Hamilton, a large town at the centre of a rich agricultural plain between the Grampians and the coast, prides itself as the ‘wool capital of the world’. The label is reinforced by the Big Woolbales Centre on the approach to the town.
But the title was dearly bought, forged in the blood spilt in a series of bitter clashes between the white settlers and local Aboriginal tribes.
Most of those who died were Aborigines defending their tribal lands and their women. Although records are sketchy, it is reported that in one incident in the Western district, 40 Aboriginal men, women and children were surrounded and shot after they reportedly stole about 120 head of sheep.
Hamilton was originally known as the Grange, the name given to a local creek, or burn, by explorer Thomas Mitchell, who predicted the region’s productive future when he wrote in 1836: 'A finer country could scarcely be imagined'.
Modern Hamilton and its 11,000 people still serves as the commercial interests of the farmers who continue to work the land which so impressed Mitchell.
The town boasts a fine Art Gallery, with outstanding collections of Mediterranean pottery, antique porcelain and watercolours by the 18th century English artist Paul Sanby.