Moonta’s Medical History on Display

The Moonta Medical display features countless implements used by Moonta doctors at various times in the district’s history as well as an extensive collection of medicine bottles and containers with labels attesting to a range of weird and wonderful remedies for a host of ailments.  The display was partly funded through the SA175 grant fund, administered by History SA.

Specific display sections focus on the Moonta Jubilee Hospital, chemists who worked in the town, and there is a re-created chemist cabinet that has been custom-built to house a pharmacy collection that was purchased by the Centre for inclusion in the display.  There is a section on home remedies, the work of local dentists and a storyboard about common epidemics and accidents that affected the population of Moonta at various times.

Liz Coole, National Trust Moonta branch vice-chairperson, says that ‘most of the equipment belonged to Doctor Clayton and Doctor Harbison, and the Harbison family donated it’.

A must see for anyone interested in medical history.

Visits to Whyalla and Melrose museums

Amanda and Pauline have recently returned from a fieldtrip to Whyalla and Melrose, visiting the Mount Laura Homestead Museum at Whyalla, the Whyalla Maritime Museum and the Melrose Courthouse Heritage Centre.

On the way into town we stopped past the Whyalla Maritime Museum to catch-up with Paul the manager/curator and see the art exhibition he has installed featuring industrial comic-style drawings depicting ship-building at Whyalla during WWII. Paul undertook substantial research to find out more about Bernard ‘Stalky’ Redding, a shipwright by trade who was heavily involved in the Boy Scout movement in South Australia. An unusual and interesting collection, the drawings make a new point of interest at the museum.

At the Mount Laura Homestead Museum we met with Andy and John to talk about plans the museum has for development in the next few years. The museum operates a fairly extensive site, the centrepiece of which is the homestead built in 1922 for a sheep station that was several miles from the township of Hummock Hill (now Whyalla), but also includes extensive agricultural and engine collections, a BHP cottage and telecommunications equipment. One very exciting development for the museum is the soon to be opened new Whyalla City Library, which is being built beside the museum. This co-location is anticipated to bring more visitors to the museum site and also means that museum volunteers will no longer need to do ‘desk duty’ at the museum but will be able to put all their efforts into museum projects.  The museum will also be able to concentrate on moving existing displays from the homestead to other parts of the museum, allowing the homestead to be better represented as the hub of a significant pastoral property in the region.

We also visited Melrose Courthouse Heritage Centre to conduct the site assessment for the museum’sre-accreditation in the Community Museums Program (CMP). First accredited in 1998 the museum has changed significantly since then with a host of interpretive displays and the establishment of an archives, which does a lively trade in family history research. Read more about Melrose Museum in a future news item!


Swan Reach Museum opens new displays

Swan Reach Museum has just completed the second stage of major display redevelopments. Focused around local community themes, the displays have completely revitalised the display spaces.  The district’s history is now more easily accessible, both in terms of getting around the displays and in their content.

The new displays are allowing the museum to clearly and attractively tell some key stories, including the particular contributions to the town and district of individuals and businesses and the effects on Swan Reach of the 1956 floods.  The project has taken 3-4 years to complete and has required significant grant funding as well as a lot of financial input from the museum itself and an enormous number of hours spent by museum volunteers in planning, writing and developing the displays. Graham Barlow from Swan Reach Museum says about the project:

‘To begin Stage 2 we had to do take on a few other projects to make room for the display cabinets, These included partially insulating one of our storage sheds, which is another ongoing project, and shifting a compactus, some stationary engines and other machinery to this shed.  A new storage cabinet for our photographic collection was also constructed so they could be shifted out of the new display area.

As we are a reasonably new museum, 10yrs old in October and as our town is not all that old, 110 years old this year, our collection relates to these more modern years and we tended to cram as much as we could into a small area.

With the assistance from History SA and their Community Museums Program Grants, grants from the Dept. Veteran Affairs, National Maritime Museum and Mid Murray Council we have now managed to co-ordinate our collection into various themes, build new display cabinets and with the help from exhibition designer Peter Templeton install new text panels throughout the museum.

With the completion of Stage 1 & 2 it has brought our museum from a very basic one to a high standard tourist attraction, with the praises and compliments we receive each week from the museum’s visitors, it makes all our efforts worthwhile.’

Announcing the opening of History SA’s annual grant rounds

The South Australian History Fund (SAHF) and Community Museums Program (CMP) grant funds are now open! These funds provide a rare source of financial support for history and museum projects. A diverse range of organisations and individuals have received grants from these funds over many years. For the first time this year you can apply online or you can request a copy of the grant form from us or download the pdf from this site.

South Australian History Fund (SAHF)

The SAHF provides funding for small history projects, publications and research projects. Grants up to $2,000 for projects, $3,000 for publications and $5,000 for research are available. Applications for all categories are invited from incorporated South Australian historical societies, National Trust branches, community history museums, local councils and voluntary organisations. Individual historians may also apply for publication grants and research grants. Applications for research grants are also invited from professional historians, tertiary institutions or other organisations.

Community Museums Program (CMP)

The CMP grant fund is specifically for museums that are registered or accredited in History SA’s Community Museums Program. It provides funding for displays, collection management and conservation projects. Grants awarded can range from a few hundred dollars for simple collection management activities to $20,000 for large exhibition or other interpretive projects.

Check the guidelines for each fund to find out the application details and closing dates for applications.  Applicants are very welcome to contact history SA’s Community History Officers, Amanda James and Pauline Cockrill, to discuss potential projects and get advice and assistance with putting in an application.

For more information about the South Australian History Fund or the Community Museums Program grant fund or to apply online, visit the Grants section on this site.

In perspective: rethinking South Australia’s History – 20th State History Conference

To be held from 5-7 August 2011 at the National Wine Centre, Adelaide, In perspective: rethinking South Australia’s history will be a special State History conference to mark 175 years since the official foundation of the Province of South Australia. Join us for a rich conference program with speakers from a broad range of disciplines. We hope the conference will prompt delegates to reflect on enduring themes in South Australian and Australian history, to address their continuing relevance into the future, and to explore the place of historical understanding and popular mythmaking in South Australian identity.

The 2011 State History Conference will be run in conjunction with the inaugural conference of the Australian Council of Professional Historians Associations.

To find out more about the conference or to request a brochure and registration form please phone History SA on (08) 8203 9888 or email


What’s new at Pinnaroo Museum

A new display about Florence Casson, a nurse in WWII who perished with the sinking of the vessel Vyner Brooke in 1942, is a great addition to the Mallee Women displays at the museum. Florence spent some of her nursing career in Pinnaroo and her story effectively links local with international history. The museum commissioned a museum designer to produce the display panels and had a reproduction WWII nurses uniform made so that it can stay on display indefinitely.

The museum has also been hard at work in the last few years working with an historian and designer to produce a touch-screen interactive through which visitors can access information about printing processes and printing equipment housed at the museum. Much of the content is audio snippets from oral history interviews done with museum icon Rob Wilson, a printer by trade who continues to operate some of the equipment at the museum (the museum prints some of its own promotional materials). Through the interactive visitors can hear the recollections of Rob and others about their experiences of the printing trade and also the sound of operational printing machinery – recorded from equipment at the museum.

A second interactive has been installed with the Wurfel Grain Collection display. This uses images and voice over to provide historical context for the collection, which is widely recognised as an extraordinary collection of grain samples and data about grain production in South Australia.

As well as the Mallee Women display, the Wurfel grain Collection and the Printing Museum collection, the MTHC includes an interpretive exhibition about Pinnaroo’s history as a dryland farming area and a sizeable collection of agricultural equipment and stationary engines.  There’s something for everyone!

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