Stanhope 3623

Stanhope is a rural township and district in the west Goulburn Valley irrigation area in northern Victoria. It is 16 km. south-west of Kyabram.

Stanhope was the name of one of several pastoral estates owned or leased by James Winter and his family west of the Goulburn River. In 1867 the Winters built the "Stanhope" homestead on a property of 6,000 ha.

After the building of the Waranga Basin reservoir in 1905 the State Rivers and Water Supply Commission extended farm irrigation northwards. In 1913 the Stanhope estate was acquired for closer settlement and in 1917 a branch railway line was built from Rushworth via Stanhope to Girgarre. After the first World War soldier settlers took up farms for citrus growing, lucerne and dairying. One of the settlers was John McEwen, future Country Party leader and Deputy Prime Minister during the Menzies-Holt years. A co-operative dairy was opened in 1923, and fruit was transported to Kyabram when its cannery was opened.

A school was opened at Stanhope in 1916, and another at Stanhope South in 1927. The first store in the new town was opened in 1920. Anglican, Methodist and Presbyterian churches were opened during 1920-22, and a war-memorial hall was opened in 1920. The hall was used for Catholic Church services until the St. Lawrence church was opened in 1959.

The dairy industry in Stanhope had an unusual history, not falling to takeover from larger rural or metropolitan cities. In 1970 the Co-op Dairy Co. took over factories at Echuca and Numurkah, and in 1971 merged with the Shepparton Dairy Co. to form Ibis Milk Products. The new company became Bonlac Foods Ltd., with a processing plant at Stanhope employing about 180 people.

Stanhope has a school (125 pupils, 1998), a community hall, a saleyards, the Bonlac cheese and butter factory, a swimming pool, a recreation reserve, bowling and tennis facilities and four churches. The shopping centre of about twelve establishments lacks a once-prominent emporium which has closed as residents have changed to shopping in Kyabram. The railway line from Rushworth closed in 1987.

The census populations have been 522 (1921), 994 (1954) and 565 (1996).

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