Ladies in their finery at Joyce Evans' fancy dress party in Mullumbimby.
Ladies in their finery at Joyce Evans' fancy dress party in Mullumbimby.

Biggest little museum in the country

BRUNSWICK Valley Historical Society tells the fascinating tales of its region, with photos and memorabilia, at the Mullumbimby Museum.

Displays range from the first timber-getters who felled the valuable red cedar, to the now-defunct hydro-electric scheme, colourful event posters by Chester Harris, an old classroom, hospital operating room, the Terania Creek protests in 1979 and the hippies who came to the area in their droves during the 1970s for an alternate lifestyle.

There's also a machinery shed to explore and Aboriginal artefacts to see. Artist and collector Stephen Hall has been the society's president five years, and a member for 20 years. He moved to the area from Townsville.

"Mullumbimby had the perfect climate and a country-town atmosphere," Mr Hall said.

The museum, formerly the post office, is full of historic treasures.

"People donate stuff all the time to the museum. We're running out of space," he said.

 

HISTORIC TREASURES: Brunswick Valley Historical Society president Stephen Hall shows visitors around the Mullumbimby Museum, a former post office.
HISTORIC TREASURES: Brunswick Valley Historical Society president Stephen Hall shows visitors around the Mullumbimby Museum, a former post office. Yvonne Gardiner

"We only collect things that have a local provenance. There was a big timber industry here. The red cedars were worth serious money."

About 5000 photos in the museum collection include some which illustrate why Mullum is indeed the "snake capital of Australia".

"The biggest little museum in the country, we call it," he said.

"We get bus trips and school groups. The markets are our busiest times."

Markets are held beside the museum on the third Saturday of the month from 9am-1pm.

"They help fund the museum's upkeep and activities."

A collection of newspapers details the region's history. In January 1892, a Sydney Morning Herald reporter described the living conditions of railway workers:

"The men are at work at different points along the Lismore contract, in all some 700 being employed.

"Byron Bay is about the centre of the second section, and labourers are camped here in large numbers. At Coorabell Creek a settlement is being formed...

"The navvies find themselves in the bush, a dozen miles from civilisation. Their work is laborious; and their fare is of the most frugal character.

"Their 'houses' are of the most rough and ready kind. They build 'canvas towns'; but really good tents are few and far between.

"The majority are made up of calico, combined with old sacks, and bagging of any kind. Most of them are just large enough to crawl into... Some of the tents are larger, and contain whole families - husband, wife, and perhaps, half-a-dozen children."

Eighty years later, the hippies moved into the town of Mullumbimby. Their impact has been recorded on films produced by the historical society, Mullumbimby's Madness - the Legacy of the Hippies, and Mullumbimby's Magic - the Culture of the 70s-80s.

These films will screen on Saturday, February 24 from 5-9pm, at the Drill Hall Theatre, 2 Jubilee Avenue, Mullumbimby. Filmmaker Sharon Shostak will be in attendance. Tickets from Mullumbimby Bookshop or Mullumbimby Museum. Phone 66844367.


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