The Museum is full of interesting exhibits, engines and pumps, tractors and machinery from a past era. With the focus on Irrigation History in general and the unique Humphrey Pump in particular, it also concentrates on the early development of the Irrigation Areas of the Riverland and the machinery used in that developmental stage.
The Museum is now operated by the volunteers of the Cobdogla Steam Friends Society Inc who assist with keeping the Museum and its machinery in good order and hold five major operating days each year, featuring Steam Train and Traction Engine rides, Operating Stationary Engines, the National Trust dioramas and special operating exhibits. Also showing are videos about the Humphrey Pump, (please note the pump is currently not operating).
The Humphrey Pump, known as Big Thumper was invented by Mr H A Humphrey and is an internal combustion pump.
The two pumps at Cobdogla, placed adjacent to each other on a common foundation, provided irrigation water for the Cobdogla Irrigation Area for 40 years until 1965. Only one pump was used at a time, the other pump acting as a standby.
The Museum was established by the then Engineering and Water Supply Department (now SA Water Corporation) as a major project commemorating the South Australian Sesquicentenary in 1986.
Departmental employees overhauled the Humphrey Pump, landscaped and fenced the grounds and assisted with the restoration of the Fowler Traction engine and Bagnall locomotive.
The Barmera Branch of the National Trust relocated to the museum in 1988 and occupy the former Steam Plant Building where they have created a display about the nearby Loveday Internment Camp.