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.

The Hornsby Shire Historical Society: My Local History.

The non-for-profit organisation that I have chosen to work with is the Hornsby Shire Historical Society, a historical society situated in the North-Western suburb of Normanhurst. My first experience with the Hornsby Shire Historical Society came when I made a school visit to them as a student at Normanhurst West Primary School. I wouldn’t have been older than 8 years old, however, their commitment to educating the community is something that I have remembered all these years. So when it came time to choose an organisation to work with, the Hornsby Shire Historical Society was my first choice.

The Hornsby Shire Historical Society, located in Kenley Park.

Tucked behind the trees of Kenley park, the Hornsby Shire Historical Society is a multi-faceted organisation that is involved in numerous parts of the community. The Hornsby Shire Historical Society houses a museum that showcases different aspects of everyday life in the 1930’s. This includes exhibits of a classroom and a grocery store which have both been restored to their former 1930’s glory as well as everyday items from this era such as toys, clothes, appliances etc. The museum is open to the public; however its main purpose is to educate children as it caters to school visits from all across Sydney.

Additionally, the Hornsby Shire Historical Society is concerned with research of the history of Hornsby and its surrounding areas and has a large collection of books and journals that it has published including the bi-yearly journal Local Colour which I will be contributing to in accordance with my research project. The Hornsby Shire Historical Society is also very committed to community outreach, as volunteers will travel to various retirement homes and other establishments to perform ‘show and tell’ like shows. The Hornsby Shire Historical Society has also been known to advocate and defend local heritage listings within the Hornsby Shire and act as advisors to local businesses and community members on historical matters.

A portal back in time: A fully stocked 1930’s grocery store.

Having lived in Normanhurst my entire life, I’m very excited to continue my work with the Hornsby Shire Historical Society and play a larger role in the community I grew up in. The volunteers have been so welcoming and helpful to me and the idea of having my work published in their journal Local Colour is a very exciting prospect. I’m really looking forward to the next few weeks ahead of me.