Discover Rainbow

About Rainbow

Our History

Located approximately 400km north west of Melbourne, Rainbow was settled after the surveying and subdivision of the land area in 1893 and establishment of the railway line in 1899.

Rainbow derived its name from a local natural feature known as ‘Rainbow Rise’ because of the colourful wildflowers that grew on a crescent shaped ridge that was located west of the current township.

The Wotjobaluk were the original inhabitants of the local area and although the Mallee plains were heavily wooded and predominantly sandy soil German settlers from South Australia and landholders in the Jeparit district soon made their way to the district.

Following increased pressure from a range of sources, and after the undertaking of a survey program, one square mile blocks (640 acres) land leases were made available from the Colony of Victoria. The first in the area, ’Halbacutya Station’ established by John Coppock in 1846, stretched from Lake Hindmarsh to the northern end of Lake Albacutya.

As the farming community expanded and land subdivisions were created in 1893, further land was cleared and fenced, homes and schools were built and a “Metropolis of the Mallee” was created that included a newspaper, churches, department stores, hospital, hardware and timber merchants and its own electricity supply by 1911.

The Federation of Australia in 1901 was supported locally which is evident in Rainbow’s street names: Federal, King, Queen and Albert Streets reflect the sense of pride in the Empire while Sanders, Taverner, Ryan and Gray acknowledge local and colonial politicians of the time.

The arrival of the railway was a boon for Rainbow and district providing a regular, reliable and relatively fast freight and passenger service between Melbourne, Rainbow and towns in between. Essential supplies, including water, building materials, stock food and other merchandise, were delivered to Rainbow more easily and local produce could be shipped far and wide.

Confidence remained high within the community for many years and many iconic structures were built including the Mecca Cinema, hotels and Yurunga Homestead.

As with other small towns many of Rainbow’s younger citizens showed loyalty and courage by joining the armed forces to fight wars including the Great War, Second World War and the Vietnam War. The Cenotaph in Federal Street pays homage to those who did not return.

Rainbow takes its mantle as the Gateway to the Mallee with pride. The community has proved to be resilient and will accept the challenges that come its way in the future in the same way it has done for over 100 years – with pride, enthusiasm and a can do attitude.

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