Old Kerang gets new monument site

KERANG and District Family History Group members gathered to celebrate the relocation of the monument to the original Kerang settlement last week.

The monument, which marks the location of the Loddon Inn, built in the 1840s, was recently moved by the Gannawarra Shire Council after it became obscured from view at its previous location.

In recent years, the council constructed a bridge over the river at the site which blocked the view of the monument.

Family History Group president Julie Smith said the new location, on the other side of the river, was a more visible and accessible spot.

"The council did a great job," Ms Smith said.

"They've created a space you can drive right around and put up signage. It's wonderful.

"The monument is a solid and long-lasting reminder of our past history, which provides an opportunity for current and future generations to remember the role the old settlement played in what we have become today."

In 1843, William Bayes established the Loddon Inn on the eastern bank of the river.

Ms Smith said the Loddon Inn was located 5km upstream from Kerang and serviced passing travellers as well as the big stations in the region.

"Travellers followed the Murray from South Australia and crossed over the river here on their way to Bendigo," she said.

"There weren't other bridges then and it was the easiest place to get over.

"The stations relied on the settlement for goods and commodities and also for social contact."

By 1855 there was a thriving small settlement at the site, which included two inns, a doctor's surgery, a church, saddler, cemetery and a pound, where wandering stock from the unfenced stations could be contained.

There was also a street of houses.

"In official documents they called it 'Lower Loddon' but it didn't have a name," Ms Smith said.

"It disappeared before they had a chance to name it."

The decline of the small township came after residents blocked Woodford Patchell's attempts to buy land there.

Patchell had been working on stations in the area with his brother and decided he'd like to settle there, Ms Smith said.

"He came here looking to set up a business and they didn't want him.

"Off he went 5km downstream and set up New Kerang."

Ms Smith said he built a pub, a store, a house and a bridge there.

"He also hired a man with a bullock team to drive back and forwards, creating a very well beaten track straight past the turnoff to old Kerang," Ms Smith said.

The original settlement was abandoned in the late 1850s and little now remains of it.

Between 10 and 12 residents are buried at the old cemetery in Collins Street, where there is just a single headstone.

The monument is now located on the west bank of the Loddon River on Old Kerang Road, 4km from Kerang.