According to Trip Adviser this is the number one attraction in Echuca. We’d never heard of it before in spite having visited Echuca many times so we thought we’d better check it out.
It’s a little way out of town on a rural residential property and we arrived smack on their 9.30am opening time. There is a large carpark big enough for lots of cars and tour buses so we had no trouble finding a flat spot to park.
We were greeted at the door by a big, friendly bloke who explained that they are not really open on weekdays but he was expecting a bus in so we were welcome to stay and come on in. There were about 6 others who pulled up just after us and they hadn’t booked either so none of us are very good at reading the fine print! Neil Thomas is the owner of this amazing establishment and he was previously an Inspector with the Victorian Police for 37 years.
Well, what can I say about this museum? Firstly, it is one man’s obsessive collecting over 45 years. Secondly, I have never seen so much stuff and it’s such an eclectic mix. Outdoors he has collections of old farm machinery including quite a few Furphy Water Wagons. There is a mock up of a blacksmith’s workshop and even an old drovers wagon.
Further around past the farm machinery is The Car Museum. This is filled with old cars and other car memorabilia. The Car Shed is dedicated to Neil’s dad who was a Chief Inspector in the Victorian Police for 35 years. Right up to his old age when he needed a wheelchair he would ‘help’ out at the museum and delight visitors with his yarns.
Entering the main shed is a bit mind blowing. There is so much stuff it is hard to know where to look. However everywhere you look is another quirky collection. Of course the first thing you notice is the beer cans. He has thousands of beer cans from all over the world. Neil did say it is the largest collection of beer cans in the world. I believe him!
He not only has beer cans, he has all things beer such as an extensive collection of beer taps. You know the things you find at the pub where they pour the beer from? There is a beer mat collection, a collection of ashtrays with beer logos, a bottle cap collection, a collection of beer kegs, a huge collection of bottle openers and the pride of the collection is the magnificent Carlton Draught Clydesdales cart. This is on permanent loan from Carlton to the museum after Carlton decommissioned the horses and wagon.
Neil also has collections of other items such as a collection of ancient poker machines. As they are all in working order he has to have a poker machine licence to display them!
I found a collection of old irons, a collection of washing machines, a collection of coca-cola memorabilia, a collection of old fridges including kerosene fridges and Coolgardie safes. One item that stands out is the original safe from Flemington Racecourse. This is where the Melbourne Cup was stored each year before the big race.
Neil does a little talk and he has a wealth of knowledge about his collection. His talk is amusing and informative. He is obviously a ‘people’ person.
After exploring the big shed we went outside again to check out the Horse Drawn Carriage Display. There are some fine examples of horse drawn carriages and the walls are lined with a display of over 4000 beer steins from all over the world.
Apart from all that they also have accommodation and a large function centre that they hire out for weddings, birthdays and corporate events with seating for up to 100 people.
We spent about 2 1/2 hours at the Great Aussie Beer Shed &in Heritage Farm Museum and definitely recommend a visit if you are ever in Echuca.