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Yeoval historians committed to bringing 'special' history to life in service to town

MORE THAN HISTORY: Banjo Paterson historian Alf Cantrell with photographer Michael Beh. PHOTO: MICHAEL BEH.
MORE THAN HISTORY: Banjo Paterson historian Alf Cantrell with photographer Michael Beh. PHOTO: MICHAEL BEH.

Yeoval's Banjo Paterson Museum curator and local historian Alf Cantrell hasn't let the trials and tribulations of the COVID-19 lockdown keep him down.

The beloved historical hot-spot in the small town was forced to close for a few months, but no time was wasted during the stand-down.

"We had to close, the law said so and we complied, but we did a lot of work in that time, we painted a lot of things, recovered the floors, we made very good use of the time even though we couldn't open up," Mr Cantrell said.

"My wife and I, we're the only volunteers left, but we do it seven days a week, with absolute love."

That commitment and community minded spirit is a big reason why the museum has another reason to celebrate, after being awarded the Awards Australia Connecting Communities Award for their work in service to their town.

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The award, which recognises those that "demonstrate genuine involvement, long-term value and add to the life of their community' was won by the museum after careful consideration this year.

"The award's fantastic, it really justifies all our hard work and this achievement in what we're making happen here," Mr Cantrell said.

"The museum is very important to Yeoval, I believe, because it attracts a lot of people to stop, a lot of traffic goes through Yeoval, but there's not much to attract people to stop and stay."

"We've spent the past fifteen years building a lot of lovely things to attract people. We've got a lovely park, a great caravan stop-over, a great pump and a lot of lovely sculptures."

The museum is a stand-out, however, and is continuing to expand in order to draw more and more new faces to the town.

"We now have Clancy's Cafe attached to the museum, people can spend an hour or two in the cafe and spend some time among the exhibits afterwards," Mr Cantrell said.

While awards and recognition are nice, Mr Cantrell's passion for the life and works of Banjo Paterson means that simply being a part of sharing that history with everyone is his greatest reward.

"It's marvellous to be able to share in it, I enjoy talking about it very much, it's special because he led about six lives in his lifetime, he did so many things during his lifetime that you and I will never be able to achieve," Mr Cantrell said.

"Few know about his war service, that he spent the Boer war as a correspondent, or his time spent in China during the revolution, his work on the war front in France, or the time he spent cataloguing history in Queensland, or covering races across the nation."

"It's amazing."

Mr Cantrell is even optimistic that after he's gone, someone else will find the same passion.

"I do hope that when I move on, certainly not in the near future, someone will take my place here."

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This story Community award a fitting tribute for Yeoval's committed historians first appeared on Daily Liberal.