Though it was Charles Sturt who explored the Murray and first surveyed Wahgunyah, it would be another man who was forever associated with the town – John Foord.
In 1838 a party led by John Foord set off from Yass in New South Wales with 1,000 head of cattle in search of fresh grazing land. Along with John Crisp, Foord took up 30,000-acres of land that they on the southern side of the Murray River.
When gold was discovered in Beechworth in 1852, paddle steamers began to make their way up the Murray. Foord seized the opportunity, purchasing a punt and a steamship, building a flour mill, and purchasing 640 acres where he surveyed and established the private township of Wahgunyah to serve as the supply base between the river trade and the goldfields. He was also involved in the building of bond stores and hotels in the fledgling township.
With true entrepreneurial spirit Foord encouraged new settlers to grow wheat which he ground at his mill. The punt became an important crossing point for stock and passengers and, in 1862, he became a major shareholder in a privately-licensed toll bridge which was erected across the Murray. It replaced the punt and became vital for the carriage of Riverina grain and timber to Foord’s mills in Wahgunyah.
Adding a final stroke of good fortune, gold was discovered on Foord’s property. The brief goldrush that followed led to a settlement known as Wahgunyah Rush which subsequently became known as Rutherglen.
North East Water
Due to its location on the banks on the Murray River, the Wahgunyah Water Treatment Plant collects raw water directly from the river for treatment before pumping it directly into Wahgunyah’s (and Rutherglen’s) reticulation network. Despite the relatively small population, the Wahgunyah water network has a staggering 78kms of mains.
A spate of upgrades began in 2017 including an additional treatment step at the plant in the form of flocculation/clarification and Dissolve Air Floatation (DAF) to the existing filters. A secondary part of this project also included an electrical upgrade of the existing ageing switchboards.
Wahgunyah’s Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) is located 5kms north-west of Rutherglen. Wastewater is collected in three small catchments that pump to an additional catchment before being transferred to the WWTP. As if often the case for large industrial customers, Uncle Toby’s have their own dedicated main and treatment lagoon. Now that’s service!