BATCHELOR MUSEUM UPDATE 2022
ANNUAL REPORT BMDA September 2022
Gaye and Darryl continued to open the Museum as required after the main body of tourists left the NT and the Top End in September 2021.
Gaye and Darryl then stayed at the Museum over the Wet season which was a mutually satisfactory arrangement. Lucinda and I started back on our various projects re displays from the beginning of February.
With the huge numbers of people travelling to the Top End this Dry season, we have had a good number of visitors. Expecting to have our regular lunch activities happening from Ethical Adventures Lucinda and I spent a busy time getting the veranda eating area ready for them.
On Saturday March 26, before we opened for the season, we had a visit from twelve members of the NT division of Museums Australia group. Lucinda and Gaye joined me to open up and welcome them. The visitors were interested and complimentary. However I did not respond to a casual suggestion that the shovel head with welded AWD from WW2 on it should be displayed in the MAGNT WW2 exhibit!
Due to Berry Springs swimming not being open until July, Ethical Adventures changed its’ itinerary and did not bring the regular groups in for the whole season. Later, Rob did bring a few people through at a different time. However it was unfortunate we lost that lunch time slot as apart from the entry fees, washing up fees etc, a number of those tourists purchased our ice creams and drinks. So a substantial change there.
It was a slow start with us making do until our volunteer caretakers arrived Sunday May 15. Gaye had been opening weekends so welcomed Peter and Pauline, and showed them where to set up camp.
Peter and Pauline then stayed through a really busy period in June, though had a month off from June 23 to July 23 and spent part of the time at Dundee. For the interval Julie Ritchi came in her campervan and filled in the time very competently.
Peter and Pauline returned until August 21 when we had a short gap before Linda and Roger arrived to stay for September. Gaye did weekends and Sean and Sue filled in there.
Visitors now are very spasmodic. We will close except for requests when Linda and Roger leave at the end of September.
There continues to be visitors with a connection to the Museum. On one Tuesday we had two lots of people named Batchelor- unknown to each other, but both couples from Melbourne. Neither were closely related to Egerton Batchelor. One man said his Father had died in WW2 and was buried at Adelaide River. The other person said their forbears had emigrated to USA and now she had come to live in Melbourne.
Also visiting was Julie Payne-nee Munro who was one of twins born here when her Father was an engineer at the mine in 1955. Julie was disappointed that there were no photos of her Father in the Museum, as she knew he escorted Prince Philip for part of the visit.
Then we had the Grand daughter of Pat Snowball, and whose Mum, Anne Marie, is pictured in the washtub being bathed at Brown’s Camp in the very early mining days.
Several people have recognised relatives in displays over the year, and one lady was to send names for all the soldiers pictured in a particular photo-one hopes the info will come as always more interesting to have the names.
As regards maintenance and upkeep Lucinda and I did a tidy up of Museum grounds early in the year. Since then the Council have mowed for us. We also set fires in the two large Mahogany stumps and they burnt well for weeks. For the one nearest the building the remaining roots were cut off and removed to make a track for the General Mac Arthur Monument to be taken to its new site here beside Block A (WW2) at the Museum.
Once it is permissible to have a fire we will try to burn out a couple more stumps.
The Monument is being moved from opposite the Batchelor Airstrip entrance as now it is too close to the roundabout; the Airport entrance has been moved away also as traffic in the area has increased. The Monument, set back from the road has mostly gone unrecognised and the new site will make it more accessible.
A water account late last year showed a huge increase which alerted us to a leak in the supply. This required a major excavation and replacement of the water line to Blocks B and C. We employed Gary to attend to this major repair.
Regarding additions to the Museum displays Lucinda and I spend most of the day here on Tuesdays, working towards additional display information, though some days have many interruptions.
Over many hours Lucinda created three individual photo displays. She went to great trouble to ensure text to photos submitted and they are certainly appreciated by visitors. There is one display of WW2 photos and the Mining photos are divided into two displays- work and recreational activities.
The displays necessitated one more screen so we applied for a Grant and purchased a large screen television.
The Bombing of Darwin DVD is still a surprise event to many visitors and the DVD rolls every day. We do sell copies also.
I have developed a number of small panels, notably in the WW2 area, but also working on several for Rum Jungle.
Most everyone who visits is complimentary and it is always great to have people interested in the history of Batchelor.
We will again place advertisements for travellers who would volunteer to open the Museum for a time in return for the van site with water and electricity supplied. Usually our volunteers become involved with local activities and enjoy the stay- which also places them in easy reach of Litchfield Park, and only an hour trip to Darwin.
Since preparing this report, the Monument has been moved- by a 20ton crane, to a selected Museum grounds site, not far from the WW2 display. Now we need to protect it and re-define the roadway with bollards, re plant some grass and remove some other large background plants.
I want to acknowledge two long term supporters -
Territory Fire, especially manager, Keith. Whilst we pay for replacement equipment the obligatory regular testing is done at no charge.
Our website, was developed by WEB NOISE and Linda supports the Museum with various internet actions when I am challenged!
A thank you to our small team keeping the Museum in action-treasurer Carol; regular museum attendants, Gaye, Sean and Sue; practical upkeep James and Lucinda.
To all reading this - keep visiting, as we expand our displays.
Jan Hills - President, Batchelor Museum Development Association.