The Tunnel: My work with the Hornsby Shire Historical Society

Throughout this semester I have had the pleasure of working with the Hornsby Shire Historical Society, a historical society that is located just up the street from me in my hometown of Normanhurst. My request to work with the Hornsby Shire Historical Society coincided with the release of their bi-annual journal ‘Local Colour’, so the organisers of the journal thought it would be suitable to contribute a journal article in accordance with my major project.

Two of the organisers and myself brainstormed possible topics for my article until we came up with the idea of the NorthConnex. The NorthConnex is a 9km road tunnel that will link Wahroonga to West Pennant Hills and allow motorists to bypass Pennant Hills road, a road notorious for its traffic and accidents. It is the single biggest construction project in the history of the Hornsby Shire and seeing as the historical society had no records or information on the subject they thought it would be very helpful to not only write a journal article about it for them but also offer them information on the subject that they can look back on for future use.

The fundamental purpose of my major work was to inform the local residents of the Hornsby Shire on the NorthConnex project, to do this I offered an insight into how the NorthConnex was built as well as the benefits and controversies associated with it. Because the NorthConnex is still only in the final stages of construction now, the vast majority of the material I used to write the journal were primary sources which came from the NorthConnex, the building contractors of the NorthConnex as well as the local council and the state and federal governments. Although it was at times difficult to work with sources that were predominantly technical in nature, it taught me how to turn such sources into something creative.

On top of the journal article I also conducted multiple interviews with local residents on the their thoughts on the NorthConnex. This forced me to step out of my comfort zone as I approached random people who were passing by Pennant Hills library and asked them if they lived in the area and then if they were willing to answer a few questions. However daunting it was, this process aloud me to gain an understanding of how local residents felt about the construction of the NorthConnex which I could then pass on to the historical society. After my first meeting with the volunteers of the historical society, I spent most Wednesday mornings coming in and helping them clean out their basement to help them reorganize it and find some forgotten items that could be utilised by their museum. This was dirty work, but it taught me a lot, as I would ask about almost every item that I carried out, most of which were 70 years old or more.

Working alongside the Hornsby Shire Historical Society while completing this unit of study has been a very fulfilling experience that has taught me a lot about my own local history as well as new ways to approach history and allowed me to meet and work with members of my community who I would never have had the opportunity to before this, and I am very grateful for that. It was also very satisfying to see my a name credited in a published journal.