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Shearing the Rams Trail

Tom Roberts’ legacy looms large North of the Murray.

This pioneering Australian oil painter specialised in painting landscapes (he was an important early figure in the famous ‘Heidelberg School’ that was committed to capturing Australian landscapes in a uniquely Australian way), and was also skilled at painting portraits and people in everyday situations. As is still the case, wool production was a major ingredient in Australia’s early wealth, and the flat pastoral land in our region suited this booming industry.

Tom Roberts was drawn to Brocklesby Station, about 20 minutes north-west of Corowa, where he spent time in 1888 making sketches in and around the shearing sheds. “Shearing the Rams” is one of the paintings that resulted from Roberts’ stay. Completed in 1890, the large canvas is his most well-known painting, and numbers amongst Australia’s most iconic artworks. It was quickly purchased and is on proud display at the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne to date. Along with other local paintings and artists, it is still celebrated in our region today.

Information and tips

Start your journey on the Shearing the Rams Trail at the Corowa Visitor Information Centre. Here, our knowledgeable staff will give you information and advice on the history and key points of interest surrounding Roberts’ visit. They’ll also be able to offer advice on places to stay and eat, as well as other regional features that’ll make your visit more memorable.

Corowa Visitor Information Centre

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Birthplace of Australian Federation

Step back in time and discover Corowa’s history and its role in the birth of Federation at the Corowa Federation Museum. Museum displays describe Australia’s pathway from a series of independent colonies to a single, unified nation, and vital role the town of Corowa played in this story.

In 2020, to celebrate the 130th anniversary of “Shearing the Rams”, a large mural of the iconic painting reproduced by Tracy Hancock was unveiled at the Federation Museum. The mural was funded by a bequest from the late Tim Fischer AC, local identity and former Deputy Prime Minister of Australia, and the grand opening was attended by one of the descendants of Jim Coffey, the main shearer featured in the painting.

Among other displays, art lovers will also enjoy seeing sketches by Tommy McRae, an accomplished local indigenous artist. McRae, who is said to have worked at Brocklesby Station several decades before Roberts’ visit, depicted Aboriginal cultural life and the arrival of colonists through beautiful sketches. His work can be seen in venues including the National Museum of Australia and the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, the state libraries of Victoria and New South Wales, and the Melbourne Museum.

Corowa Federation Museum

Federation Museum “Shearing the Rams” mural

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The shearing shed

While the actual shearing shed from “Shearing the Rams” is long-gone due to a fire in 1960, there still stands a replica near the original site, situated on the nearby Redlands Hill Reserve. Despite the lack of first-hand evidence, the landscape of Redlands Hill Reserve is still a marvellous place to visit.

This Grey Box Grassy Woodlands, considered an Endangered Ecological Community, boasts four walking trails, developed in 1997 by the joint efforts of Corowa District Landcare and the former Corowa Shire. All the tracks are rated easy, with no bushwalking experience required. The shortest track is just 700 metres and the longest is 1.7 kilometres.

Signs give visitors insights into the reserve's environment, plants and animals. The reserve also hosts information on Tommy McRae and Tom Roberts; one of Roberts’ other famous paintings – “A Break Away!”, painted in 1891 – is also based on sketches he did in this landscape.

Redlands Hill Reserve

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Shearing the Rams Sculpture

In 2018, sculptor Andrew Whitehead created a life-size replica of a shearer using blade shears to shear a curly horned ram, inspired by the famous Tom Roberts painting.

As part of the commission, the artist met with the students from Lowesdale Pubic School requesting that each student collect and donate an old cast iron cog to the project. The students' initials were then carved into their cog before the artist included them in the fleece of the ram in the sculpture. In this way, another generation of locals learned about this important Australian artist and his work.

”Shearing the Rams” sculpture by Andrew Whitehead

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The Corowa Saleyards

Experience an authentic country auction at the Corowa Saleyards. Take in the sights, sounds - and yes, the smells - as some of the country's finest livestock find new homes.

The Corowa Saleyards have been in operation for more than 60 years, and are owned and managed by Federation Council. The Saleyards have seen consistent growth over the last 20 years, with a 36% increase over the last 5 years. The Saleyards are the fourth largest sheep and lamb livestock exchange facility in New South Wales, with more than 700,000 sheep and lamb sales annually.

Sales are held each Monday, commencing at 10:00am and attracting agents, farmers and spectators alike.

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Gallery 294

Make your last stop of the trail Gallery 294, where you can browse a variety of works by the talented and creative artists' co-operative behind the Gallery. Discover the region from the perspectives of local artists, with more traditional artworks done in oil much like "Shearing the Rams", to new and creative designs in locally sourced wool.