The huge Mallee Bull which was installed in the main street of Birchip in 1991 is an icon of Birchip and worth stopping by for a look.
From the earliest days of settlement, grazing of sheep and cattle under licence took place throughout the Mallee Region. Most recorded history refers to sheep but there is ample evidence that cattle were also grazed in substantial numbers.
Inevitably, cattle strayed from the main mobs and set up their own select herds. In the harsh environment of Mallee summers, the waterholes became the main battlegrounds for the survival of the species. William Gould reported on finding the "Natural Waterhole", having to remove the carcass of a dead beast from it before the water could be used. W.L. Morton of Morton Plains writing of his experiences stated that "no other animal can put on a more fear-inspiring aspect than a full grown wild Mallee Bull".
Mr. Stephen Laver, lessee of Black 56A comprising of a large tract of land within the Shire of Birchip in the 1890's, often killed a wild beast for meat which he shared with the Aborigines of the area. The natives enjoyed this fare and would prevail on Mr. Laver to "kill a bull a" whenever the wild cattle led by "Big Red" moved into the area. Victorian Railways, in their official record of place names, acknowledge the source of this phrase as the reason for naming Kinnabulla railway station by that name when the rail reached there in 1899.
However, "Legend has it that "Big Red" put fear into the hearts of the natives and early settlers. Is roaring and rampaging as he fought pretenders to his claim of chief of the herd could be heard for miles around. The Aborigines, in their "humpies" and "lean-to's" and inadequate shelters, lived in dread of his visitations. They too had to share the same waterholes.
"Big Red" was the philosophical demon which kept the children of the early settlers in their beds at night with such parental admonitions as "Big Red will get you," Likewise, the road from school was more direct than it might otherwise have been for the same reason.
As King of the mob, "Big Red" was a magnificent creature, strong of physique, colourful and resourceful with a cunning which enabled him to survive droughts, the elements, his hunters and his rivals. The saying "Fit as a Mallee Bull" is universally accepted as embodying all those characteristics which "Big Red"displayed in the animal kingdom.
As one of the earliest settled areas of the Mallee, Birchip can justifiably lay claim to "Home of the Mallee Bull".
This legend, like all other legends, is part true, part fiction. As such it contains a lot of "bull".
Located on the median strip in the middle of town. There are also sheltered tables and a nice sculpture on the median strip. Close to a nice playground.
Address | Contact
Cnr Birchip-Sea Lake Road and Glowrey St, Birchip 3843, Victoria, Australia.
Map: X920 Ref: F5