Pioneer Park

Started my new role as Curator at Pioneer Park in Griffith this week.

It's a fascinating museum with a diverse collection, including dozens of historic buildings that allow you to literally step back in time and a number of dresses on a national register. There's also an array of agricultural machinery, which underscores the incredible effort that went into building the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area.

The site also features trees with scars from indigenous pioneers, such as this outline of material that was probably taken to build a canoe.

When I first visited the Park I had mixed feelings about some of the replica buildings. On one hand I could see they showed a perspective on the past, but on the other it seemed inauthentic to present a scaled-down version.

Then I heard the story about the first building brought to the site when the Park was started in 1971. Ray Rathbone brought his grandfather's home from Victoria, which includes an in-ground pantry and other features from pre-Federation Australia.

The house was built in 1872 and, nearly a century later, was carefully deconstructed and shipped piece-by-piece to be reconstructed on the hill above Griffith.

Vandals burnt it to the ground.

I'd imagine the loss of the first building for a proposed museum was a major blow. Yet the pioneers of Pioneer Park were not deterred.

Using the detailed notes kept by the removalists, they recreated the homestead.

The result is a replica of an old home and I think the story illustrates how the tone was set for Pioneer Park's presentation of the past.

I think I'm going to enjoy exploring this history and sharing the stories I learn.