Museum plan to save 'Wonder of the World' that made Gulgong the 'Ten Dollar Town'

Gulgong residents are rallying the Mid-Western Region community behind a plan to save two Mayne Street buildings which earned the town its reputation as “The Town On The Ten Dollar Note”. 

A steering committee has been formed to acquire and restore “The Greatest Wonder Of the World” and “The American Tobacco Warehouse Company & Fancy Goods Emporium” buildings and establish the Gulgong Holtermann Museum.

The museum would display 19th Century photographs from the Holtermann Collection, which was commissioned by Hill End gold miner Bernardt  Holtermann  to document Gulgong, Hill End and the surrounding areas in the roaring days of the gold rush.   The photographs are listed on the UNESCO Australian Memory of the World register. 

Scenes of Gulgong from the Holtermann collection were depicted on the  Australian ten dollar note from 1966 until polymer notes were introduced in 1993. 

Concerned that the region’s most recognisable buildings have fallen into disrepair, Gulgong Holtermann Museum Inc is calling on the community to support a plan to save the landmarks and create a new tourism attraction for the town and Mid-Western Region.

Chairman Chris Pearson and steering committee members Maureen Hall, David Warner, Maurice Gaudry and Bruce McGregor have been working for many months on the proposal. 

The group plans to restore the front facades and shops, establish gallery spaces and interactive displays inside, and construct a multi-purpose centre at the back of the building, including a theatrette showing audio visual presentations on Gulgong’s history and the story of the Holtermann collection. 

The museum would also include space for exhibitions by local and visiting artists. 

“The building either falls down or burns down or someone does something with it,” Mr Pearson said. 

The project has the blessing of the NSW State Library, which holds the Holtermann collection, and has received support in principle  from Member for Parkes Mark Coulton and Mid-Western Regional Council. 

Mr Pearson said the committee is fortunate to have the support of the building’s owner, Mr Bennett, who has allowed the group time to raise the money needed to buy the building. 

Now the committee is calling on the Mid-Western Region to get behind a fundraising drive for the project, which is expected to cost around $400,000. 

Mr Pearson said the group had already received pledges of support, including offers from tradesmen and business to assist with the reconstruction and renovation.  

The Holtermann Museum will complement the underground museum currently under construction at Gulgong’s Red Hill and is expected to be incorporated in the Red Hill Environmental Centre’s educational program. 

Mr Gaudry said the project was significant for the whole of the Mid-Western Region. 

“Everyone we have shown the plans to has been excited,” he said.  

“There is a great atmosphere of co-operation.” 

People interested in assisting the project can contact the steering committee chairman Chris Pearson on chris@thepearsons.com.au