Echuca, Victoria

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Echuca (pronounced /əˈtʃuːkə/)[2] is a town located on the banks of the Murray River in Victoria, Australia. Twin town Moama is on the northern side of the river in New South Wales. Its location at the closest point of the Murray to Melbourne contributed to its development as a thriving river port city during the 19th century. At the 2006 census, Echuca had a population of 12,358.

Echuca, an Aboriginal name meaning "Meeting of the Waters" is indicative of the role rivers have played in the town's existence.[3] Echuca is situated close to the junction of the Goulburn, Campaspe and Murray Rivers.

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Origin and growth

Echuca was founded by one of the most enterprising characters of the early colonial days, an ex-convict named Henry Hopwood. In 1850 he bought a small punt which operated across the Murray River near the Campaspe junction. The relatively small settlement known as "Hopwood's Ferry" became Echuca as the town grew. The Post Office known as Hopwoods Punt opened around 1854 and was renamed Echuca on 1 January 1855.[4]

While the settlers at Echuca treated the local Aborigines with relative kindness[citation needed], their way of life was irrevocably changed by their relationship with the Europeans. Having already been decimated by smallpox in the late 1820s, in the 1850s many Aborigines developed a taste for European luxuries such as bread, tobacco, and most tragically, alcohol. They were relegated to the role of fringe-dwellers, living on the banks of the Murray, and occasionally entering into the European economy as fishermen and farm labourers, and by selling the possum rugs which they crafted. Within a few short decades, their lifestyles had become unrecognisable from that of their ancestors.

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