Netherby is a rural village in north-west Victoria, near the northern limit of the Wimmera district. It is 25 km north of Nhill and 30 km west of Jeparit.
Apart from the Lorquon pastoral run (1851), a farm settler at Netherby occupied land near a swamp in 1884. It was known as the Rupeal or Warraquil swamp, and until 1886 the settlement which arose was named Warraquil. It was changed to Netherby in 1886 to avoid confusion with a similar-sounding town in eastern Victoria. The inspiration for Netherby was the name of a place in the poem Young Lochinvar by Walter Scott.
A school was opened in 1885, along with stores, a post office and a blacksmith’s shop, an indication of the rapid settlement of the area. A mechanics’ institute (1889), a hotel and a Methodist church (1889) were followed within a few years by a Lutheran church and a police station.
During 1900-10 Netherby’s population nearly tripled. In 1916 the railway line from Jeparit to Lorquon (1912) was extended to Netherby, and beyond to Yanac. After World War I, the provision of a rail service to Netherby ushered in a decade of commercial activity. A large general store supplied food and household goods to the district, and a bush-nursing centre operated during 1922-32. A new hall was built in 1923. The depression severely depleted farmers’ incomes – mainly wheat growers – and some shop proprietors contracted their trade or failed.
The amalgamation of farms after the 1960s resulted in the loss of some services. The last general store closed in 1975, the Methodist church closed in 1978 and the railway line’s services were curtailed and finally closed in the mid-1980s. Community spirit was sufficient, though, for a third, brick-veneer, hall to be built in 1977. There are also a recreation reserve and the Wheatsheaf Hotel. The school had 14 pupils in 1998 and was closed in 2008; the Lutheran church closed in 2003.
Netherby’s census populations have been:
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Les Blake, The land of Lowan: 100 years in Nhill and West Wimmera, Nhill, 1976
John A. Launer, From the bread and treacle days: Netherby 1885-1985, Netherby primary school centenary committee, 1985
Valda Deckert, From age to age: Netherby Lutheran 1883-2003, 2003