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10 September 2014

Brumby runners, a historic horse-drawn milk cart and the two oldest intact Melbourne Cups, feature in a unique exhibition on the horse, opening at the National Museum of Australia in Canberra, on 11 September 2014.

Spirited: Australia's Horse Story examines the special bond Australians have with horses and celebrates how these animals have enriched our lives, built our society and shaped our environment.

'Australians have lived with, loved and depended on horses, almost since Europeans first settled on the continent,' said National Museum senior curator, Martha Sear.

'This important exhibition showcases how these extraordinary animals have been our companions in work, play and battle,' said Dr Sear.

The exhibition tracks the arrival of horses in Australia with the early Europeans; examines their critical role in early exploration; and celebrates horses on pastoral stations, in towns, on the track, as transport, in pony clubs, in sport and in war.

The exhibition of over 500 objects includes a massive wool wagon; the Junius Cup (the oldest known Australian-made racing trophy); the 1866 and 1867 Melbourne Cups; the typewriter used by Elyne Mitchell to write the iconic Australian horse tale, The Silver Brumby; and the equipment used by Emilie Roach in 1929, when she and 'Dungog' set the Australian ladies high-jump record, by clearing 2.16 metres.

The exhibition also includes intriguing specimens of portions of heart wall, aorta and pericardium, believed to be from legendary Australian horse Phar Lap.

A section of the exhibition also explores the role of the High Country stock-workers in the national imagination, and the history of the over 300,000 brumbies who now roam the country. The role of Indigenous stock-workers are also an exhibition feature.

The multimedia exhibition includes a family trail and hands-on interactive experiences for children.

Spirited runs from 11 September 2014 to 9 March 2015.

For more information please contact Tracy Sutherland, (02) 6208 5338 / 0438 620 710 or Judith Dahl Taylor (02) 6208 5157 / 0403 954 440 or email:

Additional resources

MediaNet multimedia release: Spirited - landmark exhibition celebrates Australia's horse story

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