The annual celebration of History Week was again a successful time at the Murchison Heritage Centre. We welcomed more than 150 visitors through the door.
A highlight of the week was the attendance of Ann and Fleur Marillier from New Zealand, daughter in-law and grand-daughter respectively, of Hans-Wolter von Gruenewaldt. Ann and Fleur came to attend the launch of a new book compiled by Kay Ball about von Gruenewaldt, a German Prisoner of War, who spent 5½ years in Camp 13.
The book, Art Captured, tells von Gruenewaldt’s own story of the hazardous journey to Australia and features over 130 images. These consist of photographs of life in the camp, aerial view and panorama of Camp 13 and a wide variety of his art. Included is supporting text about Camp 13 and the background to von Gruenewaldt’s circumstances. The book has been very well received and adds a different aspect to the history of the local World War 2 Camp. This colourful book, of 96 pages, can be purchased from Murchison Heritage Centre (open Saturday mornings 10 – 12.30pm) or Tatura Museum (open weekdays 1 – 3pm, Sat. Sun. 2-4pm) for $25.00, add $11.00 P/H if requiring it to be mailed. Will make a great Christmas present!
We also had a group visit during History Week from Fremantle WA, who were interested in Camp 13 from an Italian perspective. They were impressed with the Italian Ossario in the Murchison Cemetery, enjoyed looking around the Heritage Centre and hearing a talk about the Interment and POW camps in the area.
Sixty of the children from Murchison Primary School also visited during History Week and were very keen to hear about the history of their own town and district. Of course the Murchison Meteorite is always a favourite with children!
So, Historical Society members had a busy week but very satisfying when people give such positive feedback about the displays and the award winning Heritage Centre itself. We are grateful for the support of History Week by Greater Shepparton City Council.
Cover of the book, Art Captured.
The third week in October is History Week and Murchison Heritage Centre will be open each day from Sunday 15th October to Sunday 22nd October from 11 am to 2 pm to celebrate this special time.
Our temporary display area will be featuring the art produced by Hans-Wolter von Gruenewaldt, a German Prisoner of War who was held in Camp 13 for 5½ years. His murals can be seen in DPJones Nursing Home and also the Community Centre in Murchison. His artistic talent was extensive and the murals are just one style of his work. A new book will be released during History Week that reveals many of his works produced during his captivity that are quite different to the style of the murals and showcases his broad range of skills.
Come along enjoy this new display and many other exhibits that promote the unique and varied history of Murchison and district.
Entry is by gold coin donation. We have books, tea-towels and other items for sale at very reasonable prices.
Kay Ball President Murchison & District Historical Society Inc.
The Heritage Centre is again open each Saturday morning from 10 am to 12.30 pm following our winter recess. If you would like to come along at another time simply contact us to arrange your visit. Groups are very welcome.
There is a lot to see at the Murchison Heritage Centre as the local area has a rich and varied history. From the Aboriginal Protectorate, to early settlement and busy river crossing place, the beginning of irrigation just south of the town, Prisoner of War Camp 13 and the world famous Murchison Meteorite, you will enjoy many intriguing aspects of our local heritage.
Prisoners at Camp 13 building the Recreation Hall that became ANZAC HALL in the town after the war ended and the camp was closed.
Completed Recreation Hall at Camp 13 where many dances and concerts were held.
One of the murals painted on the walls of the Recreation Hall by German prisoner Hans-Wolter von Gruenewaldt now hanging in the Murchison Community Centre
A delightful visitor to Murchison Heritage Centre recently, was a sprightly 92 year old who had journeyed to Camp 13 Murchison during World War 2 to entertain the Australian Army personnel who were guarding the Prisoners of War held there.
Lillian was part of an entertainment troupe called “Russian Group” – a concert party that was long established, providing concerts of song and dance routines across Melbourne. During the War the group travelled extensively throughout Victoria to Military Camps to raise morale of the men and women of the Australian forces. Lillian remembers coming to Murchison and performing on the stage of the Garrison Recreation Hut.
The stage of the Garrison Recreation Hut Camp 13 where Lillian performed
Lillian, a sprightly 92 year old
That same building was relocated into the township of Murchison after the War and so we were able to show Lillian photos of the stage where she would have performed tap dancing and singing to the troops. Lillian also performed at one of the Tatura Internment Camps.
Accompanied by her daughter Lynn, Lillian enjoyed a visit to Tatura Museum as well on her trip down memory lane at the Murchison Heritage Centre.
Judging by Lillian’s agility and health in her nineties, tap dancing and stage performance must be good for longevity!
This is an interesting advertisement from The Murchison Advertiser dated 10th July 1942.
“AIR OBSERVERS POST MURCHISON
PERSONS willing to act as air-spotters at Murchison are requested to get in touch with the chief air-observer, J. G. Kenny or E. Hammond, hon. Secretary.”
During World War 2, the Volunteer Air Observers Corps (VAOC) was formed in 1941 and recruited volunteers who were engaged in spotting aircraft overhead and relaying the information to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). 2,800 Observation Posts were established across Australia staffed by volunteers who were required to report any aircraft seen or heard and reached a strength of 24,000 staff. Training courses equipped the volunteers to recognise all types of aircraft, markings, friend or foe, estimate speed and direction of flight and if an aircraft was in any difficulties.
In Murchison, the observation post was set up at the Fire Station, then located in the Riverbank Gardens close to the bridge as there was a telephone available that volunteers could use to relay their observations to the RAAF. Binoculars were issued and as soon as an aircraft was heard overhead, the staff on duty would scan the skies and identify the aeroplane and details, then report their observations. Apparently there was a reasonable volume of air traffic over the town at this time, mainly flying to and from Tocumwal, where there was a very busy aircraft training base; at one point 7000 Americans were based there.
The Murchison Observation Post was staffed night and day by locals, both men and women. The VAOC was disbanded in 1946 as the war drew to a close.
Kay Ball, President, Murchison Historical Society
During the winter months, the usual open time on a Saturday morning will be in recess. We still welcome visitors by arrangement. Please ring 0475 018 743 if you would like to organise a time to visit the Heritage Centre. For group enquiries or to make a booking, please ring Janet on 5826 2363.
Regular opening on Saturday morning will resume mid September.
Kay Ball, President
The first step in the upgrade of Meteorite Park saw all the school children from Murchison Primary School planting over 300 native shrubs, ground covers and grasses on the first and second of June.
Primary School children busy planting out
This was a joint initiative of the Murchison Primary School, Kindergarten, Historical Society and City of Greater Shepparton.
The local school children planted out over the two days, each class group attending in relays. Provision of the plants was made possible by the One Tree Per Child project, an initiative of Olivia Newton-John and John Dee. Their web-site has good information (www.onetreeperchild.com). The programme is aimed at understanding and encouraging volunteering in our local communities as well as providing the many benefits of planting trees and shrubs.
The program is accessed via Local Councils and overseen by Council Staff. Local volunteers also gave their time, labour and use of equipment for several days beforehand to prepare the site.
Teachers, parents, grandparents and Historical Society members entered into the busy activity assisting children to plant out, place weed-mats and guards around each plant and hammer in stakes. The children were amazingly enthusiastic and did a great job. The tree guards were brightly decorated by each child from the Pre-school as well as the Primary School children.
More improvements to Meteorite Park are planned over the next two years so it will be looking good when we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the fall of our famous Murchison Meteorite in 2019!
The day’s work done