Jonathan Mann was born in 1867 at Clunes near Inglewood where his parents had moved after the gold rush had begun to wane.
In 1890 he set out to pioneer virgin Mallee country, and in the following year became the first farmer to grow wheat in the Mallee. Drought, dust storms, and the 1890s depression meant life was a constant struggle for survival.
In 1903 the family moved to 'Murray Glen' a farm on the banks of the Murray River, directly north of the Parkers Road campus. In 1919, Jonathan Mann looked for a site to establish a produce store for his son. At the time, Chiltern was a larger town, but he chose Wodonga because, in his words, the Murray River was 'the only true source of wealth in Australia'. Mann's retailing complex still occupies the site today.