Manangatang is a rural township 70 km north-west of Swan Hill in north-west Victoria. It is on the railway line to Robinvale.
Manangatang is about 20 km north of Lake Tyrrell and two smaller lakes, and the name is thought to have been derived from an Aboriginal word describing a waterhole in the district.
Land in the Manangatang district was subdivided for farm selections in about 1910 and township lots were first sold in 1912. Two years later the railway line was extended from Chillingollah to Manangatang, which served as a rail terminus for seven years before a further extension toward Robinvale. The railway station (1916) is heritage listed. A school was opened in a Methodist hall in 1914.
After World War I there was extensive soldier settlement on farms in the Manangatang district. The change in population probably caused the swing from Methodist temperance to the opening of the Manangatang hotel. Both groups contributed funds for the opening of a hospital in 1924. Other town amenities established during the 1920s and 1930s included a racecourse (1924), a golf club (1928), the Anglican church (1929) and a Presbyterian church (1934). Water storage, in an earthen reservoir supplied from the Grampians, was built in 1923. On two occasions before 1940 there were unsuccessful attempts to form a separate municipality centred on Manangatang.
Manangatang’s importance as a wheat growing district was acknowledged with the building of concrete silos in 1942. Its importance as a district centre was confirmed when several small schools in surrounding localities were closed and Manangatang opened a consolidated school in 1946. Other postwar amenities were a replacement public hall (1958) and a swimming pool (1965).
Manangatang has a shopping centre with agricultural and mechanical supplies, a saleyard, Anglican, Catholic and Uniting churches, a hospital, a community centre, a golf course adjoining the racecourse, two recreation reserves, a swimming pool and several reservoirs. The consolidated primary-Year 12 college had 128 pupils in 2014.
In 1980 a Back-To-Manangatang history lamented the tendency for locals not to support the Manangatang’s shops. In 1993 it was reported in The Age that six shops and two banks had closed. Farm consolidations had reduced the population, and many families drove to Robinvale or Swan Hill to shop. Shopkeepers remembered Chinkapook, south of Manangatang which once had several shops, but all gone by 1993. Manangatang’s population at the 2011 census had a median age of 48 years, compared with 37 for Victoria.
Manangatang’s census populations have been:
At the 2011 census livestock and grain farming accounted for 43.5% of employment in Manangatang and environs.
H.R. Blair, Manangatang then and now, Easter 1980, Back-To committee, 1980
Lesley Scholes, A history of the Shire of Swan Hill: public land, private profit and settlement, Swan Hill, 1989