Funding for an archaeological dig at Banjo Paterson Park mill site

FOR BANJO: Historian Elizabeth Griffin at Banjo Paterson Memorial Park on Ophir Road where she hopes a tourist attraction will be created. Photo: JUDE KEOGH 0907jkbanjo3
FOR BANJO: Historian Elizabeth Griffin at Banjo Paterson Memorial Park on Ophir Road where she hopes a tourist attraction will be created. Photo: JUDE KEOGH 0907jkbanjo3

An archaeological dig to search for relics will take place at Banjo Paterson Memorial Park – the former site of Templer’s Mill.

Historian Elizabeth Griffin, who has been campaigning for the site to become a tourist attraction, said the dig was part of the plans that received state government funding.

It was announced on Wednesday Orange City Council would get $71,278 to “reinvigorate” Banjo Paterson Park through the provision of a toilet, picnic shelter and the development of the Banjo Poetry Walk.

The funding was provided as part of the Heritage Near Me Activation Grants program.

Ms Griffin said she was delighted with the funding.

“We are going to get a dig done,” she said.

Ms Griffin said it was likely a university who had an archaeological course would conduct the search.

And she said the community would be invited to get involved.

It’s not just a paddock on the road out to Ophir.

Elizabeth Griffin, historian

Ms Griffin said apart from being the birthplace of Banjo Paterson the site had a lot of history as it played an important part in Orange’s early years.

“It’s not just a paddock on the road out to Ophir,” she said.

“There’s a lot of history out there. It was the site of the first wheat, the first horse races, the first dairy and the first wheelwright,” she said.

The presence of wheat led to the mill being established there.

Ms Griffin said she hoped the funding would go a long way to set up the area as a tourist venue.

“It is wonderful to see it is actually coming to fruition,” she said.

“It is going to be user friendly, it is such an important site for Orange.

“There were thoughts, back in the 1840s, the village might migrate out that way rather than the Blackmans Swamp way.”

Ms Griffin said she was also happy to see Cook Park achieve state heritage status on the same day as the funding announcement.

She said there had been a push to turn the land into housing but the Crown Commissioner John Templer, stopped it, ensuring the area became a park.

“I just love the little connection between the two of them,” she said.

Ms Griffin said they would also be seeking oral history of the mill and the park.

“We want to hear from anyone who has got some local memories of playing out at the mill as a child or being out there,” she said.

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