Before European Settlement, this area was originally inhabited by the Tattyara and Wotjobaluk tribe who followed the water trail through the area when the swamps were full.
It is likely that first contact with Europeans was through smallpox epidemics which arrived with the First Fleet in 1788 and rapidly spread through the trading networks of indigenous Australians and killed many people in two waves before the 1830s. One Wotjobaluk account called the disease thinba micka and that it killed large numbers of people, and disfigured many more with pock-marked faces, and came down the Murray River sent by malevolent sorcerers to the north. The explorer Edward John Eyre was possibly the first European seen by the Maligundidj when he followed the Wimmera River to Lake Hindmarsh in 1838. His reports of the Mallee country spurred a rush of settlers with their cattle and sheep eager to establish pastoral stations. With the encroachment of European settlers from 1840 eager to run cattle and sheep conflict in Wergaia country was inevitable. The first 10 years of European settlement in the area was met with considerable resistance by the Maligundidj. Horatio Cockburn Ellerman, an early settler, participated in several raids on aboriginal camps: Dick-a-Dick "The Wotjobaluk singled him out early for his ruthlessness. In 1844, learning that one had threatened to kill him, Ellerman obtained a warrant and, with members of the Border Police, hunted down the man. The party shot and killed him and another Wotjobaluk, presumably claiming self-defence. The raid that killed Willie's mother would not have been the first such raid in which Ellerman had taken part. William Taylor, another adventurer, mentioned that Ellerman, and others who would later move to the Lake Hindmarsh area, took part in a punitive expedition in the Southern Wimmera in 1844." The boy, William Wimmera, whose mother was shot in 1846, was taken in by Ellerman. On a trip taking wool to Melbourne in 1850 the boy became lost. He was taken in by Lloyd Chase and later taken to England to be educated, While in England he contracted a lung disease and died on 10 March 1852. Just before his death he asked to be baptised in the Christian faith. A sixteen page account of his life was published which focused on his religious redemption. Dick-a-Dick was a Wotjobaluk tracker responsible for finding the three Duff children lost in the Australian bush for 9 days in 1864 which garnered national and even international attention. Dick-a-Dick was one of the Wotjobaluk and Jardwadjali men who formed the basis for the Australian Aboriginal cricket team in England in 1868. Locally we have several sites including: The scar tree just a short walk from the Caravan park. It is believed to be a message tree. locatedon South Kaniva Rd, just off Budjik St. (Budjik means Stone Axe and was the name the town was originally known as.) Mooree Reservewas used as a camping ground, although all the scar trees have been removed, many locals comment that it still retains a special presence of place. Poocher Swamp near Bordertown is well worth a visit too. Nhill swamp wildlife reserve was their spirit place and corroboree ground, it is still a peaceful and tranquil place to visit
In the area: Dimboola Historical Museum is located in the old courthouse at 67 Lloyd St and has information on the local Aboriginals who lived along the Wimmera River Stories from the Ebeneezer Mission, established 1859, give great insight into this era Harrow Interpretive Centre tells the story of Johnny Mullagh and the 1868 cricket team to tour England Budj Bim World Heritage Siteis well worth a visit. Tours are very popular must be booked in advanced. Brambruk in the Grampians is under renovations and closed at the moment. This centre offers extensive information on local Aboriginal culture, art, history and rock sites along with a bush tucker cafe. The Wimmera Pioneer Museumin Jeparit is open daily and has an interesting display of artefacts from the area along with its main attractions of a pioneer village. Sheep Hills Silos features an Indigenous mural painted by Adnate.
Kaniva, first and last highway town in Victoria. Gateway to the Wimmera Mallee Silo Art Trail. Home of Sheep Art.