South of Mildura and adjacent to the Murray Sunset National Park and the Wyperfeld National Park, this township of some 1,000 people sits in the heart of the Mallee wheat belt. The town is a commercial and transport centre for the local grain farmers, shipping the grain via truck to Portland or Adelaide.
Ouyen had a rocky start. When the explorer Major Mitchell first entered the area he described it as barren and inhospitable. Nonetheless, soon after squatters had come to the area and by 1870, thousands of cattle and sheep were grazing there. In 1880, however, the rabbit plague hit the area and decimated the available vegetation and the pastoral runs came to an end. It was not until the early 1900s, involving enormous effort, that the land was cleared and water carted from Mildura and Hattah Lakes that the area took off as part of the wheat belt.
The art deco exterior of the recently restored and community owned Roxy theatre in Ouyen. The heritage theatre was built in 1936 in the ‘tropical style’ (high ceilings and shutters which open along both sides to allow for airflow) but closed in 1971. With tremendous community support the theatre was reopened in 2007 and now is in regular use.