OVER 100 YEARS OF COMMUNITY
a SMALL TOWN
WITH A BIG SPIRIT
Girgarre is a small agricultural community of 190 people, located in northern Victoria, part of the Campaspe Shire and Goulburn Valley irrigation region.
The township evolved after it was subdivided for closer and soldier settlement in the early 1900s. In the main, Gigarre was settled by returning World War I soldiers.
Although only a small township, the butter factory branched into exotic cheese making in 1950. Girgarre cheeses included gorgonzola and romano, as well as standard cheddars. The iconic Cheese Factory was eventually taken over by the Heinz Company.
Developed as an agricultural service centre throughout the 1950s and 60s, Girgarre is recognised in the district for its long history of dairy farming during this time.
Within the last decade, the local Heinz tomato processing factory closed in 2012, putting nearly 150 employees out of work. Many producers ceased growing tomatoes and some turned to corn growing. The Girgarre development group secured a transfer of some land from the Heinz company for the community.
The annual January Moo-sic Muster has grown from humble beginnings over 10 years ago to an iconic event on the Victorian acoustic music calendar. The muster was inspired by regular Jigarre Jammin’ sessions that have also put the town back on the map.
A monthly Farmers Produce and Craft Market was introduced, flourishing from six stalls to an impressive 150 and helped the community raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for the upkeep of its key facilities.
In1917 a railway line was opened connecting Girgarre to Rushworth to enable the marketing of fresh produce ~ a fortunate result of strong advocacy ~ an attribute that survives within the township today.
The following year a school was opened and a timbermill was established at the railway station to handle timber cleared from farms. In 1921 a small butter factory was built by the Kyabram Butter Factory Co Ltd.
This once thriving town then faced its fair share of challenges ~ drought, falling milk prices and the closure of factories, leaving Girgarre with limited amenities and half its population.
The supermarket, the butcher, the hairdresser and the corner shop had gone and the town had lived up to the Indigenous origin of its name ~ things had turned 'sour'.
The Girgarre factory remains as an historical marker in the township. The Memorial Hall has also been restored by the community and is another vital marker and principal meeting place.
While other townships have come and gone and with every reason to lose hope, Girgarre has pulled through owing to the strength of a cohesive community that has strived to keep their small town alive through creative initiatives.
These brave and successful steps have paved the way for exciting new projects, with the town recently winning one of six Arts Victoria grants as part of the Small Towns Transformation Initiative.
A key element of the project is the Gargarro Gardens ~ once complete, the gardens will be a world class botanical installation featuring a soundshell amphitheatre for the staging of musical and artistic events.
These campaigns will establish a lasting legacy for Girgarre ~ a small town with a big spirit...