Cohuna Region

In the heart of fully irrigated dairy country and opposite Gunbower Island, the picturesque town of Cohuna is situated on the Murray Valley Highway between Kerang and Echuca. Investment in this region over recent years has been strong due to affordable industrial land and housing, along with quality infrastructure.

Cohuna offers great opportunities for those looking for an alternative holiday destination or lifestyle. Visitors and new residents are warmly welcomed and provided with services expected of a larger regional centre. Cohuna is renowned for its quality retail outlets and excellent facilities.

Magnificent scenery and a host of recreational activities are on offer for those who enjoy the great outdoors. Take a leisurely forest drive or try some of our recommended activities including hiking, bike riding, bird watching, camping, canoeing, fishing, water skiing and yabbying.

History of Cohuna

In 1836 Major Thomas Mitchell was the first European explorer to encourage potential pastoralists to take stock overland from Sydney and settle in the area Mitchell referred to as Australia Felix - Happy Australia. Mitchell's journey from Sydney took him via Swan Hill, Kerang, Cohuna, Leitchville and Pyramid Hill area en route to Portland.

A brochure is available for those who wish to follow parts of this epic journey by car, bicycle, on horseback or on foot.

In the wake of the explorers, overlanders from Sydney brought stock across the Murray and settled on the rich flood plains. Large sheep and cattle runs were established and the country began to be cleared. Gannawarra and Gunbower were the two main land leases in this region.

In 1874 part of the original land leases were thrown open for selection and in 1875 the township of Cohuna was gazetted. The settlement progressed slowly at the junction of the Gunbower and Barr Creeks until irrigation water was diverted from the Murray into the Gunbower Creek in the 1880's. Irrigators struggled against drought and flood until the Victorian State Rivers and Water Supply Commission took over in 1907. Migrants arrived shortly after to take up the irrigated blocked and by 1910 streets of substantial shops and dwellings spread along the creek frontage at the site of today's town.
Cohuna and District Historical Society
Cohuna & District Historical Society was formed on 3rd April, 1970. Meetings were held at the High School until July 1971, and then in the old Memorial Hall Library room, where they were able to display their growing collection of the district's history.
A Hobbies & Collectors Day, (1972-1985) drew many interested collectors. Other projects include a request for a way-side stop at Major Mitchell's camping site at Wee Wee Rup, the marking of the Major Mitchell tree on the Barr Creek at Koroop in May 1975 and sites of original schools.

In 1975, Cohuna celebrated its Centenary, and the Society published the first of its books, "Unlock the Land", a history of the district from its earliest days.

Family Centenary Certificates, designed by Mrs Phyllis Hetherington, have been presented to families on achieving 100 years of settlement in this district.

In 1982 Cohuna Historical Society Co-operative was formed and purchased the Scouts Church and Hall, (following the formation of the Uniting Church) to display and store the extensive collection of exhibits, photographs and records. Cohuna Historical Centre was officially opened on 17th November 1984. The Co-operative was dissolved in 1991.

The Old Church Building has become the Museum for exhibits and special displays. The collection contains a variety of old household items and memorabilia of the district, including a fence post cut by Albert Jacka, Australia's first V.C. winner in World War One, who worked in this district prior to the war; part of an original tree marked by Major Mitchell; the Macorna Telephone exchange; and a potato-masher originally owned by the mother of Ned Kelly.

The Archive & Photographic Collections are now housed in the adjacent purpose-built brick Archives Building opened on the 18th September 1992. A large compactus unit is installed in the fire-proof room.

Family & Local History Research (photocopying, plus a small fee) can be arranged, or you may prefer to do your own research. Researchers are requested to donate a copy to our archives. Genealogy classes, using our microfiche collection, are held regularly.

All acquisitions in both the museum and archives have been donated by the community whilst indexing and research are carried out entirely by volunteers.

Donations by local service clubs, organisations, and individuals, include display cases, furniture and the compactus.

The Old Church Hall (where the display cases contain a collection of photographs of Cohuna and district through the years) has become the centre of fundraising activities and "Trash and Treasure" sales (our major fundraiser) are held in the hall on a regular basis.

For the full version of the above text please visit the Cohuna and District Historical Society website.

Gunbower Island

Between the Murray River and Gunbower Creek lies a 26,400ha flood plain known as Gunbower Island, the largest inland island in the world.

In its pristine natural state, Gunbower Island is perfect for outdoor activities such as canoeing on the Gunbower Creek, bush walking and bird watching. Camping is extremely popular, with plenty of native bushland for everyone to find that special secluded camping spot for the ultimate relaxing camping experience.

Eighty percent of the 50km long island is covered with magnificent stands of redgum and box forest. Gunbower Island contains the second largest river redgum forest in Victoria.

The wetlands of Gunbower Island are a unique and diverse wonderland of waterbirds, wildlife and aquatic plants and animals. Over 170 bird species have been recorded on the island. Internationally recognised as a Wetland of Importance, the tranquility and beauty of this unique area is something to behold.

The main entrance to Gunbower Island from the southern end is signposted at Cohuna. Numerous tracks lead to the island from the Murray Valley Highway. Entrance at the northern end is available via the Gunbower Island Bridge at Koondrook. Signposted tracks are suitable for 2WD and 4WD vehicles, although visitors should note that the forest is subject to annual flooding, typically from August to November. Maps available locally.
Dairy farming is the main agricultural enterprise around Cohuna and Leitchville.

During the 1970's casein produced in Cohuna was used in high energy food for US astronauts - hence Cohuna the town where the "Cow jumped over the moon".

The Cohuna/Leitchville area also produces a significant percentage of Victoria's pork supplies. This industry is supported by the grain and stockfeed producers within the Shire. Other agricultural pursuits include beef, prime lambs, hay and pasture-based products, as well as quality olive oil.
Industry & Manufacturing
Many of the industries based in Cohuna and Leitchville have emerged to support the local agricultural sectors.

Cohuna plays host to many exciting businesses including AWMA, Mawson's Quarry and Construction, Ellwaste, Archards Irrigation, Northern Feed Systems, Northern Herd Development and MVP Feeds.

Many of these businesses are known across Victoria and interstate for the services they provide.
During the cooler months the region has warm days and cool nights, and in the warmer months huge redgums offer shade from the sun.

Average temperatures range from 9 to 37 degrees Celsius and the average rainfall is 370mm. It is advisable to always wear sunscreen, mosquito repellent and protective clothing when enjoying the great outdoors.
Whether you are campers, caravanners, business people, families or in a group, a suitable home-away-from-home awaits in Cohuna.

You will receive a warm and friendly welcome from one of the motels, hotels or from the picturesque Cohuna Caravan Park located on the banks of the Gunbower Creek.

Camping is also extremely popular with an abundance of secluded camping sites available.
Other Information
At any time of the year you will marvel at the natural beauty of this region where vast waterways and majestic forests combine to provide a unique holiday experience. Gunbower Island has long been popular with nature lovers and campers, with some returning to the region year after year.

Explore the tranquil wetlands, drive, walk or cycle through the ancient forest, participate in the many recreational activities on offer, or just relax and enjoy the peace and quiet. With so much to see and do, time and imagination will be your only limitations.

Cohuna Region Attractions

1. Brolga
Major Mitchell named Cohuna, a name meaning Native Companion (Brolga) bird. Brolgas are now listed as a threatened species in Victoria but were present in their thousands when Major Mitchell explored the area. Brolgas form long lasting pairs and nest in shallow swamps during late winter and spring. This habitat provides the Brolga's food requirements which include plant tubers, large insects, water snails, spiders, frogs and even mice and cereal grain. This majestic bird can still be seen around the wetlands and grasslands from time to time. 

2. Sport
Cohuna is noted for its excellent sporting facilities and visitors to the region can enjoy a host of activities. Golf is extremely popular, with greens and fairways at the Cohuna Golf Club winding through the redgum forest and lush surrounds of Gunbower Island. Cohuna also boasts top quality bowling greens. Fishing is also plentiful in district waterways with a variety of fish species caught on yabbies, worms or artificial lures. Large Cod and Murray Cray still attract serious fishermen and amateurs alike to the Murray River during season each year. 

3. Koondrook
Once a bustling river port and sawmilling town on the banks of the Murray River, today Koondrook offers visitors a unique insight into life on the Murray in bygone years. Many of the original buildings around the old port remain, as do relics from times long past. Arbuthnot Sawmills still operates in the township and a walkway allows visitors to view the full milling process. Several redgum manufacturers produce high quality furniture and artefacts using timber collected from the flood plains of the Murray River. Take the time to visit their showrooms while enjoying your stay in the region. The Redgum Statue Walk depicts Koondrook in a unique way. 

4. Gunbower Island Forest Drive
Beginning in Cohuna, the Gunbower Forest Drive is a leisurely half-day drive linking a number of historical, cultural and ecological sites of interest. One of Gunbower State Forest's greatest treasures is Wattle Creek. This damp and moss covered area is almost rainforest-like and a refuge for small animals and birds. In recognition of its special values, this site has been placed in a Special Protection Zone from which no timber can be harvested. Stop along the way for a picnic lunch and enjoy the tranquility and beauty of the forest.

5. Gunbower Creek Attractions
Bring your own canoe and drift along the 5km canoe trail established through the unique wetlands of Safe's Lagoon, south of Koondrook. At a leisurely pace, the trail will take about two hours to complete. Although the trail is suitable any time of the day, wildlife is more active at sunrise and sunset.
If paddling a canoe is not for you, then take a relaxing drive through the Gunbower State Forest and enjoy the unique experience of the tall timber environment.
You may even see kangaroos and emus in their natural environment. Be sure to familiarise yourself with a forest map before you drive. 

6. Historic Museums
Cohuna and District Historical Society Inc has memorabilia of the district's past which is housed in the historic Scots Chapel. The museum displays an extensive collection of exhibits including part of an original tree marked by Major Mitchell when he passed through the area in 1836. There is also an impressive archives and family history of the area, including old newspapers and thousands of photographs. Cohuna and District Historical Society Inc is the only fully accredited society in the Gannawarra or surrounding Shires.

7. Leitchville
Leitchville is named after Duncan Leitch, manager of Gunbower Station, following his death in 1888. Although the railway came through in 1915 Leitchville was not gazetted as a township until 1929 and has been the centre of the dairy industry in the Gannawarra Shire. Low rainfall, moderate climatic conditions and the extensive irrigation systems create ideal conditions for dairying. Some of the highest production herds in Victoria are located in this region. Modern rotary dairies are becoming more popular as herd numbers increase. Pig production is also significant in the Leitchville area. 

8. Kow Swamp and Mount Hope
Kow Swamp is a permanent open freshwater wetland, an important bird sanctuary and popular fishing spot. It is also the site of one of Australia's most significant archaeological finds. A large burial ground uncovered on the edge of Kow Swamp contained human remains dating between 10,000 - 15,000 years. A full panoramic view of Kow Swamp and the Murray Valley region is well worth the short walk to the summit of Mount Hope. Major Mitchell referred to these immense blocks of granite as the hopeful hill after his long journey from Sydney in 1836.

9. Native Flora and Fauna
The diversity of native flora and fauna in this region is incredible. When flood waters abate, herbs, grasses and sedges transform the forest floor into a green meadow massed with wildflowers. The wetlands are a haven for wildlife including many rare species such as the Broad-Shelled Tortoise, Barking Marsh Frog and the White-Bellied Sea Eagle. Protection of these natural resources is of paramount importance. While enjoying your stay, please take special care to protect the environment. 

Torrumbarry Weir and Interpretive Centre
Much of the primary production in this region has been due to the Torrumbarry Irrigation System. Water is distributed to farming properties via a network of natural waterways, lakes and man-made channels. The weir and interpretive centre are well worth a visit for those interested in the irrigation system and the region's native flora and fauna.