The Federal Government has provided $90,000 to assist the Orange Regional Museum to purchase a valuable antique with links to the Ben Hall gang of bushrangers.
Federal Member for Calare, Andrew Gee said funding has been provided through the National Cultural Heritage Account to preserve the ornamental centrepiece, known as the Campbell Epergne.
“The sterling silver grand epergne was presented to Amelia and David Campbell by the Forbes community in 1864 to acknowledge their bravery in resisting an attack from Ben Hall’s gang on their property, making special note of Amelia’s heroism,” Mr Gee said.
“The 72-centimetre high epergne was made in London in 1862 by Thomas Smily. It will be part of a special exhibition at the Orange Regional Museum, which will detail the history and significance of the bushranger attack and Amelia and David Campbell’s courage.”
Orange mayor Reg Kidd believes the story behind the silver artefact will make it a crucial acquisition for the museum.
“Bushrangers have always been a colourful part of Australia’s history, but the debate about whether they were popular ‘Robin Hood’ characters or dangerous criminals had a turning point when Ben Hall’s gang attacked a farmhouse and fired on a woman,” Cr Reg Kidd said.
“The story of how a community rallied around this woman and gave her this expensive gift is all about how the community’s attitude to bushrangers was beginning the change.
“The museum is delighted by the Australian Government support for this project as well as the generosity of local families. Donations from the from the Leahey Family, Kylie Winkworth, Elisabeth Edwards, Russell and Anne Tym, and Orange Regional Museum Fund Ltd are also much appreciated.”
The Government’s National Cultural Heritage Account provides support to assist in purchasing Australian protected objects and ensure they are preserved in Australia for public display for current and future generations.
The Orange Regional Museum has contributed the remaining $25,000 required to purchase the epergne.
For more information about the Account visit: www.arts.gov.au/NCHA