Rochester Victoria

Just 12 kilometres outside of Echuca (Echuca post here), is the town of Rochester, and I was delighted to discover two of the painted wheat silos that are part Victoria’s Silo Art Trail.

These two were painted by Jimmy Dvate. Educated at Monash University in Melbourne, he has painted in just about every state in Australia, as well as in Europe. His work highlights his passion for local flora and fauna, especially endangered species. He also painted, among others, the gorgeous depiction of draught horses at Goorambat, which I covered in a previous post.

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With its radiant blue head and body, the Azure Kingfisher is the brightest of all four Kingfishers found in northern Victoria. It inhabits rivers, creeks and wetlands, and is related to the kookaburra.
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This is Allan. He is an endangered Squirrel Glider (Petaurus norfolcencis), and is the largest of the three Squirrel Gliders that inhabit the northern Victorian region. Squirrel Gliders use their tails as a rudder, and can glide up to 50 metres between trees. They are active at night, foraging for insects and bugs in the upper and lower forest canopy.

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Jimmy at work

There must have been a great thirst in Rochester in the early days, as the main street seems to be made up almost entirely of pubs.

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A whole corner is taken up by the magnificent Shamrock Hotel.

I wandered around for a while, taking photos of the colonial buildings. Why can’t we have buildings like that now? We seem to be besotted with glass towers and concrete boxes, in Melbourne, anyway.

Dominating the far end of the main street is the Murray Goulburn dairy factory. Since  1978, it had been producing cheese from milk collected from surrounding farms. It was Australia’s largest dairy processor, but after severe, retrospective cuts to the farm gate milk price in 2016, many of its suppliers exited the industry. Sadly, the company had to close its doors in 2018, and the workers had to find jobs elsewhere in the district.

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Murray Goulburn dairy factory

Rochester’s industry is now mainly based in primary agriculture: some dairy, tomatoes, cattle and sheep, along with some grain and seed farms.

Something the locals are pretty proud of is that Rochester was the birth place of Sir Hubert Opperman. Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, ‘Oppy’ was the dominant figure in Australian cycling, winning the Australian road cycling championships in 1924, 1926, 1927 and 1929. A statue at the start of town has been modelled on his stunning victory at the Bol D’or in Paris in 1928. He went on to win many European races. In 1991, he returned to France and was honoured with the gold medal of the City of Paris.

He retired from cycling in 1940, and after war service with the air force, entered Federal politics. He was knighted in 1968.

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Sir Hubert Opperman 

Rochester’s a nice town, and very conveniently-placed, being only 12 kilometres from Echuca and the Murray.

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16 thoughts on “Rochester Victoria

  1. Thanks for another glimpse of Oz. The towns you visit seem bedecked with colonial buildings, they do look nice.

    You might like to know that Hubert Opperman entered the Tour de France in 1928, won by Nicholas Frantz who unusually led from start to finish (5375 km later). Oppy came eighteenth, 8h 34 m 25 sec behind Frantz who covered the course in 192h 48m 58 s at an average speed of 27.876 kph. Last year Tadej Pogačar took 87h 20′ 05″ at an average speed of 39.9kph!

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  2. What magnificent murals. He paints much more detail and fine shading than most muralists.
    And I love the Shamrock Hotel. So often, those fine old buildings have been pulled down to make way for something “more modern” or worse yet, a parking lot.

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    1. Yep, thank heavens a lot of the country towns are hanging onto them, though they are often modernised inside. Next time I’m up that way, I’m going to stay there. Love staying in old pubs. You have your dinner in the bistro and as much wine as you like, then just fall up the stairs to your bedroom. Great fun.

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  3. What an interesting post Coral – love learning about the local history. Agree the old colonial buildings just have so much timeless charm and are far more my style too. The murals are wonderful on the silos! Hope you are coping with the latest lockdown – it must be so frustrating. Hope it’s not for too long!

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  4. Thanks, Rosemary. I’m finding you actually need to get out of the city to get to Australia’s real history. The murals are wonderful and I’ll be searching for more in the west of the state as soon as we horrible, endlessly-infected Victorians are allowed out again. We’re living in a police state, I’m afraid, and don’t know what to do about it. Thanks very much for your thoughts.

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