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Preserving Lara's past: The community museum that brings history to life

Published: 28/04/2023

The opening of the Lara Museum and Historical Centre is an achievement that highlights the community spirit of the area. 

The Lara Museum and Historical Centre was established as a community hub for visitors to learn about the rich cultural heritage of the area and appreciate the contributions of past residents, thanks to the passion of Lara residents who were dedicated to preserving and celebrating the town's history. 

The museum features a wide range of exhibits and artifacts showcasing the development of the town from its early days as a farming community to its current status as a bustling regional centre. 

The centre also hosts visiting community groups from retirement villages and provides history lessons as part of the local school curriculum. 

In 2011, long-time friends and Lara residents Les Kelly and President of Lara Heritage and Historical Inc Ian Board approached Lino Bisinella about the possibility of using the historical former Lake Bank Hotel as a community museum. 

One of Lara’s oldest buildings and the town’s only surviving 19th century hotel, the Lake Bank Hotel dates back to 1860 and was built for Scottish immigrant James Henderson and operated as a licensed hotel until 1908. 

Lino gave Ian his commitment that he would fully renovate the historic buildings at his own cost and allow them to be used for a community museum. 

This laid the groundwork for the formation of the sponsorship between Bisinella Developments and Lara Heritage and Historical Inc in 2012, with the latter formed to establish and operate the museum. 

Lino Bisinella set about personally overseeing every single detail of the somewhat challenging renovation project. 

The building was lovingly restored and refurbished at a cost to Lino of about $500,000. He then leased the property for a peppercorn rent of just $1 a year to the local community group. 

Its opening was the culmination of more than three years of planning and hard work by the people of Lara, Lino Bisinella and the rest of the team at Bisinella Developments and Lara Museum and Historical Inc. 

Ian says the project demonstrates what can be achieved when residents and businesses work together for the common good. 

“Collaboration between different stakeholders can lead to remarkable results, and the success of this project is a testament of a collective action towards a shared goal,” he adds. 

Ian also notes the support from Bisinella Developments has significantly contributed to where the centre is today. 

“We are extremely appreciative of the relationship we have developed with Bisinella Developments and take every opportunity we can to spread the word wherever possible. 

“Bisinella has been, and continues to be, impressive changemakers within the Geelong region, we wouldn’t be here today without their strong support.” 

Ian hopes the museum’s ongoing partnership with Bisinella will continue to visitors to the area, with proceeds going directly back into the centre to improve the facilities and displays. 

Bisinella Developments Director Richard Bisinella says he is delighted to make a positive contribution to the Geelong community, while also promoting increased visitation to the area. 

“We are very proud of the Lara Museum and Historical Centre and what we have achieved in our 10 years of operation,” he adds. 

With its engaging displays, interactive exhibits, and informative tours, the Lara Museum and Historical Centre is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in local history and culture. 

You can find out more details about Lara Museum and Historical Centre and its history in the following video: