The Historical Society started in 1976 and the museum has been opened to the public since 1987.
When Tuncurry celebrated its centenary in 1975, the organisers saw the need for a local museum. A steering committee was setup and the first meeting of the “Wallamba District Historical Society”, now the “Great Lakes Historical Co-Operative Society Ltd”, was held on March 1st 1976. Land was acquired in Capel Street Tuncurry and the old National Bank building in Forster was transported across the bridge in two pieces to become the museum, housing a growing collection of artifacts.
The Great Lakes Museum is run by volunteer members of The Great Lakes Historical Society.
Over the years the Great Lakes Museum has expanded to include the original first Tuncurry School built in 1886, the Tuncurry Police lock-up cell used from 1949-1959, a 1940s pioneer Cheers Cottage which has been restored and contains many photos of the pioneer families as well as many artifacts relating to the Great Lakes district. The Museum’s collection is now housed in new display cabinets, new carpet laid, the ceiling has been replaced and the whole room repainted. Meanwhile this makeover has enabled the area’s maritime history to be expanded and highlighted. Future expansions are in the planning stage.
Inside houses a large photographic collection of donated photos and over 3,000 black and white photos taken by a local photographer that attended many wedding, parties, sporting events and activities in the district from the 1920s to the 1980s. Along with this there is a research library housing a large amount of information on the pioneer families, as well as information on the local history, including information on many of the buildings, churches, sporting groups and local community groups. Two modern paintings by artists from the Tobwabba Aboriginal Artists Group as well as donated aboriginal artifacts. A display on oyster growing, whale bones, and items collected by the local fishermen along with many ship models displayed in the main museum buildings. These include a model of the car ferry used on Wallis Lake, a model of a log punt “The Wallis Lake”, a model of a drogher “The Victory”, a model of “The Eldorado II’ a fishing boat which was built in the 1940s, a model of the tow boats which were built by the Wright Shipyards in Tuncurry for the USA army during World War 2.
Outside with the pristine gardens is a working windmill, several shipping artifacts, horse cart and the Machinery Shed housing a mock-up blacksmith’s forge, with blacksmiths tools and tools used in the timber industry such as cross-cut saws, bow saws, circular bench saw blades all beautifully displayed and labelled. Machinery includes a Chaff Cutter, Cream Separator, Corn Sheller, Pipe Vice, Hand-operated Drill Press.
but wait, that’s not all…
… so many more displays, photo’s and artifacts to be viewed. Visit us today!