Woorinen and Woorinen South

Woorinen South is a village and Woorinen a locality in the Swan Hill irrigation district, 12 km north-west of Swan Hill in north-west Victoria.

In 1913 the State Rivers and Water Supply Commission purchased 1600 hectares of land for subdivision for orcharding. By then there were irrigation channels drawing water from Long Lake near Lake Boga. Settlers, including several from Mildura, took up farms in 1914. They constructed Woorinen’s first public building, the Church of Christ, in 1915.

Woorinen is thought to have been named after an Aboriginal word meaning mouth.

The creation of the Commission’s farm lots coincided with agitation for extension of the railway line from Swan Hill, which occurred in 1915. The line passed through Woorinen South. Coinciding with the railway the Woorinen Fruitgrowers Association began plans for fruit transport, and a dried fruits packing shed was built in 1921. The packing shed and fruit dehydrator functioned until 1967 when packing was consolidated at Nyah West. Local employment was maintained, however, with the opening of the Fairefield Winery in 1968 which was renamed Woorinen Wine Estates in 1980. It went into receivership in 1985.

In addition to the Church of Christ, a school at Woorinen Central was opened in 1917, a Methodist church functioned from 1922 to 1978, a public hall was opened in 1919, and a recreation reserve was laid out during the 1920s. Sports clubs, guides and scouts met regularly.

Steady population growth required a school at Woorinen North (1925) and Woorinen South (1930). The ‘Central’ and ‘North’ school were closed in 1993 leaving Woorinen South as the district school. It had 56 pupils in 2014. By 1988 Woorinen had 170 farm holdings comprising 241 farm lots of an average area of ten hectares.

As well as being a centre for stone fruit and dried fruit growing Woorinen has a silo (1964) and a grain depot at the railway siding. The station building was transferred to the Swan Hill Pioneer Settlement in 1976. In 2003 a water pipeline from the Murray River to 200 farm properties was completed, replacing open channels. Woorinen hosts the annual Mallee Steam and Oil Vintage Machinery Rally.

The Woorinen District Community Plan (2009) was updated in 2011-12. Priorities included a youth skate park, use of the school facilities for the community and improving amenities.

Woorinen’s census populations have been:

area census date population
Woorinen North and South 1921 448
  1933 667
Woorinen South 1971 298
  1996 310
  2011 310
Woorinen district 2011 681

In the rural part of the district, fruit and nut growing accounted for 41% of employment at the 2011 census.

Further Reading

Yvonne Ward, Back to Woorinen South, 1930-1980, Back-To Woorinen South Committee, 1980

Margaret Schintler and Mary Simpson, Pioneering history of the Woorinen settlement, Woorinen, 2001