Wednesday, 19 June 2013
Nambour and District Historical Museum
I want to take this opportunity to inform the House that in 1992 a determined and enthusiastic group of locals from Nambour and the Sunshine Coast hinterland gathered as a committee to drive the foundation of the Nambour and District Historical Museum. Coincidently and just to provide the context of the town of Nambour, three members of this current parliament went to Nambour State High School—former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd; the Treasurer, Wayne Swan; and the Hon. Justine Elliot, who was a minister in the Rudd government and the member for Richmond. Coincidently, Mrs Elliot's father, Bob Borsellino, was the Democrat candidate against me in 1990 and was kind enough to give me 2,000 preferences, which got me elected to this parliament.
More than two decades on I recently had the pleasure of attending the 21st anniversary celebration of this community treasure, which sits proudly in the heart of the town. The museum is much more than the walls that protect the historical artefacts, the photos of an era past and the carefully restored collections. This building embraces a story that deserves to be told and retold to generations now and those yet to come. It is a nostalgic salute to a town and its people and traces the district's farming origins through to an era when Nambour was the undisputed commercial hub of the Sunshine Coast.
The times were sweet for Nambour when the landmark sugar mill underpinned the local economy. I can still recall the wafts of black smoke that poured from the giant chimney stack, the sight and sound of the cane trains through the main street and the evening cane fires that uniquely identified and defined Nambour. Less charmingly, I also distinctly remember the mums who complained about the black soot on their washing—particularly the nappies. Despite the discomfort of all that ash, these agricultural and industrial uses were Nambour's economic badge of honour, embraced by the residents and a real attraction for tourists and visitors.
Without the efforts of the Nambour district historical society, the town's past may have been lost just as those cane engines and acres of lush productive cane fields have now disappeared from the landscape. Instead, the spirit of Nambour lives on and is sympathetically preserved through the museum and the work of the society members who have become the custodians of the past. While Nambour is best remembered for its rural heritage, the museum also showcases the town's pedigree as a health and communications hub. I spotted a picture of my wife, Jenny, on the walls. You know you are getting old when you see your wife's image on the wall of a museum!
My wife and I both have a strong interest in history: Jenny has a degree in local histories and for 14 years I was a parliamentary representative on the advisory council of the National Archives. Like so many volunteer based community organisations, the Nambour and district society sustains itself on the passion, dedication and enduring effort of its members. On behalf of the people of Fairfax, I sincerely thank them.
In these fast-paced times, we can be so focused on the present and the immediate future that it is easy to overlook and forget the past. We of a more mature vintage know that we forget our past and ignore our history at our own peril. After enjoying the 21st anniversary celebrations of the museum, I can confidently say it is worth finding the time to take a nostalgic journey into a bygone era. Museums tap into much more than history; they showcase a culture, character and kinship. Local museums may house and protect the relics of our past, but there is nothing old-fashioned about these great community icons and I encourage members to visit soon.