This time-warp town is a portal to the past
Old world charm meets quirky nostalgia in this tiny Victorian town.
“Everything on the shelves is original,” Denise Nichols says of the Wedderburn General Store Museum, and with a sweep of her arm takes in the tins, boxes, curios and cure-alls that transport the beholder to a simpler time.
A time of Doan’s backache kidney pills (“there’s no peace for the kidney sufferer”), Maxa Eczema Ointment (“takes away the rash”), Marshall’s Fresh Herrings (resting in their unopened can, half a world and generations of missed breakfast opportunities away from their beginnings in the North Sea off Aberdeen).
“Most of these are a little beyond their use-by date,” Denise chuckles, admitting they’ve lost the odd tin in the heat, “which isn’t pretty”. She lifts the lid on a safer bet – Sunshine dry biscuits, much as they were (albeit a little stale) on the day they were packed. “We don’t serve them for morning tea any more.”
Once part grocer, part chemist, part hardware shop, the General Store closed its doors in 1969, then reopened a few years later as a ready-made museum. A time capsule of disarming authenticity, the store is fittingly at Wedderburn’s heart. The central Victorian town thrives on nostalgia, welcoming visitors who are drawn to the glitter of gold, the smell of eucalyptus, and the honesty of country life.
“It blows me away when you look at the landscape around here,” Suzie Deason says of countryside lifted from a Fred Williams painting, of flat plains, granite outcrops, gum trees and endless aridity. “To get from Melbourne or Adelaide to here, walking with horses, with little kids, they were incredibly tough people to survive.”
Famously, her great-great-great-grandfather John Deason was one of them. Cornish by birth, in 1869 he discovered the Welcome Stranger at Moliagul, south of Wedderburn. Weighing 66 kilograms, it was then the world’s largest gold nugget.