Working horses showcased at Rushworth Heritage Easter Festival

Within the last two decades, the fortunes of Australia’s working draught horses have undergone something of a revival. Once the nineteenth and early twentieth century’s most abundant source of haulage muscle, the use of larger breeds declined during the 1950s as Australians embraced motorised power. However, as our team found out during a recent jaunt to Woo back, held in Yass, NSW, Australian heavy horse owners have been quietly nurturing a growing public interest in these magnificent animals. Every season, many community events featuring draught horses take place across the country.

After hearing about our Spirited: Australia’s Horse Story exhibition from a friend, Blake Rosenberg, the official photographer for the Rushworth Heritage Easter Festival got in touch to let us know about one such example, the Moora Working Draught Horse Muster. This event was held during the festival in Rushworth, Vic., on 19th and 20th April this year. In this guest post, Blake shares some of his beautiful photographs, as well as his thoughts on documenting the significant relationships between people, animals and localities despite the accelerated pace of our twenty-first century lives. Continue reading

‘For the relief of horses’: a gift from Annis and George Bills

‘I empower my said Trustees…to construct and erect and pay for Horse-Troughs wherever they may be of opinion that such horse troughs are necessary or desirable for the relief of horses or other dumb animals either in Australasia in the British Islands or in any other part of the World’.

George Bills’ last Will, 1925

If Melbourne wire mattress manufacturer George ‘Joe’ Bills had his posthumous way, no horse would ever again go short of a drink. Continue reading

Colour photograph showing a row of nine small, toy horses on cardboard bases, lined up outside a hotel. A crowd of people has gathered in the background.

The show must go on!

There’s a new horsey face to be seen around our Mitchell repository this week. This champion racehorse is a bright chestnut with polished hooves, silky mane and tail and something of a beady-eyed stare. Though unrivalled on the track, he’s a diminutive fellow at not quite two hands high. ‘Jackson’ arrived recently from Birdsville, a small Queensland town some 1600km west of Brisbane and the scene of his trackside triumph. Continue reading

A classic in the making

Though at times exhausting, the events of last week have reminded me just why I love my job so much.

My talented film-maker colleague, Jeremy Lucas, and I have just returned, footsore and triumphant, from an epic four days of filming in Melbourne and regional Victoria. As part of the Museum’s current Horses in Australia project, we’re working on a short documentary film to be produced in-house. The film will explore the background of one of my favourite objects in the Museum’s collection – a horse-drawn wagon used by the Tighe family to deliver milk to suburban Essendon between the 1950s and 1980s.

Continue reading