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Stratford is a town on the Avon River in Victoria, Australia, 232 kilometres (144 mi) east of Melbourne on the Princes Highway in Shire of Wellington. At the 2006 census, Stratford had a population of 1950. The town services the local regional community and travellers on the Princes Highway. Stratford's principal industries are dairying, sheep, cattle and horse breeding and vegetable crops. The town has numerous coffee shops and cafes, a cellar door for a local winery, Design Gallery, model railway shop, a pub, parks and playgrounds for car travellers to break their journey.
The origin of the town's name is unclear. Many believe it derives from Stratford-upon-Avon in England, William Shakespeare's birthplace, a view which is lent credence by the fact that it is located by the river Avon. Locals have embraced the connection with Shakespeare and a Shakespeare on the River Festival has been a successful annual event since 1989, incorporating works of Shakespeare and modern Australian plays. In 1998 the town formally became a member of the Stratford Sister Cities program to promote friendship and cultural exchange between participating countries.
The River Avon has a local reputation as a source for river polished gemstones, particularly agate, and for rapidly rising during increased rainfall upstream.
Three kilometres south-east of Stratford is a 56-hectare (140-acre) park called Knob Reserve (formerly known as the "Forest of Arden"), part of the Gunai/Kurnai Bataluk Cultural Trail, which winds its way through East Gippsland, highlighting the places of cultural significance to the first inhabitants.
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