Emmaville Mining Museum

Emmaville Mining Museum

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Posted 2023-05-04 by Susan J Bowesfollow
It has been approximately thirty years since I visited the small town of Emmaville in the Glen Innes Highlands and I am happy to say the town has not been commercialised into high-end grocery food chains or the like, and even though several families may have left the area, there still remains a good country feel to this precious town.



Like all small country towns of Australia, mining was what brought people to the area. Tin was discovered in 1872 and by the early twentieth century, the population had grown to approximately seven thousand people, which included over two thousand Chinese who formed a large part of the mining community and Australia's early history.



The settlement was originally named Vegetable Creek because of the numerous fields planted to feed the miners and their families, however, in 1872 the name was changed to Emmaville to honour the wife of the Governor General, Lady Emma Augustus Loftus. 'Emmaville' definitely suits this quaint town.



The region is one of the richest mineral belts in the World and many people visit to fossick for gemstones. The volunteers at the may be able to help with advice for fossicking in the area.



The was born from the dream of Mr and Mrs Jack Curnow who ran the bakery. After they retired and closed the bakery in 1969, they used the shop to display their vast collection of minerals and photographs. Following their death, they bequeathed their collection to the community in the hope that a museum could be opened.



The building in which the museum is now situated was the Old Foley's Store and was purchased by the Council to be remodelled to house the Curnow Collection. Today, the Museum is home to other collections on loan from Jillet, Gilbey, Ellis, Schumacher, Trethewey, Hermann and Maskey families. In all, there are over four thousand mineral and gem specimens.



As the Museum grew, another building was added, which houses photograph memorabilia of mines, miners, sporting groups, books, Remembrance Boards, bottle collection and more. It was very interesting meandering through the different rooms and discovering more amazing artefacts. The vast collection made me wish I had more time on this trip to fossick!



In small alcoves inside the Museum, replica sites of equipment, tools and campsites have been assembled for visitors to get a glimpse of what it would have been like in mining times. I have listened to my Mother talk of the times her Father worked in Mines in Queensland and how horses went blind from the years underground and when the canaries died, it was time to make a quick escape to the ground above. Mum said the sirens would ring loudly and all the wives would run down to the mine's gate to see if their husband was the one who had the accident that day. My visions are the ones my Mum portrayed in my mind, yet the significance and hardship of those living in that era, will thankfully never be seen again in modern times.



Although now closed the Historic Ottery Mine is still signposted a short distance from Emmaville. It was a tin mine and was one of the few places to mine and refine arsenic. Legend has it that a wild black panther was shot in the area in 1902 and that there had been additional panther sightings in the area up until 1968. The Australian bush is so huge that anything could be possible deep within the remote countryside.



While in town I also visited the Emmaville Cemetery as you can learn a lot from the plot surnames as to the heritage of the people who settled there. Although this was not a cemetery that held any of my ancestors, I still took a couple of photographs of surnames that are in my tree, in case the marrying up of families has some connection later on.



Over the long weekend in October, the town hosts "Gemorama Emmaville NSW', which is a fossicking festival. It does not matter if you are experienced in fossicking or if you are a beginner; young or old, you are invited to visit, as you will not be disappointed in a great weekend in the mineral belt. There will be traders, evening dinners, music, campfire, merchandise, self-contained camping sites, jewellery, markets, fossicking field trips and more. For more information telephone 0436 343 935.



Another gem to come out of Emmaville was Debbie Wells , Australia's former sprinter who completed in the 1976 Olympics at age fifteen. She was known as the "Emmaville Express" and three-times Australian one-metre champion and twice Australian 200 metre champion.

Emmaville is a short forty-three-kilometre drive north-west of Glen Innes and seventy-eight kilometres south-west of Tenterfield . There is a general store in the town, along with police station, local working hotel with accommodation, meals and more. This gem of a town is well worth the stop.

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79406 - 2023-06-11 05:14:40

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