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The intersection of Thompson and Grey streets in the centre of Hamilton
|• Density||400.4/km² (1,037.0/sq mi)|
|Area||22.8 km² (8.8 sq mi)|
|LGA(s)||Shire of Southern Grampians|
Hamilton is a city in western Victoria, Australia. It is located at the intersection of the Glenelg Highway (from Ballarat to Mount Gambier) and the Henty Highway (from Portland to Horsham). The Hamilton Highway connects it to Geelong.
Hamilton claims to be the "Current Wool Capital of the World", based on its strong historical links to sheep grazing which continue today.
Hamilton was built near the border of three traditional indigenous tribal territories: the Gunditjmara land that stretches south to the coast, the Tjapwurong land to the north east and the Bunganditj territory to the west. People who lived in these areas tended to be settled rather than nomadic. The region was (and is) fertile and well-watered, leading to an abundance of wildlife, and no need to travel far for food. Physical remains such as the weirs and fish traps found in Lake Condah to the south of Hamilton, as well as accounts of early white settlers support local indigenous oral histories of well established settlements in the area.
White settlement and conflict
On 12 September 1836, the explorer, Major Thomas Mitchell was the first European to travel through the area where Hamilton later developed. His reports of the fertility and abundance of ‘Australia Felix’ (as he called this region of Western Victoria) encouraged pastoralists to move to the area and establish large sheep runs. By 1839 there were a number of settlers in the area including the Wedge family whose property ‘The Grange' was located within the present town site.
Conflict between the pastoralists and the indigenous population soon arose. The local people resisted encroachment on their traditional tribal lands. They stole and killed sheep for food and out of retaliation for the settlers' use of their hunting territory as grazing-land. A number of Aborigines in the Western district were murdered in this period in the resulting conflicts. On 8th March 1840, the Whyte brothers, William, George, Pringle, James and John massacred from 20-30 to 50 men, women, and children on the Konongwootong run.
When Governor La Trobe visited The Grange in 1841 he noted the extent of interracial violence and appointed Acheson French as police magistrate to the area. A constable and a detachment of mounted police, to be based at The Grange, were also appointed and convicts from Portland erected a hut for the magistrate and barracks for the troopers on the site of the present courthouse and police station on Martin and Thompson Streets.
Another result of the conflict was the establishment of an Aboriginal reserve, intended for the protection of the indigenous people. This further angered the pastoralists who regarded the reserve and its administration as hostile to their interests. Violence and brutality appear to have continued unchecked until Governor La Trobe ordered the Portland Commissioner, all his border police and a contingent of ‘native police’ to the Grange in September 1842. This, along with the effects of dislocation, European diseases, and killings marked the end of most of the indigenous resistance in the area.
Birth of the town
The proximity of The Grange to other properties and to important tracks between Portland and New South Wales led to the gradual emergence of a small town. This included an inn, blacksmith, a small store and some shanties and businesses nearby. The site was a small social centre for surrounding pastoral properties, with horse races being held along the Grange Burn flat. A Post Office opened on 1 July 1844 (Hamilton from 1 January 1854).
The desire for a school prompted a town survey that commenced in 1849. The township of Hamilton was formally declared in 1851. The town was named in the following way as quoted by the book, "Dundas Shire Centenary 1863-1963", page 58. Quote: "In 1840, owing to police difficulties in controlling public houses on, or not on the imaginary boundary line, Henry Wade was sent from Sydney on a special mission to mark out the boundary. He completed the survey as far as Serviceton by the spring of 1847, and was then appointed District Surveyor and in 1850, laid out a township for the Grange, which he named Hamilton. It was then the prerogative of the surveyor to christen his lay-out. Wade and his family had made close friends of the Hamiltons and Gibsons of Bringalbert, there being intermarriages later." Unquote.
Industry and employment
Sheep grazing and agriculture are the primary industries in the surrounding shire, the area producing as much as 15% of Australia’s total wool clip. Inside the city of Hamilton the majority of employment is provided by the retail industry (20%) and the Health and Community Services sector (14.5%). Education is another large employer, with four Secondary Schools, three of which enrol both primary and secondary students, as well as a number of stand-alone primary schools. The unemployment rate at the 2001 Census was put at 6.1%, with a workforce participation rate of 58.9%.
Hamilton and the surrounding areas is serviced by The Hamilton Spectator (Aus), a tri-weekly local newspaper published by the Spectator Observer newspaper group. Established in 1859 as the Hamilton Courier, it became the Hamilton Spectator and Grange District Advertiser in 1860, and later The Hamilton Spectator.
There are two radio stations based in Hamilton:
Both are owned by the Ace Radio network which operates radio stations in the Western District of Victoria.
Several other radio stations broadcast into Hamilton, including national broadcasters such as the ABC and regional stations based in nearby towns in Western Victoria such as Warrnambool, Portland and Ballarat.
Attractions and events
In 1881 William Guilfoyle, the director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne was employed to design the Hamilton Botanic Gardens. Set in 4 acres (1.6 ha), the gardens are distinguished by rare botanic species, a superbly restored rotunda, a small zoo featuring rabbits, cockatiels and budgies and playground and the ornate Thomson Fountain. The National Trust of Australia classified the gardens in 1990 with eight tree species listed on the Register of Significant Trees in Victoria.
Hamilton Art Gallery is world-renowned and one of the major regional collections in Victoria. Its collection spans Australian and European paintings, decorative arts and Chinese, Japanese and Korean decorative arts, with the majority being 18th century or later. In particular the Gallery holds 22 gouache by English painter Paul Sandby (1731–1809), second only to the holding of the Queen. Open 7 days and a changing program of exhibitions complements the permanent collection. Entry by donation
Sheepvention, a wool-related trade-show and exhibition is held in the Hamilton Show-grounds in the first Monday & Tuesday of August each year, and attracts up to 20,000 visitors. It has a similar feel to an Agricultural show but is focused on wool and sheep. The Hamilton Agricultural Show is normally held in November.
The Big Wool Bales is an attraction consisting of five linked structures designed to resemble five gigantic woolbales - a tribute to the importance of the local wool industry. Together they form a building and a cafe containing wool-related displays such as historical memorabilia, including farming and shearing equipment, wool scales, old horse harnesses, wool presses and weaving looms, along with wool samples and rural clothing.
The Keeping Place is a small museum and living history centre run by local indigenous people.
The Sir Reginald Ansett Transport Museum celebrates the founding of Ansett Australia in Hamilton in 1935 and displays items from the early days of the Ansett Airlines' operation.
There are many sporting clubs and leagues in the Hamilton area. The town is served by its two Australian rules football teams; Hamilton Magpies and Hamilton Imperials. Both teams compete in the Western Border Football League.
Netball, field hockey, basketball, soccer, tennis and cricket are other popular sports in the town. Hamilton opened a large Indoor Sports and Aquatic Centre in March 2006, which contains four basketball courts, a twenty-five-metre indoor swimming pool, 4 squash courts, a table tennis centre with 8 courts and a large gym. The city is also the home of the Hamilton Rowing Club (HRC) who compete in Rowing Victoria regattas during the summer. The Hamilton and Alexandra College Rowing Club (HACRC) sometimes compete in such events or attempt to train. Tucked behind the Historical Society in Grey Street, is the Hamilton 8-Ball and Snooker Club.
Hamilton has a horse racing club, the Hamilton Racing Club, which schedules around nine race meetings a year including the Hamilton Cup meeting in April. As well as a harness racing club which has recently opened a new track, with state-of-the-art facilities.
Wildlife and parks
The Eastern Barred Bandicoot is native to the area, and a reserve has been built to protect the endangered species. In more recent times (2007), the numbers both within the reserve and without have been severely diminished to the point of near extinction as a result of extended drought. Within the city the public lands adjoining the river and Lake Hamilton have been subject to spasmodic tree-planting projects.
Mount Napier the highest point on the Western District Plains is found 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) south of Hamilton.
Primary schools in Hamilton include Hamilton (Gray Street) Primary School, George Street Primary School, Hamilton North Primary School (all government schools) and Saint Mary's Primary School (Catholic). Hamilton (Gray Street) Primary School has the most enrolments with around 400 pupils. Tarrington Lutheran (Primary) School is also available in nearby Tarrington.
There are three primary to year 12 schools: The Hamilton and Alexandra College (Uniting Church), Good Shepherd College (Lutheran) and Baimbridge College. Baimbridge College is the only government school for secondary students in Hamilton and enrols around 800 students.
Hamilton has one Catholic secondary school, Monivae College, with around 700 enrolments.
Hamilton Special School caters to primary school-age students who have special education needs, predominantly autistic spectrum disorders and communication difficulties. The school has a total enrolment of approximately 65.
South West Institute of Technical and Further Education has a campus in Hamilton, offering post-secondary and trade courses and qualifications.
- Edward Kenna awarded the Victoria Cross was born in Hamilton in 1919.
- Former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser was the member for Wannon, and lived at ‘Nareen’ a station near Hamilton.
- Sir Reginald Ansett, founder of Ansett Airways, started his first air service there in 1936.
- David Hawker former speaker for the Australian Parliament and former member for Wannon 1983 - 2010.
- Mark Day, born 1943, prominent journalist, publisher and editor-in-chief of 'The Australian'. At Hamilton High School edited the school magazine - 'The Grange' - in the late 1950s.
- Xavier Samuel - 'Twilight: Eclipse'
- Jan Smithwick, Australian basketball player was born in Hamilton in 1952.
- "2011 Census QuickStats: Hamilton (Vic.)". Australia Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 11 May 2013.
- Ben Kiernan, Blood and Soil, p.300.
- Michael Cannon,Life in the Country,1978 p.76.
- Premier Postal History, Post Office List, retrieved 2008-04-11
- Alan Jungwirth and Keith Lambert (1996), Weekly notice extracts 1894-1994, Weekly Notice Productions, p. page 150, ISBN 0-646-30010-5 [Amazon-US | Amazon-UK]
- Shire of Southern Grampians Council- Department of Planning and Community Development
- Know your area - Southern Grampians (S)
- Country Racing Victoria, Hamilton Racing Club, retrieved 2010-11-21
- Golf Select, Hamilton, retrieved 2009-05-11
- Golf Select, Parklands, retrieved 2009-05-11
- Ian Clark, Scars in the Landscape: A Register of Massacre Sites in Western Victoria, 1803-1859 (Canberra: AIATSIS, 1995).
- "Dundas Shire Centenary 1863-1963" - Book compiled and published by the Hamilton Spectator for the Dundas Shire Council, 1963.
- Southern Grampians Shire Council (inc Hamilton)
- The Department for Victorian Communities - Southern Grampians
- The Department of Sustainability and the Environment - Hamilton Statistics
- The People's Voice: Australian Community History Online - Hamilton
- The Sir Reginald Ansett Transport Museum
- Hamilton Warriors Baseball CLub Inc.