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Maldon Vintage Machinery Museum

Home > Melbourne > Father's Day | Long Weekend | Museums | Places of Interest | Unusual Things to do
by Andrew Burton (subscribe)
I am a Freelance Writer-Photographer and Novelist. I travel to find inspiration, wherever the distant horizons lead.
Published June 20th 2015
Meet the iron beasts that forged Australia's future
Maldon's Vintage Machinery Museum.
A Thompson's Foundry electrical switch board, circa 1914..
 
Farm machinery, traction engines, mining and industrial equipment.
Farm machinery, traction engines, mining and industrial equipment.
Located in Maldon, Victoria's most prestigious and well preserved historical town, is a museum over flowing with gadgets from the past. It is quite fascinating how early technology developed, and the collection of many machines and giant lumbering beasts will amaze. Here is a superb collection housed in an unassuming museum, which really needs to be seen to be believed.

In addition, the organisation has just taken charge of the Government Gold Crushing Battery, which will give insight into the way gold was recovered by many miners who ran short of water or resources. The machine is near completion, and requires a few mercury plates to finish the separation process, and a few parts for the huge gas motor. The battery looks like a mechanical set of organ pipes, being much louder and less musical; it can be heard across the town when operating. Contact the museum for a private tour until it is fully open with regular open hours.

If you love gadgets and stories of past glories, then this is a place to hear tales of our machinery on the Goldfields. Many of the iron beasts pictured where manufactured close by, in what must have been Australia's largest and foremost engineering factory back then. Situated in Castlemaine Thompson's Engineering Foundry was a huge complex, and was 'high-tech' considering the period. Thompson's enjoyed success and growth from foundation in 1875, right up until it became a subsidiary of Borg-Warner (Australia) Ltd, in 1974.
 
A blacksmith's workshop at Maldon's Vintage Machinery Museum.
A blacksmith's workshop at Maldon's Vintage Machinery Museum.
 
Relics from early industrial Australia.
Relics from early industrial Australia.
Thompson's were responsible for many types of equipment and machines, and some include; steam locomotives, huge gold dredges (one is still to be seen sitting just outside of Maldon, and a huge one at Eldorado near Beechworth, large reciprocating steam engines, heavy duty pumping plants, high-speed force-lubricated steam-engines, water-tube boilers, and steam super-heaters.

Ronaldson Bros & Tippett Limited, were a Ballarat based industrial company that grew with the new era of industrial and agricultural equipment. There was social and technological change as the gold rushes declined around 1903. The company produced kerosene engines, petrol engine tractors, vertical diesel engines, petrol engine generators for farms and remote properties. They also made chaff cutters, hay elevators, milking plants, saw benches, shearing machines, drag saws, rotary pumps, pumps, pump jacks, sheep jetting plants, treadmills, tussock grubbers, threshers, wool presses, and tabacco planters. Now you wouldn't want to get your neck-tie stuck in some of those. They represent another great company whose machines make up the collection at the museum.

Stream tractors are akin to steam locomotives, being great visual iron monolith's that capture interest and imagination. To kindle any spark generated, here is a link for the Metcalfe Vintage Tractor Pull and Woodchop September 2015, and the Echuca Steam Rally, another 'fab' event to experience next year.
 
Castlemaine was home to a huge Engineering Foundry.
Castlemaine was home to a huge Engineering Foundry.
 
Take some time, and learn a little more about how this great nation developed, in a relatively short space of time. Incidentally, here is a fact that will make you smile; before the time of XXXX beer, Castlamaine was the producer of XXX beer. Well, they say copying is the greatest form of flattery, so 'go crack a XXX'. They have a labelled bottle as proof.
 
Thompson's Engineering Foundry, Castlemaine.
Thompson's Engineering Foundry, Castlemaine.
 
The bike used for the movie 'Romulus My Father'.
The bike used for the movie 'Romulus My Father'.
The motor bike pictured was used for the movie Romulus My Father, starring a young Eric Bana. It is a biographical memoir written by Australian philosopher Raimond Gaita, and portrays difficulties for migrants and the social problems of mental disease. It is a powerful movie centered around his early years and his father's life in Australia.

Maldon is a fun and exciting place all-year-round. See my previous articles for further details about attractions, eateries and events, including the Victorian Goldfields Rail's steam trains. Alternatively, follow the link to find accommodation and all your needs.

If you have ever complained about a flat tire in traffic, then spare a thought for poor people pictured below...
 
Ooops, wot happened...
Ooops, wot happened...
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Why? To see how early Australian machinery was used during the gold era.
When: Open Saturdays and public holidays from 12 noon to 4pm. Run by volunteers, check with times as they can vary.
Phone: (03) 5475 1633
Where: Maldon is located along the Calder Freeway, about 120kms from Melbourne. Turn left approximately 20kms before Bendigo.
Cost: Entry fees are; adults $5.00, Children (4 to14 yrs) $1.00.
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