Ready for a tree change? This SA museum is looking for live-in caretakers

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courthouse museum

For all the many geographical attractions in the Flinders Ranges, Darryl Trinne says it’s the people of Melrose he’ll miss most.

They’re a unique and special breed in the sleepy and historic South Australia town (popn. 406) and Darryl, 58, admits it won’t be easy to pack up the Kombi and hit the road again shortly with partner Gaye Wiegand, 53.

Darryl is only hoping to make that emotionally-charged day a little easier by finding suitable replacements as caretakers for the Melrose Heritage Courthouse Museum, a role he and Gaye have held for the last 10 months.

“We originally signed up for six months but fell in love with the town and its people,” says Darryl, 58.

“So, here we are 10 months later, very grateful for having somewhere to sit out the pandemic but still a little itchy to get back on the road.”

Darryl says the 12-month role would ideally suit a couple or individual with their own income, and an interest in history also wouldn’t hurt.

“I’m still discovering interesting things 10 months later,” he says.

Darryl says the museum committee only expects you to open the museum for a handful of hours each day, but he and Gaye extended those from 9am to 4pm to ensure tourists checking out from nearby accommodation could tick off a visit before heading home.

The museum is open seven days a week but the caretakers only work six, and are also given three weeks off a year, with the team of dedicated volunteers stepping in to man reception on those days.

The museum takes pride in preserving and displaying important elements of the region’s past.

On a slow day you might greet as little as four people – tours are mostly self-guided – and on a busy day up to 12.

You’re also be expected to undertake minor maintenance of the lawn, yard and cleaning, and prepare the caretakers’ reports for bi-monthly meetings of the historical society.

In return, you live rent-free in the adjoining home, built in 1862, and receive an honorarium of $1800 per year, which helps offset your only expense, paying the electricity bill.

You’ll also save a small fortune in fresh fruit and vegetables thanks to the garden that Darryl and Gaye have lovingly brought back to life.

The other bonus, Darryl tells us, is the lifestyle that Melrose affords, especially if you’re into hiking, mountain biking along the 100km of trails (thousands invade this cycling mecca for the annual festival), or any number of other sporting codes.

“It’s the mountain that draws you,” says Darryl, referring to the imposing Mount Remarkable he still finds himself admiring from the kitchen window.

“We want to go, but we also want to stay.”

museum
The caretakers live on site with all the town’s many amenities just a short walk away.

If you think think a tree change in this town 273km north of Adelaide is just what you’re after, get in touch with Darryl today, either directly on his mobile, 0419811525, or via email, melrosemuseum@gmail.com.

He and Gaye are hoping to hit the road again by June 30, but are flexible with that date. They just want to make sure they give they can give their successors all the time they need to learn the ropes.

“We were thrown in the deep end when we arrived so we want to make sure whoever takes over has plenty of time to get to grips with what’s involved.”

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