Werrimull

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Werrimull
The Werrimull Hotel is a favourite with grey nomads. PIC: Werrimull Hotel / Facebook

The Werrimull Hotel, commonly known as Victoria’s ‘most Outback pub’, has been brought back from the brink … and that’s truly great news for experience-seeking grey nomads.

The tiny village of Werrimull located in in the remote part of north-west Victoria known as the Millewa Settlement Area of the Mallee region is just the sort of place that travellers love to ‘discover’, and a genuine bush pub invariably offers a fascinating focus point.

When former owners Vivian and Trevor Biggs put the pub on the market several months ago, and with a pandemic suddenly wreaking tourism havoc in Victoria, there were some that feared it could be the end of the road for the iconic corrugated steel hostelry. However, help was at hand in the form of ‘white knights’, Jim Barnfield and Toni Astill, who have just opened the historic hotel’s doors again … and cool beer, delicious food, and a warm welcome are definitely back on the menu.

Lying some 80 kilometres southwest of Mildura and 13 kilometres south of the Sturt Highway, a trip out to Werrimull requires a little bit of an effort … but it’s an effort that will be richly rewarded. The Millewa area was opened up to farming in the 1920s and the railway reached Werrimull in 1923, with a post office opening the year afterwards.

Werrimull’s population quickly grew to about 1,000 and, immediately before the drought years of 1943-45, the Victorian municipal directory records the town as having a hotel, stores, a police station, a school, and several churches, including an eye-catching Catholic church of Romanesque design that was built in 1933 using local limestone.

The population of the Millewa has been in steady decline since that time though and, at the 2016 Census, Werrimull and the surrounding area had a population of just 112. The railway line closed in 1988. But that sense of history and the resilience of this farming community is what makes a visit here so memorable. At the eastern entrance of the Werrimull township, on Millewa Road, there is a Pioneer Plantation with hundreds of individual trees marked with the names of the early settlers and their descendants.

Probably the best way to get a full understanding of the area’s past though is to visit the Millewa Pioneer Village, 10 kilometres to the west at Meringur. It was established in 1986 to recognise the efforts of the early settlers creating homes and farms in challenging circumstances. Visitors can explore more than 50 sites of historical buildings and get a sense of how pioneers lived. The village is run by volunteers and, although Covid-19 forced its temporary closure, it normally opens every day.

Some 30 kilometres to the north-east of Werrimull is Lake Cullulleraine, a large scenic freshwater lake, which boasts picnic areas, a walking track, and a couple of great caravan parks. And after a good look around this fascinating area, there is no better place to mull over the magic of the day and perhaps say ‘hello’ to a local or two than at the rejuvenated Werrimull Hotel.

Like the rest of this strong Outback community, this character-filled pub is very much here to stay.

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