By Gav Ross
PLANS to unearth a 50-year old time capsule as part of a massive community celebration in Bass next March have hit a snag.
The container – which was always believed to have been concealed in one of the brick pillars built to mark the Bass State School centenary in 1966, has vanished without a trace.
It’s a bit of a blow to the poor old township.
First, the playground near the former school grounds disappeared last year after it was dismantled by thieves.
Now, this famous time capsule – which has always been part of Bass lore – is missing.
“It’s really disappointing,” Jayne Fullarton, a Bass Valley Community Group volunteer said, sombrely.
“We have this big event planned for next March and we were going to make a big deal out of revealing the time capsule.
“Recently, we thought we’d better check it’s still where it’s meant to be.”
It’s lucky they did, otherwise the grand exhumation in front of large crowd next year would have been a fizzer.
A few volunteers, including Bass Valley Community Centre manager Roderick McIver, spent several hours digging rubble out of the middle of the pillar one hot afternoon last fortnight.
“There were blocks of concrete and old galvanised tin and all sorts of things to pull out,” Roderick explained. When we finally got down to the bottom we realised the capsule didn’t seem to be where everyone thought it was.”
Any assumption the capsule must be in one of the three other pillars built along the old school entrance was soon debunked.
“We checked all of them and they were already hollow and empty in the middle,” Roderick shrugged.
So what could have happened? Well, there are a few theories, but evidence is mounting to support suggestions that the pillar constructed in 1966 was replaced at some point in the past.
“There’s a fire plug directly in front of the pillar which was used by the fire brigade over the years,” Roderick explained.
“We’re not sure whether that’s got anything to do with it, but a local has told us they remember this pillar was knocked down.
“And if you look closely at it you can see it is different to the other pillars.”
Indeed, the bricks are the same, but this one pillar displays a somewhat messy grouting job, looking like the brick post was slapped together without much care.
One man who was there in 1966 when the capsule was buried was Bill Finlay, chief organiser of the school centenary.
Whilst he has clear memories of the school’s birthday, Bill has only a vague recollection of the time capsule itself.
“I don’t remember what it looked like but I think it had drawings and stories from students in it,” he recollected.
“I know it was buried in that pillar though – definitely.”
The capsule’s contents are believed to have been housed in a simple biscuit tin – which has made volunteers-turned-detectives wonder whether the elements have simply destroyed the container and its innards.
“Who knows, maybe it rusted out and everything in the capsule turned to dust,” Roderick mused.
“It might have been in this pillar after all.”
The party will go on
Whatever the answer is, it’s likely this will end up being an unsolved mystery.
But that doesn’t mean the shindig planned for next March won’t be just as special.
“We will still be having our event in March and it will include live bands, market stalls, a sausage sizzle and a George Bass exhibition in the hall,” Jayne said.
Limited copies of the excellent history book ‘Back to Bass’ have also just been reprinted for sale between now and the event.
And even if the mystery isn’t solved before then, it won’t be a capsule-less party.
“We are thinking of organising a new time capsule to be buried on the day,” Jayne smiled.
Hopefully in 2066, the people of Bass won’t face a similar dilemma.
Anyone who may have further information about the missing time capsule can call Jayne on 5678 2277.