Wodonga councillor says those wanting a museum in the city should show they are serious by raising $1 million

Flying the flag: Uta Wiltshire and Marie Elliot at the historical society's South Street shopfront with railway heritage items in its collection which would form part of a museum archive.
Flying the flag: Uta Wiltshire and Marie Elliot at the historical society's South Street shopfront with railway heritage items in its collection which would form part of a museum archive.

CAMPAIGNERS for a museum in Wodonga have been dared to raise a $1 million to show they’re “serious”.

Wodonga councillor Tim Quilty has laid down the challenge to those wanting a museum.

“I think the museum committee should be out raising money,” Cr Quilty told a ratepayers’ association meeting.

“If you really want it go ahead it’s going to cost millions, you should go out and raise $1 million from the community, from the business, from the locals.

“And we’ll tie that to state government and federal government grants and we’ll make the museum happen.

“If you’re not serious about it, well show us you’re serious, because it will cost money and it will be a big drain on the council to fund it and keep it running.

“You had better show you’re serious about it if you want it to happen.”

The Wodonga Historical Society’s secretary and treasurer Uta Wiltshire was “gobsmacked” by Cr Quilty’s comments and questioned how a community group could raise such a tally.

“Money is tight, where are you going to get $1 million in our community – it’s pie in the sky stuff,” Mrs Wiltshire said.

“With $1 million you would need to get the corporates behind you and we’ve found with the (Wodonga) show society the corporates have pulled back, as did the council, with contributing any money.”

The society and former Wodonga citizen of the year Marie Elliot have been agitating for a museum, saying the city had neglected its history compared to elsewhere. 

The historical society at Heyfield in Gippsland last year raised $145,000 through crowd-funding to buy a former post office for a civic museum.

The Weekly Times reported it had eight members and an average of 65.

Mrs Wiltshire flagged the possibility of Heyfield’s experience being a model for Wodonga, but noted a significant contrast.

“They had the building in mind, that makes a difference when you’re appealing to the public for funding,” she said.

Mrs Wiltshire, who noted the average age of her society’s members was over 65, said no particular building in Wodonga was being considered for a museum.

She said the old railway goods shed had been considered at one point.

Meanwhile, Mrs Wiltshire said council managers had told her and Mrs Elliot that they were “actively looking for better premises” for the historical society.

It has rooms in South Street, leased by the council, but they lack toilets.