The origins of the Family and Commercial Inn at Deloraine date back to 1856, when a family cottage was originally built for the Johnstone family. The building was later extended and in 1863 opened as the Family and Commercial Inn complete with stables for 8-10 horses, W.T. and James Johnstone were the original licensees.
Deloraine and Districts: Humble Beginnings
The Inn operated until 1894 as a hotel and staging post for horse drawn carriages, and situated as it was on the road leading to the North West Coast, business would have been brisk.
From 1895 to 1972 the building was used as a private residence, a doctor’s surgery and other commercial uses. To help preserve the history of the pioneers of the area and as a tribute to them, in 1972 Mrs. Alma Bramich donated the old Inn and grounds to the community of Deloraine. Restoration of the property was carried out by the Deloraine Group of the National Trust, Rotary Club, Meander Valley Council and many community members.
In 1998 a Visitor Information Centre was opened in the Bar room of the Inn, and having proved to be successful, various grants and community funds helped to make it possible to build a new visitor information centre, which includes a gallery for Yarns Artwork in Silk. It was at this stage the old Inn was refurbished, and today the old Family and Commercial Inn houses the Deloraine and Districts Folk Museum (access via the Great Western Tiers Visitor Information Centre), reflecting the life of a country publican and his family, and providing one with a fascinating insight into the pioneering past of the Meander Valley.
Folk Museum: Family and Commercial Inn
As one steps into this beautifully restored old building you immediately step back in time, back to the late 1800s and into the life of a publican and his family. Downstairs you’ll find the master bedroom, the one place of privacy for the Master and his wife, where iron beds were prominent in the late 1800s. This room is complete with a model wearing an old Egyptian cotton nightgown, a crazy patchwork quilt adorns the bed, hats of the era sit at the foot of the bed and old cane prams leave one realizing how far we have come today.
The dining room, where the family came together for meals, so typical of the Edwardian period, the dining table boasts a top made from a single slab of kauri pine, portraits of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra grace the walls above the open fireplace and items on sideboards representative of those used in the 19th century.
The parlour, (or today may be known best as a sitting room), was an important room in the house, the room for relaxation or in which guests were entertained. With afternoon tea on the table, we find the lady of the house relaxing, spending time lace making. A blackwood roll-top desk complete with typewriter and papers sits on the desk. One will note the piano and gramophone, for during the Victorian Era music and singing were the most popular forms of entertainment.
A staircase will lead you upstairs and into the world of the Publican’s maid, it is here you will find the maid’s personal room, the nursery, the schoolroom and a small sewing room, all set up as they would have been in the day.
Back downstairs one crosses the verandah and into the Bar, complete with cash register, bottles and an array of bar memorabilia… and Jimmy Possum Snug. Legend has it Jimmy Possum was an old recluse, a chairmaker who lived and worked in the shadows of the Great Western Tiers over a century ago, his chairs very simple but sturdily made without a screw or nail. Jimmy Possum was a popular local who made and sold his chairs when he wanted a drink, and today this small area of the Inn is a fitting tribute to this man.
This amazing trip back in time doesn’t finish here though, from the verandah follow a path to view the Laundry, then onto the Pioneer Walk to the Alma Bramich Garden, a Model Dairy, to the Farm Tool Shed, Blacksmith’s Shop, Horse Drawn Vehicle Exhibition Shed, a Display Workshop, Farm Implement Shed, the Outhouse and Privy… but wait, there’s still more… continue a little further along the path and there before you lies a Trapper’s Hut and a Settler’s Cottage, one merely has to imagine them set within the Great Western Tiers and the theme is set.
With the late 1800s being the ‘horse drawn era’ much of the focus lies in horse drawn implements and throughout the gardens many old farm implements are proudly displayed.
Deloraine and Districts Folk Museum: Must Do!
The Deloraine and Districts Folk Museum is truly a ‘must do’ on your itinerary if travelling through Deloraine, a journey back through time, so many memories for the elderly, truth of legends we’ve been passed through time and a real ‘eye opener’ for those younger. A credit to all involved in getting this Folk Museum up and running, a wonderful tribute to the history of the magical, pioneering Meander Valley region.
The museum is located at the Great Western Tiers Visitor Centre, 98-100 Emu Bay Road, Deloraine. While I have endeavoured to cover as much as possible of the Deloraine and Districts Folk Museum, please note there is truly so much more to see… the history and memorabilia to be found here is truly amazing. While visiting this centre, be sure to view the Yarns Artwork in Silk Exhibition.
All photos strictly ©Carol Haberle, H&H Photography. You can follow Carol on Facebook at Haberle Photo Cards. Carol writes feature articles for us about all things Tasmanian. Carol was a guest of the Great Western Tiers Visitor Centre. If you’d like Carol to visit you, please contact Think Tasmania.
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