Walcha Pioneer Cottage and Museum Complex

This is an overview of the complex with its various buildings.

1. Pioneer Cottage

Pioneer CottageThe cottage was built on this site in 1862 by Walcha’s first policeman, Senior Constable James Buckland. He purchased the land for £7.10.0 on 26th October 1858. The area at that time was 2 ½ acres. Constable Buckland came to Walcha with his wife Catherine and their three young children in 1858. There were five children in the family when the cottage was built in 1862 and seven when the family left Walcha in 1865. The cottage and land was purchased by the Walcha Historical Society in 1962. When first built, the cottage had a detached kitchen which had been divided into two rooms, one of which was a maid’s room. Originally there was a narrow hallway from the front door of the cottage to what was then an open veranda at the rear. The hallway had a door to the right leading to the main bedroom, and a door to the left leading to the dining room and from there to the parlour

The bedroom contains a four-poster bed, a cedar wash stand with jug and wash basin, chamber pot, cedar table and bed warming irons. This type of bed warmer was filled with hot coals and placed between the sheets before retiring. The ceiling was lined with calico to keep our dust and insects. Items of cedar furniture are on display in the dining room and parlour, together with a piano and a Victorian era feather picture. The kitchen had a fuel stove when the building was purchased, which has since been removed and the fireplace set up with cast iron fountain, kettles and other items typical of earlier days. The enclosed back verandah contains a variety of museum pieces including and old Edison phonogram, and various treadle sewing machines. The bathroom contains a hip bath, wash stand and some laundry items – wash boards and wash tub, and also a child’s cot. Newspaper was often plastered over the inside of vertical slab walls to exclude draughts.

1a. Tool Shed

This was the old kitchen and maid’s room. It now houses domestic and agricultural tools from the colonial days.


2. Museum Building

Museum BuildingThe Museum building also dates from 1862. It was built by James Thomas Smith at 117E Fitzroy Street for his growing family. His wife, by then Mrs. Laird lived in it until she died, and it was donated by the Cross family to the Society in 1969,. The building was moved to the present site and opened on 2nd May 1970. The main room contains three glass fronted display cabinets and maps. The first of these cabinets has a selection of kerosene table lamps, sports trophies, pens, pen stands, inkwells, a slate and slate pencil. The second cabinet has a glass lamp, decorative kitchenware, card printer, concertina and a set of playing cards overprinted for “fortune telling”. The third contains a selection of memorabilia including a bottle of an early Walcha cordial manufacturer, Thomas & Gilmour. The large cedar counter in the main room came from Erratt’s Store which for many years was Walcha’s premier store.

The western room contains memorabilia from the World Wars and a display of surveyors’ implements that belong to J F Campbell (1853 – 1938), a surveyor and

historian who worked in Walcha from 1888 until the early 1900s. The other western room contains a display of early medical equipment and a photo of Dr William Vint Aspinall who had a practice in Walcha from the late 1850s until his untimely death by drowning at the age of 34 in 1862. One of the items in the front room immediately to the left of the entrance hall, is a group of sketches of some of the business houses and dwellings in Walcha in 1900. It was issued in 1903 as an inclusion in the Walcha Witness, the town’s first newspaper. The adjacent room contains a selection of Aboriginal artefacts, and a set of convict leg-irons and handcuffs.


3. Aboriginal Carved Tree (Dendroglyph)

The carved tree was given to the Society by Mr. Alan Cross in 1965. It was one of a group of similarly carved trees on “Silvermount” at Brakendale.

Consultations between the Society and the local Aboriginal community did not reveal any exact details of the use or importance of the tree but there was a mutual interest in its preservation.

Only then was the tree brought into Walcha and housed to provide protection from the elements. Stories handed down in the Cross family describe the carved trees at “Silvermount” as memorials to Aborigines killed there many years ago in a battle between a local tribe and a coastal tribe.


4. Amenities Block

The amenities block was built with assistance from the New South Wales Government.


5. Caretaker’s Cottage

This is a private residence, and is not available for inspection. The materials came from the old Round Swamp Homestead built in the 1800s to the southeast of Walcha. Mr & Mrs Jim Hoy gave the house to the Society, which then had many working bees to rebuild it in May 1965. The Lions Club of Walcha made it one of their community projects.


6. Wool Industry Hall

The Wool Industry Hall was once the School of Arts at Glen Morrison, a gold mining settlement about 25km to the south of Walcha. It was one of several buildings that became disused after the gold mining ceased. In 1973 the Walcha Council accepted the Society’s tender of $1 for the purchase of the building. It was transported to its present site in two sections. It now houses several early wool presses, including Koerstz and Ferrier presses, shearing machinery, wool bins, fleeces, processed wool and a large photographic display of wool and shearing activities.


7. Machinery Barn

This building houses a collection of horse drawn vehicles, tractors and a variety of old agricultural implements, including a skin press.


8. Automatic Telephone Exchange

This was the first of several automatic telephone exchanges installed in the rural districts around Walcha. It serviced subscribers at Ingleba.


9. Blacksmith’s Shop

This building has been set up as a blacksmith’s workshop. It houses a forge and a variety of tools and equipment. This includes a tool for the repair and welding of white hot steel rims for the wheels of horse drawn vehicles.


10. Aircraft Hanger

PlabeThe Tiger Moth aircraft was the first aeroplane used for spreading superphosphate in Australia. This event was undertaken by East-West Airlines at A S Nivison’s property “Mirani”, in February 1950. The aircraft was built in Sydney in 1940 for the Royal Australian Air Force, and was used for pilot training at Narromine, Narrandera, Bundaberg and Lowood between 1940 and 1943. It was then used at the Air Gunner School at West Sale. It was sold by the Federal Government at the end of the Second World War to Edward Macarthur-Onslow who used it at his Flying and Gliding School at Camden. The aeroplane came into the possession of East-West Airlines and then Aerial Agriculture Pty Ltd. At one stage it was fitted with a spray tank and boom and used to spray tobacco crops at Dalby, Queensland. It was donated to in 1965 by Mr. Tom Watson, managing director of Aerial Agriculture Pty Ltd. To A S Nivison, who gave it to the Walcha Historical Society. The hanger was erected by the Rotary Club of Walcha.


11. Machinery Shed

This shed was also erected by the Rotary Club of Walcha and houses various items of farming machinery, including a harvester, large thresher, cart and wagon.


12. Selector’s Hut

Huts such as this were of robust construction to permit ready towing from one selection to another. It was a means of selecting more land by occupation rights. This building was donated by the Misses Norton and came from the local grazing property of “Tiara”, east of Walcha just off the Oxley Highway.