An oral history project is being created to provide a resource for the community to understand the role the former World War II and Ampol fuel depot played.
Louise Halsey is guiding the project and is interested in recording stories about the history of the site, drawn from personal experiences.
“People who may have worked here or their parents who may have worked here, people who helped build the site or bought and used fuel,” she said.
“One area we’re very keen on is hearing people’s stories about is the construction.
“It’s a really significant site for Cootamundra, the region and the nation and particularly important for national defence.”
Helping out Ms Halsey is Margaret Fuller. Mrs Fuller’s husband Brian, and herself operated the depot for several years.
Mr Fuller originally started in 1954 as a storeman before being appointed as distributor.
Following the war, fuel was distributed to service stations in Cootamundra, Harden, Young, Junee, Boorowa, Temora, plus rural customers.
At times, stock was transferred to locations in Wagga, Bourke, Canberra, Gundagai and Cooma. The Fullers worked as a team to operate the site which had 10 staff, which sent and received daily deliveries.
“We always made a decision overnight, never the next day,” Mrs Fuller said.
During its civilian use, the site was supplied by rail from Sydney and by truck from Melbourne.
Cootamundra’s fuel depot was one of 31 built around Australia, they had to be near the railway, a certain distance from a seaport and airport.
“The thing that is unique about this site, of the 31, is this is the most intact,” Ms Halsey said.
She said the use of dry stone to create a bund wall around fuel tanks was also unique.
“The logistics alone are fascinating how the fuel arrived and was distributed was quite extraordinary, not to mention the record keeping pre-computers,” Ms Halsey said.
Ms Halsey has blueprints of the underground fuel tanks, but believes there aren’t specific to Cootamundra.
Ms Halsey has been commissioned by Cootamundra-Gundagai Regional Council to complete the project and is working with film and recording specialist John Riddell.
Ms Halsey is a Churchill Fellow and is interested in heritage conservation and is the conservation coordinator on the heritage listed Adelong Falls Gold Mill Ruins.
If you want to be involved in the project, contact Cootamundra-Gundagai Council or Ms Halsey by email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 6947 3208.