Name change for Highercombe Hotel Museum

Old Highercombe Hotel Museum is to change its name to Tea Tree Gully Heritage Museum.  This is to better reflect the wide range of exhibits, including five pavilions and a blacksmith shop in the museum grounds.  The new name was officially announced at the museum’s Vintage Fair, held last Sunday, 19 October, to celebrate the 160th anniversary of the original opening of the Highercombe Hotel building.

The committee of volunteers that runs this National Trust of South Australia-owned building and one of History SA’s 10 accredited museums in the Community Museums Program, recognises that the museum is now much more than the original building which served as a hotel for only 24 of its 160 years. It was also felt that the replacing of Highercombe will also lessen confusion over its location.

As well as a new name announcement and the celebratory atmosphere that the Vintage Fair brought to the occasion, Sunday also saw the launching of a new display Hoe to Harvest, on local agriculture and the new operational Blacksmith shop, both of which has been part funded by a Community Museums Program grant.

The new agriculture display was designed by Richard Browning of Synthetic Creative Services and includes some innovative interactives, designed specifically for children and built by the volunteers.  Richard is also currently designing a new logo for the museum.

More photos from all the fun of the Vintage Fair can be seen here


Lady Soldiers reclaiming their place in history

Chance meetings can sometimes take you down some interesting roads.  Early one morning this week, I was at the Torrens Parade Ground waving off 40 very excited former women soldiers with their family and friends as they headed down the Anzac Highway in a convoy of six historic vehicles from the National Military Vehicle Museum.  Both women and vehicles were of similar vintage but all seemed in fine form and good working order!  They were on their way to the book launch of West Australian Lyn Dale’s Lady Soldiers at the Army Museum at Keswick Barracks.  Back in May at a History Festival event, I had met Helen Meyer who was organising the launch and from this accidental encounter the convoy idea had grown.

The convoy was just the beginning of a special day of camaraderie and women’s history.  First up we stopped a while in a courtyard of some buildings within the barracks.  A moving service by Repat General Hospital chaplain Nora Kunzel was conducted beside a plaque commemorating where Lt Col May Douglas OBE had planted a tree in 1971 at the building’s official opening.  Up till now both the plaque and May Douglas had been largely forgotten and was not part of the Army Museum’s Heritage tour where other plaques – commemorating men – featured.  But it’s good to see that the Army Museum have now researched and collected a dossier of information about her.

Mary – known as May – Douglas (1904-1999) was born in Victor Harbor and during the Second World War was one of the first officers selected to join the newly formed Australian Women‘s Army Service (AWAS) and served as Commandant in South Australia for some months before going to Melbourne as chief instructor of the Army Women’s Officers’ school.  She was later Controller of the Australian Army Medical Women’s Service (AAMWS).  She also played an important part in the Girl Guide movement in South Australia from the 1920s, becoming State Commissioner of the SA Girl Guides in 1952. During the 1960s she was made an Honorary Colonel of the Women’s Royal Australian Army Corps (WRAAC).  Australia’s first woman War Artist, South Australian Norah Heysen, painted her portrait which is now at the Australian War Memorial.

The alluring smell of home baking met us as we entered the hall ready for the book launch. On further investigation I discovered Trudy and her team doing a sterling job producing batches of scones for the hungry hoards from the mobile military field kitchen outside.

Lyn Dale’s book Lady Soldiers which tells the experiences of 51 women who served in the Australian Army (WRAAC and/or RAANC) from the 1950s to the 1990s was launched by Lyn’s former colleague at Murdoch University, Dr Amanda Third, now Senior Lecturer in Cultural and Social Analysis at the University of Western Sydney.  We learnt that the book had developed from Lyn’s previous project, a documentary film about 16 of the women.  Lyn responded with a moving speech followed by book signing and time for chat.  Many women had travelled long distances for the reunion.  Four West Australians had even driven across the Nullarbor Plain to be there and by the morning’s end had raised over $400 for the National Military Vehicle Museum’s building fund as a thank you to the drivers of the convoy.

As I left the building there was just one more experience to make my day.  Here I was fortunate to meet Ruby, who is making South Australian history as well as doing a very worthwhile job.  One of only four in the state, she is part of the Dogs4Diggers team, accredited assistance dogs that are provided to Australian Defence Forces with Post Traumatic Distress Disorder, by RSL SA and the Royal Society for the Blind.  Better still, I am told it was originally a South Australian initiative.

Photos of the event can be seen here

The Channel Nine Adelaide news story can be viewed here

You can contact Lyn to purchase copies of the Lady Soldiers book or DVD

Full on Day Out at Loxton Village

You would think I would see enough museums in the course of my normal work, but I couldn’t resist the draw of the Loxton Village Kids’ Day Out on 8 October during the school holidays and the chance to see the newly installed signs that are helping to interpret key buildings in the Village streetscape. So, with son and parents in tow I headed off for what was a fun packed few hours of activities.

There was kite making (the main street of the Village is great for running along with kites!), butter and damper making, rides on the historic carousel, the steam engine to pretend to drive, tricycles to ride on as a special way to get around the Village, and of course the many different buildings and displays to explore.  Heaps of damper was made and there were squeals of excitement when the little round loaves were taken from the camp ovens to the Institute Building where they could be broken open, spread with the butter (that visitors were making) and devoured.

The event was great – plenty to do, loads of fantastic volunteers working hard to make the day run smoothly and heaps of happy children (and parents) having a terrific family day out.  The Village Loxton runs events like the Kids’ Day Out two or three times a year – get along if you get a chance, with or without children in tow!

Collections MOSAiC training workshops

Nine enthusiastic participants attended the Collections MOSAiC training workshops in the Memorial Hall, Torrens Parade Ground, held over three days from 30 September to 2 October.  MOSAiC, the Collections management and archiving software for museums, arts and heritage organisations, is produced by the Perth-based family business ISTechnology and is a popular choice by many small museums and historical societies in South Australia.

Rew and Sally-Anne Whittington delivered the workshops with their usual laidback style and professional knowhow.  The workshops offered great opportunities for attendees to not only receive hands on training from the experts but to also network with other likeminded museum volunteers and historians.  History SA Community History Officers, Amanda James and Pauline Cockrill were also on hand to give assistance with more specific cataloguing and accessioning queries.

Workshop participants included museum consultants, salaried local council run museum employees and volunteers from a range of small museums and historical groups in not only Adelaide but also further afield in regional South Australia such as the mid north, Yorke and Eyre Peninsulas, and Kangaroo Island.

More photos from the workshop can be seen here 

Over the three days, the following were taught: basic data entry and querying; retrieval, reporting and exporting and also how to personalise and customise their program for their particular institution.  There was also a chance to learn about and see the new MOSAiC web application in action, which provides online access to a collection over the internet, either privately or by the general public. This is now available for one small annual cost.  You can download the benefits of MOSAiC web in the resources section to the right.

South Australian community museums and local history groups can take advantage of another Collections MOSAiC training course happening in this State in six months’ time.  Rew and Sally-Anne are intending to run three day workshops in the South East in April 2015.  This course will be held on Wednesday 8, Thursday 9 and Friday 10 April 2015 at the Millicent Library and Resource Centre, Ridge Terrace, Millicent.  Please email Sally-Anne as soon as possible if you are interested in attending or call her on 08 9537 2874

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