TRIBUTE: Ron Owen's new museum is a tribute to our pioneers.
TRIBUTE: Ron Owen's new museum is a tribute to our pioneers. Renee Albrecht

New Gympie museum pays tribute to pioneers and soldiers

GYMPIE is now home to one of Australia's most significant historical gun collections and Ron Owen is openly emotional about it.

The Owen Guns Museum, open to the public from Monday at Mr Owen's gun shop headquarters in McMahon Rd, is a tribute to the pioneers and soldiers of history.

And there is even a fair bit of contemporary history behind its creation.

The amazing collection, going back three centuries, includes well over $1 million worth of historic tools and weaponry, but Mr Owen says there is a lot more to it than that.

"This museum is not dedicated to the steel and wood artefacts, it is dedicated to our forefathers, who invented, designed, manufactured and used them," he said on Friday.

"They were the ones who found a wilderness and built our harbours and bridges, created tracks that turned into roads and railways across deserts and snow capped mountains," he said.

And they fought in wars from the 19th Century onwards.

"Many of the firearms on these walls were part of the deterrent to an impending Japanese invasion," he said.

The pioneers needed guns to help them survive, killing pests and shooting a meal.

The soldiers needed them for even more urgent survival requirements.

The collection is truly amazing, including one muzzle loader of the kind used by both sides in the American revolution, an air rifle from 1870, the first of the Daisy Red Ryder air rifles, 48 million of which were sold around the world.

There are lever action Winchester rifles from the wild west era.

"That one's an 1873 Winchester. The American Indians liked those ones, because they had them and Custer didn't."

There are military Lee Enfield and AK weapons, rifles even manufactured in Gympie, in the area where the gun shop and museum stand. Weapons used in the Napoleonic wars in Europe, Chinese rifles used in the siege of Peking in 1900, obtained from its Beijing manufacturer.

Machine guns include his namesake, the Owen gun and there is a shotgun designed for a friend of King George V, the Krieghoff, a pioneer of the over-under configuration. "There were only 10 made, and only two others survive," he said.

Gympie Times

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