Did you know that a local museum in Bega houses one of the few Australian flags that survived the Gallipoli campaign?
“It’s the sort of flag that the Australian War Memorial would love to have,” South Coast History Society president Peter Lacey said when describing the rare item.
Our local museums are important institutions and the ones in Eden-Monaro are getting a boost thanks to the Federal Government’s Culture, Heritage and Arts Regional Tourism (CHART) program.
Mr Lacey said his historical society had been awarded $3300 from the program to promote museums across the region and north to Batemans Bay to encourage people to visit them.
He said the society would use the money to produce a special “Museums” edition of their history magazine Recollections that will feature the Eden-Monaro’s museums and will print more editions than usual.
“We are particularly pleased to be able to provide all these museums with some free publicity that, hopefully, will translate to more people visiting the museums,” he said.
“Local museums were adversely affected by the bushfires a couple of years ago and, more recently, by the impacts resulting from COVID, so they really need whatever help and assistance they can now receive.”
Ongoing challenges faced by local museums were the struggle to find staff, volunteers or funding, as well as marketing and drawing attention to themselves, he said.
Mr Lacey said while local museums may be small, all have extremely interesting and important artefacts from the local area while some even hold items of national importance.
For instance, there is the flag in the Bega museum mentioned above, which was flown at the Australian Gallipoli Base from April to December 1915.
“After Gallipoli was evacuated, this flag was taken to France by Medical Sergeant Norman Bignell and, although it is of national significance, eventually found its way into the Bega Pioneers’ Museum’s collection,” Mr Lacey said.
Another important item in the Bega museum is a hand-drawn, coloured coat of arms for the Australian Light Horse.
It lists the battles the force participated in during the Boer War and is a roll call of its members in 1905.
“This is an object that we understand the Australian War Memorial would dearly love to add to its collection, and is a great example of the ‘treasures’ that can often be found in small, local museums,” Mr Lacey said.
He said many local museums, such as Bega’s, mirror the history of the local area while others such as the Eden Killer Whale Museum, the Benjamin Boyd History Centre and the Saint Mary MacKillop Museum in Eden, have very specific focuses.
The special “Museums” issue of Recollections will be released towards the end of March.
Senator for NSW Jim Molan said the funding from the CHART program will assist two organisations in Eden-Monaro, the South Coast History Society for its magazine and Merimbula-Imlay Historical Society to help with configuration of collection management software and manuals.
“With the Morrison Government’s support, we are helping rebuild our local economy through the development of collections or exhibits, improved facilities for visitors, and the digitisation of local heritage collections for future generations to enjoy,” he said.
“I encourage community-run arts, cultural and heritage organisations in Eden-Monaro to apply for a CHART program grant today – this will assist us to continue offering appealing cultural tourism experiences in our regional communities.”