Some places are more well-known in faraway lands than they are at home. Maryborough in Queensland might have had a fleeting touch with fame when it featured briefly in the movie Saving Mr Banks (Maryborough was where the author of Mary Poppins grew up) but most Australians, actually I’d venture to say most Queenslanders are unaware of Maryborough’s charms. Of all the things to do in Maryborough, there is one that stands out.
Maryborough is 30km from Hervey Bay, Queensland’s whale-watching capital. So after spending an exciting day spotting whales in Hervey Bay, it’s worth heading to Maryborough to take a look around and a step back into history. One of Maryborough’s gems is a museum shop that is attracting tourists from Europe.
Brennan and Geraghty Museum
The Brennan and Geraghty Museum is a quirky museum that has captured the imagination of German television viewers.
It helped somewhat that German film-maker Joachim Fuchsberger featured the museum in his documentary about travelling through Australia.
Since then, the museum has been a magnet to German tourists who often make a detour specifically to visit the museum.
The museum is a well-preserved corner store that was owned by Irish immigrants and set up in 1871.
Patrick Brennan and Martin Geraghty migrated to Maryborough 1863, aboard the second immigrant ship to land in Maryborough.
Brennan and Geraghty’s operated as a local store until George Geraghty (Martin’s youngest son) passed away in 1972.
Fortunately, in 1975, the National Trust decided to turn the historic store into a museum. And now it is one of three museum stores in the world where the original contents have been preserved in its historical condition.
It’s like walking into the past. There’s a grocery collection with 100,000 historic relics from a bygone era.
The shelves are stacked with rusty tins of World War II Lucky Hit tobacco, jars of peanut paste and Hoadleys boiled sweets.
Remember Keen’s mustard imported from England? And brands like Brasso, Super Rinso and Chief floor polish?
Perhaps you’re not old enough to remember these but I’m sure you’ve heard stories about the times when….
Remember the times…
There was a time in Australia when refrigerators were a luxury item. In those days, meat was salted, pickled or cured. And curry powder was used to disguise the taste of spoiling meat.
This still happens in other places around the world but it’s amazing to think that it wasn’t so long ago in Australia either.
In the stores are bottles of Bengal curry powder from India, some as old as the 1890’s. Perhaps the curry powder is the only thing that might still be useable today.
Back in those days, tea was usually pre-packed in one- and half-pound packets. Loose tea, such as Golden Tips Tea was weighed and packed in the store.
The most expensive item in the store is a packet of Hang Mee tea from China (stamped March 20, 1885). It’s probably worth a fortune to tea collectors!
Maryborough’s upper crust used to love imported figs from Turkey, which were nicely packed in small hand-made wooden boxes (just like expensive cigars), jams, preserves and orange wine.
Besides food items, the general store was also the local pharmacy of sorts.
The magic pill was Dr Morse’s Indian Root Pills used to cure the following: biliousness (?), dyspepsia, constipation, headaches (thank god for panadol!), scofula (who knows what this is?), kidney disease, liver complaints, jaundice, piles (ouch), dysentery, colds, boils, malarial fever, flatulency, foul breath, eczema, gravel, worms, female complaints, rheumatism, neuralgia and nervousness.
Maybe the pills came in different colours?
The stores retains its historic ambience; the office area has a desk, an ancient typewriter, kerosene lamp and crumbly old ledgers.
Wander around the back areas of the store and check out the treasure trove of old bottles, boxes and chests.
Make sure to sign the visitor’s book as your name will go alongside visitors from far away lands, like Germany and Mozambique.
Looking for more historic places in Queensland? Have you been to Brisbane City Hall?
One place that will delight is Capricorn Caves. The caves are beautiful and fun to explore.
When planning your trip to Canada, make sure to visit some of these fabulous museums.