Quilts and Waggas

On Friday 15th April 2011 Dr Annette Gero of Sydney presented a fascinating lecture entitled "Folkore of the Australian Wagga" to members and guests of ADFAS Mudgee Inc at the Cudgegong Valley Public School hall.

ADFAS Mudgee Inc was established in 2003 and provides 8 lectures per year on a variety of historical, artistic and literary topics presented by British and Australian lecturers.

Annette is an expert on Australian quilts and has a strong interest in more rustic or simplistic quilts called 'waggas' which were often made out of necessity from a variety of materials and fillings: sugar bags, chaff bags, flour bags, offcuts, castoff clothing etc. Some wonderful examples have come to light and many have a proven provenance, as they have often been handed down through families by the people - women and men alike - who made them. Annette also brought to the lecture some examples of waggas and quilts which were illustrated in her slide presentation and members of the audience also brought along some superb examples. Of particular local interest was a most unusual wagga made from sugar bags and with sugar bags used as filling which originated in the Rylstone district. This wagga still bore the pencilled imprint 'HCS' for 'Howard's Corner Store' at Rylstone, as well as distinctive sugar brandings (see photos).

There are no doubt many waggas which remain in private ownership in the greater Mudgee district. Waggas are often extremely unique, made from what ever was at hand at a particular time and place, and although they may not have required the intricate and time-consuming craftsmanship of finer pieces they are often distinctly Australian and just as valued.

I would be pleased to hear from anyone who has an unsual wagga or an early Australian quilt in their possession, so that it could be recorded. Annette would also be most interested to hear about any, even if just to receive an emailed photo of one, along with its story. All aspects of its social history - who made it, when it was made, where it was made and from what materials, and where and by whom it was used - are all part of the great Australian story.

The Colonial Inn Museum at Mudgee, headquarters of the Mudgee Historical Society Inc, has some interesting examples of waggas and quilts on display and would greatly appreciate donations of same to add to its collection. Please don't throw out Great-aunt Fanny's or Great-uncle Fred's wagga!


Annette would be keen to hear from anyone with an interesting quilt or wagga. She can be contacted via email at:

(remove XX) a.gero XX @unsw XX .net.au


NB ADFAS = Association of Australian Decorative & Fine Arts Societies


John Broadley

President, Mudgee Historical Society Inc


Chairman, ADFAS Mudgee Inc

02.6372 3365 or 0429 708 218