It’s not often an activity would equally entertain a nine-year-old boy and a 100-year-old grandmother, but the interactive experience at the new-look Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame in Longreach has hit that multi-generational sweet spot.
- The outback Queensland museum reopened on Thursday after a revamp
- Visitors can now enjoy an interactive, choose-your-own-adventure experience
- Real stories have been collected over decades, including from handwritten notes
The outback Queensland museum reopened on Thursday after a $15 million makeover three years in the making.
Gladstone residents Mandy and Huub De Bruijn extended their stay in Longreach for the reopening.
“It’s just blown me away,” Mrs De Bruijn said.
“I thought we’d be finished within two hours. We’re two hours in and we’re not even halfway through.”
The museum has been transformed from old-fashioned static displays to an interactive, choose-your-own-adventure-style experience using headsets and smart devices.
“It’s day and night,” CEO Lloyd Mills said, comparing the new Hall of Fame to the old.
“It’s been completely transformed from what you would expect a traditional museum to be, into what the museums of today should be.
“Our visitors decide what they want to see … what they want to hear.”
‘No kid wants to go to a museum’ … until now
For kids visiting the Hall of Fame, the lure of a treasure hunt is too exciting to pass up.
Led by an interactive, digital kelpie on their headset, children are tasked with a search-and-find mission around the museum.
“It’s really awesome,” said Will, 9, from Victoria.
Mr Mills said enticing more families to the Hall of Fame was a big priority.
“No kid wants to go to a museum, let’s be honest,” he said.
“We’ve never had children stay in the museum for longer than 10 or 15 minutes, [in] that age group [of] seven through 12 in particular.”
The investment has paid off.
“I think an hour and a half they were in there, having a play,” Mr Mills said.
Telling authentic stories from Australia’s outback
One-hundred-year-old Amy Crosbie and her son Paul were meant to travel to outback Queensland last year so Ms Crosbie could fulfil a long-held dream to see the Hall of Fame.
COVID-19 ruined that plan, but Ms Crosbie said it was a blessing in disguise.
Ms Crosbie was impressed with the stories of rural Australians celebrated in the museum.
“I’m of pioneer stock,” she said.
“My families all came out here in 1854 and they all took up land in Victoria, so I am actually a country girl at heart.
“I was brought up with kelpies many years ago.”
Mr Mills said the stories told in the exhibits had come from a history collection curated over decades, biographies donated by the families of stockmen and women, and even handwritten notes.
Indigenous Australians and female stock workers, whose vital roles in rural Australian life were often overlooked, have also taken up their rightful place in the displays.
For Mandy and Huub De Bruijn, altering their holiday plans was worth it.
“It’s absolutely amazing,” Mr De Bruijn said.
“It’s definitely worth a visit — absolutely stunning.”