The little town of Harrow – population just over 100 – is believed to be the oldest inland settlement in the state of Victoria, Australia.
It is located on the boundary of the West Wimmera and Southern Grampians local government areas, 391 kilometres north west of the state capital Melbourne and overlooking the Glenelg River valley.
The first European explorer of the area was Major Thomas Mitchell and a monument marks the spot where he crossed the Glenelg River. A town originally known as Upper Glenelg was established in the 1840s, later renamed Harrow and giving the town its claim as Victoria’s oldest.
The hotel, general store and several other buildings in the town had their foundations laid in the mid to late 40s and are still in use today.
The original Post Office opened on 1 March, 1849, as Upper Glenelg (Harrow from 1854). At its peak, the town included a range of shops and services including two hotels.
Lying on the border between optimum sheep production and cropping regions, Harrow enjoys the best of both worlds, with lamb, wool and grain harvests employing a large percentage of the area’s residents.
Proud Indigenous and Sporting Heritage
Harrow is the burial place of Johnny ‘Unaarrimin’ Mullagh (13 August, 1841 – 14 August, 1891), arguably the star of Austraila’s First XI – the Aboriginal cricket team which toured England in 1868 and later became Australia’s first international sports team to tour England.
He was a skilful all-rounder, being a right arm bowler and right-handed batsman.
A member of the Jardwadjali people, Johnny ‘Unaarrimin’ Mullagh, was born on Mullagh Station, about 10 miles north of Harrow and learned to play cricket while working on the adjoining Pine Hills agricultural property. He was given the name ‘Black Johnny’ to distinguish him from a ‘White Johnny’.
After touring England with the Aboriginal First XI, he returned to Pine Hills Station where he died, before being laid to rest in the Harrow Cemetery.
A Dynamic and Active Community
In recent years, there has been a drift away from Harrow to larger towns in the region.
In an effort to counteract this, Harrow has pioneered several popular events such as the regular ‘Beaut Blokes’ events. The event was established to offset a perceived gender imbalance by introducing women from cities such as Melbourne and Geelong to single men from the district. The concept has now been picked up by other rural communities throughout Australia.
The Harrow By Night – Sound and Light Show is held monthly from September to March, retelling the history of Harrow in a humorous and interactive dinner and theatre performance.
One of Harrow’s greatest and most unique visitor events, is the Harrow National Bush Billycarts Championship and Johnny Mullagh Championship, held every long weekend in March
The town in conjunction with neighbouring township Balmoral has an Australian Rules football team competing in the Horsham & District Football League and there is an excellent winter/spring course at the Harrow Golf Club on Nhill-Harrow Road.