The Pioneer Women’s Hut is one of the best and most unusual small museums in the country
Cleverly themed, it reflects the ingenuity of women in finding solutions to the challenges of looking after a family in early rural Australia. The accessibility and wonderful stories behind the diverse collection add to its reputation. Professor Donald Horne in "The Intelligent Tourist " cites the Pioneer Women’s Hut as the most innovative small museum in Australia.
“History is often seen as belonging to the rich and famous but in the end history is not about great events and famous people. It is about ordinary people and their everyday lives. This is what makes us Australians. ” Wendy Hucker 1991
The Pioneer Women's Hut is located near Tumbarumba, New South Wales, Australia.
It is run by a group of volunteers under the auspice of the Tumbarumba Shire Council, now the Snowy Valleys Council.
History of the Glenroy Heritage Reserve
A “small idea” in 1982 was to build a museum to represent the everyday life of ordinary rural women. The project came to fruition over December 1985 – June 1986, and it wasn’t long before the Pioneer Women’s Hut became recognised as being of National Significance, and as one of the most important and unique museums in Australia.
The museum is nestled in a small group of buildings at the Glenroy Heritage Reserve, set amongst rolling hills with a view of the Snowy Mountains.
The Glenroy Heritage Reserve was once a golf course, and when it closed in the late 1970s the clubhouse became a home for Glenroy Cottage Crafts. The craft shop soon became very successful so the local farmers decided to add "something historical". This coincided with a rebuilding program at the local Mannus Correctional Centre so the old prison cells were transported to the reserve.
First a machinery shed was built to house the collection of farming implements representative of farming in the district in the 1900s. This was followed by the construction of the Tea Room, and the Pioneer Women's Hut, built from the recycled prison "huts".
A more recent addition was the Pannikins & Billycans building, and the Quilt Exhibition Museum, an off shoot of the Pioneer Womens' Hut Museum, is now completed.
Policy of the Pioneer Women's Hut
It is our policy to collect domestic objects relating to rural families, especially the women, and by gathering the stories put these in the context of their lives. We recognize the great diversity of women’s lives and from the first day of settlement, the very different ethnic origins that give us our Australian identity as women. We acknowledge the major contribution of aboriginal women especially in understanding the environment and remind our visitors that they were our first needlewomen.
In accepting a national role the Pioneer Women’s Hut has:
- Been actively involved in State and Federal advocacy on behalf of country museums.
- Actively encouraged women to care for their own heritage.
- Published four books and a leaflet as part of a program to encourage women to take responsibility for their own history:
- Memories of My Mother
- Midwives of Tumbarumba
- Midwives of Rosewood
- Never Too Old to Learn
- My Life with Aprons 1937-1997
In 1995 the Pioneer Women’s Hut initiated and co-ordinated a major women’s history project for the Centenary of Federation – the National Quilt Register. More information on this project is available on the National Quilt Register page.