Marnoo is a rural town on the Wimmera Highway between Horsham and St Arnaud. It is one of several wheat growing towns east of Horsham, including Murtoa and Rupanyup.

Marnoo was named after a pastoral run taken up in 1845 by Martin Shanahan, a pastoralist who followed the Richardson River until he found suitable grazing land. His homestead was near the junction of the river and Wallaloo Creek. It is thought that the name ‘Marnoo’ was derived from an Aboriginal word meaning finger or hand.

In 1873 land in the Marnoo area became available for farm selections, and additional selections were taken up during the next few years. Many selectors were Presbyterian, and the first public building was used for Presbyterian services and as a school (1875). Until the extension of the railway line from Rupanyup to Marnoo in 1909 there were few buildings in the village. Some of them were moved about 2 km to be near the railway station. A larger settlement soon grew, including two general stores, a coffee palace and a public hall.

Marnoo’s economic strength was the heavy black soil which grew wheat in quite dry conditions. The railway siding provided the transport outlet for the harvest. Although the railway line was closed in 1983 the silos (1941) at the former siding continue to receive substantial amounts of grain for transport by road.

Marnoo has Presbyterian and Uniting churches, a primary school (16 pupils, 2014), a recreation reserve and sports complex beside the Wallaloo Creek, a linear reserve along the main street, a public hall and a hotel.

Marnoo’s census populations have been:

area census date population
Marnoo 1911 360
  1933 406
  1954 259
  1966 152
Marnoo and environs 2006 197
  2011 333

Further Reading

Catherine Campbell, Fragments of Marnoo, the author, c1972

Robert Kingston, Good country for a grant: a history of the Stawell shire, 1989