Annual Report Batchelor Museum 2019

The Museum has notched up a good year despite some minor hitches .Visitor numbers total 1741 persons!

Initially there was discussion with a person who would operate the small café premises, but this did not eventuate, so we were very fortunate indeed that we had some wonderful Grey Nomad volunteers who contributed hugely in running that facility.

Over the closure period-Wet Season (which wasn’t really) the verandah area was enclosed, the concrete floor sanded and polished, and further fans and lights added. This really special upgrade was enabled by a Grant from the Community Benefit Fund. Our regular visiting tour group, Ethical Adventures, utilises this area regularly for their lunches. It is also a great space for cafe patrons and special meetings at other times.

Also over that time I worked with a professional Archivist to establish a register of the very valuable items and photos which have been donated to the Museum This is a slow process which we can only tackle when the Museum is not operating, and Caroline and I will resume later this month.

Within the café area the second-hand books are very popular with visitors and our unique Barking Owl postcards, plus the few souvenirs we sell. We have chosen a couple of new and useful souvenir items to sell next year.

A large branch from the remaining mahogany tree came down overnight during a wind storm, fortunately early in the year when no one was camped there. An assessment advised that there were other branches likely to fall and it was decided to remove the whole tree. A big job, but essential for the safety of the people who walk through the grounds regularly and also the caretakers who would set up camp in that area. The trunk was huge, and some of the cost was defrayed by selling that magnificent timber.

Prior to opening, the floors of the two buildings were scrubbed and polished professionally by a friend of Sue’s who had the machinery to accomplish this. The floors shone, and still look great eight month later!

We catered for a large group morning tea on March 27 for 55 visitors who came by bus from Darwin. We got some great compliments on both the Museum and the morning tea! We were able to keep the Museum open this early as Shane and Sandy arrived and offered their assistance with opening the Museum and the café. They enjoyed Batchelor, and especially their young visitors who came for ice-blocks and stayed to chat.

Then in June, Paul and Leeanne arrived to caretake. Leeanne seemed to have the busy time for scones that month as it is a peak visitor time. Paul did great work in the garden as well as back-up in the café scene. During this time the dishwasher stopped working and needed to go to Darwin for repair, always a hassle to get it loaded and then pick-up again, but fortunately it was eventually resolved.

Aija and Keith came in July to spend a month with us before we welcomed Trevor and Linda. Both couples catered for the café and Museum with numbers of visitors declining as the temperature has climbed.

On September 19 there was a return visit by a Sydney caravan tour group whose clientele comes mostly from America. They arrive early morning and we open especially for them. This year participants were mostly from Florida; they were really impressed with the displays.

Over the year we have had people come because of WWII connections and also for the mine. One couple came to seek information about where the Father of their daughter’s husband was buried after an accident at the mine. Peter O’Neil died in 1957 and Roz Jones was able to assist them with advice to locate the grave at Darwin. The visitors told Paul and Leeanne that they had phoned Ireland with the advice and would take home pictures for their son-in-law.

Queries come by email and also visitors, and around many different things. Recently I was contacted as a group want to put a restored B-25j plane painted in Dutch colours on display at Batchelor airport. I hope it happens, as the Dutch unit was stationed there. I have introduced the relevant people by email to talk it through.

It was when Aija and Keith were there in August that Keith phoned me to advise that overnight the crimsafe door had been levered at the bolt and then the door lock jemmied to gain entry. Obviously an experienced break and enter person, and indeed the Batchelor store and Tavern have had numerous break-ins this year. However the invaders failed to get the small safe off the wall - though there was little cash there. We lost some cash left out, they helped themselves to drinks etc and left. We are upgrading the security.

Gail and Geoff contacted me around this time and were willing to fill in for various people whilst staying at my property at Pell Airstrip along the Stuart Highway. Then they minded the Museum for the last couple of weeks as numbers dwindled. We are extremely fortunate to have had the wonderful people who have helped us over the year. There are just six of us who are regularly looking after the Museum so we could not achieve the opening schedule without the generous time gift from our visiting volunteers.

We do have someone interested in running the café next year so hopefully that will eventuate. Meantime there are some small updates happening for our displays. Also work with the Archivist will occur over the next few months.

Our thanks to Territory Fire Service who maintain our fire extinguishers as a community benefit; also to Coomalie Council who give us great support.

My thanks to all the team, Carol, James, Sue, Sean, Lucinda and Richard, and Rex.

Jan Hills     President and Curator.