Streatham Mininera Westmere (SMW)

Overview

Streatham, Mininera and Westmere are small communities situated in the south eastern portion of the Rural City of Ararat Shire. The main industry is agriculture, a variety of crops are grown, canola, lupins, wheat, oats, triticale and barley, sheep, fine wool and meat, and cattle are also a product of the area.

As the population of rural Victoria has declined a variety of strategies are needed to service the needs of the families of farming communities. The communities of Streatham, Mininera and Westmere are situated within 10 kms of each other, their answer to the declining population has been to work together to maintain resources valuable to the district as a whole.

Streatham is a neat and attractive village, retirees occupy many of the houses, people who have family in the district and others attracted by the relatively low cost housing and the safety aspect of small rural communities.The children of the district attend Lake Bolac College.Streatham has a Post Office, General Store, a Stock and Station Agency and a Seed Cleaning Business. The Uniting Church has 3 Single Retirement Units, there is a Public Hall, Community Centre and Fireworld Museum, an Infant Welfare Centre, CFA Unit, 9 Hole Golf Course and the Uniting and Catholic churches.

Streatham and District Historical Society meet every 4th wednesday of the month at 8pm at the Streatham Fireworld Musuem.

The Railway

On August 8th,1913 the rail line between Geelong to Maroona was opened bringing prosperity to the district.

The Concrete Grain Silos by the rail line are the travellers’ first glimpse of Westmere Township and grain is still the most important commodity to the district. Originally bagged grain was railed from the site. The silos were opened in 1940. The original capacity of the silos was 2 or 3 thousand tons of grain.Today the rail complex is managed by Grain Corp. Grain Corp has continued to build additional capacity to the site, which now handles 80 to 90 thousand tons of grain per season, wheat and oil seeds.

Features

  • Twice Daily V/Line Service Hamilton Ballarat
  • Westmere General Store
  • Westmere Hall
  • St John’s Anglican Church
  • Westmere Fire Brigade
  • Westmere Red Cross

History

Farming families moved into the district after the Nerrin Nerrin Land Sales of 1903 and following sales. Wheat and wool were to become the primary products of the western plains area and it became obvious a rail link to the seaboard was necessary for transport of produce.


Westmere is situated on the Glenelg Highway 53 ks south of Ararat in a prime grain and wool growing district. In 1908 it was decided to build a new railway to serve the western plains of Victoria. The new line was to be Geringhap to Maroona and work was started immediately on the Cressy to Parupa section. A tent city was established on the rail head at Parupa, this tent city eventually became the village of Westmere.

On August 8th,1913 the rail line between Geelong to Maroona was opened bringing prosperity to the district.

The Concrete Grain Silos by the rail line are the travellers’ first glimpse of Westmere Township and grain is still the most important commodity to the district. Originally bagged grain was railed from the site. The silos were opened in 1940. The original capacity of the silos was 2 or 3 thousand tons of grain.Today the rail complex is managed by Grain Corp. Grain Corp has continued to build additional capacity to the site, which now handles 80 to 90 thousand tons of grain per season, wheat and oil seeds.

Westmere’s main claim to fame is the development of the radio communications network for fire control and suppression. The idea began with the late H.M.O’Rorke MBE, a signaller during the First World War and Captain of the Westmere Bush Fire Brigade. He worked with a small number of fellow radio enthusiasts to form the Westmere Radio Group.They had to overcome considerable opposition from established authorities who did not believe amateurs could run a radio network.The Post Masters Generals Office supported their work and the first authorised and licensed radio transmission for rural fire fighting purposes took place on December 19th, 1946 at “Killigrew” Westmere, the home of Hugh O’Rorke. These volunteer firefighters supplied their own equipment for a number of years, today the CFA radio communication network is recognised as a major tool in the fight against wildfire.