Greta

Greta is a rural district in north-east Victoria had four village centres, all containing the name Greta at some time. The original Greta township on Fifteen Mile Creek is now Greta West, and is 22 km. east of Benalla and six kilometres south of the Hume Freeway. It is in undulating, lightly forested land.

It is thought that the name was inspired by the Greta River, Cumberland, England, which was the setting for one of Sir Walter Scott’s popular novels, Rokeby.

When gold was discovered in Beechworth and north-east Victoria in 1852 the route to the diggings passed through the Greta district and across the Oxley Plains. A road north of Greta would have had to negotiate the Greta Swamp (later drained), and Winton Swamp (now Lake Mokoan). The Greta township was surveyed on Fifteen Mile Creek, south of the Greta Swamp, in 1852. During the 1860s the Greta district was subdivided for farm selections. A police station was located at Greta, and the district later obtained some notoriety as “Kelly country” although the outlaws mostly kept to the hills and ranges to the east and south.

In 1867 a Catholic school was opened at Greta and by the early 1880s there were five schools in the district, Greta, Greta South, Greta West, Hansonville and Fifteen Mile Creek. Farming included cereals, cattle grazing and dairying.

The opening of the railway through Benalla in 1873 took much of the traffic away from Greta, and the village economy was thrown back on the custom of local farmers. Methodist and Anglican churches were opened in 1878 and 1890, and a public hall in 1916. In 1903 The Australian Handbook described Greta –

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All the former centres of settlement are on back country roads. Two of the five schools remain, named Greta Valley and Fifteen Mile School Camp. Greta has two churches and a hall.

Greta had district census populations of 339 (1911), 326 (1933) and 297 (1961).

Further Reading:

Ellis, S.E., “A History of Greta”, Lowden Publishing Co., 1972.

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