Calrossy House is a building like no other. Its red brick exterior, exquisite stained glass windows and marble floors have been a quintessential image within the city of Tamworth from its origins in the late nineteenth century. Although initially a tourist site, Calrossy House has had a much greater history within Tamworth as a home and school for young women. Calrossy House was initially sold to The Church of England Girls’ School (now named Calrossy Anglican School) in 1923. Despite this building becoming an integral feature representing the expansion and development of Calrossy Anglican School for nearly a century, no history has yet been written. Thousands of girls have lived or studied in Calrossy House and yet they remain disconnected from its history. I have been given the wonderful opportunity to complete a visual history of Calrossy House within my university ‘History Beyond The Classroom’ course. I was instructed to compile a number of photographs tracking the development of Calrossy House and how its changes are representative of the wider societal changes facing Calrossy Anglican School. This history, in the form of a physical booklet, will be displayed within the Calrossy library so that students may be able to reconnect with their past. Still today, the girls of Calrossy Anglican School eat in the same dining hall, sleep in the same dormitories and even sign their names in at the same front office as students of decades past. It is essential that these students may be able to realise how fundamental Calrossy House has been in shaping Calrossy Anglican School so that they can appreciate that this building has a lot more to offer than aesthetic beauty.
A Note to Future Students:
This project has been a lot of fun to complete, and I believe that I have been successful so far. The key to success is to organise with your institution early, so that you can allow for many contact hours in the initial stages. Things can go wrong, and the nature of your project may change, so it is best to get started early so that you have enough time to overcome any unforeseen struggles.
In a time of increasingly unaffordable housing in Sydney and rent prices shooting through the roof, Housing Co-ops offer a viable alternative for university students. They operate by members who make decisions in the running of the property. Stucco, formed in 1991 and located in Newtown, is Sydney’s only student housing co-operative and is home to around 40 students. Its members pay low rent and the spirit fostered in community living is unparalleled through other housing alternatives. In organizing Stucco’s archives for its members and writing a more concise history for their website my project will draw attention to this housing alternative for students and improving educational access for students that need to live away from home to study.
I would tell future students that when looking at archives you can find many surprises, don’t go in knowing what you will write about. Looking through the Stucco archives I thought I would be dealing with maybe a few old newspaper clippings about the housing. It was built in an old glass factory and many of the original structures were adapted. I found myself researching how glass was made in the 1920s, finding old letters written by politicians, and old pamphlets for youth unemployment benefits from the 1980s. Archives are never isolated to the organization that collected them and are far reaching through time and society.
It’s hard to imagine an Australia without the State Emergency Service (SES). From devastating natural disasters to events like the Lindt Café Siege and Waterfall train derailment that kept us glued to our TV screens, SES volunteers have been keeping people safe in times of crisis for over sixty years.
As we move into the 21st century which brings increased risks of major natural disasters and heightened terror threat levels, the organisation’s history has become of greater significance. In 1955, when the State Emergency Service was established, the biggest threat to New South Wales was the nuclear bomb and most communities were small and self-sufficient. Now the threats faced are more diverse and severe, with communities more reliant than ever on organisations like the SES. A new documentary aims to chart the organisation’s response through these changes with hopes that the solutions of the past can inform the challenges of the future. It is also hoped that this new outlook on the SES’s history and legacy will help attract new volunteers from the community as it grows to meet these future demands.
The history of Sylvania High School is an important story for the community of Sylvania that needs to be told. The school has come a long way since 1970 and despite being built recently compared with others, it has maintained a high level of academic excellence. The school has had to face severe competition with older, more established schools in the area and has seen some dark times, like during the 90s when the school was struggling to find numbers. However, despite the community changing around it, Sylvania High has remained a stalwart of the local community and Southern Sydney.
The project will make Sylvania High unique in the Shire as having its story told on a public domain on their website. This project has been ambitious in scope, having to start almost from scratch in obtaining information, relying on the oral accounts of past teachers. Like the school, which rose from a rubbish tip and a swamp, my project has taken shape from nothing to provide a foundation for future research at the approach of the school’s 50th anniversary.
Walking down Queen Street, there is so much that catches the eye. Luscious green parklands filled with morning joggers in fluro activewear. Merchants line the streets competing for your attention and your dollar. Police cars screech out of the station while trains pull into theirs. People walk the block under the golden hue of Campbelltown’s half-lit McDonald’s arches.
But there is something more. Four buildings from another time lay dormant, waiting to tell their stories.
The Coach House, where the heroics of James Waterworth saw off more than a few desperate bushrangers. On one trip between Wollongong and Campbelltown, his quick thinking aided his escape of a group of bushrangers who had held him up on the way into Campbelltown. By biting down on the inside of his lip until it bled, and coughing profusely, he was able to feign a contagious illness which deterred the bandits.
There’s Mcguanne’s House; the dwelling of the imperious teacher Kate McGuanne, who would force students to do her chores as punishment for minor handwriting infractions.
The Railway Hotel, apart from being a lovely place to stay it’s also the perfect site to display the bodies of bushrangers who fought the law and lost, deterring Campbelltown’s young from following the path of the outlaw.
And, of course, Bursill’s Stores where you could buy the local produce, if you were cunning enough to avoid the fascinating and ferocious resident pest controller; a garden snake of over a metre in length.
These buildings tell the story of not just a town, but of a young nation in an uncertain time, trying to etch out a name for itself. Come down to Queen Street to find out more and take a glimpse at the town’s formative days and gain a new perspective of the place you live.
It is a great pleasure to announce that Gabrielle Kemmis has successfully completed her PhD. Her thesis, on the Psychology Strategy Board and America’s campaign to win the Cold War offered a history of a little-studied and short-lived government entity that Gabrielle argued had an outsized influence on government thinking and policy-making at a crucial moment in the history of the Cold War. Examiners praised the work for its originality, as well as its engagement with a broader conversation about the “incredible allure” that psychology and the social sciences held for policymakers in the mid-twentieth century. Based on a rich array of archival sources, examiners noted that the thesis showed a “truly impressive grasp of the wide range of secondary literature” and “adds significantly to our knowledge” of the role of the PSB in fostering new approaches to the Cold War.
As Gabrielle’s supervisor in the closing stages of the thesis, I might also add that this important and impressive achievement was accomplished in the face of and despite a number of very difficult professional and personal setbacks that could have easily derailed the progress and outcome of the thesis were it not for Gabrielle’s determination to see it through. The successful completion of the thesis, then, is a testament to Gabrielle’s commitment, drive, and resilience and her ability and desire to learn and to teach others even in the face of a great deal of adversity (also reflected in her much-lauded tutoring work in two separate units of study this semester!). It is a remarkable achievement.
Her thesis can be accessed at the Sydney eScholarship Repository, where it has been assigned the following identifier: http://hdl.handle.net/2123/16781
Again, while it is technically not official until graduation, I’m sure I am not the only one keen to offer a warm congratulations to Dr. Kemmis!
Sydney is overcrowded with high density housing and massive infrastructure developments. Yet, neighbouring this concrete jungle lies one of Sydney’s few remaining greenspaces, The beautiful Wolli Valley. The Wolli Valley in southern Sydney supports unique ecologies and varied histories, but its integral role in maintaining Sydney’s environmental and social health has had to be defended against the Government and companies willing to trade precious greenspaces for bulging bank accounts. The grassroots community actions and ongoing work of the Wolli Creek Preservation Society (WCPS) have ensured that the Wolli Valley is safe for now. To secure its future, they are working on several programs and initiatives. The project that I am collaborating on is a bushwalking brochure that identifies important historical sites along the Wolli Walk. This walk winds through bushland from Bexley North to Tempe. The sites within the brochure will reveal the Wolli Valley’s deep indigenous history, ecological history, and settler histories, all of which intertwine and connect along the walk. The brochure will be downloadable from the WCPS website, and will not only encourage people to experience the beauty of the Wolli Valley for themselves, but also highlight the significance of an area that rich in history and life. The Wolli Valley is a greenspace worth fighting for, and this is the message our project will deliver.
Continue reading “Project: Wolli Walk brochure in conjunction with the Wolli Creek Preservation Society”