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On 13 July 1945 Ben Chifley became Australia’s 16th Prime Minister after being elected leader of the Australian Labor Party following the death of Jonn Curtain earlier in July.
We have brought the Chifley story to life with local man Vince Milton playing ‘Chif’.
The radio (or wireless) was the main form of communication. With no TV or internet this is where Mrs Chifley heard her husband Ben address the country as Prime Minister from Canberra while she was at home in Bathurst. Ben Chifley was known to ring up the local radio station and request his favourite song, ‘I’m a lonely little Petunia in an onion patch’.
This aeroplane model of a DC-3 was presented to Chifley when he launched Butlers’ air service between Bathurst and Sydney in 1946.
Floor coverings of the 30’s and 40’s needed to be hardwearing and inexpensive. The original patterned lino floors in the kitchen and office remain, as do the off-cuts used to line the pantry shelves.
Mrs Chifley’s handbag in the bedroom was a special gift Prime Minister Ben Chifley brought back for his wife following official business in London. The very same style of handbag had been presented to the then Princess Elizabeth (later Queen Elizabeth II) on her marriage to Prince Phillip in 1947.
Like many women of the time, Mrs Chifley was an avid knitter. From tea cosies to napkins, there are many pieces of her exquisite crochet and needlework throughout the house.
Many Prime Ministers have visited the home including Robert Menzies, Gough Whitlam and Julia Gillard.
‘Make Do and Mend’ was clearly an ethos Prime Minister Chifley held dear. Take a look at some of his hand laid concrete slabs in the backyard!
Experience a replica 1940’s sitting room, complete with working Pianola in the Education Centre.