Accessible by plane, train and a 2+ hour car trip from Melbourne over the Great Dividing Range, Shepparton lies in Yorta Yorta country on the floodplain near the junction of the Goulburn and Broken rivers – and offers much for visitor and resident alike.
Its original name, ‘Kanny-Goopna’ – invokes waterholes, campside gathering, fishing and a river-centred community; it takes its current name from a European settler who established not only the first sheep station but the start of a long line of agricultural practice and life in the district. Aptly named ‘fruit salad’ city, the town now boasts an exciting and significant new addition to its mix – the transformed Shepparton Art Museum (SAM).
Opened in November 2021, connection to the land is at the heart of the new SAM’s architectural design and curatorial objectives. The impressive new building on the banks of the lake has brought to life a mission that has been more than 80 years in the making – to create a contemporary regional facility dedicated to showcasing the rich art, history and cultures of both immediate and wider regions.
What Can You See at the Shepparton Art Museum?
When it was founded in 1936 with a 50-pound grant, SAM housed just 37 works. Now, the $50 million building is home to more than 4,000 artworks across four stories and four main gallery spaces.
SAM holds the most significant collection of historic and contemporary Australian ceramics in regional Australia and a number of pieces by international artists. The museum hosts Australia’s largest collection of Namatjira works, famous for their invocations of Australian spirit in landscape. Yorta Yorta artist Lin Onus‘ mesmerising brush strokes are also on display; you can trace the path of his approach to painting over the years, to his latter day ethereal works with their signature blending of photorealism and traditional Indigenous symbolism.
Celebrating Autumn with SAM at sunset
From March 3rd to April 14, SAM welcomes patrons onto its rooftop to enjoy sunsets over glistening lakeside waters. The events will take place every Thursday, and the $35 ticket price includes your entry to the rooftop, three drinks, and nibbles. Attendance is limited to ensure everyone has plenty of space, so if you’re keen to enjoy this unique experience, visit the SAM website at 5 pm on Thursdays to secure tickets for the following week.
Travel tips for visiting the Shepparton Art Museum
If you’ll be heading out to Shepparton from Melbourne, we recommend breaking up your trip with a stay in Nagambie. Nestled on the shores of Lake Nagambie and the Goulburn River in Victoria’s high country, this tiny town is ideally placed for enjoying the embrace of nature and the region’s notable wineries. For the finest food, wine and accommodation, we recommend Mitchelton Winery.