Recent Postgraduate Completions

The Department of History is pleased to announce some recent news from our postgraduate community. These are a few completions from the past months. Most theses can now be found at the University of Sydney e-scholarship repository:
PhD Completions:
Elizabeth Miller’s doctoral thesis, “Planting of the Lord: Contemporary Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianity in Australia,” analyses one of the most striking but understudied aspect of modern Australian history: the rise of evangelical religion in the last decades of the twentieth century. Utilising archival research and participant observation, her study demonstrates that megachurches emerged in Australia by allowing members to embrace certain aspects of modernity while shunning others. Examining both the lure and internal tensions that mark Pentecostal approaches to modern life, Miller provides the first scholarly treatment of evangelicalism’s rapid expansion in the recent past. Pointing to her “substantial and original contribution to scholarly knowledge” on this topic, examiners praised Miller’s lucid writing, impressive scope, wide grasp of the secondary literature, and imaginative reconstruction of the texture of evangelical services.
Danielle Thyer was awarded her PhD in May. Her thesis, “Reporting the ‘Unvarnished Truth’: The Origins and Transformation of Undercover Investigation in Nineteenth-Century New York,” traces the beginnings of a novel idea of the press as a vehicle for exposing objective ‘truth.’ Delving into a series of undercover investigations into the marriage market, political corruption, abortion providers, insane asylums and more, Danielle considers the evolution of mass media and journalistic practices, depictions of urban life, and changing gender relations. Examiners praised her thesis as “carefully and thoughtfully composed”; “outstanding” in its organisation of new knowledge of Victorian cultural practices; and written with “uncommon grace and verve.” As one examiner noted in congratulating Danielle, “completing a dissertation of this quality is a significant lifetime accomplishment.”
James Dunk was awarded his PhD in June. The examiners noted that his thesis, ‘The politics of Madness in a Penal Colony: New South Wales, 1788-1856’, was ‘an extremely well written and interesting loose cannon of a thesis’ aiming to ‘question, disrupt and blur established narratives’ of the colonial enterprise. ‘A highly original piece of scholarship’ and ‘a mature piece of historical writing’, it ‘uses madness as a leitmotif to explore the complex overlaps between freedom and coercion, individual rights and governmental and institutional power.’ ‘Dunk has worked across a now large and substantial body of historiography in both the international histories of madness, and also the histories of convict society in Australia (and internationally), and the additional historical strands of law, society and politics run through the body of this work …the historiographical mapping of the topic in this regard is exceptional’.
Justine Greenwood was awarded her PhD in August. Justine’s thesis, Welcome to Australia: Intersections between immigration and tourism in Australia 1945-2015, was described by examiners as “conceptually sophisticated, rich in the variety of secondary sources on which it depends, and admirably disciplined in its intellectual focus and sense of relevance.” Her writing was also commended, with one examiner concluding, “Academic writing is not always a joy to read, but this was a real pleasure” and another examiner, “I consider this one of the best theses that I have read in recent years.” All three examiners enthusiastically recommend its publication as a book for its insight into modern Australia.
Felicity Berry was also awarded her PhD in August. Her thesis, entitled, “Keeping the Home Fires Burning?: British Female Settlers’ Ideas of Home and Belonging in Empire, 1826-1860,” was commended by the examiners as an “original and valuable contribution to Australian colonial history and more broadly, to the field of gender and settler colonial history.” “Beautifully written and a real pleasure to readŠit is outstanding.” “An excellent example of the historian’s capacity to return to well-worked material and bring fresh readings and new insights.” “The sensitivity of the reading, and the sophistication of the interpretation, left me feeling satiated. It was a joy to read.” “Keeping the Home Fires Burning makes an original and substantial contribution to historical scholarship on settler patterns of belonging in nineteenth century Australia.”
Garritt Van Dyk was awarded his PhD in September. Garritt’s thesis was entitled “Commerce, Food, and Identity in Seventeenth-Century England and France.” The examiners declared it ‘a fascinating, myth-busting thesis that offers a rich series of insights and analyses into a suite of familiar associations between cuisine and national identity in the case of modern France and Britain’; ‘a compelling narrative account of the history of English and French understandings of food in the seventeenth and eighteenth century’, highlighting his ‘provocative revisionist analysis of the role food played in the making of national narratives in the same period,’ his ‘wonderful observations … about the differences between English and French political …cultures,’ and ‘the transnational origins of national cultures’. They each stressed its originality and the fact that it is ‘beautifully written, demonstrating an impressive ability to produce fluent, compelling historical writing’, ‘very deserving of publication and will be read with great interest by historians and the wider reading public.’ One of them even commented that it was the “most readable thesis in 20 years of marking.”
MA (Research) Completions:
Catherine Perkins received news of her award of the MA by Research in mid-September. Cathy’s outstanding Masters thesis on the life and work of Australian writer Zora Cross was awarded a high distinction. Both examiners praised the high quality of Cathy’s research and writing: ‘As it stands, this study is an accomplished piece of writing in its own right: often witty, highly intelligent, beautifully crafted, and all delivered with a light touch’. ‘The elegance of the prose, together with the candidate’s obvious enthusiasm for her subject matter and her willingness to inject personal experiences into the narrative, made the thesis a pleasure rather than an obligation to read’.

Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences – 2017 Teaching Fellowships

Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
2017 Teaching Fellowships

The Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences is pleased to announce that it will fund 10 Teaching Fellowships (TFs) in 2017. The Teaching Fellowship scheme is designed to provide a number of the Faculty’s outstanding postgraduate research students, in the final year of their candidacy, the opportunity to pursue enhanced teaching experiences.
General Conditions
TFs will be held for a period of one year. Students can only hold one TF during their candidature.
The 2017 TFs are available on a competitive basis to full-time or part-time postgraduate research students enrolled through the Faculty who will submit their theses between 1 January 2017 and 31 December 2017. Students who have already submitted their theses, or who plan to submit them in 2016 or in 2018 are not eligible to apply in this TF round.
The period for which a TF is held may include some time in 2017 after a student has submitted his or her thesis and is waiting on examiners’ reports, making final corrections etc. For example, a student who plans to submit his or her thesis in June 2017 is eligible to apply and, if successful, to hold a TF throughout 2017.
The Fellowships are level A step 3 appointments on a part time basis with a 0.2 full-time equivalent (FTE). The term of employment is from 1 February until 15 December 2017. TFs will undertake up to four hours face-to-face teaching per week during the teaching weeks of semesters. The duties included in their teaching should not be limited to tutoring, but should include other teaching and teaching-related activities deemed appropriate (e.g., occasional lectures, curriculum development). These activities may occur outside the standard teaching weeks in semester.
TFs are expected to experience academic benefits, such as mentoring and inclusion in Department and/or School activities, beyond those provided by casual tutoring.
The expected teaching duties and other activities to be undertaken by TFs must be indicated on the application form.
Applicants must use the form provided, and include any relevant supporting material.
To be eligible for consideration for a TF, applicants must submit an application that demonstrates both their own competitiveness and the ability of their Department or School to provide them with enhanced teaching opportunities and appropriate supervision and mentoring.
Applications for 2017 are due by close of business, Tuesday 4 October 2016. No late applications will be considered.
Applications will be ranked within each School at a meeting convened by the School’s representative(s) on the Faculty Postgraduate Research Committee. A sub-committee of the Faculty Postgraduate Research Committee, with one member from each of the five Schools, will meet to determine the overall ranking of the candidates and nominate the 10 recipients for 2017.
Please note, results of the selection process, including the names, Departments and Schools of successful applicants, will be published on Faculty web pages.

Sense and the City

Like a long-expired animal carcass, an abandoned four-storey mansion called Morella overlooks Chowder Bay, its insides gutted and bones shattered. In its non-sentient state, Morella feels no shame for the open wounds that it displays to the world. It beckons, like an advertisement for a museum exhibit. What treasures lie inside?
No window panes exist anymore. Instead, mosaics of glass crunch underfoot. The burnt-out kitchen area is a time capsule. Appliances are decades out of date. Part of the third floor folds at a 45 degree angle, almost like a staircase of its own. The rusted skeleton of a grand piano is strewn across the patio. Dirt and weeds invade the open-air basement. Graffiti camouflages the art deco bravado of Roman pillars.
Urban ruins such as this are mysterious and intriguing. At least, to some (more on that later). I remember venturing into this abandoned mansion one morning with a friend, armed with a camera, to discover a man from Queensland similarly exploring the house. Apparently, a friend had told him about the place. Weeks later, during another visit, I was fined by police for trespassing. They complained that they had been called to the house the night before to deal with trespassers. Clearly, Morella had become a tourist attraction of sorts and a social hub for local youths.
In response to a Sydney Morning Herald article last year, Colin Rhodes, the (now resigned) Sydney College of the Arts (SCA) dean, praised the beauty of the SCA’s surroundings at Callan Park. However, he remarked that Callan Park “remains in a state of limbo and it is really hard to develop a world-class art school in a location that only seems to be deteriorating”. At first glance, this comment may appear unremarkable. Alongside the awe-inspiring architecture of the Kirkbride complex and Garry Owen House sits incongruously the brutalist architecture of air-raid shelters, the rustic architecture of stables and coach houses, with rusty tin roofs, and the scorched architecture of Broughton Hall, which suffered fire and vandalism in the 1980s (it is now boarded up).
Without history, abandoned places are curious oddities with only a present and a future, but not so curious as to invite critical examination. They appear a blank canvas for developers. They appear in need of human meaning and improvement to a naïve eye. This is why beer bottles and spray paint cans litter Morella and not the cameras and notebooks of historians, sociologists, journalists or council workers. Abandoned sites attract urban explorers, avid instagrammers, inquisitive passers-by and adrenaline junkies, but ignorance about their histories persist. I remember reading one piece on Morella in the Daily Telegraph, almost one year ago. The reddit thread on the house is sparse. Further information is hard to find. There is tension between interest and ignorance. It is probably the intrigue of not knowing what lies within that entices people. As a history buff, maybe I am different.
Callan Park sits today on 61 hectares of land, situated at Sydney’s heart. With the first permanent structure, Garry Owen House, built around 1840, the park has a rich history. However, beyond the local level, I believe the park has evaded the quantity of historical analysis it deserves. Some literature has been written on Garry Owen House and the Kirkbride buildings. Probably less has been written about Broughton Hall, despite its dilapidated state. Dedicated locals, represented by the Friends of Callan Park, have valiantly fought to preserve the park’s heritage. But with Professor Rhodes their efforts have fallen on deaf ears.
Public ignorance about the histories of abandoned sites can be damaging. Conspiracy theories, regarding the use of the tunnels below the Kirkbride building and a supposed secret passageway leading to the Parramatta River, abound. Sensationalist media reports have long over-emphasised the brutality and austerity of Callan Park’s mental hospitals. One media report described Morella as “haunted”. My own mother warned me that a “crazy man” lived there, but the house has been uninhabited since I was five years old. As Grace Karskens remarks, in The Colony: A History of Early Sydney, “while there are kernels of truth in… foggy tales, places, like stories, need to be taken seriously, they need to be researched as well as visited and experienced; they need history.” Growing up in western Sydney as a child, she witnessed suburbanisation and commercial development consume empty, neglected farmhouses.
Like Karskens, we must write local histories that restore humanity to places. Social history is particularly useful. So is sensorial history, so often ignored in secondary sources. Recently, scholars, such as James Scott, have argued that urban planners reduce human experience to what is visible through maps and models. Instead of seeing blight and an imagined “crazy man”, we must hear the laughter and chatter of the Parer family children that inhabited Morella and of the esteemed dinner guests that frequently dined inside its walls. Instead of propagating fictionalised tales and seeing a blank canvas for redevelopment, we must smell the earthy purity of Callan Park’s lush gardens, where mental patients rehabilitated themselves. We must hear – or not hear – the muffled urban soundscape, overpowered by the squawking of birds. We must feel the blustery winds of Callan Park on our skin. This sensorial history will paint a more vivid, humane picture of patients’ everyday lives and justly depict the park as open and often tranquil. Callan Park Hospital for the Insane and Broughton Hall Psychiatric Clinic (later amalgamated as the Rozelle Hospital) were progressive institutions, not enclosed, secretive mental asylums. For more of that argument, you will have to see my final project!
The “deteriorating” buildings Professor Rhodes described, relics of a bygone era, nonetheless hold tightly fascinating stories of perseverance, pain, recovery and sadness. (Read Jen Hawksley’s article ‘Histories from the Asylum: “The Unknown Patient”’ for one such story.) We must not invent wild tales with little evidence to support our case or slander their decrepit state. We must approach them gently and carefully. Only then will they reveal their pasts.

Aborginal Heritage Office – Week 9 in History Beyond the Classoom

This week, David Watts joined us again from the Aboriginal Heritage Office, a unique joint initiative by a group of councils across northern Sydney, including North Sydney, Manly, Warringah, Ku-ring-gai, and Pittwater to protect Aboriginal Heritage in these areas (
David, one of the students’ favourite speakers from last year’s class, is the Aboriginal Heritage Manager, and really developed, planned, and founded the Office back in 2000. He continues to play a key role in the preservation of Aboriginal heritage sites, education, and a prize-winning volunteer site monitoring program that empowers community members to take responsibility for our shared heritage and past.
David talked to students about his role in the organisation, the many challenges they faced and continue to face, and his extensive experience in Aboriginal heritage management. He has worked on site surveys and archaeological excavations, conservation management plans and protection works. He has given talks all over the world about Aboriginal site care and managements, as well as cultural tourism advice, and he has developed several Aboriginal Heritage Walks within the northern Sydney region (including some of the walks and resources you can find here:
Like last year, David engaged us all with his honest and realistic approach to public history, and also talked about his own past and the way that shaped his approach to the present, and his responses to continued racism as well. He also shared with us a new publication the AHO has released called “Filling the Void: A History of the Word ‘Guringai’.”
David’s talk helped set the tone for an ensuing discussion on “Decolonizing Methodologies” and especially the struggle over “research” in indigenous communities where there has been a long history of imperial and post-colonial intrusion by researchers. David’s talk, and the readings, helped draw attention to the sensitivities involved in indigenous history and the need to think carefully about our intentions and purposes in doing it (something we need to be mindful with any project, it seems).
But David’s efforts in getting the AHO up and running and maintaining and sustaining it for over sixteen years now, along with his dedicated team of colleagues (who put on almost 200 schools events a year and who monitor thousands of aboriginal heritage sites across northern Sydney), reminded the class that it is not enough to sit around and wait for the “right” thing to happen in heritage management. David, along with other speakers like Judith Dunn, are teaching us the importance of stepping up to make something happen. It is not always easy, but it won’t get done otherwise.


When I ask myself; what is history? The logical answer that comes to mind is ‘people’. Nothing more or nothing less than every single thing that humans have ever done in their lives – the groups they form, the things they make or construct, how they live together or apart, how they love and fight from the microcosm of the family right through to a grand-scale sweeping thematic view of decades and ages of time.
In essence, history is from the people, of the people and I believe; for the people. It should be accessible, understandable, appealing, exciting and engaging – not fusty, musty and locked away, either in distance archives or obfuscated beyond use into the unwieldy language of the academic elite.
In many ways this subject has offered me to most fertile ground for expressing this view of history – as well as doing an excellent job of me undertaking my first journey as (semi)professional historian. Perhaps a good metaphor for this is training wheels – keeping me upright as I fly off joyfully down the occasionally bumpy road of a community history project.
And occasionally bumpy it has been, having had to change community organizations mid-way through, I’m now working for/with the Newtown Neighborhood Center to create a ‘creative historical exhibition’ for their 40th birthday celebrations. I’m really excited for this, which is looking like it will take the form of semi-permanent gallery style exhibition with a series of paste up posters featuring both images and historical information. We’re also discussing some archival work which is really exciting; because as my contact at the center says ‘who knows what’s in there!’
I’ve been really fortunate in my organization in terms of how much our views of what history should be/look like seem very similar – we both place a similar level of importance on all members of the public from university educated people to small children to elders to people who may not have fully completed their schooling to be able to understand and enjoy the information we discover. Doubly fortunately, we both feel that a key factor of this is a creative and visually appealing presentation of this information – something that very neatly intersects with my personal interest and experience with visual arts and mural painting/design.
Despite being off to a bit of a slow start, I’m so excited to see what this project will develop into!

Steps to History

My father was a stonemason. He spent years of his life chipping away at stone. To this day, he still bears the marks of his work on his rough and calloused hands. As a child, I often marvelled at the things he could create from the stone with just a few simple tools like his hammer and chisel. Our family home, built more than twenty years ago by my father and grandfather, lays on a foundation of sandstone; the steps leading up to our front door were carefully smoothed by his hands. Even our letter box, although old and weathered now, was built from sandstone.
I have always had a connection to old buildings. I think it is because they remind me of my father, our family home and my own history. Perhaps, this is also why I am so intrigued by the many historical buildings along Alison Road, in the old town of Wyong. These buildings, which include the Old Court House, Chapman’s Store and the Railway Station, are all enduring remnants of years gone by. Built with aging brick and stone, they are the only remaining markers of the time in which Wyong was first founded over a century ago.
More than just the buildings themselves, it is the stories of the people behind them that captivate me the most. In the past few weeks, I have spent hours trawling through archives, newspapers and books, searching for people with connections to the buildings along Alison Road. Slowly, I am piecing together a narrative about the past lives and ways of the pioneers of Wyong.
So far, I have read stories about William Ponton, a bricklayer by trade who built the Post Office adjoining the Old Police Station, who was famed throughout the town for laying more than 1000 bricks a day. I have also uncovered numerous newspaper reports about the first postmaster of Wyong, Mr. Stafford, who disappeared from his lodgings at the Court House one morning along with a considerable sum of money from the till. It is stories like these, about the buildings of Wyong and the people who built them, lived in them and visited them, that I will endeavour to share in my walking tour of Alison Road.
Erin Blanchfield
I am working alongside Wyong Family History Group to develop a walking tour of the historical buildings along Alison Road in Wyong. For further information about the group, please visit;

Esto Sol Testis

For my community project, I decided to go back to my old school (because twelve years at school apparently wasn’t long enough). I enjoyed my time at school and hold my teachers and administrative staff in much higher regard, having now witnessed my friends struggling with the demands of a degree in Education.
Kambala introduced the study of history to me. Perhaps it was the moment when we made our own archaeological dig in a shoe box in year 7, or studied the Titanic in year 10 (aka arguing if there was enough space on the door for Jack Dawson *spoiler alert* there was), or even our field trips to the Rocks, and Vaucluse House in primary school. I can’t pin point the exact moment in which I became fascinated about the past, but it was undeniably born, cultivated, and matured inside school walls. I studied both ancient history and history extension for the HSC. While I wanted to take modern history too someone-who-shall-not-be-named thought that mathematics was a better idea (it wasn’t). However, despite learning about the great history of great men, the school’s history of my school was largely ignored. I graduated with more knowledge about the gymnasiums in Pompeii than Kambala’s buildings.
I therefore decided to work with the Kambala Old Girls Union (KOGU) in order that I might engage deeper with my school’s history and the community which had taught me so much. This year marks the 120th Anniversary of the Kambala Old Girls Union. As part of the celebrations, KOGU is releasing a series of images and biographies on old girls who have led inspirational lives. I myself wrote the biographies for nine deceased old girls.
This was a challenge as it was difficult to obtain information about some of the old girls, given they lived in the 1800s. However, having researched their lives deeply by trawling through 1903 editions of the Sydney Morning Herald I managed to find sufficient information to construct a biography about their lives.
I was fascinated by the challenging and intriguing nature of these old girls’ lives. While some served in the Red Cross during World Wars I and II, another founding the Country Women’s Association, to another becoming one of the best artists in Australia, these girls, who walked the same halls as myself for twelve years left a significant mark on the country’s history. In HSC Ancient History we spent months studying powerful women like Hatshepsut, one of the most powerful Pharaohs in New Kingdom Egypt. We studied Livia, Julia, Octavia, the wife, daughter and sister of Augustus. We studied the great female protagonists from the Classical Tragedians (I think at this point I need to confess my true passion for history lies in Ancient Rome, specifically 42BC-14D).
We studied these captivating famous ancient women, women who challenged authority and forged a unique and independent path for themselves in their challenging societies. But, not once did we study the old girl who was the first female junior medical resident officer at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital.
Not the old girl who raised 95 000 pounds for the Australian Cerebral Palsy Association through her position as Miss Australia.
Not once the old girl who was Australia’s first female diplomat to the United Nations.
Not the girls who walked the same corridors, perhaps sat in the same chairs, wore the same uniform or sang the same school song.
Sometimes it’s not necessary to visit Ancient Rome to find inspirational historical figures as HSC Ancient History would have you believe. Sometimes you can find their fingerprints on the door of M22.*
~ Lizzie Richardson (class of 2012)
*M22 was the history room at Kambala

The appeal of music and booze

There really is nothing like seeing strangers and mates alike join to drop their pants to the Eagle Rock, or belt out every lyric to Khe Sanh whilst they drown themselves in beer.
I think most young Australians are drawn to a culture shaped by music entertainment and drinking. Perhaps problematically, drinking and the social activities that accompany it are entrenched historically in the Australian identity. The nationalist character of the Australian imagined community is a topic oft-discussed by academics and public figures alike. At the grass roots however, I think most appreciate and love the role that music and social drinking has had upon their identity, particularly because of the relationships and sense of community they have fostered. After all, don’t you and your mates enjoy the same music?
As I have grown up in between countries and cultures, I felt a great need to deepen my roots to a place and community. Music, particularly music in the Inner West, and the pub culture which supports it has played a crucial role in connecting me to a sense of culture and place here in Sydney. This public history project has provided me the opportunity to marry my historical interests with my social world and community. I have Dan and Matt Rule, community leaders and business owners of Music and Booze Co. to thank for building the space that myself and so many others can enjoy within Sydney’s Inner West. This project will pay homage to that fact.
Music and Booze Co. was only conceived in 2014 to ‘facilitate and curate creative events, involving the countires [sic] most exciting bands, labels, agents & communities’, at festivals, live music and hospitality venues, as well as public spaces such as parks, initially in and around Newtown, NSW, and now all of Australia. Before the conception of the company, the Rule Brothers have worked behind the scene for many years and have arguably helped build some of the most popular bands in Australia, while simultaneously restoring and building the reputation of famous pubs such as the Annandale Hotel and The Lord Gladstone. However, bankruptcy and state restrictions have forced the brothers to start fresh, where they rely on the publicity of their friends (musicians, publicans and other music and non-industry workers) to grow as a public, cultural and business organisation. This is where I have slotted myself in – helping publicise and support their business by attending their events and spreading the word. It isn’t much, and I wish I could pick up a guitar and bring a big audience to them but I lack the talent. But my passion and love for this community and consequently my appreciation for what the Rule brothers have done has motivated me to use my historical skills to highlight the significance of their work. We will see how it goes..

Crime History

For the past few weeks, I have been assisting the Local History department of the Woollahra Library in collating some research for an upcoming walking tour on crime in Vaucluse. Now I’m not sure Vaucluse is usually thought of as a hotspot for crime, with its sea views and the letterbox-numbers spelled out with words. But just like any area that has been around for a while, and that has had human beings living side by side, there have been some scuffles along the way.
In my research so far, I have started at the start. This, for the Vaucluse area, begins with Sir Henry Browne Hayes, a wealthy Irish convict who was sent over to NSW in 1802 for trying to forcibly marry a wealthy young woman to then claim control of her large inheritance. For some reason she wasn’t too keen on the idea and managed to escape and get the police on his case. After being on the run for two years, he eventually turned himself in and was shipped off to NSW. Hayes was a downright trouble maker. For one, he was an Irish Freemason and was intent on establishing Freemasonry upon his arrival in Sydney, contrary to the wishes of Governor King (who was already dealing with a few potential convict uprisings at the time). A bunch of convicts, banding together in a sort of secret cult? Not what you want. The story continues, and I have to find more information, but Hayes continued to aggravate the powers that were. This included being shipped off to Van Diemens land as a result of rebellious tendencies.
Interestingly though, he was one of a few convicts to be ‘well off’ and as such he suffered all the usual convict hardships: sailing around the bay in his boat, cultivating his garden, and building the beautiful sandstone cottage that he would name Vaucluse. Later the house was sold to W.C. Wentworth, a much more palatable character from what I’ve gathered, and has survived in good condition thanks to being State-Heritage listed.
I loved reading about this story but I can’t help thinking: would I enjoy this story if instead of a convict, this ‘Hayes’ was just another wealthy foreigner who wanted a sea view in Sydney’s East? What if he was a convict who got on just fine with local authority and just lived a quiet, law-abiding life? I think that history, or rather the passing of time, can cull large proportions of the human experience away from the story that I (or anyone) could construct around someone like Hayes. He is in danger of being summed up by a culmination of birth dates and death dates, of signed land agreements, of Gazette reports, and inevitably the ‘humanness’ leaches out of his story. I am not sure that this is unavoidable, but I find it interesting how easy it is to forget the emotional landscape that a person, much less someone deemed a ‘criminal’, can have in his/her life. It is hard to imagine, because obviously I was not there to experience it. And so my point about crime (if there is any), is that maybe part of the allure of crime history is its ability to make those darker parts of ourselves – those angry, rebellious, unfair, criminal parts of ourselves- more palatable as we look at them in the form of another, safely removed from us by time.
This is another reason why I respect the ideas of walking tours, because just like the one we undertook at the Parramatta Female Factory, the spoken word and the physicality of a tour can help to convey some of these stories with a more emotional touch, with more imagination coming into the history-making process.
For now, I continue gathering evidence of those sneaky members of Sydney’s dodgiest neighbourhood: Vaucluse.

Liverpool U3A – Combining Learning with Leisure

The community group I am working with is the University of the Third Age (U3A) in Liverpool NSW. U3A is a non-profit movement that operates nationally and internationally designed for people over the age of 50. Any senior can become a member, whether you live in the local area or not and you do not need to be a pensioner to join. Members of the organisation simply pay a small annual fee to gain access to a whole bunch of educational and leisure activities (most at no extra cost and no assignments or exams).
To provide insight into the extensive range of classes available, listed below is the program of the many classes members of Liverpool U3A had the opportunity to attend during Term 3 of 2016 (the U3A program is divided into 4 terms per year where adjustments may be made for different classes depending on various factors).
~ Art Appreciation ~ China/Porcelain Painting (Beginner/Advanced) ~ Computer (Beginner/Intermediate)
~ Computer: Q and A ~ Computer: Internet ~ Computer: Scanning ~ Creative Writing ~ Enjoy Reading
~ Euchre ~ French (Beginner/Intermediate) ~ Gadgets for Seniors ~ History ~ Meditation
~ Oil and Acrylic Painting ~ Patchwork ~ Walking Group ~ Water Colour: Painting/Drawing/Mixed Media
~ Yogalates
The motivation for choosing Liverpool U3A for my public history project was inspired by my Grandmother. She has been attending the organisation for nearly 15 years, after the loss of my Grandfather in 2001. Her neighbours who already attended encouraged her to go and try out some of the classes. Today she currently attends multiple classes, is the French tutor for the beginner and intermediate classes and is one of the committee members on the Board.
I feel so passionate about this organisation because I have personally seen how much interest and joy it has added to my grandmother’s life (she barely has time to ring her grandchildren!). I want to show others in the community what a fantastic job this organisation does at empowering seniors and providing them with a place to continue to live life to the fullest both educationally and socially.
For more information, you can visit their website: