Penong museum growing one year on

ADDITION: Bob Oats works on one of the latest additions, an 1898 Horwood Challenge.

ADDITION: Bob Oats works on one of the latest additions, an 1898 Horwood Challenge.

More than a year on from its official opening the Penong Windmill Museum continues to grow and attract visitors to the Far West town.

The museum opened on September 10 last year and has proven a popular attraction for the small town.

Local windmill warrior Bob Oats said it was not unusual to see five to 10 caravans parked in front of the museum at any one time.

“When we started out there were an estimated 10,000 people every three to four months,” he said.

“There are days where it’s in excess of 100 people visiting.”

Mr Oats said at least $7000 had been donated in the museum’s donation box, which would go toward managing the museum.

He said about $120 was donated each week.

The windmill museum was a community effort by members of the Penong community and included input from the Outback Communities Authority, Regional Development Australia and Penong Progress Association.

The museum has provided Penong with an attraction to get visitors to stop for a while as well as preserving some agricultural history.

Mr Oats said the already large range of windmills was expected to grow with 10 windmills at Penong ready to be restored and another 10 on their way from locations including Marla, Alice Springs and the Riverland.

One of the newest additions is a wooden 1898 Horwood Challenge made in Adelaide.

Another new addition is coming from a much closer location, Boston Island off the coast of Port Lincoln.

Former Port Lincoln mayor Peter Davis has donated the windmill he used for five to 10 years to pump water brought to the island up to his homestead.

Mr Davis said the windmill had a 14-foot diameter fan and was capable of pumping 50,000 litres per day.

“Because I’ve got a big artificial catchment system and because the pullout assembly was worn I decided to remove the wheel,” he said.

Mr Davis said he decided to donate to the museum after seeing a picture of the windmills at Penong in Member for Flinders Peter Treloar’s newsletter.

“I rang Peter Treloar’s office, spoke to him and asked ‘would the people of Penong like this mill’,” he said.

Mr Davis has given the windmill to Mr Treloar to deliver.

Mr Oats said while the windmill itself was common it was unique coming from Boston Island.

As well as money and windmills the museum has gained attention and has featured in publications including Australian Geographic, the Weekly Times and RM Williams Outback Magazine.

Late last year the museum also earned the KESAB Best Community Project award.

Mr Oats said the museum would continue to grow in the future but it would not have been possible without the local community.

“It is a community project and it’s a whole community effort to put the place on the map,” he said.