Great excitement has been generated due to the findings of a recent study on the Murchison meteorite published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and with coverage in many newspapers and television programs around the world.

Dr Philipp Heck, Cosmochemist from Chicago Field Museum, is the lead author of a paper published on 14th January this year that reveals the age of stardust extracted from the Murchison meteorite is 7 billion years old. This pre-dates our solar system by many hundreds of millions of years. The meteorite consists of material that IS THE OLDEST-KNOWN SOLID OBJECT ON EARTH. Philipp describes Murchison meteorite as “a treasure trove for science” as it keeps revealing surprises that provide insight into how our galaxy developed over time.

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Pre solar grains

Philipp also said it is the most exciting study he has worked on to date and he has been studying Murchison meteorite since 2002 when he obtained his PhD by writing a thesis on Murchison meteorite. The meteorite has proven to be a significant resource for science and when he was here last September as our Key Note Speaker during the 50th Anniversary celebrations, he commented more than once that the scientific world is very grateful that the residents of Murchison gave so many fragments to universities and museums around the world allowing studies to be conducted that have enriched scientific knowledge about our universe.

Pre solar grains from Murchison meteorite

With the advancement of technology, Murchison meteorite has revealed more and more important details over the years and will continue to do so, according to Dr Heck.

Dr. Philipp Heck delivering his presentation in Murchison Victoria Australia September 2019.

Links to media items above.

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Seasons Greetings

Murchison & District Historical Society members wish all our supporters and friends a very happy Christmas time and a safe and healthy New Year. The Heritage Centre will be open as usual on Saturday mornings during the holiday period.

We have enjoyed a busy year mainly taken up with planning for our celebration of the 50th anniversary of the fall of the Murchison meteorite. It was a wonderful experience and so well supported by the community of Murchison and also friends further afield.

The involvement of our local Primary School was really great but not obvious on the actual weekend of activities at the end of September as it was during school holidays.

The children wrote essays, created art works that were hung around the town and in the Community Centre, and the younger children were involved in a colouring competition. Prizes were awarded on their return to school at the beginning of Term 4.

These are some of the winning entries of the colouring competition:

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The Lost Boys

The Lost Boys – the untold stories of the under-age soldiers who fought in the First World War, by Paul Byrnes

Despite a stinking hot day forecast for Thursday 21st November, a good number of Historical Society members and also Murchison RSL sub-branch members gathered at Murchison Heritage Centre to hear author Paul Byrnes tell us about his recently published book, The Lost Boys. The book recounts the circumstances surrounding these boys, who, as young as thirteen lied about their age, or forged their parent’s signature to gain permission to enlist and sadly died on the battlefields of the First World War.

Some 18 months ago, Paul was in touch with the Society, researching John Thomas Lyons for his book. John was a local 16 years old Murchison boy, the eldest child of the family of 11 children. His life was lost at Gallipoli aged only 17, the first casualty from the Murchison area, indeed, among the first Australians to lose their lives on Turkish soil.

The Historical Society was able to produce an attractive certificate and medals from our collection and the story of his keenness to enlist. With a friend he rode a bicycle to Sydney to join up, hoping to avoid objection from his parents, in which he succeeded.

Medallion – often call the dead man’s penny

The book relates the untold stories of Australian boys, as young as 13, who were keen to join the excitement and challenges of fighting in the war, none of them realising the horrors they would encounter. It explores their personal stories as to why they were so determined to enlist, how they were able to be accepted as fit and suitable to be a soldier when they were under-age. Paul brings alive these boys very poignant tales, their unique situations and the effect of their actions on their families in Australia.

Well worth a read to learn about this group of boys who have an exceptional place in our war history. Available in book shops in Shepparton and on-line.

Kay Ball, Murchison & District Historical Society

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Ossario Day 2019

A commemorative service was again held at the Ossario in the Murchison Cemetery this year on Sunday 10th of November. Numbers attending were less that other years – where once there were tens of buses, this year there were only 3 large buses and a small coach. As the years pass, the older generation are often too frail to attend or have passed away.

Italian Service men at the service

An impressive procession lead the way to the formal service and speeches by dignitaries including Mayor of Greater Shepparton, Cr. Seema Abdullah and Colonel Luca Spuntoni, Defence Attaché from Embassy of Italy, Canberra. Both spoke very clearly about the importance of this annual service of remembrance and the need to encourage the younger generation to continue to support the occasion.

The rendition of Il Silenzio is always very moving. A Catholic Mass concludes the formalities after which it is possible to enter the crypt area. Here the 130 Italian Prisoners of War and civilian Internees who were imprisoned in Australia during World War 2 and died during captivity, have their final resting place.

It is a unique building and a very special place.

Ossario Bell Tower

In the afternoon that same day, Murchison RSL sub-branch unveiled a commemorative plaque noting 100 years since established.

Commemorative plaque in RSL garden Watson Street

The RSL have a wonderful record of involvement and support over the past 100 years, not just for returned service men and women but for the building of major facilities in the Murchison Community. The Community Centre, the DPJones Nursing Home and Medical Centre were all projects that involved RSL effort and support. The RSL has made a significant contribution to the Murchison community for the benefit of all its residents over the last century, and the group continues to play an active part in the life of the town today.

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ABC Radio Coverage – Radio National

During our anniversary celebrations, Fiona Pepper from ABC visited, researching for Radio National program, Off Track.

The program is now completed and these are the links – so tune in!

Kay Ball

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Celebration of the 50th anniversary of the landing of the now world-famous meteorite on 28th September 1969 over Murchison was a great success.

Warwick Long interviewing Beth Brisbane

The weekend started with a direct broadcast by the ABC breakfast show from the Heritage Centre on Friday 27th and it was an enjoyable experience working with well-known radio presenters Warwick Long & Matt Dowling interviewing locals who had a story to tell.

The Heritage Centre was open each day providing meteorite displays and showing of related short films and also solar viewing.

A wonderful ‘Dinner Under the Stars’ was the official opening event on the Friday evening. Cosmos inspired music compiled by our local primary school students and fabulous decorations of a twinkling starry ceiling in the main hall of the Community Centre, greeted the diners as each guest was presented with a glass of bubbly in a souvenir wine glass. Vince Peters, g. g. g. grandson of our aboriginal leader King Charles Tattambo, who rests in Murchison cemetery, performed Welcome to Country. A superb meal was catered by Murchison’s Longleat Winery, and a specially composed song and humorous film clip The Meteorite Speaks provided some amusing entertainment. Each Scientist was introduced as a lead into the talks that took place on Saturday and Sunday and also Dave Reneke, Astronomy Educator, who presented engaging sessions on both days.

Phillip Heck shows many meteorite pieces collected by the Gillick family
Phillip Heck’s presentation

Saturday morning, Mayor of Shepparton, Cr. Kim O’Keeffe officially unveiled the refurbished information board and labyrinth in Meteorite Park.

On Sunday morning the Space Treasure Hunt in the Riverbank Gardens attracted many families with small children. A meteorite hunt for older children allowed them to find a real piece of meteorite and have a Scientist explain the name, type, and weight of their take home find.

Re-enactment of the sonic booms at 10.58 both Saturday and Sunday created quite a stir!

Local clubs were given the opportunity to provide catering and the local shops were very busy as were the Hotels. Over 1600 people attended the various events on offer and feed-back has been overwhelmingly positive especially from the visiting Scientists, and, as they travel the world with their work, this was praise indeed.

An art competition, colouring in for younger students, painting and drawing for higher grades and an essay competition that produced some great work were arranged for the students at Murchison Primary School.  Standards were high and the judges had a hard time deciding winners. Prizes and certificates were awarded on their return to school after the holidays.                           

Kay Ball, President, Murchison & District Historical Society

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Panel Unveiling and Book Launch

Last Sunday 22nd September, friends and members of the Murchison & District Historical Society gathered together to start the 50th anniversary celebrations of the fall of the Murchison meteorite, with the unveiling of beautiful artwork on the wall of the Heritage Centre and launch of a new book “Space Gem”.

The paintings reflect the reactions when the a very loud noise startled the folk and animals in the town. This image shows the artist Jane Spencer and a very startled dog. Other   paintings depict a cow, a bird and a boy reacting to the sonic booms that reverberated over the local area as the meteorite arrived.

Marg Lock has written a thorough account of what happened on that day in 1969 to put Murchison on the map. The Murchison meteorite became the most studied of all meteorites due to its primitive chemistry, its age – 4.6 billion years old and rare components. A really good read for all who are excited by this rare meteorite.

Marg Lock holding a copy of Space Gem 

Cass Alexander officially launched the book    

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