Nathalia and District takes in the traditional land occupied by the Yorta Yorta people.
The Yorta Yorta Nation is comprised of 8 different clan groups.
Charles Sturt was the first European to explore the area in 1838. He followed the Murray River downstream past its junction with the Goulburn River. Squatters soon followed, and in 1843 squatter W.J. Locke established Kotupna Station on the future site of Nathalia. This was divided in two in 1861, then broken up for selection in 1869, despite the resistance of the squatters.
One of the selectors, Richard Blake, took up land on the future site of Nathalia in 1875, and established a sawmill in 1876 and a flour mill in 1877. A regular coach service began in 1877, and a village was established by 1878, when the first hotel was licensed. The first post office, state school and Wesleyan Church also opened in 1878. By 1879 there were about 150 people living on either side of the Broken Creek.
The origin of the name Nathalia is unclear, and the name ‘Barwo’ was widely used, until Nathalia gained formality during gazettal in 1880.
A Catholic Church and the first bank opened in 1881, a coach factory in 1882, a local newspaper and police station in 1884 and a flour mill in 1885. The railway from Numurkah arrived in 1888, facilitating the expansion of local production. The first Agricultural Show was held in 1888, and in 1889, the Victorian Municipal Directory described Nathalia as a rising township, with “two bank branches, a school, a mechanics’ institute, a large private hall, three churches, flour mills, two cordial factories, a printing office, four hotels, a number of shops and a railway line from Numurkah”. A butter factory was established in 1895 and by 1905 the town’s population had reached 1,000. The town had settled into the role of service centre to a district which produced dairy, meat, wool, wheat and other crops.
The main street is called Blake Street south of the Broken Creek and Elizabeth Street to the north. Blake Street is named after Thomas Blake, the father of Richard Blake and another early settler (1879). Thomas built the Bridge Hotel in 1882 and many other shops and houses. After his family was grown, Thomas married Elizabeth Middleton Parsons, and Elizabeth Street was named in her honour.