Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Wodonga

Wodonga is a small Victorian city 300 km northeast of Melbournen south of the border with NSW. Across the border on the other side of the Murray river is its larger twin city of Albury. With a population of about 30,000 people, it forms an urban area of around 90,000 people with Albury.

Belvoir Park A
Belvoir Park

Founded as a customs post together with Albury, Wodonga was first surveyed in 1852 and proclaimed the town of Belvoir in the same year. It became an important river port for nearby Victorian goldfields and the first bridge across the Murray River opened in 1860. On 10 March 1876, Wodonga broke away from the Shire of Yackandandah to form a new municipality - the Shire of Wodonga. On 12 April 1911, it annexed a further part of Yackandandah. On 30 March 1973, Wodonga was proclaimed a rural city by Sir Rohan Delacombe, the Governor of Victoria. Wodonga has been regarded as the smaller, less prosperous cousin of the two cites and once commonly referred to by locals as the "Struggle Town". Whilst still somewhat smaller than Albury, economic growth in both areas has ameliorated such distinctions.

Belvoir Park 02
Autumn colours of deciduous trees in Belvoir Park

Our first stop in Wodonga is Belvoir Park/Sumsion Gardens at the northern end of town. The carpark is accessible from Huon Street. First recognized in the Yackandandah shire records in 1854, Belvoir Park was officially set aside as a park in the 1870s and gazetted Belvoir Park in 1951, with its name reaffirmed during Australia’s bicentenary celebrations in 1988.

Belvoir Park 04

This park features a large lake containing ducks, swans, geese and a small island with a rotunda that can be accessed via a footbridge.

Belvoir Park 05

Facilities include a walking track round the lake, picnic and BBQ facilities and the Belvoir Park Playground, a super playground funded by the federal, state and local governments under the National Stimulus Program.

Gateway Village 03

Wodonga is separated from Albury by Gateway Island which is surrounded by the Murray River and Wodonga Creek and through which the Lincoln Causeway (Hume Highway) runs through. On the island is the Gateway Village which is home to the Wodonga Visitor Information Centre, La Maison Cafe (at the old Customs House building), HotHouse Theatres, High Water Theatre, Butter Factory Theatre, Albury Wodonga Jazz Club, Murray Arts, the Creator's Gallery, souvenir and craft shops and a number of walking trails through the surrounding parklands.

Gateway Village 01

The state border is located at the northern end of Gateway Island where Union Bridge crosses the Murray River. Heading towards Wodonga, you can park your car besides the Lincoln Causeway after crossing the Union Bridge. Alternatively, you can take a short walk along a pathway from the Gateway Village past Byrne Lagoon to access this border crossing.

Wodonga-Albury Border

The entrance to Wodonga and Victoria is marked by 3 brightly-coloured spheres called the Porta, the work of a local artist Ken Raff and constructed by Wodonga-based Butko Engineering and painted by L and S Coatings. This sculpture was officially opened on 4 Oct 2007.

Porta 01

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