Sunday, 11 December 2022

It is a great pleasure to be here at the Charles Sturt Memorial Museum, to officially open the new Visitor Centre.

This is the first time Rod and I have visited this historic site, and we are looking forward to getting to know the museum community here today.

Since its opening in 1967 by the Governor, Lieutenant General Sir Edric Bastyan, this museum has educated many thousands of visitors on the life and home of Captain Charles Sturt.

It has captured the imagination of locals, interstate visitors and international travellers as they have contemplated the achievements of one of Australia’s greatest explorers.

Sturt is remembered most notably as a founder of South Australia, the explorer who uncovered the secrets of the Murray Darling Basin, and the first European almost to reach the centre of Australia.

Importantly, he was also a great lover of flora and fauna, a drawer and painter, and a writer of detailed journals, which show us his respect for Aboriginal people and interest in understanding their culture.

I note that the new exhibition, ‘Antipodean Dreams’, moves beyond a tradition depiction of Sturt as ‘colonial explorer’, challenging romantic notions regarding the history of exploration in Australia, and capturing the many dimensions of Sturt’s life, achievements and character.

I thank all the museum staff, and exhibition director Denise Schumann, for the dedicated work they have invested in bringing this exhibition together, and their commitment to excellence in museum practice.

Friends,

Undertaking a project like the creation of this new Visitor Centre, with the funding and logistics challenges involved, is no small feat for an organisation run entirely by volunteers.

I congratulate the Trust’s Board and members for bringing this project to fruition.

It must be extremely satisfying to see your vision come to life!

I thank sincerely the supporters who donated generously to this project, foremost among them the late John Howland.

I trust he is here in spirit with us today.

I also thank President Merle Weston, the Copland Foundation and the History Trust of South Australia for their important contributions.

I am very grateful to the Trust’s volunteers for their work on this project and the broader museum, particularly during the challenging times of the last few years.

Volunteers have shown outstanding dedication to keep the museum running during the pandemic and building works.

From liaising with architects and builders, writing grant proposals, assisting with research for the exhibition, developing website content and countless other tasks – I thank you all for your hard work and enthusiasm.

Congratulations to the Charles Sturt Memorial Museum Trust on the completion of this major project.

It is now my great pleasure to declare the Visitor Centre open!