Wangaratta and the surrounding rural communities offer a year full of festivals, celebrations and events that attract people from across the country and in some cases from around the world. Events such as the annual Wangaratta Festival of Jazz and Swap Meet are all centrally located, and across the region there are wine and food events which are hugely popular. Wangaratta also offers an excellent selection of accommodations from which to explore and enjoy some of the many events that are held in nearby communities such as Beechworth, Myrtleford, Bright, Rutherglen and Yarrawonga. Wangaratta is also host to regular markets, youth events, senior citizen events and sporting competitions including Australian Rules Football, netball, squash and swimming.

If you are looking for something unique then one of the many regular Wangaratta and regional markets are a great place to begin your search. Each year residents and visitors alike can enjoy markets such as the Wangaratta Festival of Jazz Market, Oxley Bush Market, Wangaratta Swap Meet as well as those close to Wangaratta in Mansfield, Yarrawonga, Jamieson, Myrtleford, Beechworth, Peechelba, Rutherglen and Benalla. These markets include everything from clothes and popular foods through to unique handcrafts and gourmet local produce and wines. These markets are a great opportunity to stock up the pantry with all your favourites from one convenient location and in many cases by dealing with the producer direct.

The Warby Ranges is only a 10km drive from central Wangaratta and is officially known as the Warby-Ovens National Park. It offers a variety of spots for family picnics and natural experiences such as Ryan’s Lookout, Briens Gorge Falls, The Forest Camp and Pine Gully. Fishing, Camping, Walking, Bike Riding and Gem Prospecting is also available in some areas.

There is a good selection of Wangaratta accommodation available to suit all budgets and needs. Offered within central Wangaratta as well as the surrounding communities travelers will find and excellent variety of motels, hotels, pubs, caravan parks, cottages and guest houses specifically catering for both short and longer stay temporary accommodation. There is plenty of accommodation in the heart of Wangaratta plus the nearby regions of the King Valley, Glenrowan, Milawa, Eldorado and many other also have some excellent accommodation choices. Furthermore, with the region hosting a large number of annual festivals, celebrations and events, accommodation can be scarce. For that reason if you require Wangaratta accommodation be sure to book early.

The King Valley is a wonderful area which is easily reached from Wangaratta. The King Valley is famous for its excellent wineries and a variety of natural attractions. Whitfield is the hub of many of the King Valleys attractions with Paradise Falls, Lake William Hovell and Powers Lookout all within easy reach and each is certainly worth the drive.

Paradise Falls is one of those places that is often overlooked by visitors to the King Valley but for those that make the effort they are well rewarded. The short walk from the car park leads you down a series of rocky steps into the ravine below that gets cooler and more welcoming as you approach the falls. Be sure to visit after recent rains as the water flow does dry up in the warmer months There are some very interesting conglomerate rock formations along the path and around the falls. If you are particularly lucky you may even see some of the resident Peregrine Falcons that nest in the cliff tops above the falls. Paradise Falls are a great destination for families but do pack a spare set of clothes as the temptation may be to get a bit wet.

One of the great things about Wangaratta is its central location to a number of regional attractions. Whether you are planning on visiting the natural wonders around the Warby Ranges or wineries of the King Valley and Rutherglen Wangaratta is a convenient location. If you are travelling to the snowfields then Bright is a comfortable drive and for a taste of history Glenrowan and Beechworth are close by. Wangaratta’s own Performing Arts Centre hosts regular shows. There are also a number of annual, seasonal and special attractions across the region that attract large numbers of visitors to the region each year. If you are planning on visiting during the holiday season be sure to book your accommodation early as rooms do fill up.

Wangaratta History

Located 235 kilometres north of Melbourne in Victoria, Wangaratta is situated at the junction of the Ovens and King Rivers. After European settlement the area was initially known as Ovens Crossing Placebefore the local Aboriginal name of Wangaratta was adopted. In the language of the Pangerang People in this, the Yorta Yorta Country, Wangaratta is believed to have translated into either ‘Resting (or Nesting) Place of the Cormorants’ or ‘Meeting of the Waters’.

It is widely believed that the first European contact in the region was by inland explorers Hume  and Hovell who passed through the area around 1824 and at that stage named the Ovens River Major John Ovens who was the then Chief Engineer of NSW. Twelve years later in 1836 Sir Thomas Mitchell led a team surveying the area and named it Ovens Crossing Place.

The first settler in the area was Thomas Rattray in 1838 who established a punt service on the southern side of the river as well as a small slab and bark hut. In the following year Rattray’s enterprise was purchased by William Clark who is often considered to be the ‘Father of Wangaratta’. Clark soon erected a newer and larger slab-timber store which he named the Hope Inn.

The population slowly grew with a number of rudimentary dwellings of timber slabs and bark roofs being constructed and Clark is then built the Commercial Hotel. It was not until the 1850’s when the gold rush began in earnest that Wangaratta experienced significant growth with many hopeful prospectors passing through the town and requiring accommodation and provisions. As the success of the regional diggings saw Wangaratta continue to expand with more land becoming available and dwellings being built.

In 1870 a public hospital was built and by 1873 the railway line that would eventually extend from Melbourne to Sydney reached Wangaratta. This saw the permanent population expand to around 1,400 people by 1884 along with a variety of churches, breweries, flour mills and other service orientated businesses. At the end of the 19th Century Wangaratta had over 2,500 residents and by the time it was declared a city in 1959 the population had reached 12,000. The Rural City of Wangaratta was proclaimed in 1995 and now encompasses a number of surrounding districts. 

David ReidDavid Reid (1820-1906) and Robert Dyce (1829-1900), pastoralists and politicians, were the first and third sons of David Reid, naval surgeon, and his wife Agnes, née Dyce. David was born probably at Plymouth, England, in December 1820.

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Sir Edward 'Weary' DunlopAn icon in Australia’s history, Edward Ernest Dunlop was born on 12 July 1907 at Major's Plain,Victoria. He was the second of two children to parents James and Alice (nee Payne).

Read more: Sir Edward “Weary’ Dunlop

Yorta Yorta Indigenous PeopleThe traditional indigenous owners of the area surrounding Wangaratta are the Yorta Yorta people. Their homelands span both sides of the famous Murray River.

Read more: Yorta Yorta Indigenous People

Sir John Bowser John Bowser was born on 2 September 1856 in Islington, London to John Henry Bowser, an Indian Army veteran, and Marian (née Hunter).

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William Pitt Faithfull was born on 11 October 1806 at Richmond, New South Wales, the eldest son of William Faithful and his wife Susannah (née Pitt). At 15 years of age he joined the Sydney merchant office of his uncle, Robert Jenkins. Following the death of his uncle he worked for five years as an overseer on his aunts, Mrs Jemima Jenkins, property.

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William Ah KetWilliam Ah Ket was born on 20 June 1876 at Wangaratta Victoria. He was the only son amongst five children for Ah Ket, storekeeper and grower and buyer of tobacco, and his wife Hing Ung.

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Mad Dog MorganBetter known by his alias of Daniel Morgan this in famous Australian bushranger was most likely Jack Fuller who was born at Appin,New South Wales in 1830 to Mary Owen and George Fuller.

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Royal Victoria HotelOnce located in Faithfull Street Wangaratta the Royal Victoria Hotel in Wangaratta was built in 1854 by Thomas Millard.

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Nick CaveNicholas Edward Cave was born 22 September 1957 in Warracknabeal, Victoria, Australia. He achieved fame as an Australian musician, songwriter, author, screenwriter, and painter.

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Wangaratta Punt The Wangaratta Punt was commissioned in 1848 by William Henry Clark. It was hand crafted from local River Red Gum trees and measure approximately thirty feet by eleven feet wide.

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