Boorowa and District Historical Society and Museum

The Boorowa and District Historical Society and Museum is an organisation located in my hometown of Boorowa. Boorowa is a small rural community located 3.5 hours south-west of Sydney in NSW’s south west slopes. Growing up in Boorowa, the history of my town was taught to me at a young age and is vividly displayed on our streets in the conserved old buildings, the stories shared by locals, and the shamrocks lining our footpaths telling the history of Irish settlement. The museum inhabits a prominent position in the main street, attracting tourists and locals alike. I fondly remember going on excursions to the museum in primary school where we saw colonial dresses of the Hume family, learnt how the first refrigerators and phones worked, and realised the extent of my community and family’s rich contribution to the merino wool industry. Being surrounded by a community that actively honours and examines its history has possibly sparked my own passion for it. I have always been immensely proud of and intrigued by the history of Boorowa, as many other locals are, and I believe the museum to be the product of local pride and Boorowa’s rich collection of history.

The Boorowa and District Historical Society was founded in 1974 with the aims to “promote the study of local history in the Boorowa local government area; to preserve items of local historical significance consistent with the acquisition policy and accepted ‘museum good practice’; to operate the Boorowa museum; to mount displays of local and special interest; and to encourage research into the recording of local history[1].” The society consists of a group of passionate volunteers who offer family history research and actively document, preserve and interpret local histories. They have accumulated an impressive and diverse collection over the years, receiving frequent donations from locals who have been clearing out their storage or come across significant artefacts.

The society members are enthusiastic about the contribution of their work to the community. I believe that a shared history ignites local pride, and it is the stories and artefacts in the museum which educate the community on their history and keep their stories alive. The elders in my community are highly valued for their knowledge and memories of the town which contextualise and enrich the museum’s collection. When I visited the museum and spoke with the society members at the start of the month, they requested that I produce an oral history on my grandmother and local identity, Peg Merriman, for my project. Most visits to my grandma’s involve listening to endless stories about local personalities, town gossip and Boorowa legends. I find these stories intriguing but struggle to remember the details or correctly recall them when retelling. This made me think about the significance of recording and documenting my 97-year-old grandmother’s stories and memories so that they can be remembered throughout history and hopefully assist others in recalling events or people from the past.

[1] ‘About Us’, Boorowa and District Historical Society and Museum,

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.