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President's Report

At the Members meeting on Friday 17th November it was agreed to change the Museum Opening Hours – 10AM to 2PM on the same days that we’re now open: Tues/Wed/Thurs/Sat/Sun. This means there will be only ONE shift per day for 4 hours, maintaining 2 Front Desk (FD) volunteers per shift. The reduction from being open 24.5 hours per week to 20 hours per week with only one roster shift does not appear initially to be a large one, yet this makes quite a difference in the commitment level and organisation of FD roster volunteers – from 64 to 40 volunteer spots that need to be filled each month.  


This decision was made after many months of discussion by the Committee, exploring other options with FD volunteers and the Roster Officer Bev Mansfield, and further consideration at the Members meeting of the following: impact on admissions and takings; the appeal to local artists of hiring the Old Kirk; closing up after Hearing Australia on Tuesdays in the Function Room; comparison with other museums in the region; and analysing the data we collect on days/times of our museum visitors. In relation to the latter, there was no pattern, nor any one day nor timeslot that stood out.


The new hours will start from Tuesday 6 February, 2024, giving all of us time to review what we can offer on the FD roster and respond to Bev Mansfield’s recent email, and of course change our promotional signs, flyer, website, social media, advertising on community noticeboard and inform Council and tourism organisations.I thank everyone involved in the decision-making process and their thoughtful contributions.

Year in Review

At the November Committee meeting we reviewed what had been achieved during 2023 as per our Strategic Plan – we’ve completed 18 actions/projects since mid January. You will have read about this work in previous newsletters or heard my AGM report, but I feel it’s important to recognise the additional projects and workload taken on by the Committee and those volunteers who take an active and advisory role with these projects.

The 2023 projects include completion of two Yaegl designed murals; relocation of the front desk and Bookshop area; reorganisation of the Flinders Room with a dedicated space for the Collection Team; replacing the server; installing an honour board for Life Members; conservation of 5 maritime signals from the Breakwater Room; replacing the Old Kirk’s front steps which were badly water damaged.


Some of these projects were funded by grants, such as the murals, honour board for Life Members, Kirk steps; others were funded from the Society’s finances, such as the new server and part of the conservation cost of the 5 maritime signals.


Planting bee

On a Monday morning about 1 month go, a few volunteers spent 2 hours planting approx 45 new bush plants in the Yaegl Cultural garden. We laboured in high humidity and got very lucky with all the good recent – the watering roster group is relieved! We were able to access funds from a NSW Government Stipend Grant of $2,000, awarded to small NFP museums for the very first time.
















Free furniture from Grafton Regional Gallery

The Director of Grafton Regional Gallery Sarah Gurich has been very generous in offering to not-for-profit organisations across the Clarence Valley display furniture surplus to the gallery’s needs. We’ve been most fortunate in getting three items for free: a display case on casters with a perspex lid, a lectern, and a square medium size white plinth. The display case and lectern were designed and made by Neil Scobie. (Read more on this designer).


Security lighting in Yaegl Cultural Garden

With luck, we’ll have solar lighting in the YCG before Christmas – local electrician Chris Young is planning to source and install solar panels on poles – 2 poles outside the front entrance and 2 poles on the edge of the carpark. These panels will provide lighting over the pathway around the museum building and across the carpark when it’s dark, adding to our current security measures. The large pole on the right hand side of the Old Kirk (looking from River Street) will also have a solar panel installed, replacing the current light that needs to be switched on from inside the Old Kirk. The cost of approximately $3,500 is funded by a grant from the FRRR charity organisation.


Christmas lunch

Following the success of last year’s Christmas function, we’re again having lunch at the Wobbly Chook on Friday 8th December, from 12 noon at the outside tables. There’ll be two special gifts as door prizes. Please respond to the email from Secretary Anne Dinham to secure your seat, or email .


Summer Holiday Closures

We will close Yamba Museum on Thursday 21st December and re-open on Tuesday 2nd January 2024 – this is a welcome break for all volunteers.


My warmest wishes to all members and their families for a safe, relaxing and festive 2023 Christmas season.

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Neil Scobie, who died aged 63 in 2016, was internationally recognised woodworker and presenter. After teaching at schools he taught at his workshop in Lower Bucca, made furniture for commission and for exhibition, presented at symposiums in USA and Europe and wrote textbooks and for magazines. He could design, turn, carve, join and embellish wood with consummate skill.

The Clarence Valley was introduced to Neil at the annual Seelands Exhibition (1990-1996). Most of the furniture for the Grafton Regional Gallery shop and exhibition display units were made by Neil who could solve most design criteria to create beautiful and functional forms.

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Yamba Museum was graced with a visit from the Governor of NSW, the Honourable Margaret Beazley and her husband Mr Denis Wilson, on the 26th October .  They were enthralled with our Yaegl Cultural Garden, the displays and the story of Yamba.  Fortunately, the Old Kirk had on display the art exhibit 'The Surreal Feel' and artists Linda Westmoreland and Graham Mackie were invited to describe their surrealist works.  Mr Wilson, a keen artist, was particularly interested in the artworks.


A delightful afternoon tea was served in the Function Room with thanks to Society Members, especially Brenda Salisbury.

Click on the image to see more pictures of the visit


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MP Ritchie Williamson and Graham Mackie
Clarence MP Ritchie Williamson opens the Exhibition alongside President Peter Hudson
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The Old Kirk hosted the Annual Yamba Lions Club's Art Show from Saturday 16th September to Wednesday 27th September. Over 50 art entries of various styles and mediums offered something for everyone, including works by renowned artist Jan Hudson, who also teases art at U3A. "unique and original artwork creates interest in a room, often tells a story, invokes the senses or a memory, and inspires discussion." Remarked Museum Member Denise Patten. 


Funds raised from art sales assisted in purchasing much needed items at Yamba, Palmers Island and Harwood Public Schools. 

In recent months the  Yamba Lions Club generously supported the local SES, Marine Rescue and the Dragon Boaters.

Paint and Sip

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An interesting event in the Old Kirk on Sunday 26 November when 20 women took a painting lesson from Janelle Dornseiff, as they sipped a glass of wine.

Commonwealth Bank Award

Commonwealth Bank Grant winner. Lesley Pickering, Kerry Hulm, Holly Bourke, Anne Dinham an


Museum members were thrilled to be the successful recipients of the recent Commbank Community Grants award of $500.  A presentation was made at the museum on Thursday 28th September by Yamba Commonwealth Bank's Holly Bourke.  "The Museum Exectutive Committee would like to thank all those in the community who voted for our Museum during the grant process" said President Lesley Pickering.  With many projects and maintenance on the     'to do' list this essential funding is very welcome!

Our Museum is a constant source of community activity with exhibitions held in our Old Kirk and a facility for recording and displaying Yamba's history from the original inhabitants, the Yaegl people, to the present day. Visitors travel through time with well documented and displayed exhibits, including the surfboard, and surfer, attacked by shark!

If you would like to become more involved in the running's of the museum please contact Anne Dinham:

Art exhibition by Caroline Varendorff with sketches by Paul Varendorff 

Click on the image to see pictures of the upcoming exhibition

Caroline has been exhibiting her work for the last 20 years at galleries and Art Prize Exhibitions in Sydney, the Central Coast, Byron Shire and the Lower Clarence.  In February 2022 her exhibition "Captivating Clarence" (charcoal drawings) displayed at the Grafton Regional French Door Gallery was a great success with a number of sales.  During this exhibition Caroline won first prize in the Lower Clarence Arts and Crafts Exhibition with her painting "Decomposition".

During the mid '70's Caroline attended an Art College in The Hague, Netherlands where she studied painting, life drawing and ceramic sculpture.  Returning to Australia, she continued

her studies at the National Art School (East Sydney Tech) with a course in bronze casting.

Her years in Sydney were spent doing part-time office work allowing her to continue her art practice. Chosen as a finalist in the Mosman Art Prize 2009, and the Gosford Art Prize 2007-2011. Returning to the North Coast in 2012 Caroline entered the Boarder Art Prize each year and won prizes in the annual Ocean Shores Art Expo until moving to the Lower Clarence in 2020.




Many thanks to carpenter Brett Serjeant for the great job he did in repairing the front steps of the Old Kirk.

Who are they?

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Many of you were curious to know the story behind this delightful family picnic scene in our Spring Newsletter. 


The photo is of a picnic party at Yamba Point c1896. Mr and Mrs Horace Harding of Grafton with daughters Mildred (b 1884) and Elma (b 1893). Mrs Helene Ehlers with her two daughters, Agnes (b 1888) and Elsa (b 1890). It was photographed by Helene’s husband, Mr Carl Ehlers, who was a Grafton photographer for about 10 years between 1887 and 1897.  This photograph would have been taken shortly before Ehlers left the district and returned to Germany.  The photograph and the information was provided by Mrs Dulcie Caroline Woodburn  (née Harding 1898-1990 and younger sister of the two girls mentioned) in 1985.

Family Background

Horace John Baker Harding was born in Wanganui, New Zealand in 1857. For some time before he arrived on the Clarence, he gained experience as a jeweller and watchmaker with Messrs. Hardy Bros. in Sydney. He established his own business in Prince Street, Grafton in 1882. He travelled to Windsor in Sydney in 1883 to marry Lucina Carroll, known as “Seenie”. The couple’s eldest daughter, Mildred Annie, was born in Grafton in 1884, followed by Elma Eunice in 1893. Their son, Claude was born the following year, but died at just 11 days old. Seenie, Mildred and Elma can be seen in the photograph while on a picnic outing to Yamba. Horace’s youngest daughter, Dulcie Caroline, was born later in 1898.


Horace was described as a loyal and energetic citizen of Grafton. He was involved with the establishment of a Rifle Club on Susan Island, the butter factory, a library and School of Arts. River excursions to Yamba were popular in early days and in 1909, a property now known as No. 20 Clarence Street was purchased in his wife’s name. The building thereon would have been constructed shortly thereafter. Seenie passed away in 1921 and in 1929, after a short holiday at Yamba, Horace and his unmarried eldest daughter moved to Lindfield in Sydney where Horace died in 1944. The property in Clarence Street, while never permanently occupied by the Harding family, passed through the hands of Horace’s children and grandchildren. In 2006, grandson Donald Harding Woodburn, the sole owner at that time, had the old building raised and refurbished to a two-level structure.


Carl Ehlers was a photographer, born in Germany in about 1854 and came to the Clarence in 1886/7 with his wife, Helene. There is evidence that Carl was in Grafton in 1886 before his wife arrived in 1887, maybe to check things out first. The couple had two daughters, Agnes (1888) and Elsa (1890) and twin sons, Adolf and Carl, who both died in infancy in 1894.


Carl Ehlers and Horace Harding would have been acquaintances as business owners in Grafton. However, they would also have known each other through the Rifle Club. Both Carl and Horace were known as fine marksmen. Both families were enjoying an outing at Yamba when the photograph was taken by Carl. The photograph was provided and described by Dulcie Woodburn, daughter of Horace Harding, in 1985. While claimed to be dated about 1896, it may have been a little earlier as it is believed that Helene Ehlers left the district and returned to Germany with her daughters in 1895. Carl followed in 1897.


In a long poem titled “Prince Street Directory in Rhyme” by “Boz”, appearing in the Clarence and Richmond Examiner of 11th and 18th September 1886, there were the following verses:


“Harding, the champion of clocks and rings,

And anything else for the money it brings;

He is a very good fellow, I ween,

And knows his trade ‘tis very well seen.”

“Another aspirant for fame has lately come to town

Takes people’s houses, horses, dogs – my likeness or your own;

Ehler’s the name – takes warriors bold, or lover and his lass,

His show in front you all may see free gratis as you pass.”

Researcher Robin Knight


Click on the image to see more pictures of the excursion


Dr John gave PYHS members heaps to consider when you're next walking along the Yamba Breakwater:  that the Clarence River went backwards: tops of rocks are younger than their bottoms; why there are coarse and fine pebbles in the same rock; iron staining; Liesegang rings/circles; what Zircons can tell us; the Hot Cross buns effect - tells us it's the top of the rock; significance of The Wallace Line. And so much more!

It was a wonderful finale with Dr John presenting his latest hypothesis on continental drift by unveiling his latest painting depicting an expanding Earth.    -   Lesley Pickering

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