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Corowa History

Corowa – from gold to Federation

Corowa was proclaimed a township in 1858 and with neighbouring Wahgunyah became one of the busiest ports on the Murray River in the 1860s. The discovery of gold in Beechworth in the 1850s was followed by similar finds nearby. Corowa boomed provisioning these new ‘calico towns’.

Corowa also played a crucial role in shaping Australian democracy with the People’s Convention held here in 1893. This event was the catalyst for the move towards nationhood and Federation. Corowa has since garnered the title of the ‘Birthplace of Federation’.

Detailing this path to Federation is a major exhibit in the Federation Museum, a building which itself is over 100 years old.

See more about the Federation Museum.

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Walking through history

Corowa’s rich history is on ample display with captivating historic buildings including the Corowa Courthouse and the Oddfellow’s Hall, where the People’s Convention took place.

The best way to explore Corowa’s rich history and heritage is by exploring town on the self-guided historic walk. Read the signs adjacent to significant buildings and the storyboards located at the Corowa Civic Centre and Sanger Street which bring to life the history and unique links to Federation.

On foot, the tour takes around three hours, with plenty of places to stop to rest and refuel. Many enjoy visiting the bulk of sites in a cluster in the centre of town, then driving to some of the further-flung locations; by car, the tour will take around an hour.

Download the Corowa History Trail map and Guide.

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The art of Tom Roberts

Tom Roberts is a well-loved Australian artist who also played a significant role in Corowa, with the close connection with his iconic painting ‘Shearing of the Rams’.

In spring 1888, he visited the Corowa area where he made between 70 and 80 sketches at a local shearing woolshed. Returning in 1889, he finished his famous painting. A replica shearing shed is at Redlands Hill Reserve, on Tom Roberts Road north of Corowa, just a few hundred metres from the site of the original shearing shed.

Also having a major impact on Corowa’s history in famous artworks was Tommy McCrae, a local Aboriginal artist who was known for documenting the arrival of Europeans and Chinese during the Rutherglen goldrush.

Visit the Federation Museum to find out more about Tom Roberts and his two most famous Corowa paintings, “Shearing the Rams” and “A Break Away”, and to see original Tommy McCrae paintings.