In October of this year I had the fortune to choose Breakfast Point Men’s Shed (BPMS) as my non-profit organisation of choice. Tasked with volunteering for a group, the eventual aim was to collaborate with them to form a historical project of some sort, to complete a product that would be of use to them. My initial conversations with the men at the Shed highlighted the need for a distinct “record” of sorts. Although the guys had thousands of photos recording the actions their organisation had taken – most notably woodwork projects for their surrounding community – they lacked a formalised story of how the Shed came into existence. As a group focussed on men’s mental health, physical wellbeing and charity, this was hardly on the list of their priorities. Fortunately, these stories remained in the minds of the members themselves, given the relatively recent formation of the organisation.
By becoming increasingly exposed to the community work at BPMS, and through conversations with members within the group, I was inspired and encouraged to record the short history of the Shed. This formed my primary aim of the project: to detail the history and significance of the organisation. I was struck by the group’s generosity in time and resources to both myself and their wider community. Hence, the project I have conducted seeks to show, both implicitly and explicitly, that BPMS is an integral part of the Breakfast Point Community.
But who was this project meant for? Shed Members? The Public? My decision to create a website to display this history enabled it to target both. Although not yet on the BPMS website, my hope is that an attachment can be made there, linking to my project. In so doing, this project has the capacity to reach all Shed members, many of whom frequent their own website to keep up to date with weekly scheduled events. It also has the added benefit of being accessible to the general public, or indeed anyone looking to join the Shed itself. The website itself targets the varying aspects of organisation. Initially, it details how the Shed originated and grew. In the retelling of this history, I attempt here to convey the group as constantly updating and improving upon itself and its space. I also expanded upon two further themes. Firstly, the huge support the Shed brings its wider community. This was a must in highlighting the history of the organisation, it has remained one of their core goals. Secondly, the value the Shed has towards the members themselves. From firsthand experience, I have seen how committed the men are towards fostering a community that can talk openly towards one another, tackling Men’s mental health a conversation at a time.
How was I sourcing my content? What was my evidence? In this regard, a secondary reading that I had read within this university unit – M. Scott Momaday’s The Way to Rainy Mountain – drastically altered my perception of what counted as valid historical practice. Within his work, Momaday utilizes personal experience, myth and oral testimony to record the history of his native american community. Ultimately this concept informed the creation of my own project, and the value oral testimony has in mapping intimate, local histories. It is for this reason that I have relied heavily on the words of the people that constitute the Shed. For the purposes of this short history, these men have lived through and consciously facilitated the growth and attitude of the organisation. They were my greatest source. Thankfully, key members at Breakfast Point generously gave me access to many photos, along with a few documents, which complemented the image of what the Shed was and how it had changed.
My hope is that by creating this website, I have made a place where current members can come to reflect upon the story of their organisation so far. As new generations are inducted as Men’s Shed members, I also hope this project will have a longer lasting effect. My wish is that it can inform successive generations about the humbles beginnings from which the Shed started and importance the group has had upon Breakfast Point, the Community Association and the members themselves.
I want to extend a sincere thank you to Tony, Gerrard, Vince, Ugo, Kevin, Ron V, Ron S, Chris, Bruce, Ross and many other members that were so accommodating and generous with their time. Without your insight, warmth and knowledge this project would not have been possible. Thanks for making my time there enjoyable.
I have been working with the Sutherland Shire Historical Society (SSHS) for a couple of months now and have really enjoyed the experience that I have had there. The society was very welcoming and embraced my project and me with open arms. The society has a museum located in Sutherland which I visited every Saturday morning during opening hours. Initially, I helped file and archive various pieces that the society had come to possess. The office required an overhaul so each week a few ladies from the society and I would work through various newspaper clipping, books and other items to make their system more manageable. I enjoyed this experience both because the ladies were so friendly and because I learnt so much about my local area whilst flicking through different articles.
Unfortunately, I could not stay digging through these archives forever and my attention was drawn, rather reluctantly, to formulating a major project. I struggled for a couple of weeks, tossing up between different ideas. These included remaking the SSHS’s website, working in the museum to improve displays, digitising documents, working on an interactive display and creating a walking tour. Although some of these projects I was very eager to engage in, it was suggested to me that a walking tour would be very beneficial to the SSHS. Initially, I was worried because I struggled to think of many historical landmarks in Sutherland and thought it would be difficult to create an engaging tour. After further investigation and talking to various members of the society, I began to realise that there were actually many different sites around the area that had historical value.
I slowly began compiling a list of sites, both from my own research and the suggestions made by the SSHS members. Eventually, I settled on fourteen different stops that would take about an hour to travel to. The SSHS has no other published walking tours and so I aimed to cover a wide range of topics to inspire interest in a wide range of people. The walk contains transport, educational, council, medical and recreational buildings, as well as, parks and a cemetery. I also took into consideration the audience for the walking tour. The visitors to the museum are mostly older adults or young families. The walking tour could not be very long as neither of these parties can travel for long periods. The tour takes around one hour to complete and is on mostly flat and paved surfaces. Initially, I began the project by researching each stop and writing a small blurb about its history and any other interesting facts. The format for this project is a brochure and so the amount I could write had to be limited because of the space constraints. I had trouble limiting my text as there was a lot of information on many of the sites. The majority are heritage listed and can be found on government websites and lists.
The society offered to place my walking tour on their website to make it more accessible to the public and allow people to complete the tour even when the museum is not open. To complement this idea I translated the tour onto a flyer instead of a brochure. In the digital form, the brochure can be difficult and confusing to read, this will make it easier for online users.
The Sutherland Shire hosts many beautiful nature reserves and national parks, the walking tours on offer are focused on these areas and often neglect the built environment. This walking tour is original because it focuses on one town centre and the built environment that boasts an interesting and unique history.
The walking tour has a two-part aim. The first is to engage the community with the history of Sutherland. Historical awareness and understanding allow the individual to see their surroundings from a different perspective and understand that place has meaning. Hopefully, this walking tour will inspire a greater appreciation of the Sutherland area. Secondly, the tour aims to attract more people to the Sutherland Shire Museum. This museum is run by the SSHS and is where the tour begins and ends. The museum is open every Saturday morning and often struggles to have a high number of visitors. I really wanted to try and address this problem within the project. By centring the walk around the museum the visitor is opened up to both a history of Sutherland town and that of the wider Sutherland Shire. It creates a more enriching experience and allows the museum to move further into the public sphere.
To gain the most exposure for the walking tour I am also investigating other mediums of advertisement for this project. The Sutherland Shire Council website would provide good exposure for the tour and the museum, hopefully boosting the numbers of visitors. The museum is very interesting and the SSHS has provided a unique space where the history of the Sutherland Shire can be explored. I hope that the museum will thrive and that more people will be able to experience the history that it offers.
This subject and project have allowed me to be involved in a community that I did not even know existed up until a few months ago. I have thoroughly enjoyed the time I have spent with the SSHS. The walking tour project has come to its completion and I am extremely excited about the possibilities it presents. Although this is the case I am still keen to be involved with the SSHS and the museum. The other projects that were discussed in the earlier stages of the process still need to addressed and I am excited to see where they could take me. I am very grateful for this experience and the SSHS for taking me under their wing and supporting me throughout this project.
The project that I undertook this semester was to compile a comprehensive historical walking tour of Watsons Bay. I have lived in the area all my life, so of course I have a fair degree of sentimental attachment to the subject matter and felt a strong engagement with the project. I worked with the Watsons Bay Association to complete this project. The association drew me in with a professional looking website with a comprehensive history section, which indicated a real passion for the history of the area. Upon meeting Roger Bayliss and his wife Julie, the president and treasurer of the organisation respectively, I learnt that the organisation was relatively small and dormant, and only springs to action during times when community lobbying is needed, like during the successful Save South Head movement.
Roger and Julie suggested I do a walking tour of the area in a PDF or brochure format that could be uploaded to the Association website and that they could circulate via their popular Save South Head Facebook page. They wanted me to do a walking tour because Watsons Bay is such a historical area, especially in a colonial context, as it was the sight of the landing of the First Fleet and one of Australia’s first colonies. It has a long history of indigenous inhabitation going back some 60,000 years. It is now one of the most popular tourist spots in Sydney. Roger and Julie thought a tour that gave a more complete perspective of the area’s history was necessary, as many tours revolve around the typical sites such as The Gap and Macquarie Lighthouse which offer obvious photo opportunities. Roger and Julie gave me a large folder of old newspapers, heritage documents, photos, and historical texts to sort through and gather information from. They also put me in contact with various local community members and local history experts to correspond with and talk to. They sent me a map of the tour circuit and the sights they wanted me to include, and the initial list involved 26 sights with others later added or removed. They included an example walking tour from Canada Bay which they wanted me to base the format on.
I began the project by reading through the documents they gave me and compiling information for each sight, and issues that required clarification. I consulted the online resource Trove and other historical sources such as Robin Derricourt’s South Head Sydney and The Origins of Watsons Bay, and Megan Martin’s A Thematic History of Watsons Bay, when there were gaps in my information. These two publications proved very useful and, along with the old Bay Lief local newspapers, formed the basis of the information for my walking tour. An area where my information was lacking was the Indigenous history, much of which had been destroyed by colonial settlers, or the natural erosion and weathering of the area. I understood this was a sensitive topic and wanted to consult a local Indigenous group about the information. Through research, I found Kadoo Tours, run by Tim Ella, Grant Hyde, and Tim Ella’s daughter Latoya Brown. They were very accommodating and invited me on their Watsons Bay and La Perouse tours which provided me with interesting insights regarding the cultural practices of the Aboriginal people that lived on the South East Coast of Australia. Grant also sent through a long list of all the native flora that can be found around South Head and information on how Indigenous Australians maintained the land. I consulted with Kadoo Tours throughout the project to ensure my information wasn’t encroaching on their tour, and my Indigenous information was historically accurate and sensitive. Ultimately, they were happy with the work I had done and approved of me using it.
One of my most significant challenges was to limit the sites in the tour to a reasonable number, and to keep the information included reasonably concise. Despite cutting the initial word count down by around 2000 words, the tour still was not applicable for a traditional 3 panel brochure. I decided that the best way forward was to format it like the Canada Bay walking tour example and design it as a downloadable pdf booklet. This will hopefully get enough traction through the website and Facebook page which has well over 1000 likes.
My revised scaffold was sent around to a number
of knowledgeable local residents and historians of the local area, to see if
they could offer more insight. I met with a couple of local residents, Kim
Messenger and Terry Wolfe. Both offered valuable insight on the Cove Street
residences, a site on the tour. Terry was particularly interesting as he lives
in one of the oldest houses in the area which is made from ballast from the
first fleet vessels with mortar containing remnants of Aboriginal shell
middens. He had a lot of documents and books on the area too, which I read and
used for additional information.
Once my scaffold was approved by the Watsons Bay
Association I commenced designing the booklet. While trialling the idea of a
brochure. I experimented with several programs, like Canva, however I would
have had to do a very substantial edit to fit all the sites in and I felt a lot
of important and interesting information would have been left out that way. I
designed 3 maps for the tour using Google Maps which separate the tour into
three distinct parts. When factoring in time spent eating, swimming or using
the rest rooms, I think the tour is best suited for a full day trip. This is
suitable for tourists as public transport options to and from Watsons Bay run
all day long. I also included original photos most of which I took when walking
the route. I also included information about the location of refreshments,
restrooms and public transport.
The Watsons Bay Association seems very happy with the work I have done for them, and they have been a great organisation to work with. They have been very helpful and accommodating and are enthusiastic and interested about the history of the area, and the importance of history for conservation. The organisation plans to put the tour on their website in the near future. The Association and I have big plans to develop the tour over the summer to reach a wider audience.
When the tour goes live I will add the link to it from their website.
At the beginning of this year I read an amazing book by Anna Anthropy titled Rise of the Videogame Zinesters: How Freaks, Normals, Amateurs, Artists, Dreamers, Drop-outs, Queers, Housewives, and People Like You Are Taking Back an Art Form. Part manifesto, part history, part memoir and part manual – Anthropy argues for marginalised groups to hit the keyboard and design videogames to represent their experiences. Reading Anthropy’s work completely changed the way I thought about media forms and storytelling,
‘I can imagine – you are invited to imagine with me – a world in which digital games are not manufactured by publishers for the same small audience, but one in which games are authored by you and me for the benefit of our peers. This is something the videogame industry, by its nature, cannot give us. I like to think about zines – self-published, self-distributed magazines and books… I like the idea of games as zines: as transmissions of ideas and culture from person to person, as personal artifacts instead of impersonal creations by teams of forty-five artists and fifteen programmers.’
I can hear you asking –
what do videogames have to do with history? Am I in the right place, I thought
you were supposed to be talking about a university history project?
When I first read this book, I never thought it would make me think differently about history. But, what Anthropy argues for in Videogame Zinesters has a lot to do with history and its creation.
Though we have an understanding of public history as part of our historical consciousness, it’s always been seen as lesser – as capital H history’s younger, dumber brother. But with the rise of social media, podcasting, blogging and the democratisation of website-making (with programs like Wix and Squarespace) there is now even more opportunity for public history to be made – not only by those who work in government funded institutions, or who are able to fund their own works but by those who want to write their own history. This is where videogames and history collide – where history – like videogames – isn’t just the ‘impersonal creation… [of] forty-five artists and fifteen programmers’ but can become the work of what Anthropy calls, the ‘freaks, normals, amateurs, artists, dreamers, drop-outs, queers, housewives, and people like you.’
For the past few months I have worked on a public history project to redesign the digital archive of Newcastle queer history group – Hunter Rainbow History (HRH). I have also created a zine featuring some of the main pieces of their archive to act as a portable exhibition of queer history in Newcastle. Both these projects were made with the aim to allow more people to access the archive, as well as to increase awareness of the archive’s existence (through the zine), make the archive more user-friendly, and to create an easy-to-read queer history of Newcastle that would provide entry-points into the more complex material in the archive.
When I first saw the HRH archive I was blown away by the amount of material that was available, but I was also overwhelmed by what each piece meant and how it all connected to a broader history. It was only after spending many hours familiarising myself with the material, doing secondary research and talking to John Witte (a founding member of HRH) that I was able to see how each piece connected and why it was so important to understanding Newcastle’s queer history. When working on my project this became my main aim – to allow people to access the archive and to instantly see the connections between the objects.
However, creating the zine presented a steep learning curve, particularly regarding how personal the creation of public history can be. I found Lorina Barker’s Hangin’ out” and “Yarnin’”: reflecting on the experience of collecting oral historiesa very helpful way to understand why this process was difficult – as both an insider to the community (growing up in Newcastle and being queer) and an outsider (as someone who hadn’t lived through the trauma of the AIDs epidemic, police arrests of the 1950s or ongoing violence), I felt incredibly attached to the people whose history I was writing. It often felt like removing a single sentence was wiping out the work which had been done to record LGBTIQ+ history. This was particularly difficult due to the short nature of a zine and at times it felt counterintuitive to have such a large amount of history condensed into under 400 words. However, the process also taught me a lot about what it means to create a historical narrative, and the importance of recognising the place of your work in broader historical writing.
Much of my research for this project came from the book Out in the Valley: Hunter gay and lesbian histories (2010),which is one of the most substantial, and well researched written accounts of Newcastle’s queer history. I used Out in the Valley to generate a broader understanding of the common themes and events which I then used to understand the connections in the HRH archive. I also used the Australian Lesbian and Gay archives as a model for writing queer history. The readings from this unit also helped guide my understanding of how to write public history – most notably The Problem of Belonging: Contested Country in Australian Local History by Frank Bongiorno and Erik Eklund (2014); and Anna Clark’s Private Lives, Public History (2016). An essay by Sam Leah and Jessie Lymn titled What Makes An Object Queer made me think critically about the importance of objects to queer history, and how to involve more than one perspective in the writing of a historical narrative. These articles shaped how I approached the project, particularly the importance of considering audience, aim and how my project fit into history as a discipline.
Overall, I am so grateful for this unit for allowing me to make connections with the queer past of Newcastle. I am planning to continue working with HRH over the Summer and hopefully in the following year. Most of all, I hope my project is able to connect others to their own community and increase the visibility of Newcastle’s queer past.
Finally, the introduction to Out in the Valley contained a few key quotes which motivated me to continue this project. Below is one of my favourites, that acted as a constant reminder that queer people deserve more than a history confined to homophobic newspaper articles:
‘Up until the 1990s, when the hunter gay and lesbian community began to publish its own news magazines, the occasional newspaper article was the only evidence homosexuals of the region could find to tell them that their existence and history had not been completely erased from the consciousness of the community in which they lived. The negative articles at least enabled local homosexuals to see in print the kinds of views about them that were held by the people who were part of their world.’ 
You can visit the Hunter Rainbow History new website here.
The zine will be available in the archive pending copyright approval.
 Anna Anthropy, Rise of the Videogame Zinesters: How Freaks, Normals, Amateurs, Artists, Dreamers, Drop-outs, Queers, Housewives, and People Like You Are Taking Back an Art Form, (Newcastle: Seven Stories Press, 2012).
 However, there is still a
lot to be pessimistic about regarding the democratisation of history. I was
only able to undertake this project because I was given time in my university
degree, I was able to fund printing and access to a laptop by myself, I
was given access to resources and education through my ability to pay for
university and I was able to fund my travel back and forth to Newcastle. There
are a lot of privileges that still limit access of the creation of history. But
my hope is that forms like zines, like videogames, like podcasting allow more
people to access history and that there will continue to be more work done to
increase that access.
 Lorina Barker, “Hangin’ out” and “Yarnin’”:
reflecting on the experience of collecting oral histories”, History Australia, 5, no. 1, (2008), pp.
 Jim Wafer, Erica Southgate
and Lyndall Coan, Out in the Valley :
Hunter gay and lesbian histories . Newcastle, (Newcastle: Newcastle Region
Lesbian and Gay Archives | Since 1978, collecting and preserving Australia’s
very queer history. https://alga.org.au/
 Frank Bongiorno
and Erik Eklund, “The Problem of Belonging: Contested Country in Australian
Local History,” New Journal: An International Journal of the Humanities,
Creative Arts and Social Sciences 3, no. 1 (2014), pp. 39-53.
 Anna Clark, Public Lives, Private History, (Victoria:
Melbourne University Press, 2016).
 Sam Leah and
Jessie Lymn, “What Makes An Object Queer: Collecting
and exhibiting LGBT stories in regional museums and archives,” Information
Research, 22, no.4, (December 2017).
 Jim Wafer, Erica Southgate and
Lyndall Coan, Out in the Valley : Hunter
gay and lesbian histories . Newcastle, (Newcastle: Newcastle Region Library,
2000), p. 2.
When I undertook this project, I immediately knew I wanted to work with the Nowra Town Band. With 140 years of history and some incredible resources that the Band has rarely had the means to collate and preserve, it seemed the perfect organisation to work with. My personal connection to the Band helped; I grew up playing cornet with them, and over the years my entire family has been dragged into playing a part, whether in the Band itself or providing vital assistance at band events.
I decided on the project itself while during preliminary research online, for the precise reason that I was able to find very little. In an age where the internet is one of the primary resources for finding information, this felt like something that I could address. I attended the Annual General Meeting to raise the idea of building a website with both a fleshed-out history section and, just as vitally, information about joining the band. The band committee agreed, and from this, the official Nowra Town Band website was formed.
Part of the reason this project is the right step for the Band
is because of membership. While the Band is still thriving 140 years on from
its inception, its numbers are dwindling and many of the players are older
members of the community. A simple and accessible website broadens the avenues
through which people are able to learn about and get involved. Ease of use was one
of the main priorities due to the predominance of older people both currently
in the Band and that show interest in getting involved- seasoned players who
have recently moved or retired to Nowra make up a decent amount of the new
additions. A website opens up an extra and very important avenue through which
people are able to find out about the Band, its history, and its upcoming events.
Through the website, I aimed to highlight the community nature
of the Band in order to create a welcoming atmosphere for potential new members
that mirrors the welcoming nature of the Band itself. Throughout its 140-year
history, the Band has never been an elitist organisation; many of its members
have been beginners or self-taught, with little professional tutelage. This
ties in with the accessibility of the site, as it makes it available to the
widest range of people possible. An alternative form of presentation would have
been increasing its social media reach through sites such as Instagram or YouTube,
however without the basis of a simple website, these would have the potential
to alienate the people most interested in joining or accessing the history of
the Band. These may be a future endeavour for the Band, however they also require
more frequent updates than a website which needs only to be updated with
The History section of the website is also a vital part of the project. The internet has become incredibly pertinent in the preservation and presentation of stories. In the process of writing it up, I showed my partner’s mother who grew up in Nowra one of the sources I was using. She read through it, pointing out the families she recognised and the members she went to school with or was taught by, and in an incredible coincidence, we figured out that she was distantly related to the man who had written the book she was reading. It is little moments like these that signify the importance of this project; not only for the future of the Band, but in increasing the visibility of its past and allowing these connections to be made. In small towns like Nowra, the personal connections to community run deep, and the preservation of local stories in easily accessible ways can be incredibly meaningful even to those who are not personally involved.
As part of the digitisation work, I scanned a variety of documents and photographs that have been stored in the Band Hall for decades. Many of them are falling apart, fading, or otherwise showing the test of time, and it is for this reason that taking advantage of digitisation technologies is important for organisations like the Nowra Town Band, whose resources for document preservation are limited by money and space. Digitisation requires resources of its own, which is why the Band’s archives had only been partially scanned prior to my involvement. The efforts which had already been undertaken were impressive, however the time-consuming nature of the work has meant that they have not yet been completed. This is something I hope to continue with in the future; working with the Band on this project has been an incredible experience, and it would be a privilege to continue this work with them.
The main purpose of the project became a way to describe the research I was undertaking in a way that would teach others how to do the same in order to write their own local history. The written project that I have created with and for The Ku-Ring-Gai Historical Society (KHS) has developed from my original proposal and is still a work in progress that I am undertaking.
My time with the KHS has been spent with
the land history group that meets on Tuesdays and with the team on Wednesday
that digitizes, records and organises the historical collections of the
society. I have been learning how to
research local history through the resources of the society, being taught how
to use public records to research and assisting with the mailing out of the
society’s journal publication called “The Historian”. I have also assisted in adding to archives on
property history and have helped with the digitization of some photographs for
the society’s collections.
One of the challenges that was part of
the reason that I wanted to work with the KHS was because everyone there is
much older than me, most well over seventy years old. It is made up of retirees and for many is a
source of community as well as being a hobby to involve themselves in. It has meant I have had a wealth of knowledge
and experience to draw upon either through informal chats or from showing me
relevant materials. It has also meant my
understanding of technology and social media and general physical ability has
been of use on some occasions.
In my proposal I stated that I wanted
to write three articles for the KHS journal “The Historian” that focused on
local history concerning specific areas of the suburb that was being covered in
the next publication. I was also going
to attach a summary of the research and ways that I used sources to write the
articles. As I began my research, I
recorded what I was drawing upon from my own research skills, but I found I
needed to be taught how to navigate specific collections and how to interpret
and understand some of the new types of sources I was being introduced to such
as land titles. This was not
particularly easy for me and it took me a lot longer to do my research than I
had originally expected.
I became aware that a concern for the
society was that there had been a significant decline in the amount of
contributions to the “The Historian” for recent editions and that they had even
been reprinting articles from much older issues to fill up space. I had a meeting with a family friend who had
written an article for the society a few years ago as I wanted to know how they
had undertaken research. She had to
learn many more skills than I did, and it took her several months to properly
research and write the single article.
We spent a good part of the conversation discussing the large amount of
digitization of sources online and how while they could be tricky to navigate,
they made research much easier and more efficient.
What has also become clear in my time at the KHS is that they want more involvement from people, both from its current members as well as hoping for more interest from the wider community. I wanted to make this project about making it easier for someone who may be interested but may not know how to start their research of local history. I am not an expert in researching and writing local history and I have not really been a member of the KHS for long enough to be able to state the exact value and expectations, but what I do hope to demonstrate is a path for others to be able to follow. The project also tries to draw attention to the collections and types of resources that the society has and recognizes both the journal publication as well as specific research undertaken by the society. I want to present this project as a draft to the society in the hopes that it can be edited and added to in a more collaborative way and could hopefully be able to entice someone to try writing local history who may not have thought they could before.
For it to get to that stage it will need a lot more work and it would be required to go through some stages of review with the committee members before it could be used as an internal resource. There is still a lot more to add, including finishing the articles themselves so that a more holistic explanation of the process from beginning to end can occur. I would also need a lot of guidance from other members of the society on additional avenues of historical research that I may not have discovered yet.
This project has challenged me to
engage in a community that records and researches local history and to think
about the way that we record and describe the people and places that are
continually changing. I want to finish
this project in the next few months as I can see the value and the potential of
it to benefit the society in the long-term and I would be very excited to see
anything I had written being published in their journal.