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Grafton News

Cottage museum’s Mothers Day theme

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Cottage museum’s Mothers Day theme

By Tim Howard

Remember When Mother’s Day was a chance to do something special with the most Important woman in the world?

At Waterview Heights, near Grafton, former teachers Lindy and Mike Webb, are offering the kids an opportunity so do just that at their Remember When Cottage Museum.

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The museum, which the couple began as a labour of love more than a decade ago, has become a favourite haunt for people who love to get back to a simpler time.

With Mother’s Day, May 14, drawing near, Lindy has trawled through the collection of night wear, dresses, slips, shawls, petticoats and other examples of fine needlework to put together a stunning collection for Mother’s Day.

“I found these beautiful old things that would once have been part of a glory box a women would have had when she got married,” she said.

“Nearly all of them have been hand sewn and the needle work in them is fantastic. You just don’t see this type of work now.”

To round out the occasion, Lindy and Mike will be doing delicious Devonshire teas until 2pm.

“We like to put on these themed days,” Lindy said. “It’s a chance for us to have a bit of fun with the museum’s collection.”

The collection Mike and Lindy have on display at Remember When is reflection of Australian life going back to the 19th Century.

The humble appliances that were once the “mod cons” Australian homes had to have, are now  museum pieces that inspire gasps of recognition from Remember When patrons.

The thunder box – a descriptive term for an outdoor toilet – was a huge part of life for many Australians, even up to the 1970s.

“If I could have $1 for every time I heard someone say ‘I had those at my place’, I would be doing very well,” Lindy said.

The cottage as well as the collection have not come together easily.

Around 2010-11 the couple were thinking what they might do after teaching and the germ of an idea came to them when they spotted a heritage cottage, “with the gizzards already ripped out of it,” in Villiers St, Grafton.

The cottage, which belonged to local midwife, Carol Gill, was ready to demolished when Mike and Lindy took it off “the demolishers” hands for the princely sum of $5000.

There was plenty of drama (and expense) to add to that when a team of house movers from Queensland brought the building in pieces out to Waterview Heights.

“The roof fell apart during the move,” Mike said. “That happens when two pieces fall off going at 90kmh.”

Clarence Valley Council proved another stumbling block for the couple with confusion over building certificate and other development approvals, but their passion for the project carried them forward.

Despite the hurdles they had to overcome, Mike and Lindy believe their timing was spot on.

“Lindy went to garage sales, auctions, deceased estate sales and picked up so much stuff,” Mike said.

“You could find all this stuff so easily and people were wanting to get rid of it.

“Now people are much more aware of its value and retro items are quite sought after.”

Lindy said they also picked up a lot of items from local families and businesses who donated historic pieces.

A typical example was a gas stove and oven that came from a popular South Grafton haunt, Bailey’s Cafe, which operated on the site of the Naked Bean in Skinner St.

While the museum’s number of items and their diversity is remarkable, the thing that keeps people coming back is the sense of fun Mike and Lindy have put into it.

“We had this old lady come here who told us about how she lost her false teeth in the “thunder box” (outdoor toilet) and had to fish them out, wash them and use them again,” Lindy said.

“With that inspiration, we had groups of kids come out and we rigged up a challenge so kids had to use a variety of items from the display to fish a set of false teeth from a toilet pan – minus the smelly stuff.”

The Retro Room, packed with reminders of what an extraordinary period the 1960s and 70s were, is another fun experience.

Hint: look for the box containing the inflatable bra. It’s a hoot.

The Remember When experience extends outdoors as the couple have a pen full of friendly farm animals and outdoor settings to enjoy refreshments they provide.

To get the full Remember When experience Lindy and Mike recommend making a booking.

The museum is at 28 Eatonsville Rd, Waterview Heights. Phone 0423 280 141 to book.

The museum is also on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/rememberwhencottagemuseum/

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Grafton News

School’s mummy revives ancient history interest

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The Grafton High School Mummy Mummified Head
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School’s mummy revives ancient history interest

 

By Tim Howard

Bringing to life the face of a 2000-year-old mummified head stored for more than a century at Grafton High School, has also re-invigorated classical studies at the school.

History teacher Simon Robertson said it was no coincidence that the school has two Year 11 ancient history classes in 2024, just as interest in the Grafton mummy ramped up over the past two years.

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“I think it (the mummy) definitely had a lot to do it,” Mr Robertson said. ”The timing of it was when the mummies head podcast came out.

“Some of the kids were involved in the podcast generated a bit of buzz.

“A couple of kids talking about wanting to study archaeology now.”

He said when the ABC program Things the British Stole approached the school about doing a show on the mummy about 18 months ago, events began to take a life of their own.

Egyptologist Elliot Smith linked to the Grafton Mummy

One of Grafton’s famous sons, pioneering Egyptologist Grafton Elliot Smith has also been linked to the school mummy.

The show put the school in contact with Dr Janet Davey, a forensic Egyptologist from the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine and Department of Forensic Medicine, who kept the school updated on her research.

“She was getting herself in contact with a new expert from Monash or from a German university and then the world experts in Herculaneum in Italy,” he said.

“It’s pretty remarkable to think these things that we study in textbooks here in Grafton is actually you know, being connected as we speak. That’s been super cool.”

He said the mummy was an important artefact, with links to some of the big events in ancient history.

“From what I understand we’re the only school in Australia with something like this,” he said.

“And then it comes with a whole other sort of level of uniqueness, the fact that it’s a Greco Roman person and probably descended from the Ptolemies, who were connected to Alexander the Great.

“The fact that she’s undergone this medical procedure called trepanation in her head, and it’s one of the only mummies in the world, from Egypt where that’s evidenced, so when you talk about uniqueness, it’s pretty amazing.”

The Grafton High School Mummy Mummified Head

The 2000-year-old mummified head of an Egyptian woman has been kept at Grafton High School since 1915, It has recently been featured on an ABC TV show and spurred an interest in classical studies at the school.

The mummy was donated to the school in 1915 and had been buried in the school archives for a long time.

Mr Robertson said when he came to the school about 20 years ago, learning the school owned an ancient Egyptian artefact had stirred his interest.

“Because I was an outsider, I really engaged with it and I was kind of sharing the kids’ indignation that it was here and we began that campaign over the course of a few years to return it,” he said.

“But after that, it kind of sort of sort of disappeared into the upper echelons of the library there in that server room where it’s air conditioned.”

Mr Robertson said the extent of plundering of Egyptian relics over two centuries was the main reason the mummy had not returned home.

“It was the weight of the theft that had gone on in Egypt, particularly in the 1800s and early 1900s,” he said.

“The colonial powers had come in – the British and the French – and just taken everything and every one that they could get their hands on.

“If you go to the British Museum, the Louvre the Met, in New York, they’re just teeming with Egyptian artefacts.

“They said just in terms of the sheer volume of bodies, and artefacts that are out there, they just can’t support the repatriation.

“It’s not something that they don’t want, it’s just that it’s just impossible.”

The face of the Grafton Mummy

Forensic researchers have been able to recreate the face of the woman whose head was mummified around 2000 years ago in Egypt and donated to Grafton High School in 1915.

He said students had also been fascinated with the techniques used to probe the mummy’s secrets and recreate her face.

“Just seeing what else is out there,” he said. “And, you know, in the big cities that someone is a world expert on mummy tissue, and that’s what they spend their days doing.

“And some other lady has an amazing studio in Victoria where she spends her days you know, forensically sculpting.

“Just exposing the kids in a small town like ours to all the possibilities out there. And that history isn’t just dry and dull and in the past. It’s been it’s been amazing.”

He said the mummy’s links to former Grafton Egyptologist Grafton Elliot Smith, who pioneered the use of X-rays to study mummies and was a leading expert in the field in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, was also important.

“He was an amazing, fellow too, and to think that this might possibly have a connection to him and even bringing that connection that he has to Grafton back out so that people learn more about his achievements, is pretty cool,” Mr Robertson said.

 

For more local Grafton news, click here.

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Grafton News

GRAFTON REDMEN SCORES UP IN LIGHTS

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L-R- Bart McGrath - President, Garry Powell - First Grade Coach, Richie Williamson - Member for Clarence and Leeah Kohn - Committee Member Grafton Redmen
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GRAFTON REDMEN SCORES UP IN LIGHTS

 

The Grafton ‘Redmen’ Rugby Union Club has been awarded $19,800 to upgrade the scoreboard at its home ground in South Grafton, Nationals MP for Clarence Richie Williamson has announced.

Mr Williamson said the current scoreboard had reached its end life and he was thrilled the Club had been successful in securing funding through the NSW Government’s Local Sport Grant program to replace it.

“Local grassroots sporting clubs like the Grafton Redmen are the lifeblood of community sport, and this investment will increase both the player and spectator experience,” Mr Williamson said.

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“This latest grant is in addition to funding I announced last year which saw new female change rooms and new lighting installed at the grounds.

“I thank the Grafton Redmen volunteers who made this possible as without their commitment and dedication to the sport, none of this would have been achieved.”

Grafton Redmen Club President Bart McGrath said the Grafton Redmen have worked tirelessly over the past two years to obtain funding to upgrade amenities at the club for the benefit of both players and spectators.

“The funding support received from the NSW Government to upgrade infrastructure at the grounds has seen the club go from strength to strength on the field with increased junior and female participation as well as increased community sponsorship and support off the field,” Mr McGrath said.

The Local Sport Grant program is annual program that aims to support grassroots sporting clubs to increase participation, host events, improve access and enhance sport and recreation facilities.

Mr Williamson said he will be announcing other successful recipients under the latest funding round in the coming weeks as he moves around the electorate.

“I encourage all sporting clubs across the Clarence and Richmond Valleys to jump online and subscribe to receive updates on when the next round of Local Sport Grants program open,” Mr Williamson said.

Further information can be found here or by calling Mr Williamson’s office on 6643 1244.

 

For more local Grafton news, click here.

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Education

Grafton High mummy reveals more secrets

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Grafton High mummy
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Grafton High mummy reveals more secrets

 

By Tim Howard

The existence of a mummified Egyptian head in the library at Grafton High School is common knowledge for generations of the school’s students.

But when the ABC show, Stuff the British Stole, revealed its existence to the rest of Australia last year, the response was shock and wonder at how such an artefact came to be in the care of a regional high school.

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The discovery also ramped up interest in the mummy and in a follow-up report the ABC has revealed forensic experts have discovered the sex, age and the period in which the person lived.

A forensic Egyptologist from the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine and Department of Forensic Medicine, Janet Davey, scanned the mummy in a CT scanner.

The ABC reported Dr Davey’s team combined with the University of Chieti in Italy to discover the mummy was female and had died aged between 50 and 60.

Flecks of gold leaf attached to the head put the mummy in the Greco-Roman period of Egypt, roughly between the time of Alexander the Great in 332BC to the Roman occupation of Egypt and the early Christian period, around 395CE.

Dr Davey told the ABC the quality of the mummification, including the full removal of the brain – a process known as excerebration – plus the presence of gold leaf showed the woman came from a wealthy family.

Grafton High mummy

For more than a century a mummified head about 2000 years old has been stored in the library at Grafton High School. In the past year forensic experts have been able to reconstruct the mummified remains and give people an idea of what this person once looked like. Photo: Jennifer Mann

The data from the CT scan encouraged Grafton High to fund a reconstruction based on the data from the scan and put a face to the mystery.

The CT data was sent to forensic toxicologist Matthew Di Rago, at VIFM, who created a 3D print of the skull.

A forensic sculptor at VIFM, Jennifer Mann, took over and she was able to make a complete “forensic facial reconstruction” sculpture.

“[It] involves doing a portrait in reverse — so in effect, starting with a skull, and putting all of the musculature on, and then having to recreate the face based on very strict formulas,” she told the ABC.

The mummy has been in the school’s possession since 1915, according to note from 1960 which explained that a Grafton doctor, T J Henry bought the mummy while he was a medical student in Edinburgh during the late 19th Century.

But like the mummy itself, the story of how it got to the high school also has twists and turns with suggestions another famous former Graftonian was the source.

Another version has the mummy coming from Sir Grafton Elliot Smith, a local who became one of the world’s foremost Egyptologists in the early 20th century.

He revolutionised the study of ancient mummies using X-rays to reveal their secrets without disturbing them.

When the tomb of Tutankhamen was discovered, he was responsible for the examination of the preserved body.

Grafton High School was contacted for information, but did not reply.

 

For more local Grafton news, click here.

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