President's Report 2023
PRESIDENT’S REPORT – 12 AUGUST 2023
It gives me great pleasure to present the President’s report for the 2022/23 year.
Overall, we’ve had a very busy year and time has flown! It’s been a year of learning to breathe through the weariness, and sometimes frustration, thanks to our declining volunteer numbers. I personally have often felt overwhelmed. Each of us having to take up the slack when required, and unfortunately, each of us knowing it is not sustainable if things don’t change.
So, thinking out of the box it was agreed to implement the Adopt-A-Building Program last month with the aim to raise at $6,000 from individuals and businesses to go towards contract cleaning. Naturally, we want to maintain a good standard of cleanliness for our visitors, and for the conservation of the exhibits. At the moment that is slipping. If the cleaning can be taken care of, it will give us a psychological boost as much as a physical boost. So far, the Program has raised $500. We will be appealing to the big players in town and I am confident we will get support there.
An overview of what has happened this last year:
We opened for four days in the week leading up to Camp Oven weekend trialling a four-day pass for $10 and it worked well with repeat visits. Although numbers could have been down slightly, it was a successful and manageable event, unlike last years which stretched us all.
We did a reprint of The Western Creek Internment Camp books as they had sold out. The book got a good review from the Australian Forest History Society Inc. which I promptly put up on the website.
Groups such as the Ole Skool Krome Car Club of Toowoomba, the Motorcycle Club and Vintage Car Club of Queensland came for either morning tea or lunch with the public coming to see the old vehicles for a gold coin donation.
St Josephs Yr 2 treated us to a visit in March and it is always a delight to see the young student’s little faces light up when they explore the museum. Reminds us of why we do what we do here.
Lexi Antonio continues to conduct her children’s art classes here 2 afternoons a week, exposing our young people to not only great art lessons, but the museum as a place they associate with fun creative times. From little things big things grow…
A highlight for me personally was hosting a number of group visits from Alzheimer’s Queensland. These special visitors love stepping back in time and revisiting old memories, and enjoying a leisurely cuppa and lunch. It is so rewarding to be offering that to this sector of the community.
Water Baby too continues to attract visitors. The exhibit now has a slideshow of information up for visitors, which has been put on YouTube as well. Two overhead fans have been installed as the building gets very hot in summer. We have made preliminary enquiries about a conservation plan for Water Baby and an expert will be employed to help with that in the coming year.
There’s been a steady number and variety of Genealogy enquiries coming in over the year - from locating a baby’s grave at Captains Mountain, to retracing the life of an early Clontarf settler who lent his name to Gray’s Gate. I’d be lost without the help of our professional historian Grant, and research assistant, Peter.
Peter has also done considerable work cataloguing, filing and sorting the Archive Room Maps Draw, filing cabinets and bookshelves, with help from Pat when she can.
I designed a Poster for our Indigenous Artefact display which gives information about our local First Nation’s people, and the traditional use of the exhibits on display. We were donated a large grinding groove stone which added to the collection. I had a discussion with Bigambul Director, Justin Saunders, who advised against the idea of investing in a special stand-alone display of our artefacts which we were considering. I believe they are planning on establishing a museum at Turallin one day. We will continue to be safe repository for the artefacts in the meantime.
A major project that is currently underway is the mapping of the 30 odd Schools we once had in the district. A draft of the Schools Map which will be mounted and displayed on the verandah of the School is on the notice board here. An interesting coincidence is that Millmerran State School has been located on its present site for 100 years next year. We are planning to hold an event to commemorate that. We’ve also been advised that it is possible that the old School bell which originated from Yandilla Station and has rung out at Millmerran State for decades, will be donated to the Museum. We will revamp the School-house here and organise a celebration sometime next year.
We received good publicity in Toowoomba Regional Council’s BOLD magazine in February and attracted quite a few new visitors as a result of it. If only I had been given some warning of the interview! It was hard to wing it under pressure and they mis-quoted some things, but overall it was good promotion for the museum.
Another great publicity opportunity was Vivian’s Volunteer of the Month article in the Pittsworth Sentinel. It received the most number of “likes” and “comments” on our Facebook page. Thank you Viv – sorry to have to twist your arm but wasn’t it worth it! Wendy Hughes, the reporter there, is keen to do more articles for us in the future.
Things done that we are proud of: Cleaning out the Engine Room loft of decades of dust and old odds and ends, and handing back Kath Woodward’s vast shell art collection to her granddaughter Leona. We kept the considerable display of shells in the Lavelle Hall but were happy to have found a home for the rest and free up the space for storage.
Clearing out Maude’s Room, moving the old safe to the Engine Room (Bill with his hoist, and Linda and I trying to help without being much help!). Donating odds and ends to Lions on the day, and the Men’s Shed coming to erect the heavy-duty shelving for us getting ready for archival storage. They took the old MELBA theatre signage for restoration which we found under the rubble and they will mount it here above the door soon. It was so good to have these groups here on the day, and the place buzzing with activity.
We have organised a conservation workshop for this September with Lydia Eugenike and invited five local Historical Society groups to join us. We’ll be learning how to clean the old Millmerran Dairy Co-op factory journals, ready for archival storage in Maude’s Room, on the new shelves. I’m looking forward to that collaboration of Societies, to share experiences and hopes for the future - and what we’ll all learn from Lydia will be an invaluable skill to have.
Major purchases have been: A new mower, shelving, storage tubs, A3 colour printer/scanner, replacement guttering and facia board on main building, new step for Lavelle Hall, leaky roof repairs, and major painting of all the buildings by Chicko Roberts thanks to a Community Gambling Fund grant.
My heart-felt thanks go to everyone who has volunteered their time, skills and support to the Museum and Historical Society this past year.
We have had approximately 300 visitors. That’s 300 meet and greets, lots of cakes and slices, sandwiches and cups of tea and coffee. Lots of toilet cleaning, exhibits dusted, floors to be vacuumed, gardens to be watered, grass to be cut, doors to be opened, doors to be closed. It is a huge achievement and we all should be very proud of ourselves.
This past year we have received more than 55 historic items from approximately 22 individuals – everything from Sammy Gollan’s cricket cap to Millmerran’s first butcher’s steel from the Curtis’ Butchers here in Charlotte Street - Antique Gesteners from Gordon Craig’s machinery business, an old handmade seed planter from the Carter property at “Ellerslie”. A top hat, a bowler hat and travelling case from the original owners of “Culverthorpe” who came out from England a hundred years ago, the police station’s old typewriter, a unique large indigenous sandstone grinding groove that was found in the garden where Harry Houston used to live, vintage baby clothes that Joan Moffatt made at Kindon, an engraved Silver Teapot that was presented to the Captains Mountain Cheese Factory Manager Mr Kath and his wife when they left the area in the 1920s, School books from Captains Mtn School from the 1920s, old kerosene? coach lights from Canning Creek Station, an old Squatters Map from 1930, 1955 scholarship class memorabilia, a 50s vintage child’s sewing machine in perfect condition still in its box… and many many more… Each item catalogued, labelled and put on display.
When I reflect on this past year’s achievements, and the role we have played in the safe-keeping of Millmerran’s Museum and History, and sharing it with the public, I am reminded of a Joni Mitchell song: “Don't it always seem to go you don’t know what you’ve got until its gone”. So we are entering the new year ready and fighting for the Museum’s ongoing prosperity.
I would like to thank all the Committee and our small band of volunteers for their ongoing commitment to the Historical Society. I trust that the following year will be less challenging but as equally rewarding. I move my Report for adoption.
Christine Turner, President