You can’t miss the 3 storey high, 1870s flour mill that houses The Sheep’s Back Museum. This has been the Headquarters of the Naracoorte National Trust since it moved from its earlier site in 1984. It is also where you find a quality Craft Shop and the Visitor Information Centre, staffed by Council staff assisted by volunteers.
The old stone building houses four galleries telling the story of the Australian wool industry in the ‘inside country’. The focus is on the woolshed and the skills and trades of the workers in the industry, moving to the lifestyle of the woolgrowers over time, and will soon include a new gallery on the impact the industry has had on the environment. To enter this you will pass through ‘Limestone Landscapes’, a gallery that explains the South East of South Australia to the visitor…its geology, the different natural communities it supports, the wonderful caves that lie beneath it and the patterns of human settlement. Here too you can discover the history, human and geological, of the Caves. A ‘Kids’ Corner’ is an attractive ‘stop, play and learn’ station for younger visitors. Beyond the mill building, lie a number of other simple industrial buildings. The wool industry focus continues into the Big Shed, where the unique ‘Robotic Shearer’, is housed. This piece of quite unique technology, developed in South Australia, is displayed as the climax of the slowly evolving technology of hand pieces, presses and so on that have served the industry for 200 years. A quaint old slab construction woolshed that began life as a settler’s home is a museum piece in its own right.
As the focus changes from sheep to the society that they supported, your first port of call may be the Hynam Post Office, which stood at the centre of a wool community for more than 100 years. A delightful old timber cottage, surrounded by a hardy garden of old-fashioned perennials, it reminds visitors of the time when each rural township had its own Post Office, where neighbours met and chatted, and business was done as the mail was sorted. This one served the Hynam community for 100 years under the care of the McLean family. Or your next step may be The Children of Federation, housed in a classroom of the Kybybolite School, an exhibition that focuses on the small schools of the SA/Vic border region. Both children, and those whose childhood was spent in a school like this, love it and spend much ‘remembering time’ there. A number of these galleries have their own research desks, or extra information hanging beside each display.For those looking for more information, access to further archival material can be arranged.
Regular opportunities to view items from the stored collection come through short-term exhibitions, or through the ever-popular Lunch with History events where interesting excursions are backed with extensive research material.
The Branch also cares for a small ’History Room’ at Struan House, where the story of the region’s great pastoral properties is displayed. Visits during normal working hours.