Waaia is a rural village in the Murray Valley irrigation area in northern Victoria. It is approximately mid-way between Nathalia and Numurkah. The name is thought to be derived from an Aboriginal word meaning crow. It is pronounced Way-eye.
In 1875 the Waaia parish was surveyed, coinciding with the subdivision of large pastoral properties for farm selection. The Waaia township site was surveyed by 1877. When the extension of the railway line from Numurkah to Nathalia was being planned in 1886, local farmers persuaded the Commissioners to build a station at Waaia. When the line was opened in 1888 Waaia had a hotel, general store, a butcher and grain agents operating out of the railway station. A school was opened in 1890.
Water shortages were a problem for both domestic supply and for farms during dry years. Waaia farmers campaigned for the extension of irrigation from the Murray River weirs. After World War II dry-farm properties were acquired and subdivided, mainly for dairying. Soldier settlers took up the irrigation farms during the early 1950s.
Waaia has a hotel, an Anglican church, a large hall (1961), an oval and a school with which the one from Yalca South was combined in 1993. The combined school had 15 pupils in 2014. The railway line was closed in 1987. (Author and historian Patsy Adam-Smith's family worked on the railway at Waaia in the 1930s.)
Waaia's census populations have been:
|Waaia and environs||2011||376|
At the 2011 census, dairy farming accounted for 24.7% of employment, and other farming 5.2%.
Patsy Adam-Smith, Hear the train blow: an Australian childhood, Ure Smith, 1964
Gillian Hibbins, A history of the Nathalia Shire: the good helmsmen, Hawthorn Press, 1978
Claire Hutchins (comp), Centenary of Waaia primary school No. 2986, Waaia, 1990