LANDCARE – Natural history archive planned for Imperial Lakes

Landcare Broken Hill is looking to create a Natural History Museum and Gallery as part of the Environmental Sustainability Hub at their Imperial Lakes Nature Park.

This museum will focus on the natural history of the Outback, especially the Arid Zone Bioregion where we all live.

The idea’s come off the back of the Barrier Field Naturalists Club of Broken Hill celebrating its centenary back in 2021 and its flagship event – a natural history exhibition held at the Geo Centre in the third quarter of 2021 – which was delayed a year due to Covid restrictions.

The exhibition was an outstanding success. Wonderful environmental art in the form of botanical paintings and wildlife photography combined with fascinating records and objects extracted from the Barrier Field Naturalist section of the Broken Hill City Archives, together with material lent from private exhibitions.

The Centenary Exhibition was a reminder of the richness of the Far West NSW environment.

From this experience emerged the realisation that in the back sheds, attics, storerooms and collections of so many people, especially the city’s long-term residents, there is a wealth of fabulous material that can’t be allowed to be lost.

Ranging from memorabilia, photos and art works, collections of natural history artifacts such as pressed plants, taxidermy objects, feathers, eggs, etc, there is material worth collecting and, over time, exciting people’s interest in our natural history with wonderful insights into the diversity of our environment.     

“Do you have items that you believe might be best cared for in our proposed Natural History Museum and Gallery?”

Landcare is putting a call out to all residents – do you have in your possessions items that you believe might be best cared for in our proposed Natural History Museum and Gallery? Do you have memorabilia, records, photos, pressed plants, interesting collected items that would be better housed with us than left to the moods of uncertain succession to family or friends, or worse – unknown public trustees – who may not share your enthusiasm for the object or item of interest.

Remember – what is treasure to one, may be rubbish to others. So please don’t risk it and delay taking steps to safeguard your precious things until it is too late.


Troppo Architects of Adelaide, have designed for Landcare Broken Hill a wonderful facility, which will have on the ground floor, a repository of natural history objects, a keeping place of treasured and rare collectables and an archive, while on the upper level there will be a magnificent exhibition space for changing exhibitions, surrounded by balconies with great views out across the lakes.

 Of course, Broken Hill is a city where people come for the galleries, and while the City has its own Archive, with mainly written and documentary materials, our Nature Park with its Sustainability Hub can work with others such as the Geocentre and the Art Gallery to effectively provide an environmental expo site which would be quite distinct from what is available elsewhere.

It is entirely appropriate within the Nature Park to have a substantial focus on natural history collections and associated artistic environmental endeavours in painting, drawing and photography.

Collections of natural history items assembled into one facility can perform a critical educational role, they sustain scientific research and they become a true bank for ongoing safekeeping and recording. One can only reflect on how much the poorer the South Australian Museum would have been had it not received the pressed plant collection – the herbaria – of Albert and Margaret Morris after they passed away. Collected in the Broken Hill region from the early 1930s, the collection of some 11,000 specimens, is a research and reference source of inestimable value.

Landcare Broken Hill is determined to create a truly exciting and interesting facility to showcase our region’s natural history.

Keep in mind the importance of collections held in archives: they are the legacy of the past, inspiring the future.

An interesting pressed plant may inspire a young person to become a botanist, a well-preserved beautifully feathered bird might lead to a future ornithologist, a giant dried insect leads a young person to entomology, or an intriguingly patterned dried snake skin might trigger the excitement in a young person to become a herpetologist.

Every scientist, every environmentalist, every person with a fascination in natural history, can most probably think back to something that sparked their interest and a career that followed: was it a picnic in the bush, a school excursion to a museum, or an exciting discovery in the back yard?

Let us hope that a reader of this article might just have the very thing on a shelf at home, that once donated to Landcare’s exciting Natural History facility, leads to a future modern-day Charles Darwin.

If you have items that may be of interest, please let us know at Landcare via email on [email protected]

Support the Barrier Truth!

We are a small, independently owned newspaper. If you got something from this article, giving something back helps us to continue publishing the truth from the Broken Hill region. Every little bit counts.

More Articles