16 February 2020
An iconic fridge that was stocked with cold drinks by the side of the road in Bungendore for thirsty firefighters battling blazes in the region, has been acquired by the National Museum of Australia, in Canberra.
As fires raged across the country in December 2019, Bungendore residents Scott and Claire Hooper set the fridge up by the main road outside their home in the New South Wales town, to ensure passing fire fighters did not go thirsty.
The couple supplied the initial stockpile of icy poles after which locals and passers-by made sure the fridge remained full with drinks and snacks.
The acquisition of the fridge is the first in what will be a series of collection and community outreach projects being planned by the National Museum to mark the significance of the summer’s fire crisis, which has redefined the way Australians consider climatic change and bushfire threats.
National Museum director Dr Mathew Trinca said as a custodian of Australia’s history and cultural heritage, the Museum is committed to recording the stories of the fires that have ravaged the country for months.
'The Bungendore fridge exemplifies the kindness and community spirit synonymous with Australians facing difficult times — we’re so pleased to accept it into the national collection,' Dr Trinca said.
'The story of this bushfire catastrophe is still being written but our memories and recollections of this summer will resound for many years to come — for many reasons it will come to be seen as a defining moment in the nation’s record of this time.
'It’s incumbent on the Museum to both make a material record of these fires but also help people across the country tell their stories of what has transpired and how they were affected'.
Curator Craig Middleton said the Bungendore fridge was a modest offering to teams of firefighters passing through the town on their way to and from active fire grounds and became a site of community support.
'Claire and Scott Hooper placed the fridge outside their home on 19 December 2019 after the Kings Highway was closed and the usually busy highway was only being serviced by fire trucks,' Mr Middleton said.
'Messages of support and thanks from community members, firefighters and passersby are now inscribed on the fridge in permanent marker, and are testament to the way Australians come together in times of crisis and change'.