Lake Rowan

Lake Rowan is a rural locality in north-east Victoria about midway between Shepparton and Wangaratta and 15 km south-east of Tungamah. It was named after the brothers George and James Rowan who took up the Peechelba pastoral run in 1842. The run extended east of Lake Rowan.

The lake is also known as Rowan’s Swamp and is about 1 km south of the township site.

Farm selections were taken up in the Lake Rowan area in the early 1870s. The Lake Rowan township was proclaimed in 1873 and a school was opened in 1876. Although named Karrabumet, the name of the parish, a change of school name to Lake Rowan occurred in a few years time.

Lake Rowan is on the road from Benalla to Yarrawonga and emerged as the most significant township in the area. By the mid-1880s there were two hotels, a bank, a store and Congregational and Presbyterian churches. In 1883, however, a railway line extension from Benalla was terminated at St James, 6 km west of Lake Rowan, and in 1886 the line was continued to Tungamah and Yarrawonga. Business began to migrate from Lake Rowan to St James.

In 1903 Lake Rowan was described in the Australian handbook:

During the 1900s Lake Rowan settled into becoming a profitable farming district with its commercial centre increasingly situated at St James. The last of the hotels closed in 1919. Sporting teams drew joint memberships from both places. In 1950 the Lake Rowan school was closed. Twenty years later the Presbyterian church, the venue for many district weddings, held its last service. The general store closed in about 1980.

The closure of these amenities, however, was but a symptom of the proximity of St James, not of any decline in farm productivity. Lake Rowan has a scatter of buildings, a well appointed community centre in the former Presbyterian church and a cemetery. Its census populations have been:

area census date population
Lake Rowan 1911 156
  1933 262
  1954 143
  1961 129
Lake Rowan and environs 2006 270
  2011  not recorded

Further Reading

Alpha and omega: Shire of Tungamah 1878-1994, Tungamah, 1997

Joyce Charnstrom and Jacye Symes, A journey through the Parish of Karrabumet, 1872-1932, the authors, 1988

Beryl Ilsley, St James 1988, Back to St James, 1989

John A Willis, St James 1871-1977, Back to Officials, nd