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
Tim Linton was guest speaker at the Murchison Historical Society Meeting in April relating the journey over 20 years restoring the well-known and historic hotel by the bridge in Murchison. Now known as Thornebridge the building has a new identity and is open to provide accommodation.
Built by Henry Thorne, the hotel was completed in 1868 and originally known as Thorne’s Bridge Hotel and Store. It was next purchased by E. J. Gregory in 1895 who was a prominent citizen and very involved in the civic affairs of Murchison. The Hotel was held in high regard by tourists, commercial travellers and locals and the entries in the visitor’s book during the ownership of the Gregory family reflect many distinguished guests stayed at the hotel and many came from overseas. It was known as the “Mecca of the Valley” with its setting by the river, having four acres of outstanding gardens and a reputation for fine dining.
The hotel stayed in the hands of the Gregory family until 1940 when the Isherwood family took over. Known locally as Gregory’s Hotel the building is listed on the Victorian Heritage Register due to its “architectural significance as a representative example of a substantial two-storeyed brick country hotel with stables of the 1860s with cast iron decorative panels to the return verandah.” The large London Plane tree at the front of the hotel, planted in 1916 is also noted on the Heritage register for its large size, form and branch structure and is the 4th biggest in the State.
GREGORY’S HOTEL 2013
A much neglected, derelict building for many years, the hotel is now cared for and in good order, and Tim and partner Clare have done a mighty job restoring the building from the foundations to the roof top and have fitted out the rooms beautifully with period furniture and fittings.
Anyone staying there is sure to appreciate the quality of the restoration and the atmosphere of stepping back in time to the grand old days of yesteryear. You can book accommodation there now @ Airbnb and they are on facebook @Thornebridge.