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Originally a sheep station until 1886, when George and William Chaffey arrived from California and set about creating an irrigation system that turned the area from what was essentially a desert into an agricultural centre, particularly for fruit and grapes.

Today, while keeping its individual charm, Mildura is Victoria’s northern-most modern city and home to more than 50,000 people. Each year the region receives hundreds of thousands of visitors.

Directly as a result of the irrigation system introduced by George Chaffey, this region is Australia’s largest producer of dried fruits and its citrus fruit equal in quality to anywhere in the world. It is also Victoria’s largest wine producing region.

By Peterdownunder [CC BY-SA 3.0 ], from Wikimedia Commons

Any trip to Mildura would not be complete without a leisurely ride along the Murray river on one of the several paddle steamers that have plied the river since 1853. Many were once part of the commercial routes for produce and now provide a great opportunity to not only see the beautiful Murray but experience what it was like on these ladies of the river in days past.

By Brück & Sohn Kunstverlag Meißen [CC0], from Wikimedia Commons

A 1905 post card by Brück & Sohn of the wharf on the Murray river at Mildura, circa 1905. The river has always been the lifeblood of the city and particularly in the earlier days, when it was the major means of moving the cities commercial products to various other parts of the state.

By Mattinbgn (talk · contribs) [GFDL or CC BY 3.0 ], from Wikimedia Commons

Rio Vista, the home of William Chaffey and his family from 1892. Chaffey family members retained possession of the house until 1950 when it was purchased by the Mildura City Council as an historic homestead. The homestead is now preserved and open for inspection daily from 10am – 5pm. Closed Christmas Day and Good Friday.

With the development of the irrigation system, a town rapidly began to form in 1887. Settlers began to arrive by any means they could to work and live in the new city which was originally designed based on the American pattern of wide, tree lined streets and centre plantations.