May 13, 2022
South Burnett Regional Council volunteer Pam Kerr prides herself on being able to solve mysteries.
The former cotton grower from St George now volunteers at the Kingaroy Heritage Museum where she greets visitors and maintains displays.
But Pam also enjoys tracking down the owners of ancient objects, stories about local families and the history behind a specific address.
“We get all kinds of research requests. There’s nothing I like better than a good mystery,” Pam said.
The SBRC operate museums at Kingaroy and Wondai.
The two museums are staffed by local volunteers who are eager to have some fresh blood join their ranks after numbers shrank during the COVID-19 era.
“Volunteering at the Museum is a great way to get to know the history of our local area, the pioneers and the agricultural industries,” Pam said.
She is now a Senior Volunteer, having served for five years, and puts in three days a week working from 9:00am to 4:00pm.
“We could use a hand from more volunteers, even if it’s just a couple of hours a week,” she said.
“I’ve worked all my life and the time volunteering doesn’t bother me. I enjoy interacting with locals and visitors as well as schoolchildren.
“Most tourists are surprised to discover that the peanut is a legume, not a nut, and that there are 99 silos in total at the Kingaroy processing plant.”
The work of the volunteers is appreciated by councillors.
Cr Kirstie Schumacher said the museums add to tourists’ understanding of the region.
“This would not be possible without the efforts of our hardworking volunteers,” she said.
Cr Danita Potter said that having a focal point that gathered up the heritage of a region was important for the community’s future.
Pam is fascinated by the donations that come in.
“Families often donate their heirloom treasures which have to be uniquely local to qualify for display,” she said.
“It’s not unusual for me to Google items that come in and find their value and origins.
“Then there are the history requests which I really like. I put on my thinking cap and do some research and pass the knowledge on.
“Recently we found a beautiful old studio photograph that needed to be returned to its owner. We eventually tracked down the current family member, a grandchild, and sent it to them and they were so grateful.
“Our museum is popular with visitors because the machinery is presented straight off the farm and shows the canny ways farmers improvised and created their own.”
Pam’s advice to future volunteers is to have a go.
“You don’t need to be a local expert, there are plenty of resources and knowledgeable people to call on.
“You’re never on your own. Come and learn and then pass it on.
“In making a contribution, you’ll find that you take away much more than you put in.”
Potential volunteers at either the Kingaroy Heritage Museum or Wondai Heritage Museum should contact Council’s People & Culture team on (07) 4189-9100.