William ChaffeyPrint Page Print this page


Photographs supplied by Arthur Garland / Sandra Brown

The statue commemorates William Chaffey, co-founder with his brother George of Mildura and the Murray Irrigation system, and the development of the dried fruit industry in Australia.

William Benjamin Chaffey, CMG (1856 – 1926) was a Canadian engineer and irrigation planner who with his older brother George Chaffey developed what became the cities of Etiwanda, California, Ontario, California, and Upland, California in the United States of America, as well as the cities of Mildura, Victoria and the town of Renmark, South Australia, in Australia.

Alfred Deakin then a minister in the Victorian government and chairman of a royal commission on water supply, visited the irrigation areas of California in 1885 where he met George and William Chaffey. George Chaffey visited Victoria in February 1886 and excited by the prospects for irrigation in the Murray Valley, cabled William to sell their interests in California. After some discussions in the Victorian parliament, the Chaffey brothers commenced development on 250,000 acres (101,170 ha) of land near Mildura. Disputes about the Chaffey's practices were discussed in the Victorian parliament. A collapse of the Melbourne land boom also contributed to problems faced by the Chaffeys. After a government report, the Mildura Irrigation Trust took over from the Mildura Irrigation Co. in September 1895.

On 10 December 1895, their Australian projects went bankrupt and George returned to the United States. William Benjamin Chaffey (known as W.B.) remained in Mildura, bringing his 200 acre (81 ha) orchard into production and establing the Mildura (later Mildara) Winery Pty Ltd. Active from 1895 in the development of marketing procedures for local fruit, Chaffey was a leading member of both the Mildura and the Australian Dried Fruits associations, president of the latter for many years. William Chaffey was elected president of the Mildura Shire Council in 1903 and became mayor in 1920.

A statue of the late William Benjamin Chaffey, C.M.G., was unveiled at Mildura on Sunday in the pres ence of between 2,000 and 2,500 people. The ceremony was performed by Senator H. S. W. Lawson (formerly Premier of Victoria), who paid a fine tribute to Mr. Chaffey for "his fine personal qualities, for his unselfishness for his unostentation and for ihe simplicity and sincerity that characterized all his doing's."  In the statue, he said, they would see a man of vision, with glasses in his hand, indicating a man spying out the country. Here they had a permanent memorial of this great man, for indeed he was a great man. As they looked at it with their problems still confronting them they would say: Here is a man who won through adversity. He triumphed over misfortune, built this settlement and has placed us in a great debt to him for his life and his service.

The memorial statue, which is the work of Mr. Paul Montford, is life size and stands on a marble pedestal.
Murray Pioneer and Australian River Record (Renmark, SA), 13 September 1929.



Address:Deakin Avenue & Ninth Street, Mildura, 3500
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -34.186425
Long: 142.16102
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Monument
Monument Theme:People
Approx. Event Start Date:1887
Artist:Paul Montford


Actual Monument Dedication Date:Sunday 8th September, 1929
Front Inscription

William Benjamin Chaffey C.M.G.

Erected by his many friends in Mildura and throughout Australia.

Commemorating nearly 40 years of untiring labour on behalf of the Australian Dried Fruits Industry.  

He and his elder brother George were the pioneers of the irrigation in the Murray Valley founding the settlements of Mildura and Renmark in the year 1887.

He was the moving spirit and for many years President of the Dried Fruits Association which, in time of stress saved these settlements from extinction.

He laboured for the common good.

Source: MA,VMR,ADB
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au