A statue of Banjo Patterson sits proudly guarding the entrance
"Once a jolly swagman, camped by a billabong"….I'm sure you know the rest, but do you know the history of the song? That's exactly what you can discover by visiting the Waltzing Matilda Centre in the heart of Winton. The centre has been newly built, following a fire which occurred in the original centre.
Once inside there are a number of presentations to explore. A good place to start is the video presentation in the outside area, which will give you an overview of the history of "Waltzing Matilda" and its place in Australian History. Told from the point of view of the "jolly swagman", it explores the song's story, different versions and the origin of the song, along with the events with which it has been associated with which have made it a symbol of Australia.
Displays aren't just about the famous song and poem
While in the outside area, you can also explore the historical display. With machinery, vehicles and everyday items, it is a chance to see the development of Australia through the everyday items which we used. There is even a cottage re-creation to explore and a train carriage and engine to walk through.
Some of the historical items on display
Inside, you can escape the heat in one of the display rooms. There is a continuation of the historical displays, which has some interesting interactive activities, including a chance to play some "discs" with "Waltzing Matilda" performed in different styles by a variety of artists. The displays also tell the story and history of the Winton Shire, including the Great Shearers Strike of 1891, and the birth of QANTAS.
The art gallery exhibitions change regularly
Also very interesting is the Art Gallery which currently features Robert MacPherson's Boss Drovers. This is a collection of pages revealing poetic markers of places and people whose identities and life in the country are in danger of being lost. As drovers are replaced by trucks on our highways, and families move off the land it is important to preserve an important part of our history. Portraits created by local school students adorn the walls and by following the instructions you can create your own. You can find out about the current exhibit in the Art Gallery by visiting their website
After all of this exploration, you may be feeling a bit peckish. The Tuckerbox Café provides a variety of healthy and tasty options to satisfy your hunger, or enjoy a coffee or cold drink. Next door is the gift shop with a variety of memorabilia for you to take home to remind you of your visit, or to purchase a gift for family and friends.
Entry to the museum costs $32 for Adults, $29 Concessions and $12 for Children 5 – 12 & $17 for 13 – 17 year olds. A family pass is also available for 2 Adults and up to 4 Children at a cost of $67. The museum is open 7 days a week in April to September and Mon – Fri from October until March. Opening hours are from 9am until 5pm except on public holiday hour when the museum is open 9am – 3pm. They are only closed on Christmas Day. The museum is located in Winton's Main Street, 50 Elderslie Street, Winton. For more information visit their Webpage