An Outer Space Experience

Warwick Holmes

Guest Speaker Warwick Holmes



Cooking up a Comet with Brandan







The special Event staged by Murchison and District Historical Society to celebrate History Week this year, ‘An Outer Space Experience’ on Saturday 24th October, was a great success.

There was a good attendance, some travelling considerable distance.  Everyone who came was amazed at the story of the Rosetta Space Mission as presented by Avionics Engineer, Mr. Warwick Holmes. Warwick is passionate about Space and Space exploration and also a huge fan of the Murchison Meteorite. He kept emphasising that the significance of the Murchison Meteorite can’t be overstated as it is the most important meteorite that has landed on Earth. Warwick worked for the European Space Agency and helped build the Spacecraft for the Rosetta Mission.

The Rosetta Space Mission, was a most amazing feat, sending a satellite millions of kilometres into Space to meet up with the Comet 67P, and to land on this Comet that was travelling at 18 kilometres a second – WOW! The lander then sampled the Comet surface and sent data back to Earth. It is so far away that there is a delay of 50 minutes for messages to be transmitted in either direction.

The Mission came about because of so many unanswered questions raised by the rare components of the Murchison Meteorite. Planning took nearly 5 years, building the Space craft took about 4 and half years and it was more than 10 years travelling to the Comet, not a rushed project!

In the Murchison Heritage Centre in Stevenson Street, you can see a sample and learn more about this 4.6 billion year old meteorite.  The Heritage Centre is open every Saturday morning 10 am – 12.30 pm, other times by arrangement and groups are always very welcome. To book a group, call Janet 5826 2363, general enquiries, Kay 5826 2518 or Lyndon 0438 528 542.


A light hearted moment when Warwick explored the town



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WOW!! Meteorites, comets and spacecraft! A Very Special Event in Murchison

Mr. Warwick Holmes, Australian Avionics Engineer, is coming to Murchison to give two presentations on Saturday 24th October.

Avionics is concerned with electronic systems used on aircraft, satellites and spacecraft to ensure that all systems work smoothly and Warwick will share his experience of working in this field during his time with the European Space Agency.

Warwick is an engaging speaker with a great deal of knowledge at his finger-tips about space exploration and in particular the Rosetta Space Mission, a $US 1.6-billion project. The Rosetta spacecraft took 10 years to travel 6.5 billion kilometres to its destination, a comet near Mars, and to land a probe on that comet which was travelling at 18 kilometres per second.

The landing of a probe from the spacecraft on to the comet was hailed by NASA as a “breakthrough moment in the history of space exploration”. Scientists hope the lander, equipped with 10 instruments, will unlock the secrets of comets – primordial clusters of ice and dust that may have helped sow life on Earth.

And what has this got to do with Murchison? The Rosetta Mission’s most important goal, according to Warwick Holmes, was to confirm the existence of 91 extra-terrestrial amino acids analysed in the Murchison meteorite and believed to be the core of an evaporated comet. Since the meteorite scattered over Murchison in 1969, there have been more questions than answers about its unique properties and the unanswered quandary if this is how life form was originally brought to planet Earth.

So – come along and hear this impressive presentation on Saturday 24th October at the Community Centre in Watson Street Murchison. The morning session will start at 11am and is geared to students with science experiments included, and the afternoon session will be at 2pm.

Entry is by gold coin donation to assist with expenses. The event is hosted by Murchison and District Historical Society Inc. as a way of celebrating History Week. For more information ring Kay: 5826 2518 or Marg: 5826 2398.

Warwick Holmes

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Growing up in a small country town need not dim the ability to be a shining light in any chosen field, as Graham Begg’s career demonstrates.

Dr. Graham Begg, Geologist and youngest son of Cam and Marianne Begg of Murchison is this year’s recipient of the prestigious Gibb Maitland Medal.

Many people would have heard of Gibb River and Maitland Range in the Kimberley but may not be aware that they were named after Andrew Gibb Maitland, an eminent Geologist. The Gibb Maitland Medal commemorates the enormous contribution made by Maitland to the study of Western Australia geology and is awarded by the WA Branch of the Geological Society of Australia for significant geoscience contributions in Western Australia.

The award recognises Graham’s scientific work in four dimensional mapping of the structure of the earth’s subcontinent, identifying major ore systems leading to efficient locating of mineral deposits. This system has already contributed to significant mineral discoveries.

Following his early education at Murchison Primary School and Shepparton High School, Graham went on to Melbourne University to complete a degree in Geology in 1984. His education and learning continued while employed by Western Mining Corporation and then with BHP Billiton Ltd, in Victoria, Western Australia and overseas in a variety of mine and exploration roles mostly focused on gold, copper, nickel, and diamonds. His work in Fiji led to a four year study break completing his Ph.D. on epithermal gold systems at Monash University in 1996. He then worked on an Asia-Pacific Project and with others developed what is now called a mineral systems approach, mapping the sub-continent. This complex work of creating a global map is nearing completion.

In his acceptance speech, Graham acknowledged the positive support and encouragement of his parents, and the many skills gained living on a dairy farm such as teamwork, resilience, problem solving and appreciation of nature. Graham mentioned that the Goulburn Valley environment lit the flame that fuelled his desire to study Geology. Family picnics to Waranga Basin examining the rock sediment and quartz veins containing crystals along the shore line, and exploring the Balaclava Mine in the Whroo Forest fired his imagination. As a 6 year old, Graham’s interest in science was stimulated by the arrival of the Murchison Meteorite scattering fragments over the family farm. With other locals he hunted for fragments later donating the samples to Universities. As the understanding that this ancient rock contained organic compounds and the body of knowledge about the significance of this rare carbonaceous chondrite grew, so did Graham’s interest in science and the wider Universe.

When presenting the Medal, Dr. Jon Hronsky had this to say: “Dr. Begg is recognized internationally for his work through his publications in leading journals and as an invited speaker at many prestigious national and international conferences. He has been effective at promoting his work to industry and also has a strong and admirable commitment to the mentoring of students and young researchers. In summary, Dr. Graham Begg is a deserving recipient of the 2015 Gibb Maitland Medal, and the Geological Society is pleased to award him with it.”

Graham is now based in Perth and has formed his own consulting company, Minerals Targeting International.

And so, from a small boy playing on the family farm in Murchison, Dr. Graham Begg is now a man making a difference, a shining star in his field and a significant player on the world stage.

Kay Ball, President, Murchison & District Historical Society Inc.

                                                                                                   Graham Begg with Maitland Medal     Cam, Graham & Marianne Begg                                                                    Photo of Graham with Gibb Maitland Medal

Graham Begg with Cam and Marianne

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Now that spring has “sprung” and our Volunteers have returned from their travels, the Heritage Centre will be open every Saturday morning from 10am to 12.30pm starting from Saturday 19th September.

Whether you want to research your family history, ask a specific question or know more about the local area in general, you can find out lots of information from our records. The Historical Society has a library of books on local history in the Heritage Centre, a collection of local newspapers going back to 1877, a large number of photographs and documents catalogued on computer and hard copy files on organisations and events that are available for research. Displays in the Gallery area are extensive and showcase history, events and progress of the district.

You can also purchase local history books at the Heritage Centre, browse the displays at your leisure or meet a local on duty Saturday morning to find out about the unique and varied history of Murchison. You can see an overview of the development of the township or a snapshot of the internationally famous Murchison Meteorite by watching a DVD on our arrival.

Entry is only a gold coin donation for a great experience expanding your knowledge about Murchison and the local area.

Kay Ball, President, Murchison & District Historical Society Inc.


Local Landmark, Gregory’s Hotel and London Plain Tree

Notes from Victorian  Heritage Register about Gregory’s Hotel and London Plane Tree in front of the building:

  Gregory’s Hotel and  stables noted for  …. architectural, aesthetic and historical significance.

  London Plane Tree is significant  for …. aesthetic (landscape) significance, outstanding form, size and branch structure, one of the finest and largest London Plane Trees in Victora.

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Australian avionics systems engineer, Warwick Holmes, recently visited Murchison Heritage Centre to view our Meteorite display.

Warwick, from Sydney, has worked in Europe on spacecraft projects and missions for the past 29 years for European Space Agency (ESA).  He also assisted other engineers to build, test and launch the Rosetta spacecraft over 4½ years which went on to successfully land a probe on a comet (Comet-67P) in May 2014.  It is believed the Rosetta Space Mission is the most significant space mission since the 1969 Moon landings.

During his visit at the Heritage Centre, Warwick emphasised how there is an immense and growing interest – particularly amongst United States space scientists – in the Murchison meteorite which landed and scattered over the Murchison district on 28 September 1969,  just two months following the first Moon landings.

Warwick explained that Rosetta Mission’s most important goal was to confirm the existence of scientists finding 91 extra-terrestrial amino acids measured from the Murchison meteorite, believed to be the core of an evaporated comet.  However, this is only a tiny part of the whole which will continue to challenge scientists for decades to come.

Warwick confirmed that “the Mission’s aim is to answer two very big scientific questions.  Firstly, Where did all the seawater come from, and secondly, Why did life start so quickly after that seawater arrived?  Only 200 million years later – a very short period in biological evolution – life was formed in the oceans.” However, the meteorite which landed near Murchison indicates it isn’t just water that comes from comets.

Later this year, we hope Warwick will be available to give a talk at Murchison Heritage Centre on the Murchison meteorite and its unique qualities, as well as his key role in the aims and achievements of the Rosetta Space Mission.  We will keep you posted.

Margaret Lock, Secretary

Murchison & District Historical Society Inc.

Warwick Holmes

Lyndon & Maureen Gregory with Warwick Holmes

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Now that the cold weather has arrived in full force, visitors to the town slow down and many of our members head north for some warmer weather.

The Heritage Centre will be open on Saturday 13th June 10 am – 12.30 pm but after that day the regular Saturday morning opening times will go into recess until Spring.

Access to the Heritage Centre is still available by arrangement and groups are always very welcome. If you would like to book a group visit, ring Janet on 5826 2363. Other contacts are Kay 5826 2518 or Lyndon 0438 528 542. Information and a list of publications for sale is available from this website.

View of the Gallery

View of the Gallery

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During a moving ANZAC Day Dawn Service in the riverside Gardens a new Memorial was unveiled.

A chilly, damp start to the day did not deter an estimated crowd of between 350 – 400 people attending, including families with young children to elderly residents and visitors from overseas, many who represented descendants of those whose names appear on the Memorial. The Memorial records those who enlisted during the First World War from the local area and features striking red poppies on the black marble supports. It has been installed between the existing war memorials in the gardens and was a centenary project was undertaken by the Murchison RSL.


New memorial unveiled ANZAC Day


Site of new memorial

In the evening of ANZAC Day the RSL arranged a celebratory Ball in the Murchison Community Centre. The Hall was cleverly decorated with First World War memorabilia and by all reports, a very good time was had by all; everything had a rave review, food, music, dancing and atmosphere. Well done to the hard working RSL committee for putting on such a good event.


Hall ready for the Ball


Entrance to Hall

Murchison Primary School held an impressive ANZAC service on Monday 27th April at the Murchison Cemetery where the whole school attended. Grade 5/6 students took an active part including remembering those men and women who enlisted in the First World War during a roll call, reciting of the Ode of Remembrance, playing of the Last Post, laying wreathes and singing the national Anthem. A commemorative plaque was by unveiled by Cemetery Trust Secretary Sue Brown with Ethan and Brodie Knight assisting (descendants of Ernest Gregory who did not return). A highlight was the planting of a Lone Pine tree, a seedling from an original pine cone from Lone Pine Ridge Gallipoli with RSL President Doug Messer assisting Lucy and Gus Ewart (descendants of Matthew Ewart who also lost his life during the War). The whole event was very well organised and the children were attentive and appeared to take in the importance of the occasion.


Primary School ceremony at Cemetery

    Planting the Pine

As part of setting up the refurbished Murchison Heritage Centre an area has been set aside for temporary display providing space where topics of current interest can be featured. An ANZAC display is now on show in this area and visitors are finding lots to absorb them with transcripts of diaries and other memorabilia relating to locals who had ANZAC connections. The heritage centre is open each Saturday morning 10 am – 12.30 pm or other times by arrangement. Groups are very welcome and can be organised by contacting Janet Clarke 5826 2363.


Examples of Trench Art


ANZAC display

Murchison community has respectfully remembered those who left our shores to fight in World War 1. Sadly, many of these men and women made the supreme sacrifice and are remembered with honour as part of the ANZAC story.

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