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Man From Snowy River Museum

The Museum

The Upper Murray Historical Society started in 1963 and by 1965 had set up “The Man from Snowy River Museum” in Davis’ Cottage in Jardine Street.

In 1880 local stockman, Jack Riley, met “Banjo” Paterson, and in 1890 “The Bulletin” newspaper first published Banjo’s famous poem “The Man from Snowy River”.

And so, Jack Riley became known as The Man from Snowy River. This was engraved on his headstone following his death in 1914, and the Museum is named in his memory.

In 1971 the Museum moved to its present premises, which were the original offices for the Shire of Upper Murray. This large block allowed the museum to also relocate some older buildings such as a school, bank, lockup, Police Station and Jarvis’ Cottage to create “Riley’s Village”, set amongst sheds with blacksmith and farming equipment.

In 2011 the museum completed an extension to enable better conditions for an incredible collection including the display of the amazing Jim Simpson P.O.W Rug and access to a Research Room for visitors.

Our Collections

The main building displays an extensive collection including a nationally significant ski collection, war memorabilia, mining items, clothing, local artefacts, photos and family histories.

Knit One, Purl One

“The Upper Murray Remembers the War” exhibition is a display of memorabilia and information from Upper Murray families, relating to the wars, from the Boer War through to Vietnam.

Jim Simpson’s rug is the highlight of this display. Jim served with the RAAF. During October 1943 his Lancaster bomber was shot down over Germany and he was taken prisoner.

Upon his capture, Jim was informed by his fellow prisoners that his woollen pullover would be confiscated and sent to the Russian front. He promptly unravelled it and rolled it into balls of wool. Over the next 18 months Jim gradually acquired more woollen items, then he boiled these to kill the lice and wound then into more balls of wool.

The rug was knitted in one piece, taking about 6 weeks to complete. Jim used knitting needles that he had constructed from the pan handles of his earing utensil. The rug measures 2.0 m x 2.1 m (6’1” x 6’4”) and depicts all major mountains, lakes, islands and the Coat of Arms for each State. The rug is a work of art.

Adventure into the Unknown on Skis

This museum holds one of Australia’s best ski collections.

The collection dates back to 1870, with Kiandra “paling fence skis” of 1880, and home-made experimental skis included in the vast number of skis.

The Mitchell family donated much of this ski collection. Included is a pram on skis made by Tom and Elyne Mitchell to enable them to take their young children with them while skiing the high country.

Part of the ski collection was also loaned to the Australian Government in 1984 as part of the World Expo exhibition in New Orleans, USA.

A Stroll Down Memory Lane

Meander your way around the collection of outdoor buildings and experience the diversity of life from the 1870s right through to the 1970s.

Jarvis Cottage was built in 1876 and relocated to the museum in 1983. The 2 roomed cottage housed an entire family in its early years and includes newspapers wallpapered to the walls.

View the many household items that were used by our early settlers.

Gain a better understanding of what daily living was like for those who lived and worked in this remote part of Australia during its settlement in the 1850s through to the establishment of the Snowy Hydro Scheme in the 1950s.

For the Word had Passed Around…

Jack Riley was a mountain cattleman in the late 1800s. Tough, wiry, self-reliant and somewhat reclusive, he emigrated from Ireland as a young lad. He worked initially as a tailor near Omeo before finding his true passion as a stockman for the Pierce family at Greg Greg.

He lived in isolation in a hut up in the mountain country, often guiding visitors to the top of Mt Kosciuszko. A.B. “Banjo” Paterson was one such visitor when Walter Mitchell accompanied him on the trip. It is believed that Jack provided the inspiration for Banjo to write the famous Man from Snowy River poem a few months later. Banjo also published another poem for Federation called “Johnny Riley’s Cow”; further testament to the material Banjo found for his verses during his visit to the high country and Jack Riley.

Jack Riley is buried at the Corryong Cemetery and the Man from Snowy River Bush Festival honours the mountain stockman’s spirit each year in its search for the modern day equivalent of Jack Riley.


Opening hours

10am to 4pm every day (apart from Christmas Day, Good Friday and only from noon on Anzac Day.)

Winter opening hours vary; please contact us to arrange a visit.

Groups are always welcome, but please book ahead.


Contact Details:

Upper Murray Historical Society

A:  103 Hanson St (PO Box 51), Corryong Vic 3707

P:  02 6076 2600

E:  [email protected]

FB: https://www.facebook.com/TheManFromSnowyRiverMuseum