Vandals leave $10,000 clean up bill at Mooroopna Museum

By Liz Mellino

The Historical Society of Mooroopna has been left with a hefty clean-up bill of more than $10,000 after vandals targeted its building.

Close to a dozen windows have been smashed at the Mooroopna Museum and Gallery in Park St, which is run by the historical society, during the past two weeks with members left fed up by the continued vandalism.

“I have never called Triple Zero so much — it's certainly disappointing, we're most upset about the whole thing,” Historical Society of Mooroopna secretary Barry Campbell said.

“We normally keep 12 months of money in reserve so we know we have got funds to cover us; we would have been right for all of next year but this is going to mean we will be running out of money.”

Mr Campbell said it all started about two weeks ago when two windows and a glass panel were smashed by unknown offenders.

A few nights later the vandals returned and damaged more windows on the outside of the building.

Mr Campbell said the offenders returned again a few nights later and gained entry to the museum where they stole a number of items including a branding iron and a sickle.

Despite police visiting the site on multiple occasions during the past two weeks, Mr Campbell said the vandalism continued.

Because of this, the historical society was left with no other option but to board up all of the windows on the outside of the building in a bid to stop any further activity — an option which has cost the group a lot of money.

The windows of the museum have been boarded up following continued vandalism.

“We’ve got insurance but we have got to pay the first $2500 for each incident and we won't get much back out of it — there is more than $10,000 worth of windows broken,” Mr Campbell said.

“We don’t have any income at the moment due to COVID-19 but the bills are still coming in and there is a lot more bills because of this.”

The group is now working to improve security at the museum, however Mr Campbell believes the issue was coming from people illegally entering the site of the former Mooroopna Hospital.

The heritage building, which is adjacent to the museum, was left abandoned following a fire in 2011.

Since then Mr Campbell said the former hospital site, and the Mooroopna Museum, had become a regular target for vandals.

“The hospital is like a magnet to groups of people, they love it ... at 5 pm each night there are people up on the roof of the building and they walk from that roof onto the walkway and then onto our roof,” he said.

“It's no trouble for anyone to get into the hospital, it's just too easy.”

Mr Campbell said the abandoned building had suffered extreme damage during the past few years with broken windows and doors and small fires lit inside.

He said the historical society would like to see the site turned into something useful for the community because the current situation "puts people at risk".

Mr Campbell said the group was hoping the new safety measures at the museum would prevent any further vandalism and help the group recover some of its losses.

“We need some money now, really badly — we have got a great museum inside,” he said.

“Despite this, the money we will spend fixing the damage will really flatten us.”