In northern Victoria up near the NSW border, Wangaratta - Victoria’s Gourmet Centre - sits in the middle of rich country producing grapes, wine, tobacco and magnificent cheeses, along with the more traditional wool and wheat. But Wangaratta has a couple of bigger claims to fame.
It’s the home of the Wangaratta Festival of Jazz and Blues, held annually in November. The festival, which features the cream of contemporary musicians from all round the world, has won a string of awards and is regarded as Australia’s primary showcase of jazz music.
Wangaratta is also famed as the final resting place of the headless body of bushranger Daniel ‘Mad Dog’ Morgan. His head, by the way, was sent to Melbourne so the medico-scientists could work out what made this rogue tick. Little, it seems, is known about their findings or their relevance to colonial criminology.
The ghosts of bushrangers apart, Wangaratta is graced with some fine buildings dating from the mid-19th century, but none is more impressive in architectural and historic terms than St Patricks Church. Designed in Gothic Revival by William Wardell, construction of the granite-faced church began in 1865. A Gothic tower was added in 1905 and the Catholic church was finally completed with the addition of a wing on the sanctuary in the 1960s.