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Cairns Historical Society has wrapped up another successful year with continued visitor growth at Cairns Museum, further investment in educational school programs and completion of the Edmonton Collection store just some of the highlights in 2018/19.

Speaking at the recent annual general meeting, Clive Skarott, president of the Cairns Historical Society, said the not-for-profit organisation had ticked off a number of achievements over the last 12 months.  

“A softening in the tourism industry, particularly in the second half of the year, has been noticeably felt.

“That said, our financial performance and visitor numbers, including our efforts to grow the school market remained strong.”

Mr Skarott said the visitor market to Cairns Museum was split with 21 percent local, 43 percent domestic and 36 percent international.

He said the Society’s decision to invest in a dedicated collections manager had also been another important long-term decision.

“Having a dedicated collections manager has ensured best practice care of the Society’s collection, which includes nationally significant books and documents, newspapers, clippings and audio-visual material.

“Melanie Sorenson’s appointment has also allowed us to recruit new volunteers with a diverse range of background and skills, as well as helped us to build the skills of the Society’s existing volunteer base who assist in the care of this collection.”

Mr Skarott said a grant from the Gambling Community Benefit Fund also allowed for the purchase of a ductless fume-hood cabinet and museum vacuum, to assist in this preservation work.

“These items will be integral when we process our mould effected material and deteriorating film and tapes.”

The 2018/19 year also saw the relocation of the Society’s off-site collection to a new purpose built Edmonton store.

“Volunteers transferred over 160 boxes to the new site. This has been a major achievement for the Society, enabling greater capacity to accommodate future acquisitions in the climate controlled storage space at the School of Arts site in the Cairns CBD.   

“Acquisition highlights include the land and deed ledgers from MacDonnells Law and the Les Paul Miniature Furniture Collection among a vast array of donations offered to the Society from the Cairns community,” Mr Skarott added.

Looking ahead, the next year will see major progress on the digitisation program. “Volunteers are being trained in using the new equipment and the first set of materials – fragile journal articles – will be digitised by the end of this financial year.”

Mr Skarott thanked staff and volunteers for the year’s work – the Society currently has 90 volunteers ranging in age from 16 to 80.

“Volunteers clocked up a staggering 22,488 hours, which if paid out at $20 an hour is a significant contribution of $250,000,” he added.

Mr Skarott said 2019/2020 promised to be another busy year as the organisation looked to new initiatives and ways of sharing its collection, which through the generosity of the community, continued to grow.

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