Lake Boga is a rural town and district in north-west Victoria. It is on the Murray Valley Highway and is 17 km south-west of Swan Hill. The town is on the south-west side of the highway and the actual lake is on the north-east side.
Lake Boga (the natural feature) was named by the New South Wales Surveyor General, Thomas Mitchell, on 21 June 1836, during his Australia Felix expedition. The inspiration for the name was reputedly the colonially named Bogan tribe of Aborigines in New South Wales. Mitchell’s account of his discovery of the lake includes mention of smoke rising from a native encampment disturbed by one of Mitchell’s men, on horseback, near the lake.
The ruts and tracks left by Mitchell’s expedition led pastoralists to the area. In 1845 a large pastoral run extending from Lake Boga to Quambatook was taken up. Six years later a Moravian Mission for Aborigines was established at Lake Boga.
The beginning of closer settlement at Lake Boga began with the opening of the railway line, running beside the lake and on to Swan Hill, in 1890. The railway coincided with a proposed irrigation settlement east of the lake, extending to the shores of two lesser lakes about 2 km to the west. Township blocks were sold, although the irrigation settlement did not proceed. A school was opened in 1892, a general store in 1893 and a Mechanics’ Institute in 1894. By the end of the decade there was a township and the first of several irrigation pumps was installed. Lake Boga was described in 1903 in the Australian handbook:
Within a few years several private water pumping plants were functioning, and a butter factory (1906) and irrigated lucerne pastures stimulated dairying.
Although the lakes are fresh water, a salt deposit was found and harvested. The lake, about 5 km across, was the venue for an aquatic carnival in 1925, and in 1942 it was a wartime RAAF Catalina flying boat base. The lake was a safe and remote base for repair and overhaul of the Catalinas, and was decommissioned in 1947. The site has a museum and is heritage listed. During drought a number of mortar shells and other explosives have been found in the lake bed.
Lake Boga has had Anglican, Catholic, Methodist and Presbyterian churches. Catholic and Uniting churches continue. The township also includes a public hall, two recreation reserves, a store, a hotel, two motels and a caravan park. There is a lakeside reserve with a yacht club and a bowling club, and the lake is used for boating, water skiing and fishing. The reserve has the first irrigation pump restored as a monument. There are grain silos at the railway siding, but the adjoining farms include orchards and Best’s vineyards. In 1998 the school had 118 pupils and in 2014 there were 72.
In 2012 restoration work began on the shoreline of Lake Boga after the construction of levees and emergency works during the 2011 floods had caused erosion along Lake Boga's foreshore, impacting on walking tracks and the lake's overall appearance.
Lake Boga’s census populations have been:
Brett Freeman, Lake Boga at war, Catalina Publications, 1995
Lake Boga 1969, Back to Boga Committee, 1969
Lesley Scholes, A history of the Swan hill shire: public lands, private profit and settlement, Swan Hill, 1989