The first stop on my recent outback holiday was Miles
in the Western Downs Region of Queensland, where I wanted to visit the renowned Miles Historical Village Museum
Inside Miles Historical Village Museum on a wet day (Author's Photo)
Miles is approximately three hundred and forty kilometres west of Brisbane and an easy drive on the Warrego Highway
. The township was originally known as Dogwood Crossing as it is situated on Dogwood Creek
; however, was renamed Miles in honour of the Queensland Colonial Secretary, William Miles.
The Historical Village Museum is located on Murilla Street and is set out in the form of a pioneer settlement village, something akin to an early rural Queensland town. There are thirty-four buildings in total; fifteen are authentic, original structures, ten are replicas and nine are purpose built. The Village reminded me a little of Ballarat's Sovereign Hill as both were like stepping back in time when hard toil was endured, but the simplicity of life was assured.
The Town's Garage (Author's Photo)
On the day I visited it had been raining quite substantially and there were puddles around the grounds; however, with an umbrella in hand, nothing was going to stop me from looking through the buildings of this historic icon. There are guided tours available; however, I preferred to walk around at my leisure and enjoy the history.
I have always had an affinity for old or antique items that were used in houses, sheds or in schools and I vaguely remember using Slates as a writing implement, but this was more likely in kindergarten than school. So much has changed in fifty years; now the digital era has taken away the scratch sound of chalk on the blackboard and the use of dusters to erase the lessons from the previous day, or were these only there to be thrown towards the noisy boys at the back of the classroom?
The Classroom (Author's Photo)
What I loved most about entering the individual buildings, is that they took me back to my childhood, when shopping with Mum at the Chemist or Grocer and going to work with my Dad when he owned a second-hand business, was full of exciting experiences. I also loved the stories that both my parents told my brother and me, of a time of ant-bed floors, owning one good outfit and one pair of shoes, five kids going to school on the back of one horse, the warmth of wood stoves in the kitchen, boilers in the laundry for washing, plastic was unheard of, and tools that were made to last forever or could be repaired for reuse. I still use some of my Dad garden shovels and hoes, which I am sure will never break.
Dispensary (Author's Photo)
Times were definitely tough back then, and there was no Bunnings to quickly pop into on a Sunday to pick up supplies or plants to grow, yet the intrigue in historic houses and museums like the Miles Historical Village, is an interest to the thousands of people who visit each year.
The Butcher Shop, wood construction (Author's Photo)
As I walked inside the Butcher Shop, a memory came into my mind of my hometown's corner butcher shop with carcases hanging from steel hooks, sawdust on the floor and a wooden bench table in the middle of the shop where the butcher would cut up the meat before your eyes. The Butcher Shop in this Museum was setup exactly as I had remembered it.
Rocks&Minerals - The Norman Donpon Lapidary Building (Author's Photo)
What I did not expect to see at the Museum, was the Norman Donpon Lapidary Building
and the Shell House Collection, but both had me fascinated for quite a while. We are very fortunate here on Earth to have an abundant source of natural rocks, minerals and an amazing variety of shells, which are found all around the world. It is incredible to imagine that most shells come from soft-bodied molluscs, snails, clams, oysters etc., that require a hard shell on their bodies for protection and that these shells or mantle as they are called, are made by the animal themselves. I have always wanted to learn the art of fossicking, but upon gazing at the outside of some of the rocks, I wonder how I would ever know if I had found a specimen of value.
The Shell Museum (Author's Photo)
Another display building that was again a surprise to see in the Village was the Military Museum
, which through its exhibits, explains what the wars meant to the people of Miles. Wars are a sad part of our history; however, it is our history and one that is important for our youth to understand and to appreciate the efforts the men and women did for us, so we would have a better future.
The Military Museum (Author's Photo)
Reflecting on my visit, the themed buildings which held the most memories for me were -
The Cafe was set up with solid wooden chairs and tables and the delight of purchasing a malted milkshake, which came in tall tin ice cold containers. When I am travelling, I find a lot of cafes are now going back to wooden chairs and tables for seating.
Simply but Clean; The Cafe (Author's Photo)
Visiting the Bootmaker - as early as the first couple of years of work, I can still remember taking my leather court shoes around the corner to the local bootmaker.
The Telecommunications Building – Before securing my first job, I learnt how to use the old plug switchboards, which could be quite scary if you plugged in the wrong person online. It does not seem that long ago that hand telephones came into existence and every household had a different colour. My Grandmother had a cream coloured one, but our household had a green one!
Switchboard from Years Ago (Author's Photo)
Up the stairs behind the main entry building, there were rooms of glass cased memorabilia and that in itself was a lot of reading, among the awe factor of amazing artefacts. History has a story in every corner. Spending most of your day at this Museum is an easy feat.
Photographs in Time (Author's Photo)
Initially, the birth of this incredible museum came about from a donation of an old community hall, which was relocated to the present location and filled with collections of local history. One such item is a five-hundred-year-old Bible!! If only we knew the stories this Bible could tell.
The Miles Historical Village Museum is a not-for-profit organisation, which is led by a team of dedicated volunteers. Entry
is $20.00 for adults, $17.00 for Seniors, $10.00 for students and children under school age are free. If you prefer to take the guided tour, this is at an additional $10.00 per person. Group bookings can be arranged and if you wish to give a visit as a gift, vouchers are also available. When you finish your visit, you may like to pop into the gift shop and take a small memento home.
For more information, please call 07 4627 1492 or send an email to email@example.com