The Chaffey Trail is the story of how Mildura became an irrigated oasis in the midst of an arid land. In 1847 the Jamieson brothers took up the pastoral lease which was later to be named Mildura.
George and W.B. Chaffey were developing an irrigation settlement in Ontario, California, when they met the Victorian Cabinet Minister Alfred Deakin. Deakin was appointed by the Victorian Parliament to visit America on a fact-finding mission.
The Chaffeys’ model irrigation settlement impressed Deakin. In turn, the brothers were impressed by the potential for irrigation from the Murray River in Australia. The Chaffey brothers subsequently came to Australia and, after protracted negotiations, in 1887 purchased the then defunct pastoral lease and created the Mildura Irrigation Colony.
The Chaffeys’ adapted the plan of Ontario to the present site of Mildura. They developed a series of steam-driven pumps to lift the water from the Murray River, first into Kings Billabong, then subsequently to various heights to irrigate up to 33,000 acres.
The Chaffey brothers wanted to make Mildura a vibrant community. Their plans included many visionary concepts: An agricultural college was needed and to finance this they allocated one-fifteenth of the land as “College leases”, providing vital funding to schools over many years. Prominent locations were made available for churches, while facilities for clubs was also encouraged. Parks and town transport were considered, inspiring the beautiful centre plantation of Deakin Avenue, surely one of the finest thoroughfares in Australia. Lanes and streets were laid out in all the town planning making Mildura the beautiful place it is today.