Have you ever wanted to go back in time? This delightful open air museum, on the outskirts of Herberton, in far North Queensland, allows visitors a chance step back into history and browse the shops as they would have been from the 1880’s onwards! Entrance costs $28 per adult, which includes admission to the mining museum in town.
Set in typical Australian bush land, complete with windmills and gum trees, it is a pleasure to walk around this sleepy village and reflect on how times have changed. Nearly all the buildings were moved to this site (from various towns in the Atherton region) in the 1970’s to recreate a bubble of time in Herberton, when tin mining boomed and people got around by motor cars, penny farthing bicycles and horse and buggy.
I was particularly impressed with the Herberton Times printing shop, where a knowledgeable man, by the name of David, demonstrated old-fashioned type-setting and printing, as well as explaining the workings of one of the earliest manual type writers. For $5, I was able to bring home my very own ‘Wanted’ poster!
Being a teacher, I also enjoyed checking out the Herberton State School, with its small wooden desks, maps and old school books. It was a much simpler time back then and not a computer to be seen!
The frock shop, toy shop and piano tuition room held similar appeal. Included in the toy shop were dolls’ house displays, rocking horses, snakes and ladders board games, tea sets and a miniature model of Herberton Village, complete with electric train. The frocks for sale in the clothing store reflected the modesty of time, with skirts that reached the floor and high neck lines.
Elderslie House was a particularly grand residence, with bedrooms elegantly set out at the front, followed by three dining areas for different occasions, plus a card-table. Of course, the kitchen was situated in a building outside the main house and meals would have been brought in by the servants, to be enjoyed by the more privileged residents of society!
The museum buildings contained some wonderful collections of old cameras, records, wireless radios, tractors, toys, pharmacy equipment, dentistry tools and much more. On the other side of the river, you could even admire the historic John Deere tractor collection!
Across the suspension bridge, we enjoyed strolling through the forest and admiring some other old buildings and farming equipment. It is possible to purchase a ticket on the railway, though we were happy to go by foot. The Bakerville Hotel provides a delicious selection of drinks, cakes and lunches. If you time your visit well, you can even see a steam engine in action, along with various other motors and contraptions.
Just a fifteen minute drive from Atherton, Herberton Historic Village is a must-see for anyone interested in Australian history. It is fascinating to see how much has changed in 140 years, in terms of fashion, technology, schooling, dentistry, banking, medicine and transport. I can’t even begin to imagine the changes that will happen over the next hundred years. We will just have to wait and see!