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A local museum or is there an alternative?

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By Mary Cameron

A public meeting was held on 14 October 2016 at the Gingin Men’s Shed following general queries from new residents and members about the history of Gingin and district. An expressed concern was the need to record and display its past heritage. From this original meeting has evolved the Gingin Museum and Historical Society Incorporated.

Many country towns have small museums – mostly open on a part-time basis and staffed by volunteers. Local to Gingin are museums in Midland, Bullsbrook, Bindoon and Moora and displays at Whiteman Park in Ellenbrook.

Gingin had a museum, the Gingin Military Museum, which was privately owned by Tony Batten in Brook Street, and there was a private collection on Ferguson Road of cars, number plates and wireless. This was subsequently closed on the death of its owner. Local resident Russ Vallentine has an extensive private collection of memorabilia and Diane Millar has periodic displays on topics of interest at the Gingin Railway Station. Hence the notion of recording and displaying our Gingin History is not new.

Hazel Udell’s book Gingin 1830 – 1960 is the benchmark of recorded Shire of Gingin history but there are two other publications that give further insights, The History of Neergabby by W.J.De burgh and Origin – A Reflection of Life in the Shire of Gingin by J. Brenkman and A. Stround (Ed.)

Currently an oral history project funded by The Shire of Gingin and Lottery West in collaboration with the Community Resource Centre (CRC) is in progress – and is yet another way of retaining our local history.

To facilitate the Gingin Museum project seed funding was generously donated by the local branch of the Bendigo Bank and Treasure Trove. The Mens Shed and The Gingin Golf Club have offered storage space for collection items. The donated monies have been used to purchase display cabinets and a computor for correspondence and cataloguing.

In May 2018 a Strategic Planning Workshop was held to focus on a more direct path and there has been information gathering from Museum WA and the Museum of New South Wales publications; and onsite visits by individual members to many small museums.
It has been decided to trial “pop-up” displays on subjects or organisations that have impacted peoples’ lives and the Gingin community as a whole. These displays will be for a set period of time and in locations that are easily and freely accessible. In following this model, costs are kept to a minimum, volunteer staffing should not become a major issue, new displays can be rotated frequently and the major costs and imposts of a bricks and mortar museum are eliminated – yet it provides information and a visible acclaimation “of the way it was”.

The first pop-up display featured memorabilia relating to the important role played by the local CWA branch between 1949 – 2001 in the life of the Gingin community. It was initially placed in the CRC foyer last November, and more recently has been transferred to the Bendigo Bank, who generously offered a prominent location.

The next pop-up display is being put together and will feature items on loan from a local resident. It will feature Gingin Post Office with particular reference to the role of the switchboard and telephones through the years.

Meetings of the group are held on the third Monday of the month, 6pm at the Gingin Community Resource Centre. For more information email museumandhistoricalsociety@gingin.net or phone 0427 752 348. You can also follow us on Facebook at History of Gingin.