Cobram is a small community town that is located on the Murray River in Victoria. The Murray River forms a substantial part of the border of Victoria and New South Wales. It also separates the NSW town of Cobram and Barooga which is located about 244 km north of Melbourne. The population is approximately 4700.
The area has a large irrigated fruit and dairy industry. It is well known for its "Peaches and Cream" Festival, which is held every second year in the town. It has a rather diverse range of agricultural produce which include citrus fruits, vegetables, wheat, oats, barley, sunflowers, wool and beef cattle. It also has a substantial industrial section
It is thought that this land was previously occupied by the Bangarang Aborigines before white settlement. Charles Sturt is known to have explored the Murray downstream of the present townsite in 1830 and, in 1838, he led a droving party with 300 head of cattle through the district, on his way to South Australia. Cobram station was taken up in 1845 by Octavius Phillpotts. It is thought that the name is derived from an Aboriginal word meaning head, and that Cobram was the head pastoral station in the district.
The Land Acts of the 1860s allowed the district to be opened up to small landowners. The first arrived around 1872 and by the 1880s most of the land was settled by wheat-growing selectors.
A store, post office and school were in operation by 1880 and a sawmill was set up in 1883. In 1886 locals lobbied for the extension of the railway lines to come up to Cobram district as a central point for transporting wheat. The site was chosen by a surveyor, and the selector who owned the land in question soon broke it up into town lots which went on sale in 1887. All the main types of businesses such as hotels, businesses, a school, a doctor, a foundry, banks, a cordial factory, stores, churches and a newspaper were apparent by 1888 when the first train arrived. The railway signalled the decline of the river trade but the paddlesteamers were still a part of the passenger service in the early days of the town. A punt service was established for crossing the river in 1889 but by 1902 the first bridge was complete.
Irrigation became popular after the Chaffey brothers proved it efficiency at Mildura in the 1880s. A farmer in the district set up an simple irrigation system in 1892, to irrigate his orchard from the river. Hi success meant other soon followed suit. Around 1915 a pumping station was built for irrigation to several properties in the district. The town grew only fairly slowly until the 1940s when there was a boom in the rural industry.
At the end of World War II the government decided to use the area for a major soldier settlement scheme. Many Italian immigrants, who had first started arrived in the 1920s, began to migrate in far greater numbers after 1945 and they are a significant presence to this day. This increase the amount of irrigation considerably an many dairy farms and orchards were established at this time.
In 1949 the Soldier Settler's League formed the Murray-Goulburn Co-operative for the manufacture and marketing of their dairy produce. It became the largest organisation of its type in the world and it is now one of the state's largest milk producers and a major player in the local economy. The Co-op set up a cheese factory at Cobram in 1951 which has since diversified and it is still a significant employer.
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