President of the Wee Waa and District Historical Society Julie Dowleans OAM said it was a ‘Toyota jump in the air, oh what a feeling moment’ when the society was announced the winner of the Community Group Service Award.

“We’re just thrilled, really excited for the museum,” she told the Wee Waa News following the announcement at the Narrabri Shire’s Australia Day awards ceremony.

Countless volunteer hours and bucketloads of pride and passion have gone into making the historical society and Wee Waa Namoi Echo Museum the treasured local, and tourist, destination it is today.

“It’s a little step back in time and history of what makes our community what it is – there’s the cotton and the wheat and the families and their history,” said Julie.

“When you get into the museum you might go, ‘Oh, my grandfather had one of those and it starts a conversation,” said president of the Wee Waa and District Historical Society Julie Dowleans OAM

“It’s the history behind where we all come from.”

Operating for more than 30 years, the Wee Waa and District Historical Society is committed to preserving the past of the future generations.

As described on the Explore the Narrabri Region website, the museum showcases ‘a wonderful reminder of days gone by’.

“The museum collects and displays items, machinery and documents pertaining to the history and culture of the Wee Waa district, promotes its history and provides family research from its extensive archives.

“Opened in 2006 the museum, run by the Wee Waa and District Historical Society, is home to many wonderful exhibits relating to the local area including the history of agriculture such as cotton, wheat and wool.

“Amongst the museum’s treasures, you will find a spray plane, one of the original two-row cotton pickers, a replica blacksmith’s shop, Aboriginal artefacts, and many items from yesteryear including tools and domestic goods.

“Schwager’s Cottage located on the museum site was originally the local sawmill hut built in the 1880s.

“With the arrival of the railway line, the cottage was relocated to Short Street and later moved to the museum grounds.”

The museum also serves as a community hub, hosting many events over the years such as Australia Day and Kev’s Big Breakfast.

Julie recognised the amazing army of volunteers she has worked with at the museum over the years, including the late and much-loved Pankhursts – Dudley and Shirley.

“I went down to the museum, I had our certificate and the trophy, and I visited the remembrance rock we have there, and I spoke to Dudley and Shirley and told them all about it,” added Julie.

President of the Wee Waa and District Historical Society Julie Dowleans OAM acknowledged the great work of current and past members of the historical society including the late Shirley Pankhurst, pictured above, who volunteered at the museum with her late husband Dudley. Current committee members include vice-presidents Denise Robinson and Robert Kahl, secretary Margaret Warren and treasurer Brian Warren, assisted by local volunteers.

Paying tribute to a volunteer group of men, affectionately know as ‘The Blokes’, Julie thanked the team she currently works with at the museum, from the dedicated committee members to locals who are willing to lend a hand.

“There’s a little group on a Thursday now called ‘The Blokes’,” explained Julie. “And if something needs fixing or if there are any jobs, we’ll just leave a note for ‘The Blokes’ to please do it.

“This is the lovely thing with a small town like this – they’re members of the Men’s Shed, they’re members of the Lion’s Club, they’re members of the museum but they’re also ‘The Blokes’ on a Thursday.”

Julie travelled to the shire’s awards and citizenship ceremony in Narrabri after hosting the Australia Day breakfast event in Wee Waa.

“I really wanted to be at the Narrabri ceremony to represent and stand up for the museum,” said Julie.

“The MC, Jesse Weekes, did a fabulous job, Kodey Stanford she did the music, which was lovely there in the background, and the Scouts, of course, did their thing well,” added Julie.

“There were eight wonderful people there that became Australians, and that part was conducted so well.”

Julie congratulated her fellow nominees and winners including Joan Griffiths (Citizen of the Year), Sophie Hartnett (Young Citizen of the Year), Lennon Simmonds (Junior Sportsman of the Year), Emily Simpson (Junior Sportswoman of the Year), Jason Anderson (Senior Sportsperson of the Year), Scott Pollock (Community Arts and Cultural Development Award) and Kathryn Hamilton (Environmental Award).

“Kath Hamilton was my teacher at school, and I still can’t call her Kath – it’s Mrs Hamilton, and I was thrilled for Mrs Hamilton. “Also, Scott Pollock – it was great to see him recognised and of course, all of the others too,” Julie said.

Julie said we are very lucky to live in a community with so many generous people who give their time, and she urged people to nominate the shire’s unsung local heroes and quiet achievers.

“I know there are a lot of people out there that just do their thing quietly behind the scenes,” she said.

“Let’ nominate people, put people up for what they do.”

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