Regional museum is searching for items and characters for new food-based exhibition

HISTORY LIVES: Visitors examine exhibits at the Orange Regional Museum ahead of a new exhibition installed by April 2018. Photo: JUDE KEOGH
HISTORY LIVES: Visitors examine exhibits at the Orange Regional Museum ahead of a new exhibition installed by April 2018. Photo: JUDE KEOGH

Orange’s place as a food and wine hub had an inauspicious start.

George Hawke, an employee on a property at Byng, was given six acres of land and then took nine years to decide to do with it.

In 1838 he planted apples, cherries and plums and three years later his first harvest in 1841 reaped just two apples.

The next one saw his production climb to 26 apples.

But he persevered and helped establish an industry that has helped put Orange on the map.

The history of the food grown around Orange and how it shaped the area’s culture and economy is to be the focus of the next exhibition at the Orange Regional Museum.

To be known as Paddock to Plate the exhibition is due to open next April to coincide with the 2018 FOOD Week festival.

Organisers are calling on the community to open their cupboards, sheds and photo albums to find items suitable to be displayed.

Orange City Council’s Services Policy committee chair Cr Ron Gander said the museum aimed to develop and change its displays.

“The current exhibition Journeys: People, Place, Stories, has been received well with hundreds of visitors every week.

“People know Orange has a rich history of food and wine but do people know the individual stories of the characters that helped shape our region and its food industry?

“Like the story of the first commercial fruit grower in Orange, George Hawke.

“He travelled back to Cornwall in search of root stock to grow here but they all died.

“Instead he planted a variety of fruit trees including apples, cherries, plums and peaches from elsewhere in Australia, and as they say, the rest is history.”

It is expected that schoolchildren will be able to be involved in educational workshops with the new exhibition, as they have with the current display.

“It’s in its early stage but we’re hoping to have cordial making workshops and children can learn to cook using 19th century ingredients and methods,” he said.

Apart from asking for contributed items from the public, museum staff are also looking to discover stories about people connected to the development of food and wine production in the region.

The current display will be freshened up next month with an exhibit focusing on early Chinese migration to Orange.