Goorambat is a rural village 17 km north of Benalla, on the route between Benalla and Yarrawonga. It is set in mainly flat country with little tree cover, 2 km east of Broken Creek.
The name came from the Goorambat pastoral run, and it is thought to be an Aboriginal word meaning nonsense or frivolity, although another authority puts the meaning as hunting ground. Selectors took up farms near Broken Creek in 1861, forming the first Goorambat European settlement. A Methodist church was opened in 1865 and a primary school in 1866. Primary production was given a boost when the railway was extended through Benalla in 1873, and a greater boost when the branch line to Yarrawonga, via Goorambat, was opened in 1883. The line, however, was east of the settlement at Broken Creek and a new Goorambat developed around the station. A wood yard, for the transport of firewood to Melbourne, and a flour mill (1884-1921) were opened beside the station.
Goorambat was the site of the first successful irrigation weir in northern Victoria. Caseys Weir is on the Broken River near the junction with Stockyard Creek, and was built in 1886 to divert water into Broken Creek for stock and domestic supply further north. Still in use, it has recently been altered by a fish ladder so native species can repopulate the Broken River.
A hotel had been opened at old Goorambat in 1879 and the (inevitable) Railway Hotel was opened opposite the station in 1884. A mechanics' institute was opened in 1888. Goorambat was described in the Australian handbook, 1903:
Old Goorambat beside the Broken Creek had the benefit of water for agricultural activity, and the population was sufficient for the school to be kept open until 1931.
Goorambat has about 60 houses, two churches, a large public hall, the mechanics' institute, a general store which celebrated its centenary in 1984 and the Railway Hotel. The railway station has been converted to a scout hall, and on the other side of the line there are grain silos which were built in 1943. A recreation reserve is next to the school, which had 19 pupils in 1998 and closed in 2010.
Surrounding farms have been consolidated and some farm families have moved to town dwellings. Wheat-sheep farming has replaced dairying.
Goorambat's census populations have been:
A.J. Dunlop, Benalla cavalcade: a history of Benalla, Mullaya Publications, 1973
Arthur Feldtmann, Souvenir history of Goorambat, the author?, c1970
Joyce Latch and Judy Bassett, Goorambat: yesterday and today, Neptune Press Pty Ltd, 1987. (A remarkable description of all the town's buildings, many depicted, concludes the book.)