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Online Museums exhibition

Anything But Bland

An Online Exhibition Focusing  on the Collections of the Bland Shire Area


This selection of nine objects tells of the diversity of our communities and of the collections within our community museums.  These objects tell stories of our unique identity, how we came to be who we are today and of the differences between our towns and villages in the Bland Shire area.

Overview of Objects

           Ungarie museum clock  Sunshine Harvester-Weethalle Cedar Table at Wyalong

                 Show Pavilion Clock                  H V McKay Horse Drawn Harvester                                Cedar Table

                    Ungarie Museum                           Weethalle Whistlestop Museum                     Wyalong Courthouse Museum

Weethalle harrows Coffin Trolley at Ungarie Weethalle seeder

                              Weethalle Museum                                  Coffin Trolley                                    Horse Drawn Seed Drill

                                                                                               Ungarie Museum                                      Weethalle Museum

       Wyalong ballot box      Reg rattey uniform     Mini furniture at Ungarie           

                 Wooden Ballot Box                     Reg Rattey VC - dress uniform         Miniature furniture manufactured from tin cans

           Wyalong Courthouse Museum         Wyalong Courthouse Museum                                    Ungarie Museum

The exhibition is the culmination of a project funded by Arts NSW and supported by Museums and Galleries NSW which has allowed us to build capacity within our volunteer museums community and to document our collections- what you see here is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of community outcomes of a very successful project.

                                                     Arts NSW logo               Muiseums and Galleries NSW


Tales from Ungarie 

Of particular interest for the Ungarie Museum are objects and stories that reflect the ingenuity and thrift shown by the local country people. This is often referred to as making-do. The objects selected in this exhibition provide a great example of the tradition of ‘making do’.

Ungarie Promotional Clock

Circa 1948-1953

This clock was displayed on the wall of the pavilion at the Ungarie show ground during the 1950s and 1960s. The "new pavilion", was established in 1950 and the clock may well have been a feature item.

 The perimeter of the clock features neon lighting, dating the clock back to typical advertising signage of the .late 1940s - 1950s. Although advertising hoardings of themselves are not unusual, this clock is unusual is style and is a rare, one-off, object with strong social and historical significance. The date of  manufacture of the clock is late 1940s/ early 1950s, however the historic and social significance of this the clock extends back to the development of the Ungarie business sector of the late 1920s when the region was experiencing a rural boom. 

This rare and unique object acts as a link to stories surrounding the development of the commercial heart of Ungarie from the 1920s to the 1950s and  it also acts as a poignant reminder of the optimism and growth seen in small regional communities during the 1950s.

Download the full statement of significance for this object here.

Coffin Trolley

Circa 1930’s

The coffin trolley is made from dressed timber and is supported by one metal wheel, with a metal axle running through the centre of the wheel and a metal leaf spring either side of central wheel.

The trolley was made and used by Herbert Ceely for at least five decades, when he worked as an agent for West Wyalong Funerals, and was employed as a gravedigger at Ungarie from the late 1920s until the late 1960s, when backhoes came into use locally.  The trolley was used to transport the coffin from the hearse at the cemetery gate to the graveside.

Advertisements in the Wyalong Advocate of 1927 and 1928 list H. G. Ceely as a builder and contractor and it is also known that he worked as a plumber and tank builder. Newspaper advertisements also list Herb Ceely as an "Undertaker: Agent for West Wyalong Motor Funerals".

From the turn of the century until the 1940s, multi-skilling amongst tradesmen, particularly in regional areas of Australia, was not an uncommon practice. Builders and carpenters were often listed as undertakers, where their woodworking skills were used to construct coffins, and in the example of Herb Ceely, a trolley to carry coffins.

The coffin trolley tells the stories of both life and death in the district of that time period.

Download the full statement of significance for this object here.

Miniature Furniture

Circa 1960

This collection of miniature furniture is an delightful feature of the Ungarie Museum Collection and comprises two armchairs made from beer cans and a two seat lounge made from the packaging of a ‘campie’ tin. The camp pie, was a type of preserved ham sold tinned (much like Spam for those familiar with this product). The tin has been carefully snipped and curled to create a miniature lounge setting. The furniture has been painted gold and wallpaper has been placed on the 'seats'.

The collection was made by Jack Mc Cormack, an Ungarie local, who worked at the local engineering workshop, E & A Hendersons Engineering. Jack became expert at assembling and repairing agricultural machinery, including headers, after working at the McKay Sunshine factory in Melbourne from 1928 to 1930. Jack returned to Ungarie in 1930 and began repairing headers, with an advertisement in the West Wyalong Advocate in August of that year, stating that:

"J. McCormack Machinery Expert - Has now returned from Sunshine Victoria, and has commenced Repair Work to Headers and other Machinery in the Ungarie district. Header Combs Ground. Orders may be left with Mr. J. A. Rial, Local Agent."

Jack McCormack began his employment at Henderson Engineering in December 1941 and continued as a valued staff member of the company until his retirement in the 1960s. Making this furniture may have been a retirement project, or completed in the evenings after work, not long before he retired.

 There is quite a strong tradition of fashioning miniature objects from tins in Australia, with tinsmiths listed as one of the very early trades in our nation. The skills of the tinsmith were also commonly utilised during the Great Depression of the 1930s, with men moving from place to place would sell small, hand crafted household objects such as pin cushions and letter holders.

Try making your own furniture- check out the instructions for making tin can furniture on U-Tube. Try-

Download the full statement of significance for this object here.

The Wyalong Courthouse Museum

The Wyalong Courthouse Museum presents a broad spectrum of the growth of the town and district over the past century. The collection includes mineral samples, gold mining tools and photographs of the era when Wyalong and district was a rich mining area in the late 1900s.

The courage and tenacity of the early settlers is depicted in the displays of a wide range of objects, from farm machinery to domestic items. The three objects selected for inclusion in this exhibition hark from quite different eras, but all tell tales of the bravery, integrity and resolve of this community- from early pioneers through to the present day.

Wyalong Court House Jury Ballot Box

Circa 1899

West Wyalong Advocate 28 May 1951:

"Four cases are listed for hearing in the Quarter Sessions this week and four cases in the District Court.

There will be a jury in three of the District Court actions.

The Sheriff (Mr. G. Boswell) requests all jurymen summoned to be at the Wyalong Court House before 10 a.m. tomorrow.

It is expected that the Court sitting will continue for several days."

The Ballot Box was placed in the Wyalong Courthouse by the justice department in 1899 and used to draw names to determine the jury members involved in various cases tried in the Wyalong Courthouse.  It was last used in 1992.

The task of drawing the names was undertaken by the local Sheriff and this system of jury selection was active in the justice system at a local level for over one hundred years. In the early 21st century, many country court houses like this one were closed and court, policing and allied government offices were centralised and removed to metropolitan areas and larger centres.

The ballot box remains as a reminder of the key role of justice and policing, in underpinning the development  of regional and rural communities..if only this object could talk.. just imagine the stories!

Download the full statement of significance for this object here.

Cedar Table

Circa 1850s

The Sarah Musgrave cedar table is an good example of the excellent carpentry skills and design principals of the colonial period, and is significant for its connection to the stories of members of the Musgrave, Regan and White families, who were among the first white settlers in the Bland district from  the 1830s to the 1850s.  The table was purportedly owned by Sara Musgrove who was quite a colourful character.

Sara was born Sara White and is renowned as the first white child born in the area. She married Denis Reagan in 1852 and ten years later Sara become a widow with four children. Sara continued to manage Burrangong Run for her Uncle, James White and later ran an Inn at the Homestead with her second husband.

Sarah makes mention of "looking through the window of my dining room at Burrangong Home Hotel (Musgrave House), in her book ‘The Wayback’ but makes no mention of furnishings within that room.

Constructed from Australian red cedar, the table is a poignant reminder of an Australian natural resource which has all but vanished.

Download the full statement of significance for this object here.

Sergeant Reginald Rattey VC-  Dress Uniform

Circa 1953

During an advance, when held up by Japanese machine-gun posts, Reg Rattey attacked them using grenades and firing his Bren gun from the hip. "His bravery was an incentive to the entire company."

The original owner of this uniform, Sargeant Reg Rattey VC (1918-1986) was in the local militia light horse troop when the war began, and in 1942 he volunteered for the Second AIF. After serving in a carrier company in New Guinea, he transferred to the 25th Battalion, another militia unit, and landed on Bougainville in late 1944.

In 1946 Rattey went to London with the Australian Victory Contingent and, while there, he was invested with his decoration, the Victoria Cross, by King George VI at Buckingham Palace.

The uniform was probably worn by Sergeant Rattey VC as part of his role in the Australian Army Contingent to the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in June 1953 and then again when he met with the Queen on her visit to Australia in 1956. Although the Australian Army Contingent marched and executed parade duty in their General Duty Battledress uniforms, the dark blue walking out uniform (like this one) was probably used for other formal functions while on duty in England.

Reg Rattey was a local and national hero and one in whom the local community take great pride. His service both at war and beyond.  Many VC and other award winners played important roles as in post-WWII celebrations such as Victory Pacific celebrations, Victory Parade (England), Coronation Celebrations 1953 and the Royal Visit to Australia 1954.

Download the full statement of significance for this object here.

Whistle Stop Museum

The Weethalle Museum have recently taken ownership of a collection of significant farm machinery typical of that used to open up the Weethalle district to farming. Local farmer William ‘Bill’ Browne, amassed an impressive collection of farm machinery which was used on his holdings over the last 60 odd years.

Like farmers before and no doubt after him, Bill has been loathe to discard anything that has been useful at some time. Consequently the collection on Bill’s property ranges across the development of agricultural innovation since the years of the horse and many of the items remain in original condition, ready for work on farm as horse drawn implements. In 2009, the collection was inspected by Powerhouse Museum Technology Curator, Margaret Simpson and many items deemed to be of particular significance-as you would expect, these objects have been included in this exhibition.

Horse Drawn Sunshine Header Harvester

Circa 1940

The Header was brought to the district in the 1940’s with Ron Brown.  Ernie Brown was working on the Header. In the 1941 harvest. He hooked the horses onto the new header but there was a  young horse in the team which bolted. The wrecked header was just left there in the paddock. Ernie sold it to Bill for 50 pounds. Bill used 12 horses to pull it to harvest his corps until recently.

As told by Bill Browne 2014

Bill’s  continuous use of the harvester/header and horse team through to the early 21st century gives a rare insight into pre-combustion engine equipment and farming practices. His ongoing use of the header as a horse drawn piece of equipment was a rare practise for that period.

The Header  was used in the harvesting of cereal crops and is associated with the practice of share farming in that period- Bill used it both on his own farm and as a contractor and share farmer on other properties.

Download the full statement of significance for this object here.

Horse Drawn Scarifier with Harrow

Circa 1938

Until approximately 1984, Bill Browne owned a team of ten horses which he used to plough, sow and strip his grain crops.  Since then share farmers have assisted with the cropping on Wilga Park.

Bill used this heavy scarifier, with its broad chisel tines to break up the hard soil crust which is so common on Australian wheat lands. Ten horses pulled the scarifier on sandy soil and more were used on heavier clay.

The scarifier was made by SA manufacturer Horwood Bagshaw of Mile End and was brought to the district as a demonstration tool at the local show in 1938. Behind the scarifier are harrows made by HV Mackay Massey Harris of Sunshine, Victoria.

The scarifier and harrow were both owned and operated by Bill Browne and  were in regular use from the late 1930s until the early C. 2000.

These objects form a physical link to the stories of life on the land in the mallee district.

Download the full statement of significance for this object here.

Seed Drill

Circa 1940

The seed drill/hoe drill was used from the 1940s until the late 20th century. In particular, this piece of equipment was utilised in the sewing of cereal crops. The seed drill/hoe drill enabled seed to be deposited evenly in the right amount and to be covered at a uniform depth. Bill used this/these combine drill, made by HV Mackay and pulled by 6 horses to sow his crop.

The McKay Sunshine brand seed drill/hoe drill is an excellent example of Bill’s continued use of horse teams in the mid to late twentieth century and is representative of a style of agricultural practise  and operation using horse teams, that was once common in the district, but has now all but disappeared. 

Download the full statement of significance for this object here.