History in Colour: Parramatta’s Multicultural Heritage

For this unit, i have decided to create a walking tour, focused around the immigrant and multicultural community of Parramatta, alongside the Parramatta Heritage Library. Since early 2019, I have worked with them as a volunteer research assistant on projects relating to honour rolls, World Wars and the meaning behind street names in the local government area. This organisation, which operates jointly with the Parramatta Council’s Visitor’s and Information Centre, provides community-focused services related to history, including archival research, family histories, local histories and education materials.

Outside the Parramatta Heritage Library and Visitor’s Centre

This tour will emphasise the historic and present multicultural community. Additionally, visual content and transcripts in multiple languages will be provided to broaden the reach and immersion, disseminating a sense of belonging and inclusivity to previously underrepresented communities through history. This is reflective of the Council’s philosophy according to their acknowledgement in the ‘Waves of People’ project and its emphasis on community-building: “It captures stories of the … people who came from across the world as displaced people and migrants to make a new lives and homes for themselves here”.[1]

The tour, conceived in accordance with the Library’s needs, will emphasise  biographical narrative, as well as visuals and location to bring histories to life. I will also conduct interviews with locals on multiculturalism and select quotes to embed within my script, to reflect Parramatta’s present community. Walking tours are an unfamiliar terrain for me however. I will communicate and consult with tour guides for guidance in presentation and delivery. I aim to mirror their format, whilst introducing aspects of interactivity and discussion, and a greater emphasis on inclusivity given tour’s multicultural target audience. Additionally, I aim to emphasise historicity and academic research to maintain a truthful and honest representation of Parramatta’s past, whilst retaining the contemporary narrative of inclusivity and diversity. I will also need to consider the obstacles in Parramatta’s extensive construction projects, as well as cultural sensitivities.

The impact and benefits of this tour can be summarised in two notions: promotion of Parramatta’s historical community organisations, such as the Heritage Centre, and highlighting the multicultural roots of this city. Sparking an interest in their past will undoubtedly see higher levels of participation from the community in their history.

A Night-Time View of the Centre from Across the River

[1] Bans, S. and Mar, P. 2018. Waves of People. Parramatta: City of Parramatta Council. p.4.

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