The Muswellbrook Regional Arts Centre is located on the New England Highway three hours drive northwest of Sydney and two hours from Newcastle. The town of Muswellbrook lies in the Upper Hunter region among a diverse rural and industrial economy encompassing coal mining, farming, vineyards and the horse industry.
The Arts Centre was originally established as a regional gallery in 1976 and was housed in a purpose built annexe attached to the Muswellbrook School of Arts. The new Muswellbrook Regional Arts Centre was commissioned in July 2000 at a cost of more than $1.7 million.
It's a wonderful area for display with lots of room for exhibits.
The Muswellbrook Regional Arts Centre presents travelling exhibitions, local exhibitions and art prizes (including the Muswellbrook Photographic Award and the biennial Muswellbrook Open Art Prize) along with periodic selections from the permanent collection. The permanent collection which consists of the Shire Collection (established in 1958) and the Max Watters Collection (donated in 2004) spans 54 years of mid to late 20th century Australian art. The collection represents major developments in this period through the work of artists such as: Tony Tuckson, Ken Whisson, Danila Vassilieff, Grace Cossington Smith, John Perceval, John Plapp, Immants Tillers and Euan Macleod, to name a few.
Though entry is free, donations are appreciated.
On the northern side of town, about a kilometre from the overpass at the end of the CBD, there's a memorial to the Vietnam Veterans. Somehow I can't help but be reminded of a useless waste of life in yet another conflict that had nothing to do with all those who lost their lives. Political masters making incorrect decisions for the thousandth time and everyday people suffering the consequences. I'll just step down off my soapbox.
It's a nice little stop by the side of the road with trees and facilities and poignant reminders that not everyone forgets.
Muswellbrook is also reputedly the home of the great Aussie breed of dog known as the blue heeler. It's a type of cattle dog and are know colloquially as "blueys". They can be found throughout Australia.
I used to travel through Muswellbrook for decades. I was a rep on the road and had customers here. One of my customers was the local hospital. Across the road from the hospital was a lovely house I admired every time I visited. I made enquiries; apparently it was owned then by the engineer at the hospital. It was immaculate, as clearly seen in the opening picture and displayed architecture from pre war times. The chimneys are unique and reflect a design not seen these days.
Around the town you'll also find some wonderful hotels constructed in Federation style with those lovely verandahs, almost unique to Australia (see pic 2).
New England Highway, Muswellbrook, NSW 2333
Good for: Business
91 Bridge Road, MUSWELLBROOK, NS, 2300, AU
Good for: Families
62-68 New England Highway, , Muswellbrook, State o
When Muswellbrook was declared a municipality in 1870 the population was 1445. Coalmining began in the 1890s although truly large-scale coal mining didn't get under way until more recently. There are now eight mines operating in the area (seven of them open-cut) with another six proposed. These are large operations and their piles of overburden can be seen throughout the shire.
After the First World War the larger properties were broken up into smaller farms with dairying supplanting wool and wheat. Many of the larger rural properties were broken into smaller farms and replaced dairying and wool and wheat as the main rural industry. This trend continued till late 1979.
This was where I had holidayed in my youth.
Fondest memory: In 1989 the Shire of Denman and the Municipality of Muswellbrook amalgamated to form present day Muswellbrook Shire.
Muswellbrook was declared a township as early as 1833. It had been discovered by Chief Constable John Howe in 1819 (Howe Valley was named after him) and in 1824 major parcels of land were surveyed by Henry Dangar, a famous name in the area, along the banks of the Hunter River for allocation to early settlers.
The rich soils surveyed by Dangar resulted in Muswellbrook being established as a farming centre. The first railway was completed in 1869 and the town experienced significant expansion within this period. Of major importantance was the first coal mine in the area in the 1890's.
Fondest memory: The boundaries of the shire were officially defined in 1907 when Muswellbrook Shire was created from within Wybong Shire area.
The area was once occupied by the Wanaruah Aboriginal people and possibly the Kamilaroi. Certainly the two tribes had trade and ceremonial links. This is reflected in the Reconciliation Wall pictured.
The Kamilaroi tribe was subdivided into clans and classes which determined marital possibilities Once one of the largest linguistic communities in Australia their last known formal communal ceremony was held in 1905. By 1840 the population was 215. There were 41 houses as well as some inns and shops. A flour mill was built around 1841, reflecting the fact that wheat, along with wool, was the centrepiece of the local economy.
In 1842 the sons of Francis Forbes established the private village of Forbestown south of Muscle Creek but due to confusion with the town of Forbes it was changed to South Muswellbrook in 1848.
When the railway arrived in 1869 it boosted the local economy as the settlement became the northern railhead and the population climbed to about 1500. However, when this advantage passed on to Scone the town shrunk again.
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