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.
◆ 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.