We delayed our departure from Deniliquin this morning because the local Museum opened at 10.00 am and we wanted the opportunity to see inside. This was the house in which Jill’s grandfather lived whilst he served as the Inspector of Police in the town from around 1931 to 1938.
It appears that the police stopped using this house as a residence in the mid 1970s and the house fell into serious disrepair. It was due to the hard work of the local historical society that the house was renovated in 1986 and restored to its original condition.
It has several rooms of police and local memorabilia, with an authentic collection of local items. The main attractions of this museum include items relating to the history of the Deniliquin Town Band, Picnic Races, Red Cross and Shearing Equipment etc. plus a War Veterans display of memorabilia, Police Records and an exhibit of Historical Costumes. These are all in the various rooms in which Jill’s family lived. At the rear of the building was a courtyard, surrounded on three sides by a verandah. The utility rooms including the kitchen, bathroom and wash house were entered off the veranda while the rooms inside the main house were bedrooms and the parlour.
I found this photo of a mounted constable of the same era as Jill’s grandfather. These mounted police officers were not armed.
Once we go going, the first part of our travel this morning was across the extensive flat Murray River plains. Near the town of Finley, there is a network of large irrigation channels from Lake Mulwala (formed by a weir on the Murray River) that allows farmers to flood their land and grow rice. We passed many areas of laser levelled fields where rice is grown. Other agriculture on these plains includes wool, wheat, fat lambs, dairy products, vegetables, cereals, canola, cattle and pigs
In the town, The Finley Railway Precinct is said to be of significance as a rare and highly intact pioneer railway station area. It demonstrates the history and design of the first pioneer branch lines in NSW and how their construction changed from British to American techniques during the 1890s. The museum must have considerable information inside the old station building because on the outside this site is quite empty and uninteresting.
Down the road, we came across a little town called Lowesdale. It had nothing more than a pub, a school and a fire station. We were attracted by a statue of a shearer with a merino ram.
It’s hard to believe that In 1915, this small community entered two football teams in the local football association. They were the Lowesdale FC and the Lowesdale Military FC which went on to win the 1915 premiership. Both teams went into recess in 1916 due to WW1 and neither team was ever re-established.
In 1889 the artist, Tom Roberts, visited a nearby Sheep Station and woolshed where he saw shearers and painted his famous ‘Shearing the Rams’. This painting now hangs in the National Gallery of Victoria.
The local version of this work is a sculpture by a gifted Artist, Andrew Whitefield. He makes his sculptures out of scrap metal. Each of the children at the local school was asked to donate an old cast iron cog to the project and this is the result.
We saw another work by this artist in the little NSW town of Morundah where we stopped for a picnic lunch yesterday.
We reached the Murray River (border between NSW and Victoria) at Corowa. This substantial and historically significant river town is primarily a service centre for the rich agricultural lands on either side of the Murray River. It calls itself “The Home of Federation”. Until 1901, the Australian States were still governed as individual colonies. Before then, there was no Australian nation.
An organisation called The Border Federation League,was formed in Corowa and a conference was held at the Oddfellows Hall in 1893. Locals were infuriated by the customs and the red tape between the colonies. They demanded ‘Federation Now!’. On 31 July, 1893, when a meeting of parliamentary delegates was held here at Corowa, the Premier of Victoria argued that “When a man who comes here from Victoria is regarded as a foreigner and a woman who goes to Wahgunyah (across the river) is treated as a smuggler, liable to be stuck up by a policeman and customs officer, it is time some change was made.”
There was obviously a meeting of owners of historic military vehicles taking place on Corowa today.. We could see many old jeeps and other vehicles in the Caravan Park. But, there in the main street was something that got me excited!. Parked outside a pub were two very well kept, and restored examples, of the trucks that I drove in Vietnam. One was a Mark 3 cargo truck and the other was a Mark 5 tipper. The tipper had a canvas cover over its tray that made it hard to distinguish at first, but it clearly was one of ‘my’ trucks.
Wahgunyah on the Victorian side of the Murray River is a smaller, and much more reserved type of town than Corowa. By the 1870s Wahgunyah had seven hotels and was the busiest Murray port upstream of Echuca.
The first building that you see on crossing over the bridge is the original red brick customs house, that until 1901, collected duties on products imported from New South Wales. The river trade began to decline in the 1880s due to the development of the railway system.
We continued past the edge of the wine town of Rutherglen, passing the Stanton and Killeen vineyard. They used to make the bested red wines – heavy and full of flavour – almost thick enough to be able to stand a spoon. upright in the glass. No one makes wine like that anymore. It is all made to drink quickly rather than to cellar as in the old days.
Bypassing Wangaratta, the final part of our day was to drive along the Ovens River Valley to Porepunkah. Agriculture here is very different – Vineyards and Hop Gardens. In the past, this area was a major tobacco growing area and almost every farm has one or more corrugated from tobacco kilns still sitting on their property.
A word of warning to our friends who may be travelling to this area. There are a lot of restaurants in the town of Bright, but there are far more people than places to eat. We tried to make a dinner reservation at six places in town tonight but all were already booked out. Make sure that you book a place to eat in advance. (We ended up eating at the Bright Chinese Restaurant which had great food and a group of about twelve heavily tattooed men who nwere member so the Red Devils Outlaw Motorcycle Club).