Wimmera Football League, the Horsham Demons and the Horsham Saints. The Demons have had success in recent years, having won the last 10 Wimmera Football League premierships until 2012. Kalkee have been the biggest grand final winners in the Horsham District League, in both football and netball, over the past 50 years. Footballer and 2014 Australian of the Year Adam Goodes grew up in Horsham, where he worked at the cinema before being drafted to the Sydney Swans. Horsham currently has four players representing the town in the Australian Football League.
Cricket and tennis are the main summer sports in Horsham. The Horsham Cricket Association has clubs based in the Horsham district including Laharum, Noradjuha, Quantong, Natimuk, Rupanyup, Minyip, Dimboola and Murtoa. Horsham teams include the Homers, Horsham Saints, Jung Tigers and Colts. Basketball is also popular in the town.
There are various volleyball facilities, with a weekly domestic competition run for enjoyment, and training programs run, in conjunction with Horsham’s key secondary school, Horsham College. Teams from the College compete in the National Volleyball Schools Cup each year, and over previous years, have won various gold, silver and bronze medals, in both men’s and women’s, Division 2, Division 1 and Honours.
Golfers play at the course of the Horsham Golf Club on Golf Course Road.
The Horsham Flying Club is the home of sport aviation and gliding in the Wimmera Mallee region of Victoria. The club was formed in 1963 as Wimmera Soaring Club and later amalgamated with Wimmera Sports Aircraft Association. The city also hosts the longest-running gliding competition in Australia, Horsham Week, held yearly in the first week of February since 1967.
operates from offices adjacent to May Park, while the Department of Health and Human Services has an office on McLachlan Street and there is a Centrelink branch on Darlot Street. Grampians Community Health, a not-for-profit company established in 1986, handles a variety of mental health issues, gambling, drug and alcohol rehabilitation services for the Wimmera region from its Horsham offices. The Children’s Hub on Kalkee Road, built and operated by the Horsham Rural City Council, handles immunisations, hosts playgroups, maternal health nurses, and is the location of one of Horsham’s five Kindergartens.
The Workingmen’s College opened in 1891 and continued until its closure in 1922. The original buildings of the College became the Horsham High School in 1912, however, the High School was moved to a new site on Dimboola Road in 1926. Public primary school education was conducted at the Central School until 1955 when another primary campus was added in the west. A third primary school was added in 1965 in the north. A Roman Catholic primary school was established in 1883 and a Lutheran primary school was established in 1978. Technical education was re-introduced as part of the Horsham High School curriculum in 1959 and the nearby Longernong Agricultural College was opened in 1889 at Dooen.
- Federation University: Wimmera campus offering “bachelor courses in Social Sciences, Business and as well as Masters programs and PhD Research.”
- Holy Trinity Lutheran College: independent, co-educational years prep to 12 school. Founded in 1978 and governed by a council elected from the Holy Trinity Lutheran Church
- Horsham College: Public co-educational years 7 to 12 high school.
- Horsham Primary School (298 and Rasmussan campuses): Public, co-educational years prep to 6 primary school.
- Horsham West and Haven Primary School: Public, co-educational years prep to 6 primary school.
- Ss Michael and John’s Primary School: Roman Catholic, co-educational, years prep to 6 primary school.
- St Bridget’s College: Roman Catholic, co-educational, years 7 to 12 high school.
The Wimmera Base Hospital located on Baillie street has been managed by Wimmera Health Care Group since 1995. The Hospital is also a recognised regional training facility, and along with ordinary hospital operations provides a range of allied health services. Horsham also contains a number of nursing homes, several pharmacies, two medical surgeries, two dental surgeries and various allied health services.
Australian Bureau of Statistics reports the median age of Horsham is older than the national average with just over 20% of the population over 65 years old. There are four Nursing homes in Horsham, Sunnyside Lutheran Retirement Village, Wimmera Lodge, Ingenia Gardens and the Wimmera Health Care Wimmera Nursing Home.
Road transport and the motor vehicle is the main form of transport. The Western Highway (connecting Melbourne to Adelaide) is the most significant road system in the city. It connects with the Henty Highway (A200) (from Portland north towards Mildura) cross paths with the Wimmera Highway on the eastern side of the central business district, The Western Highway will eventually be diverted around the city in a bypass. The Wimmera-Henty Highway (B200) is the main northern road, connecting Horsham to Warracknabeal and the Sunraysia Highway (B220) to Mildura as well as the Wimmera Highway (B240) and St Arnaud. The Wimmera Highway continues west to Naracoorte, South Australia.
Rail transport includes both passenger rail and freight rail. The city’s only passenger station is Horsham railway station which is on the Melbourne–Adelaide railway is located approximately four blocks (1km) north of the CBD. The Overland operates between the state capitals and stops in Horsham twice a week in each direction for passengers. While there is no direct connection to the Victorian broad gauge rail network, there are plans to increase the frequency of rail services between Ararat and Melbourne, and eventually improve the rail services to Horsham itself. Interstate freight trains regularly travel through Horsham to the Wimmera Intermodal Freight Terminal located nearby in Dooen.
V/Line operates a coach service into Horsham from Ararat and onward to Nhill. Melbourne bound passengers then board a train in Ararat to continue their journey. A local company the ‘Wimmera Roadways and Horsham Bus Lines’ provide 6 routes through the city. Along with the bus service two taxi companies operate from a depot at 30 Wawunna Road.
Water and waste-water services are provided by Grampians Wimmera Mallee Water (GWMWater), “a government-owned statutory corporation established in 2004” who manage water services for most north-western Victoria. Horsham’s primary water source is Lake Wartook, with a bore field at Laharum providing a supplementary supply source for the town when water levels are low. Electricity is provided to Horsham via the Horsham Terminal Station, operated by Power Corp Australia and located to the east of the city on the corner of Riverside East and Horsham-Lubeck Roads.
Healthcare is the main employer in Horsham, although the largest number of businesses in 2017 were agriculture, forestry and fishing related, and the median income is $40,245 (2013). The Wimmera Development Association is based in Horsham, they gather economic data, lobby for improved infrustructure, orgnaise events and encourage connections between local businesses and civic leaders. The Victorian Regional Development Association is represented locally by the Wimmera Southern Mallee Regional Partnership.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, most businesses in Horsham have fewer than four employees, with only 35 businesses employing 20 or more people. There are over a hundred retail outlets in Horsham of varying sizes, many independent, but some part of larger national or international chains, such as Aldi, Bunnings, Coles, McDonald’s, Kmart and Woolworths.
The Horsham Foundry formally operated by CMI Horsham was closed in July 2012.
Grains Innovation Centre
The Horsham Grains Innovation Centre was established in 1962 to breed Wheat varieties for Victoria. The scope of research has widened to include “barley, canola, field peas, lentils and chickpeas.” Today the complex hosts depots for the Department of Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) and the Victorian Fisheries Authority (VFA).
Approximately 25 kilometres (16 mi) north of Horsham at Murra Warra, a 61-turbine wind farm producing 429 megawatts of electricity is being constructed and is due to be completed by mid-2019. Renewable Energy Systems and Macquarie Capital are providing the $320 million equity for the project.
The city is a significant stop-over point between Adelaide and Melbourne and contains nearly a dozen motels. West of Horsham is Mount Arapiles, south of Horsham are the Grampians and north of Horsham the Silo Art Trail begins in Brim. The Wimmera River and its annual Fishing Competition are notable features of the city.
Wheat and Wool
By 1910 Horsham sat on the boundary between Victoria’s primary wool-producing area, the south-west and the state’s second-largest wheat-producing area the Wimmera. Wheat is one of Australia’s largest agricultural exports with the Wimmera and Mallee regions producing between 10 and 40 tonnes of wheat per square kilometer. Farmers around Horsham often rotate wheat with canola and legumes.
- Jayce Broadbent (hammer hands)
- host of Channel Seven reality television show
- AFL footballer
- AFL footballer
- Jannik Blair a.k.a The Bizzness Current Australia men’s national wheelchair basketball team ‘The Rollers’ Paralympic Silver medalist, 2014 World Gold
- Adam Goodes former Australian Football League player and Australian of the Year who grew up and did his schooling in Horsham
- One time C Grade Captain.
- Portia de Rossi (born Amanda Rogers), actress, married to Ellen DeGeneres
- Shaun Bruce NBL Basketballer. Current team of the Brisbane Bullets, former of Cairns Tiapans
- Mitch Creek NBL Basketballer
- Darcy Tucker AFL Footballer
- Sebastian Ross AFL Footballer
- Chris Crewther MP current Member for Dunkley in the Australian Federal Parliament, who grew up and did all his schooling in Horsham and Murtoa
- named the city of Horsham
- first non-Indigenous resident of Horsham
- first store-owner in Horsham. His arrival on 1 July 1849 is regarded as the starting date of the township of Horsham
- Pauline Toner (1935-1989), first female Victorian Cabinet minister
- Mother Gerda Prytz (1881-1979) – the first student at Genazzano FCJ College went on to become a great educator and FCJ sister who was dedicated to her students and a valued community member
- Patrick Carnegie Simpson (1865-1947) He returned to Scotland with his father, a Presbyterian missionary, a year after the death of his mother. Carnegie Simpson was to become a leading churchman, Professor of Church History at Westminster College, Cambridge and Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of England (1928)
- Brett Goodes, former AFL footballer for Western Bulldogs who grew up in Horsham.
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