Wimmera River Walk
The Old Weir and Swimming Pool
Around 1875 a wooden weir was built across the river here to provide a pool of water for the pumping station near the east end of Baillie Street.
The Horsham Times in January 1882 commented on the need for a public bathing place. Young men and boys were swimming below the weir, and there were many complaints about nudity. By 1908 a swimming pool had been constructed in the river upstream of the weir.
When the War Memorial Swimming Pool opened at Bolton Park in 1956, the old pool was removed from the river.
During the time the weir was at this site there were a number of floods. Blue poles near this site mark flood levels, the highest of which was in 1909.
In 1967/68 the wooden weir was replaced be a larger concrete weir at Weir Park, of which increased pondage and better flood control resulted.
Beautification and development programmes have since converted the river into one of Horsham’s principal attractions.
Old Bridges and Tramline
Bridges have spanned the Wimmera River in this vicinity since Horsham’s earliest days. The first, built of timber about 1860, was high enough to keep buggies and carts above all but the highest flood.
The earlier bridge was replaced with a more substantial structure in 1884/85. This was soon inadequate, with the decking replaced in 1892 and weight limits of four tons applied in 1896. This bridge was also cut at times of high flood .
The more easterly of the present pair of concrete bridges was built in 1939, at a cost of around 9100 pounds. The other was added in 1976.
A horse-drawn Tramway, opened in 1885, transported road making materials from McKenzie Creek, (six miles south of Horsham), on secondhand railway trucks.
Firewood for the brick kilns near the Wimmera Bridge was also brought in on the tramway. Another popular use was to take picnic parties to Bungalally. Use of the line ceased in 1927 and it was dismantled in 1934.
Ernst Seeliger worked as a brewer in South Australia, he then moved to Dimboola where he farmed 320 acres for a number of years. He purchased the Wimmera Brewery from Treacy and Smith, situated at Meadowbank near the showground.
He used river water in his beer making recipe, which a popular but fallacious legend says was the basis for Melbourne’s Foster’s Lager.
A number of locally owned breweries, including Seeliger, operated for some years in Horsham, supplying local hotels, until competition from Melbourne breweries forced their closure.
Swinging Bridge to Golf Course
Golf began in Horsham on land owned by the Langlands family. The scrapes and greens had to be fenced as the land was leased for use as a cow paddock.
The club purchased 85 acres south of the Wimmera River, opposite the end of Hamilton Street in the 1920’s and a course was set out. They reached the course by a pedestrian swing bridge which crossed the river. This access was officially restricted to club members.
The river at this time was much narrower than today. Because the water used to flood back into the town, this led to the river being widened in the 1980’s. The vegetation on the south bank was removed at the time of widening.
A growing golfing population meant that the course became inadequate. The club bought 160 acres of sandy country at Haven. The bridge was then removed.
Old Pumping Station
Water for the original settlers came from the Wimmera River. The Pump house for Horsham’s first reticulated water supply system was built near this spot about 1875, after a weir was built below the Botanic Gardens to supply a pool of water for the purpose. It housed a stream boiler and two Tangye pumps which pumped Wimmera River water up to a wood staved pipe to the top of a brick tower in McLachlan Street. From there the water was gravity fed to Horsham premises.
Horsham has long since sourced its water from Lake Wartook in the nearby Grampians. By 1911 the old Pump house had become obsolete and not a trace of it now remains. Brick ruins near this site are remnants of a separate pumping system established about 1879 to convey river water to the Railway Station for the steam locomotives.