A half-hour drive North-East of Hobart, you’ll find the town of Richmond. Famous for its unbelievably photogenic stone bridge (the oldest in Australia) and heritage-listed colonial buildings dating back to the 1820s, Richmond bears an uncanny resemblance to an English country town of yesteryear.
Along with the colonial cottages, the weeping willows and the Devonshire teas, Richmond is also home to a science centre, known as the Pooseum. A place I first stumbled across whilst doing a little pre-visit Googling.
Because my visit to the town would be short (2.5 hours to be exact), I wanted to see as much as possible, so I used Google Maps to help me get the lay of the land before I visited. As I traced the digital route through town and noted the town’s other sights like the Old Hobart Town Model Village and the Richmond Gaol, I spotted The Pooseum sitting on the town’s main thoroughfare of (what else?) Bridge Street.
Once I’d confirmed it was a legitimate place and not someone’s garden shed filled with unsavoury specimen jars and a stench that could outlast religion, I knew I had to visit. Not because I’m a huge fan of toilet humour, (my interest in the excremental is largely historical), but because I really love quirk and a museum dedicated to all things scatological, in the middle of a picturesque place like Richmond, is my kind of oddity.
Still, I was a little apprehensive.
Would a museum devoted to animal droppings have displays?
What would those displays be of exactly?
And how would the whole place smell?
Happily, inside the small brick building, I discovered that the Pooseum is more interested in science than shock. And while “the obvious” is on display, it’s all done in a fun, accessible and informative way.
The museum lures you in with humour, but it wants you to learn something. And with its touch screens, quizzes, mystery boxes and PooTube video presentations, you’re going to walk away with some unique piece of dung data that you didn’t have when you walked in.
For example: did you know that Koalas poop up to 150 times per day?
Or that Black Ivory Coffee in Thailand is made from beans that have passed through the digestive tract of an elephant, and served to guests at 5-star hotels?
I learnt these and many other facts at the Richmond Pooseum. I also learnt that you don’t build a museum dedicated to doo-doo in a picturesque tourist town without ruffling a few feathers. In fact, the most controversial thing about the museum might be the years long fight its owner, Karin Koch, has been having with the local council regarding the building’s signage and statues.
A battle reported here and here, and which begs to be turned into a movie in which a free-spirited excrement educator (played by Julia Roberts) fights a stuffy, fecal phobic council for her right to teach tourists about turds.
Possible titles include: Sh*tty Woman, Pooping with the Enemy and Erin Plopovich
So, if you every find yourself in Richmond and you feel like punctuating the quaint with a little quirk, why not drop into the Pooseum?
You never know, you might learn something.