In its heyday, Wowan was the dairy capital of the region. With more than 600 farmers on the job, the Dawson Valley Dairy Cooperative was topped up daily with fresh supplies of full cream milk, ready to ship off to towns and cities as far away as England. Wowan flourished as a result. The population grew and along with it came shops, churches, halls, a school, bowls club and even a golf course. Not bad for a place that started out as a rail camp!
However, in the late 1960s the dairy industry soured. Other agri industries moved in, mostly beef cattle and grain, buying up the land and changing the face of commercial operations. The business centre shifted to Moura and Biloela and eventually, many of the locals did too.
But the old butter factory was left standing and today, thanks to its heritage and the humble cow, Wowan is definitely a place you’re going to want to visit.
Like its exhibits, Wowan Museum has quite a history. With the site of the old butter factory transformed into a caravan park in the 1980s, the building had long been abandoned when its owners struck on the idea to turn it into a museum, promptly purchasing the original switch board to start its collection.
Soon to outgrow the premises, the huge stock of artefacts found a new home in the old Railway Station, with carriages, sheds and a host of relocated buildings filled to the brim with memorabilia.
With thousands of items handed over from private and public donors, Curator Dot Nutley has her hands full, cataloguing all the pieces…and they do keep on coming. But she knows her stuff and is always excited when the little gems pop up.
Pride of place is the alphabet chart Dot found under a hessian bag, the movie posters featuring such classics as The Lone Wolf and His Lady, Careful, Soft Shoulders and Man About the House and the old Wowan fire truck that lives out front.
Take the fastest highway out of Melbourne to the calm beauty of the tropics.
Terrific way to experience country life, the rural villages to the north of the shire may seem small but they are the big heart of their community.