The local community organisation I have chosen to work with is the Blue Mountains Historical Society (BMHS), a small but well-funded and resourced history group undertaking personal-interest histories through its society’s members. I was unaware of the existence of history societies in the Blue Mountains. Having grown up here my entire life and having been a History major living there for the past 4 years may have led me to an awareness of such an organisation. Such was not the case. This semi-rural suburban community has a fascinating history, yet I have no vivid memories of learning local Blue Mountains history during my school years. This project felt like the perfect opportunity to erase this absence and contribute something back to my local community.
In thinking about an organisation to work with, I began with the desire to do something that would enhance both my own and the community which I hail from’s knowledge and understanding about place. It made sense to enquire about local history organisations, and quite easily I came across BMHS. Established in 1946 and based in the Upper-Mountains suburb of Wentworth Falls, the land on which the society functions, and now owns, was inherited from benefactor Beryl McLaughlin, the daughter of John McLaughlin, a wealthy solicitor who bought the property on which Tarella Cottage stands as an escape from the heat of Sydney summer.
Having acquired the now heritage-listed Tarella Cottage in 1988, the society has since built another property on the land which serves as the office location, museum space, archives and work space. From this site, the society publishes a bi-monthly newsletter playfully titled Hobby’s Outreach, as well as member-authored books, all of which are available on their website. Monthly meetings engage community members to become involved with the work of the society, work which is invaluable to the community, and readily available for anyone willing to pop by.