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21 February 2020

Bungendore Firies’ Fridge first object acquired for collection

The National Museum of Australia in Canberra has launched a digital initiative to provide a national platform for grassroots storytelling and to honour front line emergency workers, as part of a wider collecting and community outreach program dedicated to the summer fire crisis.

To coincide with the delivery at the Museum of an iconic fridge, which was stocked with cold drinks by the side of the road for firefighters in the New South Wales town of Bungendore, the institution announced it will work with all Australians to document the stories and imagery stemming from the unprecedented bushfire events, which are collectively a defining moment in the nation’s history.

Australians, who wish to share their experiences and pictures from the fires and to honour Rural Fire Service and other emergency service personnel, are invited to join a National Museum Facebook group, Fridge Door Fire Stories, and to join a national conversation around these issues.

National Museum director Dr Mathew Trinca said that as a custodian of Australia’s history and cultural heritage, the National Museum is committed to recording the stories of the fires that have redefined the way Australians consider climatic change and bushfire threats, and to honour the emergency service heroes who worked so hard to protect lives and property.

'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,' he 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.

‘As keepers of the nation’s stories, the National Museum will be here to actively listen over the coming months and participate in the recording of stories for the nation, to honour emergency service heroes and to collect objects and imagery related to these events.

‘We invite Australians who wish to share their experiences to join our new Facebook group where you can share stories, images and videos to form part of our national collective memory.

‘The arrival of the Bungendore Firies' Fridge, which was stocked with cold drinks on the side of the road for thirsty firefighters battling blazes in the region, is a timely and symbolic instigator for the conversations we’d like to encourage.

'The fridge exemplifies the kindness and community spirit synonymous with Australians facing difficult times — we’re so pleased to accept it into the national collection.'

The acquisition of the Bungendore fridge is the first in a series of collection and community outreach projects planned by the National Museum to mark the significance of the summer’s fire crisis. A series of programs and events relating to the fires will be announced soon.

The Bungendore Firies’ Fridge was brought some 50km to the Museum in Canberra from Bungendore in a large convoy of NSW and ACT RFS and SES vehicles and representatives from other emergency services.

As fires raged across the country, Bungendore residents Scott and Claire Hooper set the fridge up by the main road outside their home in the NSW rural town, to ensure passing fire fighters did not go thirsty. The couple supplied the initial stockpile of cold drinks after which locals and passers-by made sure the fridge remained full of refreshments.

Curator Craig Middleton said, 'Messages of support and thanks from community members, firefighters and passers-by are inscribed on the fridge in permanent marker, and are testament to the way Australians come together in times of crisis and change.'

Media contact: Diana Streak, (02) 6208 5091 | 0422 536064 or media@nma.gov.au

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