New Port Denison museum to capture the experiences of Mid West seafarers

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Liam BeattyGeraldton Guardian
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Bruce Baskerville (centre) and members of the Irwin District Historical Society at the location where their new museum will open in September.
Camera IconBruce Baskerville (centre) and members of the Irwin District Historical Society at the location where their new museum will open in September. Credit: Liam Beatty/Geraldton Guardian

A new museum exploring the history and culture of the Mid West fishing industry has been announced in Port Denison and will open first as a pop-up museum in September.

The project, by the Irwin District Historical Society, will be using photographs, recorded oral histories and antiquated fishing technology among other materials to capture the stories and experiences of seafarers from the early 1900s.

Society secretary Bruce Baskerville said the catalyst for the museum was the campaign to save the Denison Hall from demolition in 2019.

“If we don’t have a place to preserve our history, then in 10 or 15 years it will be lost to us,” he said.

“Now is the time for us to capture the stories of our early days.”

He said the society had been collecting materials for a few years and had built up a “wealth of artefacts which capture the change in the industry”.

“Broadly it will be about the community’s relationship with the sea, from the early history as a major export port for wool and sandalwood through to the beginnings of the rock lobster industry,” he said.

The pop-up museum is set to open in late September, housed in the Port Denison rock lobster handling facility of the Geraldton Fishermen's Co-operative on Point Leander Drive.

Mr Baskerville said the project had hundreds of photos and items in its collection and hopes to grow as it establishes a physical space.

“We’re still in the early stages of concept development,” he said.

“But this promises to be an exciting addition to the Historical Society, preserving our coastal heritage and attracting tourists to the region.”

Already managing the Russ Cottage and Irwin Historical museums, the Society has plenty of experience curating exhibitions and a legion of active volunteers to back it up.

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