A Twinkle in her Eyes – Valda Hateley

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Teenage Valda. Studio portrait in Dimboola

Valda Constance Sharp was born (1927) and bred in Dimboola. Her life is imbued with a giving heart that makes her Christian faith an everyday reality and an example for all. Her thirst for learning and enthusiasm for living are also an inspiration! Now in her nineties, Valda recently rekindled her love for the French language by joining a French Speaking course at the U3A in Horsham.

She shared her life and memories with me a few weeks ago, and it is with great honour and pleasure that I am now presenting this audio interview and photo gallery to you.


Brigitte Muir

Photo Gallery

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Valda’s papa, George Sharp was a very talented young boy. Here is a sample of his work as a 10 yo in his school book, 1907. Later, his creativity became more pragmatic, he used to mend all the family shoes.

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George Sharp, Valda’s father.

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Annie Victoria Reed with her daughter Valda in front of their house in Dimboola.

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Dimboola Higher Elementary School, 1941. Valda is third from right, front row. Valda’s love for the French language was started by her teacher, Arthur Beaumont, top left corner.

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Valda loved sport and physical exercise almost as much as her singing. Here she is ( Front row, first on right) with the Teachers College basketball team in 1946.


.. and enjoying a little synchronised swimming with her friends!

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The Wimmera River held an important place in Valda’s life. Picnics and swimming, and when she met Neil Hateley, she shared her river with him as well.

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Neil and Valda were married on 9 October 1954 and moved to Neil’s parents farm on the Wimmera River near Quantong.

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Christianity has always held a major role in Valda’s life, from teaching religion to school children, singing in a church choir and writing poetry, to being a Preacher and Church Elder.

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The Sharp family Bible, passed down generations.


A New Year at the Arapiles Historical Society


From all of us at  the Arapiles Historical Society, a very rewarding 2023!

If you feel like joining us , our next meeting is on 4 February 2019, at 7.30 pm, Old Masonic Hall.

Climbing Museum meeting: next meeting first Monday of the month, starting in February.

7 pm, Old Masonic Hall, Natimuk.

Archives Center: opened most Tuesdays from 2 to 4 PM.

The Webbs of Grass Flat

Colin and Valma Webb share stories of life in Grass Flat when they were growing up. Here is the recording of our conversation.

Colin and Valma interview, Grass Flat, May 2021.

You can also watch Colin and Valma playing together here

The photo is for illustration purposes only. there is no link attached to it.

Photo Gallery

Grass Flat School No 3192. Twins Henry Herbert and Robert Webb are on the right, as is mother Myrtle Grace Smith.

Colin and twin brother Neil, who passed away in 2020. The photo was taken around 1954.

Colin and Valma’s wedding, 30 April 1958

From left to right: Valma, Colin, Jeffrey ( back), Stuart, Kerry and Janette.
From the old post office
Grass Flat Church, now a private residence.
Mount Arapiles/Djurid from the Webbs garden.

Horsham Sports and Community Club Grant Received


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AHS are pleased to inform readers of our success in applying for 2019 Sponsorship through the Horsham Sports and Community Club. These funds, allocated during an afternoon of celebration on Sunday 23rd June at the Coughlin Park Community Centre, were presented to AHS Secretary Jenny Elliot, with Collection Manager Jenette Sudholz also in attendance.

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AHS Secretary Jenny Elliott with HSCC Manager Glenn Carroll

This announcement arrived in perfect timing, assisting in combating the recent icy winter conditions, through installation of a split heating/cooling system within our Meeting / Research / Archive / Display & Reading Room space. For this assistance we are extremely grateful and therefore encourage people to consider joining the Horsham Sports & Community Club. This commitment in turn allocates a portion of your membership towards our cause (if so nominated) as well as providing additional benefits (see www.hscc.org.au, phone 53826649, or collect Membership Forms from reception at 177 -179 Baillie Street, Horsham.)

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As the end of financial year approaches, new Memberships are invited and renewals requested @ $20 per person or $30 per household. Please contact our Treasurer Mr Ross Barnes as below – or pay direct (nominating ‘membership’) via;-

BANK DETAILS: Commonwealth Bank:

Acc Name:       Arapiles Historical Society:

BSB:                 063 514:      Acc No:            100 932 08:

ABN:                 87806 158 170:

Alternatively, membership forms, located at Natimuk Post Office, can be submitted to AHS Treasurer, PO Box 199, Natimuk, Vic., 3409 or downloaded from our membership page on this website


1st July: General Meeting – Monday 7.30 pm – please join our WARM space!!


To be held on Monday 29th July, 7.30pm at 57 Main Street, Natimuk.

Speaker – to be announced.

Shared supper – all welcome.

22nd September: AHS scheduled to host the Western Victorian Association of Historical Societies (WVAHS) meeting – we plan to welcome our visitors with a choice of activities – watch this space !

November 1st – 3rd:

  • Olde Garage display themes are under discussion as we head towards the 2019 Nati Frinj Biennale festival from 1st – 3rd November – again – watch this space!!! …………………………….




Jean’s Life

Did you know it took two days for a round trip to Horsham? Or that there were two groceries stores, a blacksmith and a post office in Noradjuha?

What a treat you are in for! Jean Taylor born Trotter lived on the Natimuk Creek all her life. Here she is, interviewed by Brigitte in the audio, and by Gianna Sudholz, who is currently working on a Sudholz family book, in the transcript below.

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90 Years Young

(photo Jean Taylor – May 2019)

Born: 19/12/1929 along the creek in Noradjuha

Parents: Harold TROTTER & Chrissy WEST

Siblings: Letty, Margaret, Joyce, John & Max

Married: 14/04/1950 in Natimuk Methodist Church

Children: Murray, Lynn, Diane & Tracey

Mum had me on her own as I was born along the creek in Noradjuha.  Dad went to work at Northfields near Noradjuha and the night before they went to somebody’s place for tea in the horse and gig and they hit a stump coming home which threw mum out of the gig.  She was alright when dad went to work the next day but as the morning progressed she walked to my Aunty Myrtle’s down by the bowling club to tell her she was in labour.  Anyway she didn’t make it to my aunty’s and I was born six weeks early.

I didn’t actually go to school in Natimuk but went to all different schools around the area as dad was a labourer and shearer and so we moved around with him.  I mainly went to school in Noradjuha.  I even went to Lucindale but I actually started school at Haven before going to Noradjuha.  I didn’t have a good education.  I was the eldest of six children and in those days the eldest was kept home to help.  Mum had twins the last lot and when they were born I hardly went to school after that.  If my parents went anywhere they would take one with them and I was left home with the other one to look after.  I’m so sad now because I can’t do all my own paperwork.  My daughters help me with that.

I remember the mud roads from here (1 Lake Ave, Natimuk) down to the river, not that we went on them very much.  If mum and dad went to Horsham the kids were left home.  It took two days by horse and gig.  They used to put their horse at the back of the Bull and Mouth Hotel in Horsham.  It was the same here putting your horse at the back of the Natimuk National hotel.  When we went into Natimuk we would put our horse and gig at the back stables of Schurmann’s shop (69 Main St).  You’d leave your horse with a nose bag and then do your shopping.  We would mainly buy Manchester at Schurmann’s shop.  They stocked haberdashery, hardware and groceries.  You could buy anything from underwear, jumpers, clothes, material.  I would buy all my material there because I used to make all my kids clothes.  The two Miss Schurmann’s were just lovely ladies and so helpful in the shop.  We shopped at Noradjuha for our groceries as they had two groceries stores, blacksmiths and post office.

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From left: Laura Jean Trotter (Jean Taylor) with her siblings Letty, Margaret, Joyce, John and Max.

Dad used to bring his harnesses, dog collars and things like that which needed fixing to Mr Hodges Saddlery shop (74 Main St).

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Mr Jack Lackmann’s butcher shop (72 Main St) next to the saddlery used to deliver.  You’d leave your order every week and they would deliver your meat to the front gate in a horse and cart.  Jory’s baker shop (95 Main St) was the same.  The other bakery was Wilkin’s (77 Main St).  I remember Dr Snow lived there (1939-1941). It was always a doctor’s house.  Dr Snow delivered my younger sister and the twins.

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This house (1 Lake Ave) was build by Shammy Bousfield’s father and they were the undertakers here at this place.  Lance Cross once lived here and so did Mrs Hahn before us.

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Old Kiefel’s Shop

If us kids ever went to Natimuk our treat was a thriponey (threepence) ice-cream from Kirsopp’s shop ‘Kia Ora’ (75-81 Main St).  We thought it was marvellous.  We used to go to Kieffel’s (97 Main St) to get our hair cut.  Old Mr Kieffel nicked my ear once, so I never liked him after that.  Old Mr Kieffel used to cut the children’s hair and his son used to do the men.  Next to the hair salon the Kieffel’s had a gift shop, as well as a wine bar out the back.  I knew all about that bar as dad used to have a drink or two from time to time.  Old Mr Knight’s shop (56 Main St) was a grocery store where mum used to give him butter and eggs in exchange for groceries in return.  We always had a lot of chooks and cows.  I learnt to milk a cow at five years old and had to do that job before I went to school in the mornings.  When Mr Knight’s son Alan came home from the second world war he opened a grocery shop where Dr Grenfell lives (87 Main St).  I can just remember there used to by a dress-makers shop by old Mr Knights shop too.

The tall silos in Station Street were built when I was about eight years old (1937).  We used to drive past the building and us kids were fascinated and would count how many brick sections they had done each time we drove past.

I’ve always known the rotunda as being a memorial for the soldiers.  I know when my husband Bill was a Foreman on the Shire he did a lot of work having the rotunda restored when it was in disrepair.  I remember when they built the RSL Hall (68-70 Main St) because the ladies and I would make lunch and afternoon tea for the men who built it (1954).

The Natimuk sheep yards are just down the road from our house and there they had an open sheep dip which used to be a horse dip.  I had to keep a close eye on the children not to wander that way.  Farmers from all over would drive big mobs of sheep to dip them.  And on sale days it used to be like Burke Street.  Sheep came from everywhere.  It was all done by foot in those days with dogs and horses.  It was a big event getting sheep through Natimuk once a week.

Dad used to get jobs done at Kubale’s Foundry (111 Main St) and that’s where he got the horseshoes done.  Hickson’s was the other blacksmiths shop (80-82 Main St).

I had a go at playing tennis one day when I first came to Natimuk.  I was working at ‘Southwood’ and Rudy dropped me off because he was going to play lawn bowls.  One woman said “we would have won if we didn’t have to teach that new learner” meaning me.  I never went back on the tennis court.  Then many years later when Bill and I went to play seniors carpet bowls, the very same thing happened.  So I never played sport.

Our neighbour Stan Sudholz (‘Fairview’) still had a horse team when I moved into this house.  They used to sow the paddocks behind with the horses.  It was called the horse paddock.  They even had ponies.  Murray was about three years old (1955) and one day I couldn’t find him in the yard.  We didn’t have real good fences in those days.  I looked up the back paddock and saw the horses all standing around and there was Murray right in the middle of the big draft horses.  Lucky the horses were nice and quiet in nature.  I stood at the fence and calmly called Murray over so as not to startle the horses.  Murray came and wasn’t worried one bit.

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Bill Taylor. Bill joined the army in Hamilton at seventeen. Bill always wore his hat tilted to the side, which was not allowed. Not that it stopped him! Jean first met Bill when he came back from Darwin at 21 years of age. She thought he was a “big stuck up thing!”

While Bill and I were courting we were on our way to a ball at Mitre on a motorbike.  Of course we went along the back roads and we slipped off.  We brushed ourselves down and continued on our way to the ball.

We lived in Grass Flat for a year before we got married in 1950 and then moved into this house (1 Lake Ave).  When the train came into the station we could hear it, it was so loud.  It would “chug, chug” when it had a heavy load.  Dad used to bring us to the station to see Wirths Circus when they came on the train.  Dad would say to us kids “if you’re all good we’ll go down and see Queenie the elephant unload the train.  Queenie would help the people put the big marquee up.  Dad never took us to the circus though, his sister took us.  The next day dad would take us back to the station to watch Queenie load the train again.  It was magnificent.  In those times the circus came every year.  Even when my children were young.  They use to be at the show grounds and then in front of the commission houses along the creek (Lake Rd).

I remember vising the Lange’s quite often when they lived at Carstairs (46-48 Main St).  It was a boarding house I would describe as big and rambly, like a rabbit warren.  There was another boarding house owned by the Brays (117 Main St).  Old Mr and Mrs Hill took over and managed it.  They used to have a lot of boarders, mainly men because the staff from the bank and the post office and places like that used to stay.  It had nice little rooms and Mrs Hill would do all the cooking and cleaning.

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Jean at seventeen.

When we were young we used to go to a ball every fortnight at the Mechanic’s Institute Hall.  They used to have a Catholic Ball, the Church Ball, the Fire Brigade Ball, everything had a ball.  And it was a ball and they were big days.  Mrs Taylor, Jim Taylor’s mother, we used to call her “Tay”, she always catered and made the coffee in the copper.  People used to bring the milk in.  Tay could make the best milk coffee ever!  It was beautiful.  We all used to help her and take food.

I can remember when Con’s Fish and Chip shop opened in Natimuk (75-81 Main St).  Murray was a toddler and I was pregnant with Lyn (1955).  I got up in the morning, Bill was away working with the Shire so I was always on my own here.  I felt awful that morning and couldn’t settle to do anything so I got Murray in the pusher to go for a walk up the street and we ended up at the new fish and chip shop and bought some to eat. Con’s was in the row of shops where the current post office is now.  There was Con’s, Wilkin’s Baker shop, Russell Petrie had the bike shop, Miss Watkins had the shoe shop and there was also a taylor who made suits.

The only job I ever had was working at the Sudholz family ‘Southwood’ farm as a cook for about six years before I got married.  I lived and worked at ‘Southwood’ starting when I was 14 and left just before I turned 21.  I used to ride my bike home to Noradjuha on a Sunday and ride back again.  Bob Sudholz and Kevin Homden also worked at ‘Southwood’ and used to live in the cottage there.  We used to feed them and everything.  Alan Knight was another person who worked there but he lived at Natimuk.  Alan was always late so Bob was always telling him off at the breakfast table.  I’ll never forget when Bob got his first car, a brand new little Morris.  Mr and Mrs Sudholz, (Ian and Florrie) went away for a week leaving me in charge of the men.  I had been there for about four years by this stage.  I used to ring up Knight’s store in Natimuk and make the order and the boys would go in and get it.   Mrs Sudholz said that if I wanted to go to Horsham one day, Bob always went into Horsham on a Friday night or Saturday morning, Bob has offered to take you.  Now to travel in Bob’s car there was one condition – we weren’t allowed to comb our hair in the car.  He was very fussy about getting hair on the seats.  Bob worked at ‘Southwood’ for about a year or two (circa 1947-48).  My sister married Kevin Homden and they lived in the cottage.  Ray Jennings also worked at ‘Southwood’ back then.  Ray and Kevin were a cranky pair together.  The lived side by side in Natimuk.

After Ian and Florrie’s daughter Marjorie was born (1946), I had been there for about two years before they had any children, they started going down to Frankston for holidays and they took me with them.  The first time we went we travelled in a posh REO car towing a trailer load of stuff and it broke down at Ballan.  Ian was not very happy!  We did eventually get to Frankston.  On one particular trip Florrie went into town to do some shopping so Jessie (Florrie’s sister) and I looked after toddler Marjorie.  The house was situated right between the beach and a busy road and young Marjorie went missing.  We were franticly running, calling and looking for Marjorie outside when she was eventually found asleep under the bed upstairs.  I got a few grey hairs that day.

Ian’s father Rudy Sudholz was there when I worked there.  They used to call Rudy “Daddy.” He was a lovely man and very good to me.  They all were good to me.  They treated me like royalty.  Ian’s mother Kate had died (1944) before I arrived to work at ‘Southwood’.  Rudy used to pay me to clean his little old car on a Saturday afternoon.

Back in those day the ladies used to have tea parties and of course Mrs Sudholz (Florrie) used to take me with her.  We’d go to the Lange’s (Elsie Lange made the flower girl dress for my wedding).  Anton and Hettie Sudholz out at ‘Mount View’ were nice people.  I went to ‘Mount View’ when Hettie hosted a tea party.

Carl Sudholz was a funny man who would ride his horse from his place ‘The Homestead’ to ‘Southwood’.  Carl always wore a white starched collar shirt, tie and suit.  When he arrived he’d announce “Morning Florence, I’m here again, is the kettle boiling?”  I only ever met Carl’s wife Mary a few times and she was a very nice, petite lady who was always dressed beautifully.  She too would host nice tea parties with fancy cups and saucers and beautiful cloths on the tables.

Sophie Sudholz (later Mrs Powell) used to visit ‘Southwood’ occasionally and Rose Sudholz nee Maybery (Herman’s wife) used to visit ‘Southwood’ from Murtoa.  She was a lovely lady.  After Herman died (1943) Rose used to stay quite a lot just for the weekend.

One day I remember going to watch the Clear Lake football club play a game at Noradjuha with friends and then we went to the pictures in Horsham afterwards.  It was a stormy night and when my friends dropped me off at Schurwood’s dam I had to walk across a swamp to get to ‘Southwood’.  Alf Edmonds escorted me and then had to walk back to the car in that dreadful weather.

Back in the day I remember everyone would wear their finest to church – hats and gloves and suits.  It was the same if you went into Horsham because it was important to go to Horsham to do your business.

To me Natimuk was a lovely, friendly place to live.  I never wanted to live anywhere else.

Interview and transcript: Gianna Sudholz, May 2019

walking tours book

Photos of Natimuk shops were lifted from the wonderful Natimuk Self Guided Walking Tours book available from Red Rock Books  and the Visitor Information Center in Horsham, and in various Natimuk Shops.

Creek Road Charlie

When I asked people on our facebook page who I could interview, Charlie McCuish was suggested as someone I could talk to about his life and memories.

I bumped into Charlie at the Showground Office a few weeks back, and so it came that he became the first interviewee in a series of Natimuk memories.

Charlie McCuish almost grew up in Melbourne. His dad died in 1945, when he was seven. Mother Olive could not handle Glenmore, the Creek Road farm on her own, and Melbourne based sister Myrtle invited her to relocate with the three kids, Charlie, Isabel and Angus …

Here is a gallery of the photos Charlie showed me at his place, Glenmore, on the Creek Road, the few he could dig out in time for our Sunday morning catch up..


Four generations of McCuish: Charlie, Matthew, Charlie Noel and Chas. ( from left to right)

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Shearing at Glenmore, the McCuish property on Creek Road, Natimuk (1937). From left: Bill Weidner, Bill Morrison ( leaning),Neil Scott and Charlie Weidner.

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Lou Lang (dressed as a woman), Angus and Charlie ( wearing cap). The driver is Eric Werner. The German wagon was used to move the Werner family from South Australia to the Wimmera in the 1870’s. This is a 1947 re-enactment. the Gladigau house, behind the wagon, now belongs to Eric and Sonia Jones.

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Charlie Senior used this treshing machine for contract work in the area.

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Hay carting at Glenmore during WW2. From left: Charlie senior, Stan McLean (on leave), Kevin Homden.

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Charlie McCuish Senior at the beach in Portland

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Olive McCuish, nee Homden.

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Olive McCuish and her sister Myrtle Bailey, in Melbourne.

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Charlie McCuish Senior inspecting a heavy oat crop damaged by wind and rain.

(Belated) Season’s Greetings!

From all of us at the Arapiles Historical Society, a very rewarding 2019!

Thank you for your support and votes for Pick my Project. We were unsuccessful, but we push on!

If you feel like joining us , our next meeting is on 4 February 2019, at 7.30 pm, Old Masonic Hall.

Climbing Museum work group: next meeting 7 February, 7 pm, Old Masonic Hall, Natimuk.

Archives Center: opened most Tuesdays from 2 to 4 pm


The New Year’s baby is a cultural mainstay that dates back as far as ancient Greece, when a child was paraded around in a basket to welcome the new year.

Father Time if one of the most significant symbol used in New Year Eve celebrations. The common image of Father Time is that of an old bearded man dressed in a robe wearing a sash across his chest with the previous year printed on it. A personification of time, Father Time carries an hourglass or other timekeeping device and a scythe. This particular image of Father Time is said to have been derived from several sources, including the Holly King – the Celtic God of the dying year, and Chronos – the Greek God of time.

In this 1910 Season’s Greetings card, the New Year’s baby is the one carrying the symbols of time.

Pick My Project Ready for Votes

Natimuk Centre of Local History

AHS to establish a vibrant Natimuk museum for significant local collections display – let’s make it happen with the Pick My project grant! Just choose this option in your list of three local projects.

You can vote for the Natimuk Museum of Local History on this page: https://pickmyproject.vic.gov.au/rounds/pick-my-project/ideas


The Natimuk Museum of Local History will be located in Natimuk as part of the arts and market precinct. Natimuk is a flourishing town fostering a distinctive balance between traditional farming enterprises, a vibrant arts community, and a dedicated Australian and international climbing fraternity.

The centre will house a significant collection of vintage machinery, paraphernalia and household items. Wide in its scope and historical importance, it is essential that this valuable resource be housed in Natimuk and be readily accessible. The site will present a fascinating tale of our past through the display of contraptions and trappings of our forebears.

The Natimuk Centre of Local History will enhance our diverse yet homogenous community. Visitors to “Nati” may find kinder children visiting the nursing home, farmers participating in arts projects or international climbers seconded into the local football team.

In the spirit of continuing to bring our community together this project will provide a focal point for local people to see and discuss their history whilst providing an historical perspective of the area to visitors.

The centre will display, preserve and promote this vital and valuable collection which forms a dynamic and irreplaceable link with the town’s people, past and future.

The Arapiles Historical Society meets at 7.30pm the first Monday of each month, at 57 Main Street, Natimuk. New members welcome!

The Research Center is opened to the public most Tuesdays from 2 to 4pm, at the same address.





Thanks to HSCC for their 2021 Sponsorship.  The money will be used for construction of an ‘Access for All Abilities’ concrete path to our existing amenities.

Meetings Society executive meetings are held on the first Monday of the month in our committee room at the Arapiles Heritage Centre. Next meeting is :

AGM – Monday August 2nd 7.30pm (Covid permitting)

MEMBERSHIPS – now due @ $20 / person or $30 / household

The Arapiles Heritage Centre is opened on Tuesdays, 2 to 4 pm, Covid regulations permitting.

Source: News