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  Hindmarsh Shire is located in central North West Victoria; bounded in the north by the Wyperfeld National Park and in the south by the Little Desert National Park. Together with the Shires of Yarriambiack and West Wimmera, and the Rural City of Horsham it comprises the area generally referred to as the ‘Wimmera’. The northern section of the Shire forms part of the Mallee region. It has a population of 6,093 and covers 7,527 square kilometres.Lowan 
Shire monument

 Business and finance
 The structure of Hindmarsh Shire’s economy
 Council and the economy
 The Shire’s assets
 Environmental assets
 Recreation and community
 Transportation and infrastructure
 Education in Hindmarsh
 Environmentally friendly Hindmarsh Shire

Business and finance
Hindmarsh Shire is placed in a competitive business location, being situated on the Western Highway, halfway between Adelaide and Melbourne, in the centre of a large area of primary production, with excellent transport connections.

The Shire’s primary economic activity has always been agriculture. Initially a grazing area, broad acre cropping is now the main industry. Major crops include wheat, barley, oats, lupins, chick peas, lentils, field peas, canola, vetches and fava beans. Lamb and wool remain significant industries, along with intensive poultry farming at processing company Luv-A-Duck, which is the largest single employer in the agricultural sector.

Hindmarsh’s industrial specialty is sheet metal fabrication in the form of silos and field bins, with secondary industries including agricultural supplies and merchandise; grocery and retail; banking; hotels and cafes; building, hardware and construction supplies; real estate; hair and beauty; and accommodation providers. Major service industries include health services and aged care, education and children’s services, trade services, and local government services.

Hindmarsh Shire supplies almost 30% of the Victorian demand for silos and field bins, 80% of the State’s ducks and many grain processing and value adding industries. The Shire is also gaining a reputation for handmade goods and produce. Goods include everything from art, jewellery, clothing, pens, and more. Produce includes delicious preserves, gourmet olive oils and salts, cakes and slices, and coffee roasting.

For a list of businesses within the Shire, please have a look at the Business Directory.

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The structure of Hindmarsh Shire’s economy
Small and medium-sized businesses are the key to the Shire’s economy. 62% of all business enterprises in Hindmarsh are in the agriculture sector. Agricultural land covers a large part of the Shire and is a major source of employment and wealth. The introduction of the Wimmera Mallee Pipeline offers huge opportunities for growth, diversification and value adding. The secure, quality water supply is a major boost to business development and an opportunity for diversification to reduce vulnerability to drought.

Value adding to agricultural production is a major advantage for Shire businesses with highly successful activities in duck processing and grain milling and cereal processing. The Shire has a strong ‘industry cluster’ in silo and grain handling equipment. Three businesses in the Shire manufacture silos and field bins and have a large share of the South East Australian market.

The tourism business sector has been emerging more and more strongly in recent years. Hindmarsh Shire Council in conjunction with Buloke, West Wimmera and Yarriambiack Shire Councils, is in the process of establishing a Regional Tourism Group which will further highlight and capitalise on the Shire’s unique environmental assets and pioneer heritage.

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Rainbow Mural
 
Council and the economy
Supporting private enterprise and creating an environment conducive to investment and economic expansion are among the Shire’s key tasks. The Hindmarsh Shire is investing great effort in bringing and keeping businesses in the region. The Council Plan 2008/2012 will see the development of an Economic Development Strategy, regular communication sessions with industry, the development of business and industry associations and the facilitation of opportunities and activities arising from the Wimmera Mallee Pipeline. In 2007 the Hindmarsh Shire Council employed a Youth and Business Project Worker, whose key responsibility areas include assisting in the development of businesses groups, networking with stakeholders, training programs and making the link with the business groups and youth within the Shire.

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The Shire’s assets
High-quality health and municipal services provide obvious guarantees for people contemplating a change in lifestyle and a shift to a region alive with agriculture, small and large businesses, light industry, strong social connections and a close link with nature and the land.

With all of Australia experiencing a rapidly ageing population, health care is an important issue. Nhill is the headquarters of the West Wimmera Health Service comprising hospitals in Nhill, Jeparit, Rainbow and neighbouring shires. The Dimboola Hospital is operated by the Wimmera Health Care Group. All hospitals have excellent new facilities supported by general practitioners with birthing facilities and specialist surgery by visiting specialists from Adelaide, Melbourne and Hamilton provided at the Nhill Hospital.

The Shire’s excellent medical facilities are underpinned by aged care facilities in all the townships. Hindmarsh Shire is very well resourced with aged care places, especially in the low care area, with numbers well exceeding the State averages. All of these factors make aged care a key component of the local economy and a distinctive regional asset.

Hindmarsh Shire has:
+ Four new hospitals built in its towns in the last 15 years.
+ More aged-care beds available per head of population than any other region in Victoria.
+ Less waiting time for medical and dental services than many more populated communities.
+ The biggest performing-arts stage between Ballarat and the South Australian border at Nhill Memorial Community Centre.

But the Shire's biggest asset are the people living in it.
The Shire has an incredibly strong sense of community, typical country hospitality and is humming with the activity of literally hundreds of community groups.

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Environmental assets
The Hindmarsh landscape is defined by a string of river, lakes and wetlands that are remnants of the ancient Wimmera River system. Today, the Wimmera River meanders from its origin in the foothills of the Grampians, through the townships of Dimboola and Jeparit, proceeding through 200km of winding red gum stands and billabongs to its terminus at Lake Hindmarsh.

Only 3% of the native vegetation remains outside the National Park areas, with the majority of that being along Council’s roadsides and reserves. Council works collaboratively with landholders and community groups to protect, enhance and extend remnant vegetation.

For the environmental enthusiast, there is plenty to see and do in Hindmarsh Shire:

Little Desert
The Little Desert boasts almost 600 kilometres of tracks crossing three blocks and with its varying terrain and strategic sign-posting is perfect for the four-wheel-drive or dirt-bike enthusiast. But walking on various tracks is the best way to experience the park. There’s also the mighty 84-kilometre Desert Discovery Walk – a challenge for the heartiest of wildlife enthusiasts. In spring the desert provides an astounding display of wildflowers, including a great variety of ground orchids.
Campgrounds near Kiata and at Horseshoe and Ackley bends near Dimboola have fireplaces, tables and toilets. Vehicle-based camping is allowed away from camping grounds in the park’s western and central blocks.

Wyperfeld
Internationally renowned Wyperfeld National Park, covering 356,800 hectares, and relatively close to the township of Rainbow is another must-see for the outdoor enthusiast. The park has an enormous variety of attractions but Eastern Lookout Nature Drive is a good start.
The park’s information and camping ground has facilities such as fireplaces, tables and shelters and guided bicycle, walking, bird watching, bus and four-wheel-drive tours are available. Wyperfeld is home to more than 200 species of birds, about 520 species of plants and the unique silky mouse and Mitchell’s hopping mouse.

Lake Albacutya
Lake Albacutya Park is part of a cyclic lake system with five vegetation communities, courtesy of its unique wetland nature. The park features walking tracks and campsites and Western and Yaapeet beaches have toilet and table facilities. Some tracks are only accessible by four-wheel-drive vehicles.

Big Desert
The Big Desert wilderness area, meanwhile, remains relatively untouched by modern society and offers a true wilderness experience. It’s renowned for its reptiles. Studies have revealed more than 50 species of lizards and snakes.
Campsites are at The Springs, Moonlight Tank and Big Billy Bore along Nhill-Murrayville Road.

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Dimboola gateway
 
Community Profile

Presently, 5798 people live in Hindmarsh Shire, with a median age of 47 years. 89% of people in Hindmarsh Shire were born in Australia, with English the only language spoken in 93.2% of homes. The mean weekly household income is $785, and most people own their homes outright. Most people are employed in farming, with employment in health care coming a close second, followed by retail, manufacturing, education and transport. Hindmarsh has a very high rate of volunteering, 20% higher than the national average.

 

Many of the first settlers to the area were German migrants moving across from South Australia. A Chinese community developed in Dimboola, establishing a market garden along the river banks. Irish and Scottish settlers also migrated to the district. Today, Hindmarsh Shire is home to around 27 nationalities. Our most significant group of migrants are Karen refugees from Burma (Myanmar), with approximately 180 calling Nhill home.

A survey in 1853 counted 1200 Indigenous Australians in this area. However, this number reduced to 103 over the following 25 years, as many were relocated to Ebenezer Mission, near Antwerp, the site of the first European station in 1846. Today Hindmarsh is home to 87 Indigenous Australians, primarily in the Dimboola area.


 
Recreation and community
Hindmarsh Shire has an abundance of sporting activities available year round including football, netball, cricket, tennis, bowls, golf, rowing, swimming, athletics and basketball. The Little Desert and Wyperfeld National Parks are a haven for four-wheel-drive enthusiasts, bush walkers and nature lovers.

History enthusiasts can discover the area's Indigenous history at Ebenezer Mission or relive the pioneering days at the Wimmera Mallee Pioneer Museum at Jeparit. The Pioneer Museum has a remarkable collection of farming history with millions of dollars of vintage farming equipment, old jails and turn of the century school houses and shops. Old-time splendour awaits visitors at Rainbow’s Yurunga Homestead and the Historical Museum at Nhill, Old Court House and Dimboola Banner Print Museum at Dimboola are also well worth a visit.

The Shire has a great number of public halls which provide the venue for community events, festivals, theatre productions and the like. Of these the Nhill Memorial Community Centre occupies a unique role within the community. The largest community space in the Hindmarsh Shire, the facility is synonymous with community events and activities. The centre has in excess of 10,000 annual visits and is used for public performances, festivals, balls, public meetings, cinema, emergency relief centre, weddings, funerals, theatre, cabaret and sporting club functions.

To find a community group or sporting club, please have a look at the Community Directory.

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Tourism and Culture
Hindmarsh has unique natural tourism assets. The biggest inland freshwater lake in Victoria, Lake Hindmarsh, provides ample opportunities for camping, walking and water sports. The Little Desert National Park provides a unique semi-desert landscape with many walks ranging from 30 minutes to three days in length, as well as four-wheel driving opportunities. The dazzling pink waters of Lochiel (Pink Lake) near Dimboola are a photographer’s dream and well known to foodies who enjoy the pink lake salt harvested at Lochiel. The Wimmera River is home to swimming spots, walking tracks and many camping, boating and fishing opportunities. Explore the Wyperfeld National Park and Big Desert Wilderness area to experience the most remote, untouched landscape in Victoria. The small towns in the Hindmarsh Shire are rich with culture and community spirit. Many community groups host events throughout the year including markets, fetes and festivals. Winter sports dominate the social calendar through the middle of the year, whilst outdoor sports, barbeques and events feature throughout summer. Annual shows in Nhill, Dimboola, Rainbow and Jeparit are highlights of the year, along with annual events such as the Nhill Boxing Day Races, Dimboola Rowing Regatta, Nhill February Friday Fiestas, Jeparit Anglers Competition, Wimmera Mallee Pioneer Museum Rally, Aviation events and town Christmas events in December. Art galleries, cafés, a cinema and retail shopping provide other experiences for visitors.
 
Transportation and infrastructure
Rail arrived in Dimboola in 1882 and was the rail head for the area until the line was extended to through to Serviceton, passing through Nhill in 1886. A branch line was constructed through Jeparit and Rainbow on the Yaapeet line in 1913, closing in 2011 and reopening to Rainbow in 2012.

The Western Highway provides road access to Melbourne and Adelaide, with daily VLine and interstate bus services. The majority of transport in Hindmarsh is via car, with approximately 3200 kilometres of Council-maintained roads in the Shire.

Two towns of the Shire, Dimboola and Nhill, are connected via passenger train and coach several times daily with public transport linking Melbourne and Adelaide. Their location on the Western Highway and train links to the metropolitan centres create a convenient freight axis for local businesses and provide efficient domestic and export transport networks.

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Education in Hindmarsh
Families have access to excellent childcare centres and kindergartens with government and private primary schools and three secondary colleges providing broad curriculum choices. Class sizes are small, creating a fantastic, personal learning environment. A Neighbourhood House in Nhill and Learning Centres in Rainbow and Jeparit offer opportunities for skills development and adult education. In addition a TAFE college and University of Ballarat campus in nearby Horsham offer vocational training.

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Dimboola Memorial Secondary College
 
Environmentally friendly Hindmarsh Shire
In the Council Plan 2013-2017, Hindmarsh Shire Council expresses several key strategies for ensuring the long term sustainability of the Shire's natural resources and environment. These include implementing recommendations from 2012's Climate Change Adaptation Strategy and Integrated Water Management Plan.

Council continues to support the activities of Hindmarsh Landcare Network, who coordinate revegetation projects around the Shire and engage with and support the Shire's 17 local landcare groups.

Council continue to seek and advocate for opportunities to generate clean energy within the Shire, and continue to support the Wimmera Mallee Sustainability Alliance.

The Hindmarsh Shire has a long history of interest in the environment. Nhill residents were instrumental in the Save the Little Desert Campaign, seen by some as the awakening of Victoria’s environmental consciousness. The Hindmarsh Landcare Network has won several awards for its work and was a finalist in the 2007 Banksia Awards. Project Hindmarsh has been active for over 10 years, with the project having planted over two million trees linking the Big Desert to the Little Desert.

There are a number of active community groups in the Shire that take an interest in environmental initiatives, protect the endangered species such as the Mallee Fowl and Golden Sun Moth, look after injured wildlife, and observe the abundant flora and fauna resident in the Shire's National Parks.

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