Approaching Griffith from the east along Irrigation Way, the green leaves of the cereal crops, ripple in the wind like tiny waving flags. Eventually over spring they will grow tall and ripen into the golden cream stalks with grain laden heads of wheat, oats, barley and canola, ready to be harvested in Summer. The dry land farms give way to irrigated citrus orchards, the orange trees are laden with fruit, rice paddies and acres upon acres of rows of grape vines, their canes bare, their autumn leaves having blown away in the wind. The varieties of Shiraz, Chardonnay and Semillon the most popular.
Opened in 1971, Griffith Pioneer Park Musem was established by volunteers of the Griffith district and is still run with the help of volunteers. With over forty exhibits, featuring replicas of buildings as they stood in times gone by. Buildings such as the Myall Park Hall, which was built in 1936 and moved to site. The hall in excellent condition is now used for weddings and parties and is available for hire. The shearing shed was built on a property at Merriwagga in 1932. The rustic worn timber, still has pieces of wool hanging from the sheep pen rails and wool sorting table and the smell of lanolin hangs in the air and was moved to the site in 1982.
The building known as Bynya Homestead, is made from Cyprus Pine, that is currently the information centre, reception kiosk and coffee shop, started its life in 1879 as a homestead on a dry land cropping and sheep farm on Bynya Station. The building had been added to bit by bit over the years and when the farmer was dismantling it, he came across the core of the original split log cabin. With the help of volunteers, sketches were drawn, photographs taken and every log, piece of timber, hinge and screw, were numbered meticulously, the building dismantled and moved to the Park Museum and reassembled.
The materials used by the early settlers for constructing their cottages and farm buildings were generally sourced from the land they occupied. Cyprus pine trees were plentiful and needed to be cleared for cropping the land, they were not favoured by termites, the landowner chopped and adzed with a broadaxe, they were slotted between upright posts. Such was the construction there were many a small hole that rodents and snakes could try and make the cottage their home. The floors were often of bare earth, being trodden hard and swept clean by the farmer’s wife.
The kitchen to the cottage was generally separate to the main building, or cooking was done outside to minimise the risk of fire.
Exhibitions such as the Italian Museum and the Wine Museum, help the visitor appreciate the beginning of the Italian population migration and their contribution to the beginning of an international wine industry. The Bagtown exhibition, shows the building and working conditions of the Pioneers who constructed the irrigation canals in the district. With regular workshops and a shop with very helpful volunteers, it is a fantastic way to spend a day reliving the history of Griffith and its population and industries.