Wando Vale

Wando Vale is a rural district in western Victoria, 8 km north-east of Casterton. It was named after the Wando Vale pastoral run which was taken up by John G. Robertson in 1840. Robertson was an associate of the Hentys at Portland, and like them pushed north with sheep to settle on land described by Thomas Mitchell, the Surveyor General of New South Wales, as highly suitable for grazing and agriculture (1836).

Mitchell also named the Wando River, which is a tributary of the Glenelg. He understood the name to be Aboriginal for stream.

The Wando Vale property remained substantially intact until 1900 when it was subdivided for closer-settlement farms. A school of 70 children was conducted in a large workers’ hut, then in the community hall (1903) and finally in its own building (1906). Grazing and dairying were carried out and a local creamery operated before cream was separated and transported to the Coleraine butter factory. Lambs and rabbits – the latter a pest since the 1880s – were processed at the Casterton freezing works.

The Wando Vale farms were mostly successful, in contrast to other such schemes and soldier settlement after World War I; the soil was of a good depth and pastures had been improved. Flax was grown during the 1940s. In 1963 several blocks were still owned by the original families.

North-west of the Wando Vale village there are the hummocks, separated by the Wando River. In the 1970s a shire tourism guide mentioned that they were a good spot for gem fossicking. The guide failed to mention that the hummocks were also the site of two terrible massacres of the Konong Wootong Aborigines by the pastoralist Whyte brothers in the 1840s. Bones were uncovered by flooding as recently as the 1940s.

Wando Vale has a public hall and a recreation reserve. The school, which had 33 pupils in 1998, closed in 2000.

Wando Vale’s census populations have been:

census datepopulation

Further Reading

Thomas H. Bilston, Wando Vale settlement: souvenir history 1840-1950, the author, 1950

Nancie Edgar, Burnt eucalyptus bark: early settlers of the far western districts of Victoria, the author?, c1970

Shire of Glenelg centenary 1863-1963: one hundred years of progress, Casterton, 1963