The Land of the Beardies History House is worth a visit for anyone staying in Glen Innes, located in the New England area of northern New South Wales. The folk museum allows you to appreciate both the past and the present incarnations of the town, although the amount of stuff you will find here can be a little overwhelming at times.
Each room in the museum is filled with items that have almost exclusively come from the town and local district. They're all grouped together according to particular themes, and the walls are also covered with pictures, newspaper clippings, photocopies of book pages and typed information.
To prevent yourself feeling intimidated, it's best to collect a map upon entry, which names each room and/or each section, so you'll understand what you're looking at. Some of the themes in these early rooms (clockwise from entry) are farm equipment, communications, the wool industry and butter-making , among many others. There's also entire rooms dedicated to clothing, portraits and music. And that's just in the first half of the building!
While all of these objects are satisfying enough, the entire museum is housed in what was formerly the Glen Innes District Hospital and some rooms even convey a sense of this previous incarnation, which adds another level to your experience. For example, the hospital kitchen still stands, and one of the many little rooms on one side of the courtyard is set up like an operating theatre.
Nurses tend to a patient
The rest of the rooms over this side have been arranged to convey other settings. There's a colonial kitchen, a colonial bedroom and a Victorian dining room, to name a few. And you even get to see an entire slab house, furnished with more donations from the area.
The colonial kitchen
The last room you'll visit if you explore in a clockwise direction is all about the Celtic tradition of Glen Innes and by the time I reached it I'd forgotten that this area of New South Wales is even known as Celtic Country (the first settlers here were mostly Scots). The room isn't very specific to Glen Innes though, but I was interested to note that the town has its own own tartan.
If you are looking for more evidence of Glen Innes' Celtic history, you can always visit the Australian Standing Stones on the other side of town too. Otherwise, the museum really does cover the whole history of Glen Innes and if you need to put everything in perspective, there is a timeline along one wall that lists all the events and notable transformations.
If permitted, you could spend a whole day at the museum, but it's not always open for more than a few hours at a time. During the rest of your day, other things you may want do while in Glen Innes include visiting the Balancing Rock on highway or fossicking for sapphires, two of the most common activities. You can also do the town's heritage walk, which will take you past buildings you will have seen on the museum's timeline.
If you're interested in visiting another museum, the Emmaville Mining Museum is also located in the immediate area, at Emmaville.
Where: On the corner of West Avenue and Ferguson Street, Glen Innes
When: 10.00am to 12.00pm and 1.00pm to 4.00pm on weekdays and 1.00pm to 4.00pm on weekends. It's also open 9.00am to 4.00pm on long weekends and public holidays.
Phone: (02) 6732 1035