People and Place

People and Place is a living history of Wagga Wagga’s business and commercial life. It traces the changing streetscape of the lengthy and fascinating main strip – more than two kilometres of buildings lining Fitzmaurice and Baylis Streets – and the people who have lived, worked and played, shopped and celebrated along these streets for more than 160 years.

For many years, Fitzmaurice Street and the area north of the Wollundry Lagoon was the focal point of Wagga’s development.  The area is a significant place for the Wiradjuri people, particularly the sandhills which stretched from the site of the courthouse through to Simmons Street between Johnston and Gurwood Streets. These sandhills were a meeting place for corroborees and tribal fighting. Historical reports note a tribal fight in the early 1840s on the site where the Australian Arcade now stands. It has been suggested that crowds of up to 1000 Wiradjuri people gathered for meetings in the area during this period.

The architectural face of the main street has changed constantly, but there is still the chance of an occasional glimpse of rooflines from decades past. Also changed are the buildings’ use and occupancy. By ‘opening the doors’ of these businesses of the past, we are able to envisage their occupants – owners, shop assistants and office workers, customers and families living above the business, while we examine items and customs long forgotten.

People and Place was curated by Dr. Nancy Blacklow and Museum of the Riverina in partnership with Charles Sturt University Regional Archive.

People and Place is on exhibition at Museum of the Riverina's Botanic Gardens site, 127 Lord Baden Powell Drive.