- Details: DS Wangaratta
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WANGARATTA is a cathedral city in the northeast of Victoria, approximately 250 km from Melbourne along the Hume Highway. The city is located at the junction of the Ovens and King rivers, which drain the northwestern slopes of the Victorian Alps.
The first European explorers to pass through the Wangaratta area were Hume and Hovell (1824) who named the Oxley Plains immediately south of Wangaratta. Major Thomas Mitchell during his 1836 expedition made a favourable report of its potential as grazing pasture. The first squatter to arrive was Thomas Rattray in 1838 who built a hut (on the site of the Sydney Hotel) founding a settlement known as “Ovens Crossing”. The name Wangaratta was given by colonial surveyor Thomas Wedge in 1848 after the “Wangaratta” cattle station, the name of which is believed to have been derived from an indigenous language and meaning “nesting place of cormorants” or “meeting of the waters”. Gold was found nearby at Beechworth in February 1852 and by the end of the year more than 8,000 prospectors rushed the fields of Ovens and Beechworth. Wangaratta became a major service centre to these goldfields. As a result, the first bridge over the Ovens was completed in early 1855.
On 28 June 1880 in the nearby small town of Glenrowan, located some 10 km away, the final shootout that led to the capture of Australia’s most famous bushranger, Ned Kelly occurred.
The El Dorado Museum collection is sited in the original school house number 246 which opened in 1870. The school rooms and out-sheds house a large variety of items such as social and domestic purpose items.