BATCHELOR MUSEUM UPDATE 2021
It will be no surprise to read that there were not a lot of visitors in 2020 as we got the Covid news in late March, which caused a lot of changed plans.
The 2021year has been a contrast as we welcomed many people from all around Australia. Ethical Adventures, a tour group which has come to the Museum for years used to be all overseas visitors but this year they were obviously all Australian. The very busy months were May through August when there were many caravans on the roads.
Many of the travellers were older people at or near retirement. The caravans dominated the traffic heading north and south for the Dry season months. Amazing where each managed to find a campsite as the numbers were unprecedented.
There were many appreciative comments about the Museum and often there were people who said they had thought there was just a few bombs dropped on Darwin. Others did have relatives who served in this Adelaide River-Batchelor wartime area.
Then there were people who wanted to know more about Rum Jungle Mine, some with connections through mining, transport, and rehabilitation practise.
Early in the year a local stayed and opened for the smaller numbers of visitors in the early months.
From June 1 for two months Brynn and Georgina (George) attended to the Museum and this coincided with the great migration of travellers north so it was an extremely busy time.
At 83 Brynn is a tech nerd, has lots of information to impart- delivered with a Welsh accent. He enjoyed welcoming visitors, and devised a quiz for the children to engage them more. George was a bright backer for all things, enjoys people so they revelled in the unprecedented numbers that came.
Darryl and Gaye then came to assist, which has been good. Numbers of visitors dropped away, but they have helped keep the grounds looking good. We had to have a catch-up after last year.
Another committee person, Lucinda, and I have been spending Tuesdays at the Museum since early 2020 working towards utilising all the great material we have, and to expand on some displays. Not quite as productive in those busy months but slowly getting things done.
There are many more photographs in the Museum collection than those used in the fixed display, so earlier this year Lucinda selected photos with titles from WW2 and also from the mining era. A running display has been developed for each of those respective areas.
Other small panels have been added to the Batchelor Farm history, and identification of items in the Rum Jungle display.
Whilst I get on with new material Lucinda is spending time on the Museum records. Unfortunately an external hard drive (storage item) collapsed whilst it was being copied, and had to be taken in to Darwin to the technology experts - a costly exercise indeed. A new system is being developed which is time consuming.
A couple of months back I noticed the water consumption graph on the Museum water and sewerage account, and knew it should not have increased, as we do not water the grounds in the Dry. Asked our resident caretaker Darryl to look, and eventually he found a moist area at the rear of the building along Kirra.
Concrete then had to be jack-hammered away to expose several metres of rusted pipe, some 250 cms underground. A temporary repair with a length of plastic pipe was effected and we now await the local contractor to excavate from the meter and replace the entire supply pipe.
The Government entity noticed the supply issue when sending the next account- it would have been even worse had we waited that long to stop the leak! Now we ask for assistance with the cost over-run, which they sometimes give.
Presently our lawns are looking really green due to some good falls of early rain.
Yet to come with maintenance is the annual white ant check, and this year replenishment of chemical around the (wooden) buildings. Now, no-one would contemplate a wooden framed building in the Top End due to Mastotermes.
There is a great video of the Mastotermes damage encountered when the old buildings were being repaired –our carpenter, Mike, recorded the video when he removed the metal covering and the wall collapsed in a puff of smoke. The story will eventually be on display.
Despite all this the buildings look in good condition, especially the heritage –listed one that was professionally painted. The other could do with some patch-up!
Our small group of volunteers continues for now, and the Museum is well regarded.
Jan Hills President, Batchelor Museum Development Association.