Puppets Plus @ Wilmington
Trip Start Aug 05, 2013
53Trip End Ongoing
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Total Distance Travelled: 11,968km
Next morning we shopped a few provisions in Port Augusta. On the way through Wilmington the 'open' banner was flying at the Sansouci Puppet Museum. Karen Roberts, whom we met at Broken Hill, loved her visit here and we were keen to see it. The bland exterior (an ex-ANZ bank building) conceals an astonishing collection of vintage puppets. This is one of only four such collections in the world - the others being in Prague, Munich and (somewhere in) Russia. Puppets are the passion of Pommie, Brian Whitehead and his wife Rosemary who live in the house directly behind the museum. From the UK they moved to Canada, then South America, the West Indies and eventually Australia. Retiring to Wilmington 7 years ago they opened the museum with 250 puppets
Puppetry began as therapy for Brian about 17 years ago, following a stroke that left him paralysed. In the stroke ward of the hospital he met fellow patient Geoff, a puppeteer, who one day produced a box of puppets from under his bed and gently "bullied" Brian into helping him present puppet shows for kids the hospital children’s ward. Brian, extremely self-conscious after the stroke left him with arms that didn’t work and facial muscles he couldn’t control, soon discovered that the kids didn’t care what he looked like. They were enthralled with the magic of puppetry – and so was Brian. Every day, for about six months, these two put on a puppet show. Gradually Brian regained not only the will to live, but an abiding interest and an entirely new perspective. After leaving hospital he began to work with kids and puppets. When Geoff died a couple of years later Brian received a box of 25 puppets, together with a letter from Geoff’s widow, expressing Geoff’s hope that Brian would carry on ... and that is just what he did!
Brian has several Punch & Judy sets. One of these, dating back to 1896, complete with its tent, shipping/travelling trunk and a hand written script
We got to The Church on Time ... for tea and more marvellous days with A & P.