Local Histories: An Interactive Walking Tour of the Bankstown CBD area

My public history project is an interactive QR-coded walking tour of the Bankstown C.B.D. area in collaboration with the Bankstown and Campsie Library. Throughout the production of my project, I worked closely with the Local Histories Librarian, Jennifer Madden. I have been working closely with Jennifer over the past few months. I have thoroughly enjoyed being able to help my local library with the reorganisation and refiling of archival material and images for their possible new pictorial database. Their current system for their pictorial database (Pictorial Canterbury) had many issues with duplicates, missing images, irrelevant files, and their quality. I helped sort through and deciphered which images needed to be deleted and which ones had missing numbers, and I reassessed the quality of the photos. We discussed the significance of presenting Bankstown’s rich local history in a new and innovative way to reach a broader public audience. We concluded that an interactive walking tour was the most appropriate for my project and (most importantly) the organisation’s needs.

The Dane Fountain – one of the sites of interest in the walking tour

During the production and research process for the historical walking tour, I realised that many sites around the area had historical value. Although I have lived in the Canterbury-Bankstown area my whole life, I never knew about the rich history some of these sites possessed. I would regularly pass by them on the commute to work, my daily walks, and even on the way to grocery shopping. In that sense, it would be perfect for highlighting the unrecognised historical value of these sites most people in the community pass by daily.

My main argument for this project was to highlight the importance of showcasing local histories in new and engaging ways to prove that history can be taught beyond the bounds of the classroom. Sites around your local community area all encompass rich and long past. They tell stories of past communities, interactions and social hubs and show how History can connect people outside the classroom.

Some of the recurring themes within my project include the importance of relaying local histories and making them accessible and inclusive for a broad audience. In addition, the non-static nature of this project allows for local sites and the evolving history of different places to be recorded and displayed for the future.

Photograph of Bankstown Library and Knowledge Centre

I have chosen to present the walking tour via PowerPoint presentation due to the timeframe of this assessment and the rigorous process of receiving approval from Council officials. Therefore, my project is presented in a PowerPoint presentation with external links to different pdf files, which will be saved onto a USB. Initially, I wanted to publicise this walking tour online on an external website for easier access. However, this format was chosen because of Canterbury Council’s restrictions with promoting information under their name. This file will be given to the Local Histories Librarian I am working closely with and will serve as an example for future project proposals for interactive walking tours to be approved by Council officials. This project aims to be open-ended and remain dynamic as more sites can be added in the future.

This walking tour is unique due to its innovative presentation. It focuses on the local community’s inclusivity by adding different translations of information in the four primary languages of the Canterbury Bankstown Council (English, Korean, Arabic, and Vietnamese). This was, unfortunately, out of my area of expertise, so my final project does not include this aspect. However, my presentation for the library is intended to be not static and remain an open-ended project. More sites could be added in the future, and audio recordings of the tour would be added for broader accessibility and to suit the needs of people with disabilities. Its fluid format (given the approval of this proposal) is transformed from a project pitch to Q.R. codes displayed on signposts next to each site of interest, allowing people to enjoy this immersive experience in their own time.

Map of the walking tour – one of the slides in my presentation

Bankstown Canterbury City Council: Local Libraries

I have lived in the Bankstown and Canterbury area my whole life and remember how I would always reconnect with friends after school at the local library. I remember studying for my HSC there before my tutoring classes and making friends with other students in my cohort through those study sessions. We shared the same experiences of stress and procrastination in the library and were connected through this comfortable space. The online HSC resources they provided through their eLibrary were super helpful as I was able to get a hold of last-minute study resources. Other services they provide include the lending of resources, acquisitions, programmes, and Local and Family History.

Ground Floor of Bankstown Library

Their work for the community appealed to me because it brought community members together to share cultural knowledge and experiences through language, inclusivity, and local family history services. The resources and services they provide help these community members thrive and create voices for marginalised cultural groups, people with disabilities, and local low-income communities, as most of their events are free. Currently, different libraries within the Canterbury Bankstown City Council are hosting programmes such as ‘Let’s Go First Nations’ to celebrate and embrace Indigenous culture. They aim to educate and showcase different aspects of First Nations culture through cultural workshops, digeridoo performances, spiritual ceremonies, traditional art classes, and Dreamtime Preschool Story Times.

Outside of Bankstown Library & Knowledge Centre

Whilst searching for an organisation to collaborate with, I was introduced to the Local History Librarian, Jennifer Madden, who works at the Bankstown and Campsie libraries. Both libraries are categorised under the same city council structure (Canterbury Bankstown City Council). Once we met in person, we discussed how the libraries fit within my project’s “organisation” aspect. She informed me about the range of services the council provides for the local community. During our discussion, I suggested a virtual walking tour of the local sites in Bankstown. However, the public format of a website was not ideal as it would have to be approved by the council. After much consideration, we both agreed that a historical walking tour generated with QR codes would be appropriate for my project and serve as a helpful resource to the library’s local history services. My project could be utilised as an example for future project proposals for interactive walking tours to be approved by council officials. Resources such as their past brochures of local walking tours will help guide which sites will be included in the tour. Jennifer requested the tour to have QR codes linked to the information on the history behind that site. These QR codes will be placed on signposts next to the sites.

Campsie Library & Knowledge Centre

My project will benefit the community as it engages them with the history of their local area outside of the classroom and later be translated into different languages. The primary languages of the city council area include English, Korean, Arabic, and Vietnamese. This walking tour will remain open-ended and not static as more sites can be added in the future. I will present the QR codes through a PowerPoint presentation with images of the sites and linked information on their contexts.

Local History Room at Bankstown Library