Kerang is a rural town on the Loddon River in northern Victoria in Australia. It is the commercial centre to an irrigation district based on dairying, horticulture, lucerne and grain. It is located 279 kilometres (173 mi) north-west of Melbourne on the Murray Valley Highway a few kilometres north of its intersection with the Loddon Valley Highway, elevation 78 metres (256 ft). At the 2001 census, Kerang had a population of 3,717.
Kerang’s symbol is a flying ibis. The area around Kerang is dotted with lagoons and lakes and is believed to have the most populous ibis rookeries in the world with an estimated 200,000 ibis using the area for breeding each year, along with many other waterbirds. It is also a popular recreational destination.
The Wemba-Wemba Aborigines are thought to have been the area’s first occupants. Thomas Mitchell was the first European to visit the area, in 1836. Squatters began to settle in the area in 1845 and in 1848 Richard Beyes opened a public house at a river crossing near the future townsite. This was followed by a saddlery and a church. In 1857 Woodford Patchell built a bridge upriver from the settlement which drew traffic from the earlier settlement. He built a store, house and hotel that became the center of what was to become Kerang. Patchell was the first farmer in the state to use irrigation and experimented with oats, barley, maize, millet, tobacco, beet, cotton and sugarcane.
Kerang was declared a shire in 1871; at the time the settlement’s population was 109. The arrival of the railway from Bendigo in 1884 and the construction of a tramway to Koondrook in 1888 led to expansion; by 1891 the population had increased to over a thousand. The spread of Patchell’s irrigation ideas improved local productivity and the town continued to expand.