Cundletown and Lower Manning Historical Society

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Twenty three years ago, Margaret Love and fellow historian Shirley Burne volunteered to collate some historic photographs which had been tucked away in files at Cundletown Public School.
This initial research ultimately led to the establishment of what we now know as the Cundletown and Lower Manning Historical Society. Margaret gave up some time recently to tell us a bit more about this wonderful archive of our region’s history.

Can you give our readers an overview on the Cundletown and Lower Manning Historical Society, and how you ended up being located where you are today.

For many years the members of Cundletown & Lower Manning Historical Society Inc. (CLMHS) (known as Cundletown Museum) had been on the lookout for larger secure premises in which to relocate. They had outgrown the temporary rooms utilised in the Cundletown School Teacher’s Residence, and with an ever expanding collection of resources, and frequent offers of valuable artefacts, the need for larger accommodation had become essential.   

It came to the notice of the CLMHS that the unique and historically relevant property known as “Cundletown Soldiers Memorial Hall” was being under-utilised, and would possibly be available to accommodate them.  

After preliminary talks between both committees, a survey of the local residents, and some repairs and internal changes that would support the hanging displays, the move became a reality, with the relocation taking place over the Christmas period in 2011/12, and the opening in January 2012. 

What sort of records do you keep/have you found over the last 23 years?

The Cundletown Museum focuses on the preservation of all aspects of dairy farming, with a large unique display of artefacts and memorabilia from both the now defunct Peters and Lower Manning Dairy Co-Op (Peeress) factories, as well as many items from local farms.  

There are also displays featuring businesses in the town and area, and a section recording the domestic duties of farmers’ wives. Thanks to the expertise of local sign writer Jim Nesbitt, the museum has four silhouettes depicting members of the community engaged in their businesses, adding a realistic dimension to the displays.

There are also exhibits of industries associated with the dairy industry, particularly river trade, with a new section being set up at present depicting our maritime history. As farmers supplemented their income by felling and selling the trees on their property, there is also a large display relating to the timber industry, including cut cross and vintage chain saws. 

For those desiring to do research, there are a large variety of documents, photos and books relating to the local area available for perusal, with a number for purchase. A recent acquisition is the only bound copies of the Manning River Times from 1952 through to 2012. The Times were unable to take these with them when relocating, so entrusted us to be the new custodians.

Who manages the ongoing collating and documenting of your collection?

This task is shared by several members of the organisation. Collection of artefacts, storage, cleaning, location and display are all aspects of collation, as are the production of signs and interesting information concerning the items which inform visitors. We work as a team to instil the relevance of local history. 

What’s been the most interesting/amazing thing you’ve uncovered over the years?  

It is difficult to pinpoint one particular thing! The horse drawn Ruff’s Bread Cart is a unique, restored display of a bygone era, when bread was delivered by horse and cart to our homes. The lovingly reconditioned Peter’s Milk Can truck is a popular exhibit, and the models of early sailing ships are detailed and accurate. We look forward to the arrival of an original Lower Manning Co-Op Cream Boat in the near future, which museum members will be restoring.

How is the Historical Society funded?  

As a non-profit, volunteer run organisation, the CLMHS relies on creating its own income “streams”. Formerly, fund raising has included holding markets, raffles, concerts and special events, such as High Teas. 

Although we have been grateful when we have been successful in applying for grants for specific purposes, our running costs are dependent upon admission through the door by visitors, either singularly or in groups.  

An exciting fundraising venture scheduled for Sunday 28th April between 3pm and 7pm is the museum’s participation in The Arts Mid North Coast’s SHINE Festival.

The museum also organises regular coach trips as fundraising ventures, with the next ones available being: 

  • Monday 17th June, to the Glen Campbell Songbook Show at Buttai Barn
  • Monday 5th August, to Gloucester and surrounds 
  • Sunday 13th October, cruise on beautiful Lake Macquarie

Full details of these interesting trips are available at the museum or by phoning Margaret on 6553 9574 or 0428 522 556.

Museum information for our readers:

The Cundletown Museum is located on the corner of Main and Queen Streets, Cundletown in the newly painted “Soldiers Memorial Hall”. We are open six days a week from 10am until 3pm (closed on Mondays) – other times by appointment.

Contact the museum on (02) 6553 9574 / mobile 0428 522 556, visit or email

Thanks Margaret.
Interview: Ingrid Bayer.

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