Extended hours at the Inglewood Blue Eucy Museum
Published on 22 April 2016
Inglewood owns an asset unlike any other in the world and the story of that asset is about to be told with renewed vigour.
Thanks to a move by natural pharmaceuticals producer Bosisto’s Eucalyptus, in conjunction with Loddon Shire Council, the town’s unique links with the eucalyptus oil industry will soon be promoted far more energetically.
Opening hours at Inglewood’s Blue Eucy Museum will be dramatically expanded and efforts made to engage the local community more deeply in raising the town’s tourism profile.
Bosisto’s has announced a new funding injection to enable the museum to hire a co-ordinator and open its doors five days a week, in place of the current six hours.
Executive director Tegan Abbott said the site had long been the home of the old distillery.
“In 2003, the land came up for sale and our company bought it as a business, also recognising it could be an important cultural site,” Ms Abbott said.
“We could see Inglewood – and Wedderburn, too, to a degree – had a sense of ownership over eucalyptus oil, so we made an agreement to donate the land to Council to help create an opportunity for people to learn more about the industry.
“The story of eucalyptus oil really is unique to this area.
“The Blue Mallee (Eucalyptus Polybractea) is native to the Inglewood-Wedderburn region and it simply does not grow well anywhere else, apart from around West Wyalong in southern New South Wales.
“These trees yield the best medicinal oil that can be produced in the world.
“Since then, Bosisto’s and Council have had an ongoing relationship, particularly considering the passion both sides have for the industry, its machinery and the entwined stories of local people.”
The museum tells the stories of the eucalyptus oil industry through historic artefacts, videos, static displays and a working model distillery.
A retail area offers a café, books, souvenirs and natural products for sale.
Committee secretary Murray Baud said the site also hosted a plantation of blue mallee and selection of native wildflowers.
“In the grounds, we have an old roller, hay rake and tractor that were once in use and we’re looking to build up our stock of historic machinery,” Mr Baud said.
“Other plans include the idea of a miniature railway and extending one side of the building to house the Cliff and Bunting traction engine currently undergoing conservation works by Museums Victoria.
“Our visitor numbers continue to be steady – over five years, we’ve had almost 3,000 people come through.”
Loddon Shire tourism marketing officer Robyn Vella said the museum was expected to open Thursday to Sunday, with herself on-site every Monday on behalf of Council.
“The volunteers have been doing a great job, but we’re now embarking on a six-month trial aimed at giving visitors an enhanced experience, attracting more volunteers and connecting the museum more into the community,” Mrs Vella said.
“To be successful a strong partnership needs to be formed between, the museum, the community, local businesses, Loddon Tourism and Felton Grimwade and Bosisto’s.
“Inglewood offers some rich visitor experiences, with its collectables stores, beautiful heritage buildings, and ‘blue plaque’ trail walk, Melville Caves, proximity to the Loddon River and the complete story of the eucalyptus industry.
“Then there’s the museum, where people can see, touch and smell that industry in a way nowhere else can match.”
Bosisto’s story stretches back to 1848, when 21-year-old Yorkshire pharmacist Joseph Bosisto arrived in Adelaide.
Joseph moved to Victoria in search of gold, but instead opened a pharmacy in Richmond.
Four years later, he opened Australia’s first commercial distillery, at Dandenong Creek, followed by three more close by.
By 1891, Bosisto’s Oil of Eucalyptus was a world-wide success, winning prizes in 17 international exhibitions, but, by 1950, overseas competition had sparked a decline.
Current owners the Abbott family bought the company in 1974 and new products began to appear.
Now based in Oakleigh South and employing 70 staff, the company’s current range includes eucalyptus, lavender and tea-tree products, cold and flu, commercial, cleaning, laundry, therapeutic, nutritional supplements and blood pressure monitors.
The Blue Eucy museum is situated on the Calder Highway but the entry is at 20 Grant St North, Inglewood.