Winton one year on

The early hours of Saturday July 18th will mark the first anniversary of the fire which claimed the Waltzing Matilda Centre in Winton.  It has been a long hard road for the volunteers of the Winton District Historical Society so it is timely to reflect on the enormous amount they have achieved since the devastating impact of the fire. Previous blogs have detailed the remarkable results achieved by conservators on a number of significant objects (Winton Fire response – Waltzing Matilda Centre, Winton Fire Response – the next phase of recovery, Phoenix objects from Winton, The conservation of a fire damaged print), but the work hasn’t stopped there.

Since March 21st the volunteers have opened those areas of the complex unaffected by the fire on a daily basis, and have welcomed over 1800 visitors. Although displays in the main Waltzing Matilda Centre were impacted by the fire, there’s still plenty for visitors to see in the museum complex with a fascinating range of cultural and natural history objects from the region on display.  Visitors can also see objects salvaged from the fire and the ongoing work of volunteers in conserving them.

The Waltzing Matilda Story, which previously formed part of the Billabong Show in the Centre, was saved from the fire and can be viewed in the Sarah Riley Theatre, which has also played host to a variety of community activities since the fire, including Waltzing Matilda Day, a famil tour and smoko for interstate journalists, and a free talk on overshots in Western Queensland by historian Sandi Robb.

In amongst all this activity, the volunteers have continued to work steadily through the objects still requiring attention.  Locals and visitors have also donated their time and expertise in the ongoing cleaning process, and the Winton Creative Arts Group have achieved stunning results with some of the collection, reading room, and storage furniture, with 11 large items and 12 chairs restored.

With all these achievements it’s easy for outsiders to forget the physical and emotional toll a disaster such as this takes on those who face loss and damage of their treasured collections.  But the images below demonstrate just what a huge accomplishment the successes of the past year have been.  The Winton District Historical Society are collaborating with Council, architects and the curatorial team on plans for the new Waltzing Matilda Centre, incorporating the museum precinct, and we can’t wait to see what they’ll do next.

Follow the new Centre’s progress at Waltzing Matilda Centre


Posted on 17 June 2016, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Wonderful report Melanie. Thank you so much for all your support to the Winton community.

    • Dr Melanie Piddocke

      It’s been a privilege Helen, and I’m looking forward to catching up with everyone again soon!

  2. What a great achievement. Congratulations to all involved in the recovery of collection items and in getting the centre up and running again.

    • Dr Melanie Piddocke

      Thanks for taking the time to read the blog Tamara, and acknowledging all the hard work of the volunteers!

  3. Margaret and Stewart P

    Once again a very interesting and informative blog. We recently had the privilege of visiting the museum and there is still so much of interest to be seen there. Distressing as it was to see photos of the fire and so much damage, and the impact that would have had on the volunteers, it was also heartening to see what has been salvaged and restored. The tenacity, dedication, positive attitude and resilience of the volunteers all augers well for a much deserved brighter future.
    Best wishes and congratulations to all involved.

    • Dr Melanie Piddocke

      Thanks for the visiting the museum – this is one of the best ways we can support them in their recovery efforts. Every person through the door is a boost for the volunteers!

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