Moun­tain mem­o­ries

Wangaratta Chronicle - North East Regional Extra - - FRONT PAGE - By KYLIE WIL­SON

FOR Karen Smythe and the team be­hind Falls Creek Museum, the build­ing not only houses vi­tal parts of the moun­tain’s his­tory, it is a trib­ute to the hard work and com­mu­nity spirit of for­mer com­mu­nity vol­un­teer, Lyn Gibbs, who passed away last year. Karen said she joined the Falls Creek His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety soon af­ter mov­ing to the area four years ago, and was pas­sion­ate about help­ing to re­open the then-closed museum. “Upon con­tact­ing Diana Pat­ter­son, one of the found­ing mem­bers of the HS and a for­mer re­sort man­age­ment board mem­ber, I found out that the museum had been closed and all of the arte­facts and mem­o­ra­bilia had been boxed up,” Karen said. “It was a sad time for the group of vol­un­teers that set up the first museum.”

Things be­gan mov­ing when a new space be­came avail­able through the gen­eros­ity of the re­sort man­age­ment board, and peo­ple from the his­tor­i­cal so­ci­ety, in­clud­ing Karen, Diana and Lyn Gibbs, be­gan the process of set­ting up the new museum, in­clud­ing work­ing with com­mu­nity mem­bers dur­ing nu­mer­ous work­ing bees. “Diana, my­self and the fab­u­lous Lyn Gibbs, a 32-year vet­eran of Falls Creek Ski Lifts, who had al­ready es­tab­lished an amaz­ing ar­ray of items that told the story of Falls Creek, ap­proached for­mer sup­port­ers and went from there,” Karen said. “Lyn’s in­abil­ity to throw any­thing out and to see the value in so many items, al­lowed us to start with a great base. “We be­gan col­lect­ing new items and thus the Falls Creek Museum was re­opened in 2015. “We lost Lyn in 2017, but her love of Falls Creek, her own per­sonal mem­o­ries and col­lec­tion and hard work is recog­nised as the rea­son that this museum ex­ists. “She at­tended the re-open­ing of the new museum, cut­ting the rib­bon and I know she was thrilled with where we had ended up. “She was in­stru­men­tal in its es­tab­lish­ment.” Karen, is cur­rently chair of the Falls Creek His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety, said the so­ci­ety and the museum could not ex­ist with­out the “won­der­ful sup­port” of the ex­pe­ri­enced com­mit­tee mem­bers be­hind her. She said she loved shar­ing the area’s his­tory with visi­tors and lo­cals alike, and that the Falls Creek area had a rich his­tory, in­clud­ing open­ing the first chair­lift in Aus­tralia. “Falls Creek was es­tab­lished by groups of in­di­vid­u­als who loved ski­ing and the alpine re­gion,” Karen said. “They were here for work with the State Elec­tric­ity Com­mis­sion but man­aged to find ways to work and play in the snow. “From those first visi­tors came a vil­lage of hard work­ing, hard play­ing and hard ski­ing peo­ple. “I re­spect the early pioneers, es­pe­cially the women. “They were here through the love of the area. “Even to­day, the Falls Creek com­mu­nity are here as a life­style choice. “Ev­ery­body looks af­ter each other and ap­pre­ci­ates the dif­fi­cul­ties of the work en­vi­ron­ment. “Falls Creek is a vi­brant, full time vil­lage that is busy all year round, which makes it unique amongst the ski re­sorts. “Our closed vil­lage in the win­ter cre­ates a won­der­land that visi­tors get to en­joy.” Karen said she was pas­sion­ate about his­tory. “Lo­cal his­tory cel­e­brates pioneers, trail blaz­ers, the hard­ships as­so­ci­ated with this life­style and the re­wards that you get from it,” she said. “Ev­ery­one has a story, and the dif­fi­culty is find­ing the right way to tell that story. “In a world that is highly dig­i­tal, where the younger gen­er­a­tion need snap shots and quick hits of news, it is lovely to show them the his­tory through photographs, videos and movies.” Karen said the his­tor­i­cal so­ci­ety has joined forces with the re­sort man­age­ment arts and cul­ture com­mit­tee to work on ways of show­ing his­tory through art and cul­ture projects, and the so­ci­ety was also proud of their dig­i­tal user guide at www.fall­suser­guide.com.au, which al­lows visi­tors to walk around six stops in the vil­lage to hear and see lo­cal his­tory. The museum is op­er­ated by a group of vol­un­teers, al­low­ing it to open six days a week in the win­ter and over spe­cial week­ends through­out the re­main­der of the year. It is sup­ported by the both re­sort man­age­ment and Falls Creek Ski Lifts and also re­ceive fi­nan­cial sup­port from many so­ci­ety mem­bers. For more in­for­ma­tion on the museum, see www.fallscreek­mu­seum.com.au.

PHOTO: Nathan Fen­ton.

◆ LOOK­ING BACK: Karen Smythe, seen here with a pic­ture of her friend Lyn Gibbs, is a main­stay of the Falls Creek Museum.

◆ TEAM­WORK: In­au­gu­ral chair of the Falls Creek His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety, the late Lyn Gibbs, with Karen Smythe at the 2015 re­open­ing of the Falls Creek Museum.

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