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Travellers to the country regions of South Australia will have noticed that many small towns have their own National Trust museum to tell the story of the town and surrounding area. Staffed by volunteers, the museums are very much a labour of love for proud locals who do their best to showcase their history with limited time and money.
The Beachport Old Wool and Grain Store Museum is one of the Beachport attractions that is definitely worth a visit - it was recognised nationally in 2008 as Best Volunteer Operated Museum in Australia by ABC Radio National.
An Old Railway Carriage that Ran Into the Wool & Grain Store
The district of Beachport was settled nearly 180 years ago when a whaling station was established, and it has been a busy port for much of the time since. The port was needed to service the agricultural and farming communities in the area, and the building now occupied by the Beachport Museum was originally the local wool and grain store. A railway once operated between Beachport and Mount Gambier, and you can still see the railway track leading into the museum where trains would load potatoes, grain and wool at what was once the Goldsborough Mort store. You can find other items of railway history at the local bowling club, formerly the railway station.
The Beachport National Trust Museum has a fascinating collection which showcases how local people lived and worked during the last hundred years. It has many displays of Beachport history including a replica blacksmith shop, looking as if the blacksmith has just left for lunch. Another exhibit details the town's whaling and fishing history, with fishing still playing an important part in town life today.
A Display About the Indigenous Australians of Beachport
The indigenous population of Beachport have not been overlooked - there is a well researched display about the Buandik people who lived in the area prior to European settlement. It looks at many aspects of indigenous life including religious beliefs, how they settled disputes, and burial practices.
At times it's easy to feel disconnected from static displays in museums, but one item of Beachport history caught my eye and imagination. It is a photo of a keen member of the Mount Gambier Bicycle Club named A. Chester who was a winner of several races in the early years of the 20th century. He was mentioned regularly in cycling newspaper articles of the time, but I found no more about him after the start of World War 2. Perhaps he was a wartime casualty?
The upstairs rooms of the Beachport museum have all been set up with themes - including a period music room, bedroom, and dining room. They help to give a much clearer understanding about how people lived a hundred years ago - one of my favourite things on display was a rocking bath, which allowed you to bathe with very little water.
The Beachport National Trust Museum displays give visitors a fascinating insight into Beachport history and life in the surrounding regions of South Australia during the last century. To learn more about the museum see the SA Community History page or the National Trust of SA website.
Replica Music Room at Beachport Old Wool and Grain Store Museum