Blog Archives

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


Fire at Hervey Bay Historical Village and Museum


             Fire damage at Hervey Bay Historical Village and Museum. (Images courtesy of  Hervey Bay Historical Village and Museum)

Early on Wednesday 1st December, a fire broke out at the Hervey Bay Historical Village and Museum.  The fire started in the rear building adjacent to the Workshop. The fire has caused major damage to a number of historic vehicles, stationary engines and machinery. The Museum’s tools were also destroyed in the blaze.

Thankfully the fire was contained to the Workshop area and the rest of the village was left unscathed and the Museum will be open as normal.

Since the fire, the Museum has been overwhelmed by offers of help and donations of tools. They are confident that the future is bright and the fire has made them more determined than ever to keep improving the Museum for their visitors.

For more information and to see images of the damage, please go to the Museum’s website:

If you are interested in donating to the Museum’s recovery fund, please contact the Museum’s Secretary:

Phone: 07 4128 4804 (Opening hours)


Post: 13 Zephyr St, Scarness, QLD

You can also show your support by visiting the Museum!