The Old Cornelia Creek

The area around the Campaspe River, which was known as Yalooka, had been home to the Pinpandoor Aboriginal Tribe for thousands of years.

In 1836 the New South Wales Surveyor General Major Thomas Mitchell located & named the Campaspe River.

The Port Phillip district as Victoria was then known was opened to settlement by Governor Bourke & by the mid 1840s several large holdings had been taken out in the area including “Restdown Plains” & “Cornelia Creek” which shared a common boundary near where the town of Rochester now stands. Early settlers were mostly sheep farmers.

In 1844 Patrick O’Dea was granted a lease of the Cornelia Creek Run, a narrow piece of country comprising 67,900 acres lying South West of the Murray Goulburn junction. This was a long narrow strip to the east of the Campaspe & west of Wyuna & Tongala, running north to the Murray.

O’Dea set up a head station on a small watercourse then known as Cornelia Creek which wound its way through box & sheoak plains a few miles east of the Campaspe. The Cornelia Creek run was the last of the river frontages. Settlers who followed had to be content with less well watered country.

During this era the Cornelia creek homestead was a changing station for Cobb & Co’s coaches en route to Bendigo.

The coming of the railway to Rochester in 1864 led to the breaking up of the large pastoral leases & the advent of cropping on smaller holdings.

The first selectors came in as a result of an amended land Act passed in 1869, but only a few people chose land in the Cornelia Creek area at that time, largely due to a lack of permanent water.

O’Dea retained his runs until 1869 then the ominous words “Colonial Bank” appear in the records, probably due to a prolonged drought in the 1860s when many others lost their holdings.

George Simmie probably took over the Cornelia Creek Station after the Colonial Bank. He made his home in a big weatherboard homestead at Cornelia Creek at a time when the property consisted of some 30,000 acres. The Simmie family remained on at Cornelia Creek after George’s death around 1900 until the property was broken up for closer settlement in 1911.

Frank Loader whose father bought the property in 1924 demolished the house & used the bricks from the cellar to build a cowshed.