We really do own a real Museum which exhibits genuine artefacts. Not photographs of . . . Not videos of . . . Not holograms of . . . Not website links to . .

See the most definitive collection of artefacts connected with the legendary bushranger, Captain Thunderbolt, Fred Ward.

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We really do own a real Museum which exhibits genuine artefacts. Not photographs of . . . Not videos of . . . Not holograms of . . . Not website links to . .

No. The real thing. If we wanted to brag, we might well start with the buildings, our first and enduring exhibits. It seems I’m now the only member who was there from day one, October 1979, when the decision was made to save the Mill. And then came the learning of lots about heritage integrity from architect Peter Myers and builders Bob Maze and Kirk Abbott. (Read about it in “McCrossin’s Mill, Many Hands and Me”, ‘borrowable’ from the Museum desk!)
I admire the buildings so intensely because I well know how neglected and despairing they were before we poured all our love into making them feel good again, so ruggedly beautiful.
About ten years later, led by Peter Feitz, we gave the poor old tumble-down Chaff Shed a dose of the same devotion. The word ‘compromise’ was never uttered. It all had to be right, the real thing.
In hindsight, we could have opened the restored buildings to the public as things to look at, as artefacts. But, of course, those buildings became exhibition spaces, but always with the guiding principle that the integrity of the place must not be jeopardised.

Reluctantly, we had to comply with modern regulations . . . fire hose in the Mill, knee braces and steel roof trusses in the Chaff Shed, and “Exit” signs all over the place!
This was a time when Folk Museums were springing up all over the nation, on the premise “the more stuff, the better.” Artefacts were tarted up with high-gloss black (iron ware), and a ‘brighten up’ with red, blue, green, yellow (carts, wagons, farm machinery) . . . all well-intentioned but forever deleterious to the objects and to the audience’s perceptions.
At the Mill, we’ve never been guilty of doing that. Never? Really? Yes, really! For example . . . Our Chinese collection was carefully cleaned, but never ‘restored’. All our Thunderbolt artefacts are ‘as is’ and genuine. Our Foresters Banner was professionally conserved by the mending of some small rents in the fabric. The Tin Man’s toys were lovingly dusted off, that’s all.

When curators from Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum spotted our Winnower and Corn Husker(Gostwyck Station was going to “burn them to make more room in the sheds” in 1981), they said, “Astonishing to find such pieces in original condition, especially the original lettering!”. The suggestion that we repaint the Kangaroo and Emu Gates was met with an arched eyebrow and a barely polite, “ not a good idea!”
Our exhibition booklets, just like this Newsletter, are classy publications, as opposed to photocopied A4 efforts you see elsewhere. Our team has never operated on the, “that’ll do – near enough” easy-way-out maxim. Never. Really!
We can afford to raise the standard of museology only because of the support of our Function Centre volunteers, who not only supply substantial funds for the Museum’s development, but who consistently amaze clients with their professionalism and their passion.

Which brings us to the one element which outsiders, and I, believe makes us a real standout.
Really? Yes. It is the genuine passion our people have for the place to fill it with such commitment, creativity, good-humour, optimism and respect.

 Kent Mayo (Hon. Museum Director