Canberra to Jindera Pioneer Museum: off the beaten track

Spring is on its way in Australia, and the rolling fields around Canberra are full of bright yellow Canola (rapeseed) crops and soft green grass …..wonderful to see.

On our recent trip from Canberra to Melbourne, we decided to go off the beaten track and enjoy the scenery. As good luck would have it, we also found a fascinating pioneer museum in a small town called Jindera. (not far from Albury)

Prior to the arrival of Europeans, the area around Jindera was inhabited by the Wiradjuri people.

The explorer Hamilton Hume came to the Jindera area in 1824, but it was another 40 years before the first German settlers arrived, having trekked from Adelaide to Jindera in horse drawn wagons.

These settlers were fleeing religious persecution in Germany, and the land around Jindera offered fertile soil and a regular water supply.

We regularly drive from Canberra to Melbourne, and the journey takes about 8 hours, with a break for coffee, and another break for a tasty country lunch.

Just imagine those poor German settlers trekking from Adelaide (in the state of South Australia) to Jindera (on the New South Wales border with Victoria) in horse drawn wagons!

In 1874 Johann Rosler and Peter Wagner built a store and a three-roomed residence known far and wide as the Wagner’s Store. Nearly a century later, with the strength of the local community, the Wagner store and residences were restored and made into a museum.

The volunteers in the community range in ages from 65 to 93, and over one-third of them have been here since the early days. The museum recreates the culture of the early German settlers, and is much loved by all historic groups and school children and tourists. Not to mention their famous Tea Room, which I believe is open every Sunday for Devonshire tea with a variety of sweet and savouries. (I bet all is homemade!)

The rooms of the museum are full of photos, clothing, furniture, needlework and much loved personal artefacts donated by the families of early settlers.

It is astonishing to think that women sewed such elegant clothes, despite the rough living conditions, and the heat, dust and rain!

The museum has a pretty garden and is surrounded by museum sheds. A very popular part of the museum is the Machine Working Shed, largely donated by the well-known former Member of Parliament Tim Fischer.

The Working Machine Shed is the far building painted red.
The historic post office would be an eye opener for children!

We spent some time in the the Cottage Gallery, which features an extensive collection of paintings with direct connection with the district. One of the volunteers told us that the well-known Australian artist, Russell Drysdale, lived in this area for some time, and had donated a number of paintings and sketches to the Cottage Gallery, and was a patron of the gallery.

Unfortunately the strong sunlight in the room prevented me from taking many photos so I settled for one sketch by Russell Drysdale and one painting by a local artist.

A country Squire by Russell Drysdale.
Jindera Gap by Beth Kilings

In bygone days, the town had many churches, and this pretty Anglican church is the closest to the museum. Further along the avenue is a thriving Lutheran school and church.

We visited the museum twice, and each time my eye caught the photo of this wonderful woman, Margary Clara Wehner….doesn’t she just seem to have character and style?

Margary Clara Wehner, dedicated to the village of Jindera.

I know blog readers are generally very busy people, but if you have time to read her story it is a very interesting account of her life, and that of her husband, Ernest, known as Frosty, who was the local Blacksmith.

The Blacksmith’s shed is still standing!

Thank you for taking the time to read my post this week, and three cheers for those volunteers and people in small communities who come together to help and share their stories and their time.

Copyright Geraldine Mackey: All Rights Reserved.

12 Replies to “Canberra to Jindera Pioneer Museum: off the beaten track”

  1. Beautiful green countryside. Always fascinating to look into the past. Wonderful when old places and items can be preserved. That Marge looks like quite the gal. And I did take time to read about her. What energy and dedication she had!

  2. I join you in the three cheers, hurray for the people who keep memories of these small communities alive and kicking! thanks for a fascinating post.

  3. You made me want to beam myself down to Jindera for an afternoon poking all around the museum. My kind of place. And, yes, Margery Clara Wehner looks like someone I’d love to have a good laugh with. She left a good legacy.

    1. Yes, we could have done with more time too, there was so much to view. I agree Margery looked as if she would enjoy a good laugh.

  4. Nice post, and I did read her history. I think we could have had a good conversation about sewing, and I could have asked if she had to rip as many seams as I do. šŸ™‚ I am always in awe of those who came before us and made so many sacrifices and worked so hard. I also applaud those who save historic buildings and land so that future generations can enjoy them as well. It’s also always fun to observe as you head into spring and summer, and we head into fall and winter.

    1. Thanks Judy, oh yes, sewing would have been a challenge in those days. We are having SO much rain this spring, and the weather is forecast to be a mild and rainy summer…a mixed blessing for us.

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