In the early to mid 1800s, the area around Rutherglen and Wahgunyah was an important grazing area. The discovery of gold in September 1860 saw the town of Rutherglen spring up shortly afterwards with several churches built, a school and the post office in 1863.
After the the gold rush, Rutherglen eventually achieved prosperity as an agricultural town, subsequently establishing itself as one of Victoria's most important wine producing districts. These days, there are almost 20 wineries located within a short drive from the town centre.
The Rutherglen Wine Experience Visitor Information Centre, located in the town centre on Main Street, presents displays of the town's rich history, how wines are made, and comprehensive tourist information.
The main street of Rutherglen maintains its historical charm, with most of the shop fronts and hotels retaining the same look they had in the 19th century.
On Murray Street is Lake King which was constructed in 1877 as the town's water supply and is surrounded by Apex Park and Rutherglen Park. The town's old court house, which was built in 1864, is located in High Street, while at the corner of High Street and Murray Street is a Moreton Bay fig tree which was planted in 1877. In Campbell Street is an old water tower which had a mesh structure added to its top in 1969, making the tower resemble a wine bottle.