Piangil is a small rural township which is the terminus of the railway line 38 km north-west of Swan Hill in north-west Victoria. The township and the river, which are 3 km apart, are separated by the Murray Valley Highway.

The name originated as the Piangil pastoral run, taken up in 1846 by William Coghill. It is thought that the name was derived from an Aboriginal word describing a fish (Murray cod).

Piangil was marginal mallee grazing land when 60 sq km were reserved for a village settlement in 1894. Land was cleared, but exposed to wind erosion, and was a failure in a few years. During 1900-10 there was limited irrigation of the lower river flats, and irrigation blocks were released. Most were relinquished by 1924, notwithstanding the railway being extended from Swan Hill to Piangil in 1915.

Beyond the river flats where there is extensive grape growing, there are elevated mallee-type soils. An investigation of their viability for irrigation concluded that cost made the proposal impracticable (1947). Apart from the river area, Piangil is a dry farming area, with wheat, sheep and fat lambs.

The population reached over 300 in the 1920s, and a school was opened in 1923. Additional facilities in the township include a hall, Catholic and Uniting churches, a general store, community hub and the Piangil Corner Cafe. The school had 34 pupils in 1998, 18 in 2013 and 6 in 2014.

North-east of Piangil there is the Tooleybuc bridge over the Murray River. Built in 1925, it is heritage listed.

Piangil’s census populations have been:

area census date population
Piangil 1911 205
  1933 497
  1971 241
Piangil and environs 2011 333

At the 2011 census, farming accounted for 50% of employment, including 13.9% on vineyards, fruit growing and horticulture.

Further Reading

Lesley Scholes, A history of the Shire of Swan Hill: public land, private profit and settlement, Swan Hill, 1989