Benalla is an agricultural city of about 10,000 people located just off the Hume Freeway in north-eastern Victoria, Australia, about 40 kilometres south of Wangaratta. Its Local Government Area is the Rural City of Benalla.
The site was originally taken up by the Reverend Joseph Docker in 1838 and called Benalta Run, from the Aboriginal word for Musk Duck. A town was laid out on the site in 1846. It is famous for its roses.
The Broken River can cause extensive flooding. There is a park and walking track along the river at Benalla, featuring a ceramic sculpture community that was created as part of an employment project for local artists some years ago.
Industries include agricultural support services, tourism, a medium density fibreboard factory, an ADF ammunition factory and aviation.
Benalla has a regional airport YBLA (BLN) which began life as a major RAAF training base during the second world war and now also serves as the home of the Gliding Club of Victoria as well as a ballooning and ultralight centre.
Benalla is where champion cyclist Baden Cooke was born and the place of war hero Sir (Ernest) Edward “Weary” Dunlop’s education. It has also been home to many other well known athletes and artists.
Benalla was fortuitously placed on the Sydney Road which led to several north-east gold fields. It also received traffic to and from Shepparton (today’s Midland Highway). The surrounding land was suitable for wheat growing, orchards and vines, as well as grazing. By 1863 Benalla had two National school and a Catholic school, Methodist, Anglican and Catholic churches, a mechanics’ institute and five hotels. The Black Swan Hotel included the Cobb and Co. coach office. In 1873 the railway line through Benalla to Wodonga was opened, and ten years later the branch line from Benalla to Yarrawonga was opened. The Benalla shire was proclaimed 23 August, 1869.