A portal to the past is opening in Ganmain on March 18 with the annual Ganmain Historical Society Open Day.
From 10am to 4pm, prepare to ‘Step Back in Time’ and be transported and immersed in history that includes static displays and working demonstrations of machinery, tractors, home appliances and farming equipment.
Farmers from the district will bring old tractors to add to the museum’s collection for the day, a 100-year-old Koertz wool press will be working, an 1800s circular sock machine that was used to make socks for soldiers in World War I will be running, a blacksmith will be plying his trade, stories and social history will be linked to the memorabilia and treasures packing the rooms and yards of the museum, and there will be plenty of food and drinks.
Living legend, Leo Corbett, is guest speaker at midday.
The museum’s tractors (some are centenarians) are kept going and maintained by the dedication of the Dillon brothers, Bernie and Jim, while the museum is kept going by the funds from the open day and the commitment of members.
Society president Will Kember OAM, a living talking history in himself with the book to back it, is passionate about keeping the history of Ganmain and district accessible and relevant.
He was a founding member of the society in 1973, with the museum opening its current building in 1985. The society has held open days every year (except one in Covid lockdown) since that first opening.
The building which was built by one of the district’s pioneering families, the Warrens, in 1922, starting with a skin shed, and a house and then later on the other side, a café, was sold at a ‘very reasonable price’ to the society for the museum.
Will said the collection was outgrowing the spare rooms in member’s houses, so a building to house everything became a priority.
Advance Ganmain chair and society committee member Guy Purcell said that new member and secretary, Tanya McLaren, was helping to bring the society into the digital and social media world, plus applying for relevant grants.
“She has been a boon for the community,” he said.
Getting the museum onto the internet and finding and applying for grants would not only keep the museum going, but allow it to grow, with research, preservation and maintenance.
He hoped to eventually attract tour buses to the town to experience the museum and Ganmain.
Younger people were taking more interest in the old machinery, history, and ways of doing things, he said. The open days definitely helped that interest.
“There is massive interest in the tractors, and keeping them for prosperity.”
They were also getting more queries about family history information from descendants tracking family trees.
Put March 18 on your calendar for a Step Back in Time to experience Ganmain and district history firsthand.
This article appeared in Narrandera Argus, 9 March 2023.