Tuesday, October 3, 2023

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Laughter rings out from a work shed behind various display buildings at the back of The Sheep’s Back museum in Naracoorte.

The joyous sounds and banter belong to Naracoorte identities Graham Brammer and Lester Key.

As a tractor roars closer to the workshop, soon they are joined by fellow volunteer Ellis Roberts.

The popular trio help form part of a small and dedicated group who make up the Naracoorte National Trust.

Together trust members have helped create Naracoorte’s most visited site within the town, boasting 7922 visitors during 2021-22.

The personal rewards are huge for volunteers Graham, Lester and Ellis.

Each can identify both his own input and the work of others, including highly respected Judy Murdoch, during a tour of museum buildings, exhibits and displays.

But they need help.

Showcasing Naracoorte’s history in one of the rooms of a former school building at the site is something they need help with.

Another project requiring help is a display telling the story of clover and superphosphate in the region, featuring equipment mainly from Kybybolite’s Shepherd family.

“If anyone is interested in helping to restore old machinery and equipment, we have plenty to do,” Graham said.

The importance of redgum trees, early harvesting and various uses of the timber is another exhibit which awaits help for completion.

The museum also boasts a separate wonderland for children to step back in time and learn about the district during a different era. A volunteer might like to help with that section too.

A miniature railway is one of the museum’s special gems, greeting visitors as they enter the premier section of the museum.

Volunteers Graham, Lester and Ellis hope one day to have an overhead presentation with rolling coverage, explaining the history of trains which once criss-crossed the region.

But they also need help with that.

The history of the wool industry is mainly housed in the three-storey flour mill, built in 1866.

Since 1984 the mill has been home base for the local National Trust branch.

Enthusiastic volunteers continued to build and expand various sections and exhibits both in the mill and its surrounding grounds.

They added the new Visitor Information Centre and craft shop to the main stone building in 2004.

Sprinkled throughout the museum site is a glimpse of life from the days of no electricity, plumbing or modern gadgetry.

“We would like help to have a bit more about the early days for women,” Graham said.

The Hynam Post Office with a tiny home attached is another of the many buildings with a display.

A classroom from the last century features ink wells on every desk, a piano at the back of the room, and the alphabet written across the top of the blackboard.

At least one of every type of windmill once found on farms throughout the region, plus a drilling rig completes another outdoor display.

Of special importance to the museum is a bronze statue from Sydney Airport of world champion shearer, Willalooka’s Shannon Warnest OAM.

Another treasure includes Australia’s first robotic shearer, surrounded by various woolshed items including wool presses, bale branding gear and scales.

The grounds of the museum spring into life on the second Saturday morning of each month.

That is when Naracoorte Historic Vehicle Club opens its doors to host a market with sizzling sausages, perfect scones and a variety of stallholders selling everything from home baked goods and eggs to plants, roses and bric-a-brac.

“The vehicle club display is separate, although we do get visitors asking if they can see the old cars,” Graham said.

Often some of the almost 8000 visitors to Naracoorte leave favourable reviews on social media about the museum, Visitor Information Centre and volunteers they meet.

“We really need some people to help us,” Graham said. “We meet here every Wednesday morning from about 8.30am to 12.

“You see some pretty interesting things, there is plenty to do and we have a bit of fun.”

“We’re not getting much younger,” quipped Ellis, highlighting the need for help.

“The railway gets dust on it and sometimes it doesn’t run.”

From gardening and woodwork to cleaning and painting, Lester listed a raft of jobs people could enjoy helping with.

“Setting up displays, recording donated articles and photos, fixing things – there’s always plenty to do,” said Lester, highlighting how rewarding it was to be involved as a volunteer.

“There’s building, paving, gutter cleaning jobs as well as all our projects.

“So, we meet here on Wednesdays, but if anyone is interested in helping, I am here most days, flicking in and out and can meet people when it suits them.”

Anyone interested in helping can contact volunteer Lester Key on 0427 285 180 or the Visitor Information Centre.

Naracoorte Community News 21 June 2023

This article appeared in the Naracoorte Community News.


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