Indigo Shire is a history buff’s dream and yesterday a group toured the museums within the area on offer, linking in with the Victorian Senior’s Festival.
The buildings currently housing museums in Chiltern, Beechworth and Yackandandah are among the most historic in the region, and the latter was originally the Bank of Victoria.
Yackandandah and District Historical Society treasurer Pam Noble explained the building’s history to the tour group.
“A cottage constructed in the 1850s was moved back to put the bank up in 1860 and the cottage became the bank manager’s residence,” she said.
“We lost a lot of material from the bank in a fire in 2006.
“Just before Christmas it began in the shop next door, which was stopped, but as we had a shingle roof, it got in the bank building.
“The safe from the bank is one of the things that didn’t get destroyed.”
Walking through the old cottage largely untouched by fire, the original features including wall-paper and the shingle roof – which can be seen standing in a lean-to – give insight into life in the 1800s.
“At one point a family with eight kids lived here – we think there were bunk beds in the lean-to,” Ms Noble said.
Among the items destroyed in the fire include the original doors to the bank, equipment that was used, and a grand piano.
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It took two years for the museum to fully recover from the fire in 2006 – but it continues to go from strength to strength.
Collection manager Susan Reynolds said five years ago the size of their storage and collection room was doubled.
“Community museums are where the majority of our social history is,” she said.
“With Burke in Beechworth, we are the only two museums fully accredited with Museums Australia in the shire, which means we are working under very high standards.
“We are all volunteers and we only receive funding through grants.”
The Yackandandah museum also includes items relating to the town’s coronation and gold history – which stems back to 1852 – including a dredge bucket from Staghorn Flat.
The current ‘Summer Fun’ display – exploring what the community did during the season will be replaced soon by a ‘Squatters and Selectors’ exhibition.
The Chiltern Athenaeum is a single storey brick structure in the Conservative Classical style, designed by the Beechworth architect, John Coe and built circa 1866, while the Burke Museum was constructed in 1857 by the Young Men's Association.