Mystic Park

Mystic Park is a rural village in the Goulburn-Murray (Torrumbarry) irrigation area. It is about midway on the railway line between Kerang and Swan Hill.

The origin of the name is obscure, beginning with the Mystic Park Hotel (1879) which was opened on the coach run to Swan Hill. The inspiration for the hotel’s name may have been the publican’s affection for horse-racing, as there was a Mystic Park race track in Massachusetts, USA, until about 1900.

Farm selections were taken up in the 1870s when the Murrabit pastoral run was subdivided. The land was on the edge of the Mallee, but the Kangaroo Lake and Lake Tutchewop offered the prospect of water supply. The opening of the railway in 1890 was followed in three years by the proclamation of the Mystic Park township. A mechanics’ institute was opened in 1894 and a school in 1900.

In 1910 the Mystic Park Irrigation Company formed, drawing water from Kangaroo Lake. Ten years later a syndicate headed by J.R. Gorton formed Lake Kangaroo Estates, comprising several irrigated citrus orchards. Gorton’s son, John Grey Gorton, played in the Mystic Park premiership football team (1931), took up management of the Estates in 1936 and operated a citrus property after serving with the RAAF, 1940-45. He was subsequently a Kerang shire councillor, Federal Senator and Prime Minister (1967-71).

The Irrigation Company’s assets were transferred to the State Rivers and Water Supply Commission when the Torrumbarry Weir (1924) became operational, ensuring more permanent irrigation water from the local lakes. The Mallee’s proximity, however, was evident with the bulk-wheat shed (1954) and grain silos at the railway siding.

In 1982 the Mystic Park bush race was commenced, echoing the racing clubs formed in the 1920s and in the 1880s by the original publican. The present hotel, a two storey structure, was built in 1937 and is the village’s dominant building. A smaller building is the Anglican church (1954). The school closed in 1977, its assets divided between the schools at Lake Boga and Lake Charm.

Mystic Park’s census populations have been:

area census date population
Mystic Park 1891 60
  1911 189
  1933 200
  1954 146
  1961 172
Mystic Park and environs 2011 183

At the 2011 census, farming accounted for 19.8% of employment.

Further Reading

Colin Heggen, Mystic Park memories: a history of Mystic Park and district, the author, 1993