It was clear Rutherglen and Corowa Unlocked was going to be a success even before the weekend came around, as many of the destinations advertised in the program were booked out well in advance.
On the 25th and 26th of August 2018, an eclectic range of iconic buildings and sites in the region were opened to the public. Locals and visitors were allowed see inside many buildings they’d previously only glimpsed from the road, including wineries, hotels, homesteads and homes, an agricultural station and a gold battery.
The Rutherglen and Corowa Unlocked program went beyond a simple ‘open house’ concept and was organised around guided tours. This was an inspired idea. The guided explorations allowed not only the architecture but also the historical and social aspects of the sites to come into focus.
For the tours I was able to get tickets to, the knowledge and genuine passion of the guides added a whole other dimension to the visits. Drawing from histories, both oral and written, along with personal stories and the unexpected insights generated from the questions of eager visitors, the guides made each destination come to life.
The numbers who attended across both days of the weekend and the enthusiasm of the crowds shows there is a real interest in this region. Which will hopefully encourage the organisers, Destination Rutherglen and the Federation Council, to put Unlocked on the calendar regularly.
Should the Rutherglen and Corowa Unlocked weekend run again, I can highly recommend looking out for The Hermitage, a homestead built in 1856 which is 12 miles from Albury as the crow flies and 36 miles as the river winds, also gorgeous Clendon House in Corowa, known to locals as ‘the castle,’ as well as the quirkiness of the Royal Hotel over the way from it, and the highly atmospheric Mt Carmel convent building in Rutherglen.
And, should the weekend run again, I’ll be quicker off the mark and make sure I get tickets for the iconic Olive Hills Estate and Mt Ophir Estate buildings as I missed out on them this year. They remain a tantalising mystery.
So thank you Destination Rutherglen and the Federation Council and thank you to the owners who were willing to unlock their doors.
The generosity and hospitality of the owners of each of the Rutherglen and Corowa Unlocked destinations were obviously very much appreciated by all the visitors, not only me.
The Feature Image of Rutherglen Convent is courtesy of the Museums Victoria Collection. It is from a postcard of the Mt Carmel Convent, circa 1950, held by the Rutherglen Historical Society.