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Marjory sets the record straight on meat smoker

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Eighty-three year-old Narrandera woman Marjory Longford has set the record straight on the origin of an unusual 19th century meat smoker that has been preserved at Griffith’s Pioneer Park Museum.

Ms Longford recounted the history of the cooking device when on a Baptist Care-organised tour of the museum on Tuesday November 29.

The smoker is made from a hollow log cemented to the ground and connected to an underground tunnel three metres long, which leads to a firebox smoker. There is a hook inside the smoker for the meat to hang on. It was used by those who lived on remote farms, as cured meat could be hung inside the log chimney without the need for refrigeration.

Ms Longford said when on a tour years ago the then Pioneer Park curator told her that this log smoker came from another Hill family. She said that was incorrect as it came from her grandmother’s farm near Bringagee Station and the plaque now says it came from her family.

“My grandmother’s name was Cecila Ann Hill, but she preferred to be called Annie. She lived with her husband William James Hill and their children on a farm up towards Wyvern Station.”

Wyvern Station is located between the towns of Darlington Point and Carrathool, in the western part of the Riverina, and is home to a number of shearing sheds.

In the late 1800s, the Hill family would kill their own animals for meat, then ‘cure’ it by rubbing in salt for about a week, until no more salt could be absorbed. They’d sometimes add brown sugar for colour and flavour.

In the smoker, a fire was lit in the nearby underground firebox so as not to overcook the meat. The smoke would travel along the tunnel and out through the hollowed log chimney where the meat was hung. The entire rare device was transported to Pioneer Park Museum in the early 1970s.

It was originally down near the boat shed in her farm and she believes her cousin from Narrandera organised for it to come here to the museum, Ms Longford said.

She grew up in Narrandera and moved to Griffith in the late 1960s where her husband John set up his panel beating business. She recalls visiting the site of Pioneer Park with him just before the museum was opened, when there was just the one attraction.

Pioneer Park Museum, on Remembrance Drive, features a number of other original historic buildings that were transported to the site. It is open 10 am to 4 pm weekdays and 10 am to 3 pm on weekends. Entry cost for adults is $12, concession $10, children $8 and a family of two adults and three children is $30. As a special offer, Griffith locals can currently enter for free if accompanied by an out-of-town visitor.

Narrandera Argus 8 December 2022

This article appeared in the Narrandera Argus, 8 December 2022.

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