We have a Rail Trail in Murchison, constructed along the disused railway reserve and opened in 2015. It is worth venturing along the track as it is virtually a history trail.
You can begin either in the town of Murchison at the Impey Street starting point, or at Old Whroo Road on the west end of Murchison, or begin at the Channel Inlet Road end closer to Rushworth. There is adequate car parking available at these locations. The track is suitable for walking, riding bicycles or horses but not designed for motorised vehicles, in fact these are not permitted. The Trail goes for nearly 7kms but you can join or leave at any point.
Dotted along the Rail Trail are six excellent information panels relating facts about particular spots on the track. All tell a different story, often little-known facts about activities surrounding the railway line where the Rail Trail is now situated.
The Murchison Rail Trail is great for an exercise and fresh air experience, all the while improving your knowledge of local history and events in the area over the years!
Plans are afoot to extend the Rail Trail to continue across the Campaspe Shire connecting from Channel Inlet Road at the boundary of City of Greater Shepparton and continuing west towards Rushworth. It will then be possible to safely ride or walk between Rushworth and Murchison without encountering cars or trucks, surrounded by natural bush and views over the Waranga Basin in the future will be a bonus.
So, if you haven’t discovered the Rail Trail yet, venture out and discover the pleasure of a beneficial outdoor activity while learning about some local history. It is not a busy location and easy to practice social distancing.
Murchison & District Historical Society is still active behind the scenes during ‘lockdown’ and closure of the Heritage Centre, with various projects continuing by members working from home. We have had contacts from people who have now found the time to follow up on family history, others wanting details of local properties and others reviving memories of time spent in Murchison some years ago.
One such person is John Taylor, a trainee Surveyor employed by the State Rivers and Water Supply Commission in 1953 involved with the building of the Cattanach Canal and was billeted in the abandoned POW Camp 13 Murchison. John has sent some great photographs to the Society of the Bucyrus-Erie walking dragline (commonly referred to as “Monaghan”). This enormous machine replaced the heavy work previously performed by horses dragging a single bucket and human labour at the time of the construction of the Stuart Murray Canal in the 1890’s. Monaghan, which was fitted with a 30m boom, a 5.7m³ bucket, and a 385 HP diesel motor, was able to move a massive 7,186m³ of soil per hour. Monaghan was imported entirely from USA, and was assembled on-site in Murchison. A total of 4,500,000m³ of soil was removed during its 2 years on the Canal.
The bucket was massive.
This mechanisation meant a more direct course to the Waranga Basin was possible compared to the early days when building the Stuart Murray Canal. Then, any elevated terrain was avoided that would entail massive excavation, resulting in a circuitous, meandering and much longer route whereas the walking dragline with its huge bucket, ploughed straight through hills in its path thus creating the shorter, straighter Cattanach Canal.
The ‘Big Cut’ is a rarely-seen section of the Cattanach Canal where the channel cut through a rise just before the Canal enters the Waranga Basin. Here the depth of cut is the greatest on the Canal, up to 19m, resulting in impressive steep cliff-like walls.
Kay Ball, President, Murchison & District Historical Society
Given that the Murchison meteorite is the most studied of all meteorites on the planet, it is not surprising that it is, once again, in the news!
During the 50th anniversary celebrations of the fall of this world-famous and ancient meteorite, Rock on Murchison last September, Professor Tamara Davis, an Astrophysicist, came to Murchison and interviewed locals and visiting Scientists. On Tuesday 5th May the ABC science programme Catalyst went to air entitled Asteroid Hunters, and Tamara includes these interviews that form part of a fascinating show. If you missed seeing the show on television, you can watch it on ABC iview, https://iview.abc.net.auCatalyst, Episode 21.
Scientists consider that the Murchison meteorite originated from the Asteroid Belt between Jupiter and Mars. When asteroids enter the Earth’s atmosphere they burn up, creating a bright streak of light that we call a meteor and when they land, they are referred to as meteorites. Tamara explores the significance of asteroids in this programme and leads her to discover that they may supply the answer to the question – how did life begin on earth?
After travelling around Australia uncovering lot of facts about asteroids and meteorites, Tamara visited New Zealand to meet Dr Anna Wang and Luke Steller, PhD student, both from University of New South Wales. Murchison meteorite contains organic matter and many amino acids, the building blocks of life, and these two scientists demonstrated that mixing chemicals found in the Murchison meteorite with the very primitive material contained in Thermal Springs at Rotorua, lipid bubbles formed around molecules. These could possibly have been how protocells, early versions of modern living cells, were formed. This suggests that meteorites, such as the 4.6 billion-year-old Murchison meteorite, could have delivered the building blocks of life to Earth from outer space and mixing with the early volatile surface of our planet, became a chemical blueprint for life forms.
Rock on Murchison provided Tamara with the perfect opportunity to speak with leading Scientists who are involved in work related to meteorites and asteroids, including world authority on the Murchison meteorite, Dr Philipp Heck from Chicago Field Museum who has studied this meteorite for more than 30 years and was the key note speaker for the talks held over the 50th anniversary weekend. Other Scientists involved in the celebration that were interviewed and included in the Catalyst episode are Craig O’Neill, Ellie Sansom and Gretchen Benedix. Over the two days we were privileged to hear talks by these Scientists, who were four of the eleven who came to Murchison and these talks are now available on-line.
To access just enter: Murchison Meteorite 50th Anniversary – Youtube. They are numbered 1 – 11 and are best watched in sequence.
If you would like your own copy of these excellent talks on USB, they are available for purchase, and so can be viewed without the need for an internet connection. Order via email: email@example.com or telephone 0475 018 743 (postage is free). The presentations average 20 -25 minutes in length, total viewing time 5 hours. Each talk can be viewed individually and are numbered in order from 1 – 11. Also available and can be delivered by mail, are the books Space Gem – mysteries of the Murchison Meteorite and the children’s book Sam’s Meteorite.
Space Gem is also available from Collins Booksellers in Shepparton, Melbourne Museum Gift Shop and Royal Historical Society Book Shop in Melbourne.
Kay Ball, President, Murchison & District Historical Society.
John Thomas Lyons of South Murchison, was among the first Australian casualties at Gallipoli.
At just over the age of 16 and travelling with a friend, he rode his bicycle 700 kms to Sydney, where he enlisted in September of 1914.
John landed at Gallipoli on 25th April 1915, and managed to survive the fighting until 19th May when he lost his life during a fierce attack on the Turkish army. He was then 17 years old.
An excellent book by Paul Byrnes, The Lost Boys, relates many stories of underage Australians who died in the First World War. The story of John Thomas Lyons from Murchison, along with an image of a memorial certificate, is included in this extensively researched account of these young boys.
A nephew of John Lyons, Kevin Murphy, after discovering this book, contacted our Society and sent us a wonderful photograph of the Lyons family. This is the only known photograph of John. He is the tall boy standing in the back row, the eldest child of the family.
This was where the image came from, that was placed on the special certificate in recognition of his sacrifice, presented to the family by the residents of Murchison. This memorial certificate proudly forms part of the permanent World War 1 display in the Murchison Heritage Centre.
Although the usual ANZAC Day service held at dawn each year in Murchison was cancelled due to Covid-19 restrictions, RSL members were still able to place flowers at the memorials in the Riverbank Gardens. 42 crosses and decorative candles were placed in a cross formation representing the servicemen and women from Murchison.
Annual General Meetings can be dull affairs and poorly attended as some people think they might get roped into a job! But a good roll up, reports that reflected our year’s positive achievements, seeing some wonderful archival photos not seen before of the Goulburn Weir under construction, meant the meeting was not dull.
Guest Speaker was Paul Borbely, Goulburn Weir Storage Manager who told us the facts and figures about this impressive structure that is over 100 years old; an engineering masterpiece that has International Heritage status. It was great to see the images from the 1890’s when it was being built.
Our past year was dominated by the planning and then the actual delivery of the 50th Anniversary Murchison Meteorite celebrations in September – Rock on Murchison. It was a mammoth effort and our Australia Day Community Event of the Year Award for Murchison and also for the whole of Greater Shepparton acknowledged its success. The town has benefitted from the Event not only with wonderful memories, but with some tangible assets. We have the outstanding murals on the eastern wall of the Heritage Centre building, a labyrinth and new information panels in Meteorite Park, a comprehensive account in the new book Space Gem, and Meteorite Cow was returned to River Bank Gardens in time for the celebration, sporting a newly painted day time scene in keeping with the correct time of day when the Meteorite fell. The $1 Murchison meteorite postage stamp is now part of the Australia Post collection and in the albums of many serious stamp collectors. We have a record of the Scientists talks on film and an amazing recording of the school children’s composition of space music.
We participated in Greater Shepparton Heritage Open Days in March with our Heritage Centre open over the two days and also guided an Irrigation History Bus Tour. The promotion of the book Lost Boys by Paul Byrnes took place in November. Opportunities to promote our Society were at Day’s Mill Open Day in May, the Anglican Car Boot Sale in October, and street stalls prior to Christmas and on the Australia Day weekend. Website visitors since set up in 2011 total 39,700 and the website promoting Rock on Murchison together with social media received thousands of contacts.
Visitors to the Heritage Centre were up as were the number of groups visiting, plus we estimated 1600 contacts during Rock on Murchison.
Answering requests for family history and other information and regular Saturday morning openings continued as well as the faithful team cataloguing our photographs, document and artefacts throughout the year. Grateful thanks are due to the many thousands of hours given to the work of the Society by our Volunteers.
Nine new members were welcomed this year and three members have moved away from our area so our membership stands at 36.
We increased our range of books for sale with the reproduction of In Search of our Days and From Protectorate to Smaller Premier Town, and publishing Space Gem – mysteries of the Murchison Meteorite of course and 175 Years of Agriculture at Murchison plus the three large display panels complimenting the agriculture story.
Executive Committee members for the coming year are: President – Kay Ball, Vice President – Warwick Gregory, Secretary – Marg Lock, Treasurer – Bec Hutchinson-White, Committee – Janet Clarke, John Ball and Rob Cornelious. Retiring from the executive team after many faithful years of contribution are Gloria Polkinghorne, Warwick Finlay and Jeff Huddle. We will still be able to call on them for assistance especially when visitors ask those questions that only long-term residents of Murchison can answer!
We look forward to the coming year with more projects planned.
Kay Ball, President, Murchison & District Historical Society
The Murchison Heritage Centre is closed until further notice as a health and safety measure relating to the Coronavirus. We apologise for any inconvenience and suggest contacting the Society via email for any enquiries, thank you.
The Annual General Meeting of Murchison & District Historical Society Inc. will be held at 7.30pm on Tuesday 17th March 2020 at the Murchison Heritage Centre, 4 Stevenson Street, Murchison.
Election of office bearers will take place and annual subscriptions are due and payable on the night, EFTpos facilities are available.
Our Guest Speaker will be Paul Borbely, Goulburn Weir Storage Manager from Goulburn Murray Water. Irrigation and the Goulburn Weir are a significant part of Murchison’s history, and the Weir itself, now awarded International recognition, is truly an amazing engineering structure. Come and hear some staggering facts on this topic from someone with front-line knowledge.
Supper will follow the meeting, all welcome to attend.
From the Geological Society of Australia: ‘New research on the Murchison meteorite has revealed the oldest solid material found on Earth: a 7-billion-year-old grain of stardust. This pre-solar silicon carbide is the oldest of 40 large silicon carbide grains dated using cosmic ray exposure techniques.‘ This link is to the published paper by lead researcher Philipp Heck explaining the work of the scientists in dating the stardust in Murchison meteorite:
Rock on Murchison – 50th Anniversary of the fall of Murchison meteorite in September last year, won Australia Day Awards for Murchison Community Event of the Year and overall winner for Community Event of the Year across Greater Shepparton.
What a terrific endorsement for all the hard work of the organising committee, members of Historical Society and their family, and also appreciation of the support across the Murchison community from individuals, businesses and clubs alike! Planning started in January 2017 and events opened mid-September 2019 with the main activities over the weekend of 27th -29th September.
It was an amazing occasion and offered so much for all ages and interests.
Celebrations started with Australia Post issuing a $1 postage stamp, the book Space Gem written by Marg Lock was launched and murals painted by Jane Spencer were unveiled at the Heritage Centre, conveying the reactions to the sonic booms.
The weekend of 27th – 29th September opened with a wonderful Dinner Under the Stars where we were entertained by amusing song and film as Murchison meteorite came alive! Astronomer Educator Dave Reneke, provided solar viewing, star gazing and intriguing presentations about out amazing universe and insight into Apollo 11 and the moon landing that occurred only two months before Murchison meteorite arrived! Interpretive signage and a labyrinth were unveiled in Meteorite Park, meteorite hunts were organised for children, displays and films at the Heritage Centre were a big draw-card as was the re-enactment of the BIG BANG at 10.58 each morning! Essay and drawing competitions were held for the local school children and they composed the most amazing sound track of their version of space music.
The highlight of the weekend were presentations by eleven Scientists from America and around Australia, all experts in their field, who shed light on various aspects of the Murchison meteorite and related topics. Each speaker was filmed and with their permission the talks have been formatted on to a good-quality USB Flash Drive. Anyone wanting to purchase a copy can order via email to: