Tungamah was established on the banks of Boosey Creek, a 70km waterway that stretches from Yarrawonga to beyond Wangaratta. Curiously named after an Aboriginal word thought to mean ‘wild brush turkey’, the township was gazetted in 1875, when pastoral runs were being made available for closer settlement.
In 1876 a school was opened, and within seven years Tungamah was described as a flourishing village with a post office, three stores and two banks. Ten years later, the railway line connected Tungamah to Benalla and Yarrawonga, and Tungamah’s population reached its peak. The railway, however, enabled local farmers to spend in the bigger towns, and Tungamah’s population began a slow decline.
As irrigation from the Murray River was extended, farming activity strengthened (to this day, sheep still outnumber people by over 50 to 1), and with slightly undulating land surrounded by almost treeless plains, over 85% of the shire is now farmed.
North East Water
In 2006, it was determined to connect Tungamah (along with Devenish and St James) to the Yarrawonga water system. Prior to this, Tungamah recieved its water supply via an open channel diveerted from Bosey Creek, which was subject to potential contamination (not to mention the evoporation). North East Water committed to providing a potable (drinking) water supply to the three townships to remove reliance on the existing Goulburn-Murray Water channel system that has historically supplied the towns. In Tungamah, this involved building a 1ML storage tank on Mays Hill. At an overall cost of $3.9 million, 42kms of pipelines were laid.
At around the same time, Moira Shire Council nominated Tungamah for the provision of reticulated sewerage under the Victorian Government’s Small Town Sewerage Program. The scheme was based on the provision of a modified conventional sewerage system, with lagoon based treatment and land-based reuse (in the form of pivot irrigation). Modified conventional sewerage was the preferred option because of a number of local factors including scheme affordability. Contracts were signed in 2012 and the scheme was completed in April 2016.