Friends of The Sorrento Museum

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Please allow me to introduce ourselves . . .

We are a small regional museum in Sorrento. We are the custodians of the stories, records and objects of the history of the area from Blairgowrie to Point Nepean formerly known as the district of ‘Point Nepean’.

As we approach another Summer at the seaside paradise we have cherished for many years and in some cases, generations, the stories of those who came before us and where they lived and played are hinted at in many place names, but not commonly known.

Our Museum built in 1875 is the wonderful limestone building in Melbourne Rd, just east of the roundabout. Classified by The National Trust, it was originally a ‘Mechanics Institute’. It has since been a concert and dance hall, courthouse, library and at different stages was used for under-garment manufacture by both the Matear and Dowd Brothers.

“As soon as histories are properly told there is no more need of romances.”

~ Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass

The collection of records, photos and relics at The Museum covers the history of the area from the days of the Boonwurrung ‘First People’ to the present day.

Events from the Nineteenth Century include the failed Collins’ ‘First European Settlement’ in 1803 at Sullivan Bay, the 1840s early settlement of drovers, limeburners, woodcutters and fishermen, the 1850s creation of The Quarantine Station, the 1870s early building of magnificent holiday homes for Melbourne’s ‘well to do’, the first tourist day-trips in the paddle steamers from Melbourne and the 1880s building of Fort Nepean.

The stories of our region that we tell, include those of hopeful immigrants wanting to make a new life in Victoria, but who sadly perished in wrecks at ‘The Heads’ or succumbed to disease aboard overcrowded ships or subsequently at The Quarantine Station.

From the Twentieth Century we describe the local participation in two World Wars, the development of our end of The Peninsula, with information on many of the wonderful homes here, the evolution of the towns of Portsea, Sorrento and Blairgowrie, and amongst many news items the dramatic disappearance of a Prime Minister. 

“The Museum and the stories it contains are an important part of our community”

~ Michael and Judy Begg

The maintenance of the Museum’s collection is performed by a small group of hard working volunteers. They work on the conservation and recording of the collection, staff the Museum and gift shop during opening hours and work on the street stalls that provide much needed income.

Memberships, donations and the Museum Giftshop and Stall sales help pay most of the day to day bills, but leave little to improve the collection or maintain the 140 year old building in which it is housed.

We have established The Friends of Sorrento Museum to give people the opportunity to help us to improve and preserve the collection and enhance the way the stories it tells are presented.

You can become a Friend of the Sorrento Museum by making a fully tax deductible donation of $100pa.  Monies raised through this medium will be focused on capital works and equipment rather than recurrent expenses.

Friends of The Sorrento Museum will be acknowledged in our Annual Report and on a ‘Roll of Friends’ displayed at the Museum.

The unique history of our end of the Peninsula is something to which we can all relate and cherish.  Wouldn’t it be great if every household became a friend? To this end please feel free to refer this page to your friends, neighbours or family.

Perhaps the final word should go to one of our visitors from Grade 1/2s at Sorrento Primary School who visited the Sorrento Museum and Watts’ Cottage last year for our programme The Past in the Present. One of the participants, announced at School Assembly that it was:

“The best excursion in my years at school!”

~ Sorrento Primary School Student (Aged Six!)

This is the reason we are here.

To become a Friend of The Sorrento Museum simply download the form HERE, and either print and return it, or simply email it to the address at the bottom of the form.

Thank you for your support. . .