Unique cultural experiences in Albury Wodonga

From the experiences of post-war migrants to a First Nations sculpture trail along the Murray River, explore four intriguing experiences in Albury Wodonga that connect you with Australia’s cultural heritage.

Destination NSW

Destination NSW

Aug 04 -
2
min read
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Step into a post-war migrant’s shoes  

For many of those fleeing to Australia from post-World War II Europe, their new life began at Bonegilla, an Albury Wodonga army camp that was turned into a reception and training centre for new migrants. Astoundingly, Bonegilla was home to more than 300,000 migrants over the three decades post-war. Today, only one block of the original 24 remains, and on a guided or self-guided tour of Bonegilla Migrant Experience, you get a real sense of what life was like here for fresh arrivals: you can see where they slept, where meals were prepared, where the YMCA organised sporting activities. This place impacted the whole country’s population: one in 20 Australians today has some sort of connection back to Bonegilla.   

Go big

Before leaving Bonegilla Migrant Experience, stop into the Welcome Centre to hire a bike and helmet, then set your GPS for the Hume Dam to experience human ingenuity at its most extraordinary. This immense waterway is the result of damming the Murray River a century ago for irrigation, hydropower and flood mitigation. It’s so big that it holds six times more water than Sydney Harbour – safe to say, you’re not going to circumnavigate it, but there are plenty of shorter scenic trails, and you can reach the Victorian border at the middle point of the dam wall. The engineering feat put Albury Wodonga in the pre-Federation spotlight when construction began after WWI, as the region suddenly became an important crossing point and bridge between state borders. One of the largest dams in the world, it captured public imaginations when it was first constructed, and still manages to instil a sense of awe in visitors today.

Lake Hume in Albury Wodonga, The Murray, Country NSW

Lake Hume, Albury Wodonga - Credit: Chloe Smith - Visit Albury Wodonga

Stroll an Indigenous sculpture walk

The Murray River’s spirit is strong – whether on its banks or on the water, you can’t help but be moved by its history, its beauty and the Dreamtime stories recalling its creation. You’ll hear many of them, told through a contemporary artistic eye, along the Yindyamarra Sculpture Walk, just a couple of kilometres from Albury’s main street. The 15 installations here, all created by local Aboriginal artists, come with interpretative signs revealing their significance. They’re scattered along a section of the longer riverside Wagirra Trail, which eventually leads you to the bird-rich Wonga Wetlands. Pause at Michael Quinn’s Family Gathering, a sculpture symbolising the importance of family unity and First Nations connection to the land; and Ruth Davys’ Bogong Moth Migration, a striking installation inspired by the tradition of Aboriginal communities feasting on these winged delicacies.      

Come to MAMA

There are regional art museums, and then there’s the Murray Art Museum Albury (MAMA), the kind of shrine to creatives you’d expect to see in the world’s most cosmopolitan cities. From street level, you’d be forgiven for thinking you were entering a grand government building – indeed, this was once Albury’s Town Hall, built more than a century ago. But then you step inside and lose yourself in an inspiring collection of individual galleries, the beautifully curated spaces highlighting more than 2,400 paintings, ceramics, woodcarvings and Aboriginal artefacts. Oh, and photographs. Murray Art Museum Albury is a major supporter of the National Photography Prize, launched in 1983. Since then it has amassed more than 600 contemporary works, making it one of the most important collections of its kind in the world. You’ll want to linger over pieces by the likes of Tracey Moffatt, Max Dupain, Richard Woldendorp and Phillip Quirk.

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