Casino in the Great Divide on the Richmond River gave Melba the chance to see how a community valued its music and arts. The station was argu
ably the smallest she arrived at but the welcome from the townspeople made up for that.
Her concert at the School of Arts was across the road from the Commercial Hotel where she stayed so it was a simple walk across the road crammed with hundreds of people.
Today the School of Arts still operates and has its own lending library based in minimal membership. However, it is the third building on the same site. Not only does it still operate but it actively supports the arts of the town. The Casino Family History Group has its home in the building along with many businesses at street level.
We made contact with both the family history group and the Casino & District Historical Society.
At the family history group Barbara Hollis was a great help. Her husband is a relative of Bill Hollis of Coldstream who was a gardener at Coombe Cottage. It’s such a small world.
At the historical society, president Bob Moran made us very welcome and he and his team of volunteers produced lots of images and information.
We were privileged to be asked to attend the society’s special function and we happily agreed. The School of Arts had given the society funding to setting up the internet at the museum. The Richmond Valley Council provided the infrastructure as the society was operating in a council-owned building.
The internet was officially launched by specially worded emails being sent to the New South Wales Governor David Hurley; NSW Deputy Premier and Minister for the Arts Troy Grant and local MPs Chris Galaptis and Kevin Hogan.
After the commissioning, society president Bob Moran asked me to say a few words about my Melba Back Blocks Tour and mention the support I had received from the society.
I was only too happy to oblige and over supper spent time chatting with the Richmond Valley Council’s general manager Vaughan McDonald who is passionate about preserving the district’s history.
We also enjoyed a great supper and meeting many of the society’s members.
Plans are being developed to build a purpose-built facility housing the society and its collection, the military museum and Visitor Information Centre. Let’s hope by the time we visit Casino again the building has proceeded.
I was very impressed with the work of the society with its displays and publications. It is a real credit to the town.