Fraser Coast councillor George Seymour, Maryborough Historical Society volunteer Ken Brooks, Queensland Museum's Lydia Egunnike and volunteer Ian Scougall inspect the collection after the flooding.
Fraser Coast councillor George Seymour, Maryborough Historical Society volunteer Ken Brooks, Queensland Museum's Lydia Egunnike and volunteer Ian Scougall inspect the collection after the flooding. Hannah Busch

Freeze drying, gamma radiation may save historic collection

GAMMA radiation may be used to repair flood-damaged historic ledgers, newspaper records and photos as the Maryborough Historical Society begins to clean up its Kent St home.

While most of the collection was saved, mould and humidity have become problems after floodwaters rose about 30cm through the heritage-listed building.

Queensland Museum expert Lydia Egunnike joined society volunteers yesterday to help clean mould spores from decades worth of Maryborough Chronicle records, dating from the 1930s-1960s.

The records suffered the most damage and ledgers from the Maryborough Butter Factory and Walkers have had to be frozen, ready to be sent to Brisbane for freeze-drying to see if they can be salvaged.

Cleaning mould off the records, which are originals, may require gamma radiation.

Volunteer Ken Brooks said the biggest challenge now was to restore order to the collection after it was hurriedly cleared to prepare for the floods.

The floorboards in about half the building were severely damaged.

Mr Brooks said many of the society's volunteers had been looking after the collection for decades, with some putting in half a century as volunteers.

"They are naturally devastated by what has gone on," he said.

"The biggest shock is the mess."

A disaster plan, recovery plan, collection plan and display plan will now be developed for the society in case of future floods.

Mr Brooks said the society would try to reopen to the public by the Maryborough Open House event in October.

He said the society also hoped to restore some of the original features of the building.

Fraser Coast councillor George Seymour said the council would work closely with the society as it recovered from the floods.