Glenorchy is a rural village on the Western Highway and the Melbourne-Adelaide railway where they cross the Wimmera River, 15 km north-west of Stawell.

Glenorchy’s origins were the opening of a hotel and store in 1847 (the former mainly patronised by pastoral workers) at the crossing place on the Wimmera River. A post office was opened in 1849, and township lots were surveyed and sold in 1850. The first hotel, Four Posts Inn, was supplemented by several others during the 1850s-60s the most notable being the Royal Hotel (1855) which was demolished in 1968.

It appears that the place name was conferred by either the surveyor or the proprietor of the Four Posts Inn, presumably inspired by Glenorchy in Argyllshire, Scotland.

The first school was opened in 1858, and the present one was built in 1875. Glenorchy was satirically described by Marcus Clarke in his Bullocktown Sketches published in the Australasian newspaper. Clarke was employed on Swintons pastoral station during 1865-67 through his uncle who was a part owner. Clarke was most likely dismayed by the flat Wimmera pastoral country, and gained wry amusement from the townsmen’s dedication to steady drinking. Glenorchy was financially helped by pastoral workers blueing their annual cheques.

Glenorchy’s future, though, lay in wheat, and the opening of the railway line in 1878 put farm selections in touch with larger markets. A flour mill was opened in about the time the railway came, and there were large mills at Stawell.

In 1903 Glenorchy was described in the Australian handbook:

Fruit growing and viticulture have receded, and Glenorchy is now a district grain receival point. The township has a Uniting church (formerly Presbyterian, built 1863), a public hall, a golf course and reticulated water from the Wimmera River. A Catholic church is no longer used and the school closed in 2010.

In September 2010 and again in January 2011 many parts of regional Victoria experienced widespread severe flooding. Glenorchy succumbed to rising floodwaters with waters in the Wimmera River rising to over 5.04m.

Glenorchy’s census populations have been:

area census date population
Glenorchy 1861 136
  1881 128
  1901 289
  1911 428
  1933 248
  1961 252
Glenorchy and environs 2011 271

Further Reading

Robert Kingston, Good country for a grant: a history of the Stawell shire, Stawell, 1989

A.J.H. Gray, The origin and growth of Glenorchy, Horsham, 1967

Kevin Mitchell, Glenorchy, Victoria: past to present, 2012