The Pangerang Tribe were the original Aboriginal inhabitants of Yarrawonga, and are attributed with naming the town. ‘Yarra’ means ‘water running over rocks’, and ‘wonga’ was named after the ‘wonga pigeon’ which were abundant in the region at the time.
Yarrawonga has the distinction of being the only one of our 41 towns that was founded by a woman. In 1842, Elizabeth Hume, aided by her brother-in-law Hamilton Hume, established the Yarrawonga run by a lagoon near the Murray River.
Along with her nine children, Elizabeth moved to the area after her husband was killed by bushrangers. Naming her home Byramine (meaning ‘rustic retreat’), the home had a unique octagonal central room, or ‘the fortress’, which ensured a clear view out all windows in case of attack (the homestead remains in its original condition, and is open to the public today).
The village of Yarrawonga was founded in 1868, and by 1874 was large enough to justify the opening of a courthouse. By the 1890s, Yarrawonga was an important crossing point, and a local economy boomed.
North East Water
Thanks to Lake Mulwala via the Murray River, and downstream from Lake Hume, Yarrawonga has a exceptional water supply. So much so, that when North East Water inherited the system from the Yarrawonga Waterworks District, we began plans to help secure the water future of its neighbours in Tungamah, St James and Devenish. Work began on a 28km pipeline from Yarrawonga to Devenish in 2007 and was completed a mere 12 months later. To limit the impact on Yarrawonga we also built a $1.5 million 5 megalitre clearwater storage.
Handling wastewater was a little trickier. Initially, a 430 megalitre treated wastewater storage and transfer system was constructed as the cornerstone of a fully integrated reuse scheme and was managed by a neighbouring farmer.
In the interim, sewers were replaced and relined, and work commenced in 2006 on the Yarrawonga Sewerage Treatment Plant. The improved plant, now on Beatties Road, increased and improved services and saved 500 megalitres of water per year.