Telling Our Stories Alexandrina History on Film

The Telling our Stories Alexandrina digital stories project was launched on 26 May.  The enthusiastic crowd of about 150 people settled in to the Strathalbyn Town Hall to view the inaugural screening of ten short films.  The films focus on different aspects of local history from the Alexandrina Council region, including stories about the River Murray, local businesses, industries and manufacturing, personal endeavours and the place of people, buildings and events in the life of communities. You can watch them here.

Each film features two of three community storytellers along with photographs, moving images, objects that help to draw out the history of the stories told. The project drew heavily on the people and collections of the Alexandrina Council region to capture historical stories. Following the film screening the audience took up the chance to discuss the making of the films with the project historians and filmmaker and stayed to enjoy a fabulous supper provided by the Richardson Hall Woodchester Committee, whose catering is so legendary a film was made featuring that too!

In undertaking Telling Our Stories, community historians Madeleine Regan and June Edwards and filmmaker Malcolm McKinnon have unearthed memories, images and objects to make connections between the intangible stories of individuals, and the tangible historical record. In the films, personal stories are mixed with photographs, moving image and images of objects, to place them in a historical context. Film subjects are varied and take in a range of locations in the Alexandrina Council area.

Later in 2014 the films will be available on a touchscreen unit that can tour around public venues.

Once Upon a Time travelling exhibition launched

Once Upon a Time: Stories of South Australian childhood is the latest travelling exhibition from History SA.  It offers a glimpse into the lives of children living in South Australia over successive generations, in both the happy and more challenging times. It is intended to motivate people to share their community’s own unique stories of what it was like growing up in their particular town or region.

Photographs were chosen from the collections of five South Australian community history groups: City of Holdfast Bay Local History Centre, Embroiderers’ Guild Museum of South Australia, Gawler National Trust Museum, Mallala Museum and the Mount Lofty Districts Historical Society, and incorporated with images from the South Australian Government Photographic Collection. The groups worked collaboratively with History SA’s Community History Officers and selected five themes to explore; showing the changes that have affected children from birth, at school, at leisure, in the community and their health care.

As well as text and images, throughout the display there are QR codes that when scanned using the appropriate mobile device will link the user with additional online images on our Flickr site.  There are also memory prompts within the text designed to assist the viewer to recall their own childhood and initiate conversation.

Accompanying the display is a digital photo frame which operates a slide show of over 100 more captioned images from the collections of the community groups involved.

This project has been designed for use as a temporary display within local museums, libraries and other community spaces as well as schools and aged-care facilities.  It can be borrowed from History SA free of charge for a minimum of four weeks at a time.  It can stand alone or be used as a starting point to create a more personalised display or event on the theme of childhood. For example:

  • Digitise a series of historic images reflecting childhood from within the community and create a continuous slide show in the second digital photo frame that accompanies the exhibition.  The search for images and the digitisation process can be turned into an engaging community event in itself.
  • Create a display of childhood memorabilia from your museum or history group’s collection to set up alongside the banners. Alternatively, put a call out within your community for relevant items for display.  This might be well-researched and formally curated with printed labels and secure cabinets, to be publicly displayed for the same length of time as the banners.
  • Create a more informal, very temporary display for an engaging morning or afternoon event. Ask people to bring along favourite items from their childhood, write their own labels and display on tables or makeshift plinths.  This kind of pop-up museum can help bring people together in conversation through the stories told by the childhood memorabilia.
  • Initiate other events relating to the childhood theme, such as playing old-fashioned games, or telling classic children’s stories.  This is a great opportunity for intergenerational activities; and to create either educational or memory boxes for use in a school or aged care facility.

The exhibition also comes with a book for visitors to record comments and their own childhood memories, and/or people can add these online below.

The exhibition was officially launched on Friday 23 May 2014.

Contact us to book or get more information



Costume Gets Airing for History Festival

History SA jumped into its own About Time History Festival events early this year with a popular workshop on 2 May.  The very cold and wet weather couldn’t keep 30 keen women away from the chance to learn and talk about costume and textiles.

After an overview of the Australian Dress Register (ADR), Mary-Anne Gooden, textile conservator from Artlab Australia, gave a presentation about Caring for Historic Costume, drawing on resource material from the ADR booklet and website. An interesting and enjoyable insight into the many different textiles from which clothing has been made and how best to preserve them for the long-term.  ‘Inherent vice’ (meaning the materials in a costume which contribute to its degradation over time) was the term of the day! Every participant got a copy of the ADR resource book to keep, courtesy of the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney, who initiated the ADR several years ago. 

Whether plaid or paisley, with batwing or bishop sleeves there was plenty to talk about.  Several people brought items along to show the group and get some advice about care and storage.  There were certainly some that would make great additions to the ADR, helping to create a fuller picture of Australian dress up to 1975.

Many thanks to the great team at Embroiderers’ Guild Museum who made the Guild’s studio available for the workshop and helped us with the workshop organisation.

More photos from the workshop can be seen here 

Search for the first ANZAC biscuit recipe revisited

Recently I was tempted by the aroma of baking biscuits and some culinary history to attend another presentation by Allie Reynolds at Adelaide Farmers’ Market, at the Wayville Showgrounds. Timed perfectly for Anzac Day, it was a follow up to her first fascinating talk at the Market about her search for the first Anzac biscuit recipe in April last year.

Assisted by Fiona Roberts, Allie was able to talk and bake at the same time, describing her latest research but not giving away too many surprises so she can leave something for the book that is in progress.

First she updated us on the great coconut debate. Who put the coconut in the Anzac biscuit and when?  1924 seemed to be a possible turning point and certainly by the 1930s it was becoming a common ingredient, and fixed by the Second World War period. She also talked about other similar biscuits and their historical connections to the Anzac such as flapjacks in the UK and munchies in South Africa.

Allie came up with these simple but astute conclusions. The culinary icon that is the Anzac biscuit is both ordinary and extraordinary.  It is made by ordinary people using a simple recipe.  However it is also extraordinary because it is unique, unusual and uniting.  Unique because it is the only food icon that has come out of the vagaries of war.  Unusual because it is eaten all year but is also commemorative.   And uniting because?  Well, Allie cited two interesting examples.   Unlike the Pavlova it doesn’t divide us as Australians with our New Zealand neighbours over its origins.   Allie also quoted the marvellous example of the Baked Relief group of women in Brisbane who sent biscuits from the city to those struggling in the bush in Queensland.  A great culinary gesture of unity.

The Anzac biscuit, decided Allie, is ‘purposeful and positive’.  Not everyone can march, not everyone can join the RSL or wear medals. But we can all bake biscuits.

And with this said, we all shared the results of Allie’s baking, made from a pre-1920, coconut-less family recipe belonging to Carole Moore, from the Mount Lofty Districts Historical Society.   You too can download the recipe in the Resources section to the right.

BOB is on the move again

History SA/Veterans SA’s travelling exhibition Bravest of the Brave, which tells the moving stories of the eight South Australians awarded the Victoria Cross in the First World War, is on the move again.

Affectionately known as BoB, the exhibition has already spent the beginning of the year at Semaphore & Port Adelaide RSL, before heading south to Seaford Library where the display was opened by SA footy legend and Vietnam Veteran, Graham Cornes aka ‘Cornesy’.  Most recently BoB was displayed at Mount Barker RSL which included a visit from local St Francis de Sales College students on 28 March.

Bravest of the Brave has just been taken to Colonel Light Gardens RSL where it will spend ANZAC Day while its identical twin, BoB Mk II, is spending April at the Victor Harbor Visitor Centre to coincide with the 86 Transport Platoon (Vietnam)’s annual reunion.

Bravest of the Brave tells the story of eight ordinary men: Arthur Blackburn, Phillip Davey, Roy Inwood, Jørgen Jensen, John Leak, Arthur Sullivan, Lawrence Weathers and James Park Woods – who on one day of their lives, under extraordinary circumstances, demonstrated extraordinary heroism for their comrades and country. Some were born or educated in South Australia; some enlisted here, while others lived here either before or after the war.

The Victoria Cross is the British and Commonwealth’s armed forces’ most coveted award, their supreme decoration for gallantry, under enemy fire.  Only 1,356 medals have been awarded since its introduction in 1856.

Bravest of the Brave is available from History SA free of charge to travel to schools, RSL clubs, museums, libraries, aged-care facilities, community centres etc. There is also a schools resources kit.  Currently BoB Mks I and II are booked up to travel to a variety of venues in South Australia throughout 2014, but there are still a few spots available throughout 2015.

Enquiries regarding the exhibition’s availability should be made on 08 8203 9888 or email for more information.

More photographs of the display at other venues, including its launch by the Hon Jack Snelling MP in April 2012 are here

Gallantry exhibition opens at new City Library

History SA/Veterans SA’s new joint travelling exhibition Gallantry, telling the stories of the brave actions of five South Australians awarded the Victoria Cross and George Cross in the Second World War and the Vietnam War, opened on 1 April at Adelaide’s new City Library.

Following a welcome speech by the City of Adelaide’s Lord Mayor, Stephen Yarwood, the exhibition was launched by the Hon Zoe Bettison MP, the State Government’s new Minister for Veterans’ Affairs. It was her first official event in this role.

Some of the relatives of the medal recipients were at the launch including the son of Lionel Matthews, David who attended with other members of his family.

Project managed by History SA’s Amanda James and Pauline Cockrill, the display was researched and written by local professional historians, June Edwards and Madeleine Regan, and designed by Emily Woods of Arketype.

It consists of 10 pull up banners telling the history of both awards, a background to South Australia and World War II and the Vietnam War and the stories of the 5 recipients: Peter Badcoe VC; Thomas Currie (Diver) Derrick VC; George Gosse GC; William (Bill) Kibby VC; and Lionel Matthews GC.  The framed replica medals and citations of each man are also included.

The format follows on from History SA/Veterans SA’s successful travelling display Bravest of the Brave, launched in 2012 and telling the stories of the SA recipients of the Victoria Cross during the First World War.

Gallantry will continue to be displayed at the City Library until the end of this month, coinciding with Anzac Day on 25 April and the centenary of the beginning of the First World War this year.   The library has also organised a series of talks with the Military Historical Society of Australia (SA Branch) regarding both the history of the Victoria Cross and the 10th Battalion (flyer can be downloaded on right).

After April, the exhibition will be available for loan for free by community museums, libraries, history groups and RSL clubs throughout South Australia.  For more information, please call 08 8203 9888 or email 

More photographs from the launch can be seen here 


New Storeroom opened at Axel Stenross Maritime Museum

A new storeroom was officially opened at Axel Stenross Maritime Museum in Port Lincoln on Wednesday 19 March. A small evening reception was held to celebrate the occasion on the museum’s verandah with a pleasant sea view.  Guests included those attending the History SA/Artlab Caring for Collections workshop held over two-days in the Port Lincoln Civic Centre.  Museum Committee President Max Sims and Secretary Andrew Chappell both gave small speeches paying tribute to the support of History SA, prior to Pauline Cockrill, History SA’s Community History Officer, officially opening the storeroom.

The museum received $7,500 through History SA’s 2012-3 Community Museum Program grant round to construct and equip the new storeroom, in what was described as ‘almost the last available space on the site’ in an awkward corner between two existing buildings. The area was constructed solely by museum members, showing considerable resourcefulness in their use of many recycled building materials and equipment. Particularly impressive was the picture rack created from surplus metal framework donated by a local business.  By carefully stacking their paintings and other 2D works of art in this manner, individually wrapped in Tyvek, they demonstrated an understanding of best museum practice.  

Axel Stenross Museum is one of 61 registered and accredited museums in History SA’s standards program and is thus eligible to apply for funding through their Community Museums Program.

Founded in 1983, the museum was established around the simple residence and buildings belonging to Finnish boat builder Axel Stenross. Since then the museum has developed substantially and not only tells Axel’s story but also the maritime history of Port Lincoln and Eyre Peninsula generally, with a large collection of historic boats and associated artefacts.  In more recent years the museum has added an upstairs meeting room and archives area, a small auditorium downstairs and a series of interpretive touch screen stations throughout the galleries.  The museum is a great example of community initiative, pride and hard work.

More photos of the opening can be seen here

Flying Visit across the Spencer Gulf

Last week Artlab’s Principal Textile Conservator Kristin Phillips and I headed for the airport.  We were on our way to Port Lincoln to run a two-day ‘Caring for Collections’ workshop for community museums and history groups. This skills development program is one that we run every two years or so in different regions but this was the first time we had offered such a workshop on the Eyre Peninsula. We were also able to offer it free courtesy of a National Library Community Heritage Grant.

It proved to be quite a logistical challenge.  Clutching rolls of Mylar and a laptop as well as a cutting mat secreted amongst our luggage, Kristin and I eventually arrived at the other end.  The next morning we were glad to find the other equipment we had sent on ahead by bus, safely stored at the Civic Centre where the workshop was to take place.

Almost 20 people attended each day representing nine organisations, not only from Port Lincoln but further afield from Koppio, Cummins, Mount Dutton Bay and even Whyalla.  Both mornings were spent learning the theory behind managing a museum environment, identifying risks and pests that might affect our collections as well as the right way to store or display archival material, photographs, costume and textiles.  Afterwards, participants could ‘have a go’ at what they had learnt.  Armed with magnifying glasses, torches and electronic environmental monitors, we gathered on the first afternoon at nearby Mill Cottage Museum, the mid 19th century Bishop family’s home to check for harmful insects and other pests, and to measure light, relative humidity and temperature.  The second afternoon saw us equipped with vacuum cleaners, sewing machines, Mylar, cutting mats and scalpels as the group learnt how to carefully surface clean items in their collection, make supports for costume and accessories and the art of encapsulation and making four flap folders.

It was terrific to see so much enthusiasm and practical skills amongst the group as well as many interesting and significant items that people brought along for advice.  These included a First World War signature supper cloth and an 1836 sampler. Particularly memorable was a poignant family heirloom in the form of a 1916 diary written by a soldier who had fought and died at Pozieres.  There was also a 500 page autograph book c1925-1955 belonging to the late Louise Brougham, a local philanthropist known for her work at the Port Lincoln Mission to Seafarers.  The book had been previously digitised through funding from a History SA South Australian History Fund grant.

There was also a surprise visit from a local journalist who wrote about the event in the Port Lincoln Times while I also had the great honour of officially opening Axel Stenross Maritime Museum’s new storeroom.

I hope that it won’t be too long when I can visit Port Lincoln again and see how people have put their new skills to good use.

More photos of the workshop can be seen here

Digitisation for Preservation & Access workshop

35 eager participants attended our free one-day Digitisation for Preservation and Access workshop at the Hetzel Lecture Theatre in The Institute Building on North Terrace on Wednesday 12 March.

Participants were largely from community museums, historical societies, school and university archives, but there were also representatives from a writers’ festival and a car club.  Mainly Adelaide-based, others came from further afield including Gawler and the mid North, Clare and Barossa Valleys, Riverland,  Fleurieu and Eyre Peninsulas. Some needed advice for beginners while others required validation that they are going in the right direction.

Funded by a National Library Community Heritage Grant, the workshop was led by Lindy Bohrnsen, the State Library of South Australia’s Senior Reformatting Coordinator assisted by Stuart Fuller, Preventive Conservator from Artlab Australia.

Lindy’s presentation and accompanying notes covered a lot of ground discussing why digitise, photographic formats and scanner types.  She demonstrated the difference between commercial home scanners, semi-professional and professional scanners comparing images produced from each example.

File formats and sizes were explained as well as interpolation and mode/bit depth comparison.  Lindy also considered the challenges faced by photograph albums, maps, books, delicate material and the bane of all digitisers and conservators – sticky tape. Currently there are no national digitisation standards but participants were advised to use the SLSA’s guidelines.

Over the lunch period participants were able to take a guided tour of the State Library’s digitisation studios in the Mortlock wing basement.  Specialised equipment such as large format scanners and printers, and a two camera set up for digitising books were viewed while SLSA photographers Toby and Stephen were also on hand to demonstrate some aspects of their work and answer questions.

In the afternoon, Stuart presented a session on the care of items undergoing digitisation, discussing the environment, handling, removing paperclips and rubber bands, how to deal with books, oversized items and different sorts of materials and storage.  Lindy finished off the day with access and delivery, storage and management, copyright and permissions and budgeting.

Examples of different types of photographic formats and documents from the State Library were available to view while some people brought their own examples for advice.

It was clear from the overwhelming response to this workshop that digitisation is obviously a field that many groups are considering or dabbling in or have begun in earnest.

Another workshop has been planned for Wednesday 25 June but this is now fully booked. We hope to hold a third workshop later in the year in Adelaide to cater for the long waiting list, as well as another in a regional location.  If you would like to be included on the waiting list, please contact us.

More photos from the workshop can be seen here 

Vines and Wines at Highercombe Hotel

On a hot evening right at the end of January I headed out to the Old Highercombe Hotel Museum at Tea Tree Gully, where I had the honour of officially opening the Museum’s latest exhibitionVines to Wines.  The exhibition looks at the history of grape growing and wine and spirits production in the Tea Tree Gully region and features a number of objects from the nearby Angoves Winery.

Ray Goodes was on hand to cut the ‘ribbon’ across the exhibition room door, which was a length of grapevine (bunches of grapes still attached).  Ray commenced his 40 years of work at Angoves Wines in 1944 as a 15 year old and brought along his own pair of trusty secateurs for ‘ribbon’ cutting.

Vines to Wines adds a new element to the amazing transformation that has been taking place in the grounds of the museum over the last few years, with one other new exhibition already done and a third underway.  The building whereVines to Winesis housed is new – before it there was an open-fronted shed in fairly poor condition, so the new building is a real step up.  The soon-to-come whirly-gig on the roof will help with the heat of summer too!

Community Exhibition Installation

Recently I assisted the South Australian Bhutanese Community to install their Forum exhibition in the community gallery at the Migration Museum. There are some lovely objects – various vessels made from copper and brass and some beautiful handmade jewellery.  There are also some perhaps unexpected items – soccer balls made from plastic bags and models of household items made from bamboo, and a model refugee hut reflecting the up to 20 years that community members spent in Nepalese refugee camps before being resettled in South Australia.

Installing the exhibition was very much a case of using the display materials available and making do with a range of display items that were on hand. Plastic-coated wire plate stands became arms for doll clothes and it’s amazing how well dacron can be shaped to suit!

Christmas comes early in Hindmarsh

This week Amanda and I played Santa for a number of museums in our Community Museums Program (CMP) when we handed out free cabinets from the South Australian Museum (and mince pies!)

Earlier in the year we were pleased to be able to offer a number of free shallow-drawer wooden storage cabinets to members of the program. Originally used for storing entomological specimens (ie bugs) in the South Australian Museum (SAM), they had become surplus to requirement following SAM’s purchase of a new storage system.  The cabinets were around 100 years old and beautifully made of huon pine with brass handles.  After being thoroughly fumigated by Artlab, they were finally available for pick up from the museum’s storage facility in Hindmarsh.

Over a metre and a half high and containing two columns of 25 shallow glass covered drawers each, we reckoned they could be useful for storing photographs, archives, textiles and other flat objects, or small items such as medals or badges.  Eight community museums certainly thought so too. The Army Museum, Charles Sturt Memorial Museum, Hahndorf Academy, Willunga National Trust Museum, Gawler National Trust Museum, Tramway Museum, Polish Hill River Church Museum and Ayers House Museum all took up the offer and we look forward to learning how they have used them within their museums.  The drawers of course need to be lined with a suitable archival material like acid free tissue or Tyvek before using it to store precious artefacts.

So despite the heat wave that hit Adelaide this week, we were pleased to be able to help volunteers load their new found freebies on to the various utes and trailers that turned up on Wednesday.  It was a great way to end the year and to catch up with folk within our network.

Thank you especially to South Australian Museum’s Luke Chenoweth for arranging this great opportunity as well as the back-breaking work of transporting both the cabinet frameworks and the hundreds of drawers up and down in the lift. 

Anniversary of Surveying the Simpson Desert

Fifty years ago a team of public servants endured freezing night time temperatures and water rations to accurately survey the southern Simpson Desert.  An exhibition on at the Mortlock Library commemorates their journey.

In July 1963 an eleven man survey team from the South Australian Department of Lands left Adelaide to undertake the first comprehensive survey of this region in the north east of the state. The information provided survey control for the oil and gas exploration companies that were starting to work in the area.

The team started their work east of the railway siding of Pedirka (100kms. north of Oodnadatta) working their way via Poeppel’s Corner to connect to an earlier survey near Birdsville. This was a distance of nearly 450 kilometres and took six weeks to survey.

The vehicles carried basic supplies and equipment; the essential long handled shovels, sand mats, lots of tinned food and jerry cans of fuel and water. The team soon settled into the daily routine of camping, constant billy boiling and weird food concoctions. While as much water as possible was carried, for a significant part of the trip it was rationed to two litres per man per day for drinking, cooking, cleaning utensils and washing. Even in 1963 water was the same precious commodity that it had been for the early explorers.

To recognise the 50th anniversary of this significant, but little known, undertaking, Alan Wright (one of those involved in the 1963 survey) has created a display featuring the survey equipment used, photos and historical information.

Story contributed by the Land Services Group.

Winners in the 2013 CHG Grant Round

The 2013 Community Heritage Grants have been announced and South Australian organisations have done very well, picking up almost $61,000 of the $425,684 allocated this year.

The Community Heritage Grant program is administered through the National Library of Australia and provides grants to assist with the preservation of locally owned, but nationally significant collections that are publicly accessible.

History SA has received two grants for training workshops to be run in the first half of next year.  We will be running the popular Caring for Collections program at Port Lincoln for museums and history groups on Eyre Peninsula and also introducing a Digitisation for Preservation and Access workshop, which will be held in Adelaide.

Coober Pedy Historical Society, John McDouall Stuart Society, Parndana Soldier Settlement Museum and Peterborough History Group have each received grants for Significance Assessments of their collections.  The Peterborough collection includes the entire contents of a printing office that served the local area for decades.  The National Trust has received a grant for the conservation of a work on paper, Mount Lofty Districts Historical Society for digitisation of oral history tapes, while City of Port Adelaide Enfield and the Lutheran Archives have received grants for Preservation Needs Assessments.

The Sheep’s Back Museum has received the largest grant of $10,470 for conservation treatment of several significant archival items, including the first visitors’ book from the Naracoorte Caves and a sale catalogue from the Hynam Stud, considered to be a significant stud in the development of the Australian Merino.

On the Boot: Yorke Peninsula museum visits

My first stop was Moonta National Trust museum where I met up with Linda, Ursula and Stephen to hear about some projects they’re thinking of and to see the new storage building. Created within a new large shed, so far a smaller shed has been built within it, lined and insulated, to provide a fairly stable storage environment.  Other areas of the new building have been finished off to a varying degree – when completed the museum will gain a storage facility with several different areas suitable for different ‘grades’ of storage – some parts will suit archives and fragile objects and some areas will be only for more robust items.

After Moonta I headed the short distance to Wallaroo Heritage and Nautical Museum to meet with Colin and Nick. They have recently got the internet on at the museum and a museum email address for the first time.  For lovers of model ships (including those in bottles!), Wallaroo Museum has many, along with George the giant squid and interesting collections relating to the local cinema and industries of the area. Among the most significant items is the magnificent Wallaroo Waterside Workers Federation banner.  Conserved some years ago the museum works hard to keep it in good condition while it is on open display.  As it happened it was due for a bit of a clean around the bottom edge. Colin had a vacuum cleaner and I‘d packed the micro-vacuum attachment kit, so as there is no time like the present, in a matter of minutes the bottom of the banner was dust-free again.

Then it was off to Port Victoria Maritime Museum to meet briefly with the volunteer group and see how things are going for them.  Occupying just one small building at the start of the jetty, the museum is probably the smallest in the Community Museums Program, and highly focused on the tall ships and maritime history of the region.  Later, sharing the Port Victoria motel with a road work crew (they went to bed early and left about 6am) I rested up for a morning of cataloguing with the Ardrossan Historical Museum.

Ardrossan Museum are just starting out on their cataloguing journey, looking to move up from some pretty basic records to fuller cataloguing of key items and eventually use of the MOSAiC collections database. It was great to spend the morning talking about cataloguing – how to decide what to catalogue, core versus non-core collection, what the fields on the cataloguing form mean etc.  Ardrossan have a heap of new energy and project ideas on the go at the moment, not least of which is creating good collection records.

Dental Floss and Pool Noodles

You may wonder what this blog post is all about.  But both dental floss and pool noodles are relatively cheap materials possibly lying around your house that could prove very useful when you’re caring for your collections.   

That’s what I learnt last week when I was in the Clare Valley with Artlab Australia conservators Anne Dineen, Stuart Fuller and Kristin Phillips.  We were running a workshop on Caring for Collections for community museums and historical groups in the area at the Clare Town Hall.  We try to run this free workshop in different regions within the state every two years or so.  This year’s workshop was possible through a grant from the Office for Volunteers.

The two-day workshop consisted of theory in the mornings and more practical sessions in the afternoons with plenty of opportunities to ask questions and chat over morning tea and lunch.  Participants learnt about the museum environment and the different pests that attack our collections as well as how to store paper and textile items.  Artlab brought plenty of examples of boxes, bugs, archival materials and equipment to pass around. And that’s when we learnt about dental floss being really useful for gently removing photographs that are stuck down in those nasty non-archival 1970s sticky photo albums.

The fun started when attendees were let loose on Clare National Trust Museum to try out their new found knowledge – checking for potential environmental problems and insect (and possum) activity as well as trying out Artlab’s monitoring equipment. On the second afternoon, everyone had a chance to practice some simple solutions for storing their paper and textile items.  They made enclosures for paper documents such as a four fold flat folder (using archival paper); or via encapsulation (making a see through envelope using Mylar, an archival plastic). They also learnt to surface clean some very well trained stuffed ducks and teddy bears using a micro vacuum kit as well as making supports for storing and displaying textiles.  And that’s where the pool noodles came in.  Those colourful polyethylene foam tubes used as children’s swimming aids or pool toys make good supports for textiles when covered, and are relatively cheap.

We were delighted that the workshop attracted around 25 people from 16 different organisations mainly in the Clare & Mid North region but also the Barossa, Yorke Peninsula and Adelaide.  It was a great chance to not only learn new skills but also network with one another.

More photos of the workshop can be found here. Along with the free set of notes that each participant received, we hope the pictures will be a useful reminder of what was learnt each day.

Don’t forget that our website has a Suppliers’ Directory and useful help sheets that can be downloaded.  Micro vacuum kits can be purchased from us at History SA at $20 each while we also sell small quantities of Tyvek at $3.30 a metre.  Contact us for more information.

Funding for Community History

21 community groups and individual authors and researchers have been granted funding through History SA’s annual South Australian History Fund (SAHF).  Each year the SAHF supports a wide range of projects on a great diversity of historical topics.  Topics included in grants this year include Aboriginal history in Campbelltown, politician Tom Price, mapping tuberculosis mortality in early twentieth century Adelaide and the Coober Pedy Outback Open Air Cinema.  A full list of grant recipients can be accessed here.

Once again this year the demand on the SAHF was very high.  History SA received 68 applications totalling $168,281 for the $35,000 available in the fund. 

The SAHF grant fund opens in June/July each year.  



Bravest of the Brave is now on the Yorke Peninsula

History SA/Veterans SA’s travelling exhibition Bravest of the Brave, which tells the moving stories of the eight South Australians awarded the Victoria Cross in the First World War, is now on the Yorke Peninsula for the first time.

Trevor and Lyn Clerke from the Port Vincent RSL collected the display, affectionately known as BoB from the Torrens Parade Ground on Tuesday.  It will be exhibited at 3 venues at the Port Vincent RSL/Memorial Bowling Club, the Port Vincent Institute (Visitor Information Centre) and the Maitland Community Library at the Minlaton District School 

Bravest of the Brave tells the story of eight ordinary men: Arthur Blackburn, Phillip Davey, Roy Inwood, Jørgen Jensen, John Leak, Arthur Sullivan, Lawrence Weathers and James Park Woods – who on one day of their lives, under extraordinary circumstances, demonstrated extraordinary heroism for their comrades and country. Some were born or educated in South Australia; some enlisted here, while others lived here either before or after the war.

Corporal Davey has a local connection having followed farming pursuits on the Yorke Peninsula with his uncles for a short time after leaving school.

At just 19, he was one of the first to enlist three days before Christmas 1914, and was present at the Gallipoli landing in April the next year.

Previously awarded a Military Medal, he received his Victoria Cross for most conspicuous bravery and initiative in the attack at Merris, France on 28 June 1918.

After the war, he worked for the South Australian Railways and there is a memorial to him in the Adelaide railway station.

The Victoria Cross is the British and Commonwealth’s armed forces’ most coveted award, their supreme decoration for gallantry, under enemy fire.  Only 1,356 medals have been awarded since its introduction in 1856.

Port Vincent is the Bravest of the Brave’s 11th venue. It is booked up to travel to a variety of venues in South Australia throughout the rest of 2013, and most of 2014.

The first of many projects that are being prepared worldwide to commemorate the centenary of the First World War in 2014-2018, Bravest of the Brave is available from History SA free of charge to travel to schools, RSL clubs, museums, libraries, aged-care facilities, community centres etc. There is also a schools resources kit.  Enquiries regarding the exhibition’s availability should be made on 08 8203 9888 or email for more information.

More photographs of the display at other venues including its launch by the Hon Jack Snelling MP in April 2012 are here

Migrant history at Pennington commemorated

City of Charles Sturt’s upgraded Pennington Gardens Reserve was officially launched yesterday (8 October).  The park is dedicated to the thousands of migrants who passed through the Finsbury/Pennington Migrant Hostel which occupied 40 acres of land along Grand Junction Road, including this site, for nearly four decades until 1985. Former hostel residents, staff, and their families joined council officials, designers Arketype and the Hostel Stories research team in an enjoyable community event in the late afternoon sun.  

The upgrade was a response to the devastating vandalism of the original hostel memorial last year.  The reserve was first created in 1993 when artists Hussein and Angela Valamahesh installed the Booker Court Memorial, featuring 13 inscribed bronze diaries with memories collected from interviews with many people who originally stayed at the hostel.  In March 2012 this art work was trashed and stolen.

The new interpretative project has involved improving landscaping, installing a barbecue, picnic facilities and artwork and signage, acknowledging the powerful and emotive experiences of hostel residents and the important role the hostel played in the migration of South Australians from the 1950s to 1980s.  Bowden-based design studio Arketype was contracted to undertake the installation which includes a representation of a Nissen hut; interpretive hoops; large scale cup, plate, knife and fork; and 15 interpretive diaries and entrance signage.

After the official speeches, a smoking ceremony was performed by Senior Kaurna Cultural Custodian Karl Telfer with assistance from Charles Sturt CEO Mark Withers and Mayor Kirsten Alexander in the Nissen hut-inspired barbecue shelter as well as the Garden of Memories. 

In the early 1940s the site housed workers for a nearby munitions factory.  After World War II it was converted to accommodation for Displaced Persons from Europe. Until the closure in 1985 Pennington, formerly Finsbury Migrant Centre, was one of a number of centres in South Australia which catered for migrants who arrived here from different parts of the world including Europe, South East Asia, Middle East and South America.

Part of the new installation is a walkway with engraved pavers featuring the names of families who spent time at the hostel. One of these features former Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who spent her first month in Australia at Pennington when she was nearly five years old, after emigrating from Wales with her parents and sister in 1966.

The Pennington Gardens Reserve project has involved input from the team currently undertaking the Australian Research Council-funded Hostel Stories project at the University of Adelaide.  Another project partner, the Migration Museum launches their Hostel Stories exhibition next month.

More photos from the launch can be found here

If you would like to participate in the Hostel Stories research project phone 08 8313 5570 or email or for more information go to this website 

South Australian Collections Ready for the ADR

South Australia is ready to get involved with the Australian Dress Register (ADR) following a workshop held at Ayers House Museum.  On Friday 20 September an enthusiastic group of people met at Ayers House to find out about the ADR and how to include items from their collections on it.  The Powerhouse Museum’s Lindie Ward presented the workshop with assistance from Mary-Anne Gooden from Artlab.  Ayers House Museum generously hosted the event in their gorgeous dining room and provided access to costume items for use in the workshop.

The Australian Dress Register (ADR) is a collaborative online project initiated by the Powerhouse Museum to document significant and well provenanced men’s, women’s and children’s garments. The ADR was established in 2007 and was originally restricted to clothing relating to NSW. However, recently it has been opened up to include garments from around Australia. A large number of costume items are held in South Australian collections, both public and private, and the ADR provides an opportunity to showcase significant items while making the history about them readily available to other museums or individuals researching the history of Australian dress.

The ADR workshop was held as part of the combined 2013 South Australian State History Conference and Oral History Association of Australia National Conference.  More images from the ADR workshop can be seen here and images from the conference here.

City of Adelaide is Bound for South Australia

The voyage has just begun of the world’s only surviving purpose-built sailing ship and the oldest clipper ship to bring migrants from Europe to Australia, the City of Adelaide.  It will end an extraordinary 14-year-campaign by the City of Adelaide Preservation Trust, a committed group of engineers, maritime historians, ship enthusiasts, descendants of the ship’s migrants and supporters.

After delays due to adverse weather conditions in Ayrshire, a crowd of up to 1,000 people watched the vessel leave Scotland on Friday 20 September for the last time.

The ship has been at the Scottish Maritime Museum at Irvine since it was salvaged in 1992, after sinking the previous year in Glasgow’s River Clyde.

It is being towed to her original homeport of London for a formal farewell in October at historic Greenwich on the River Thames. There it will moor for several days near her younger ‘sister’– the world famous Cutty Sark, a Greenwich landmark for six decades – before continuing her journey via a quarantine and ‘preparation stop’ in Europe.

The City of Adelaide is scheduled to eventually arrive in Port Adelaide between February and April next year.

The City of Adelaide was built on the River Wear in Sunderland in 1864 to carry people emigrating to southern Australia. In 1893 it became a hospital ship, but in 1924 was converted into a training ship at Irvine, and renamed HMS Carrick.

A rescue campaign mounted by rival consortiums from Adelaide and Sunderland saw the City of Adelaide Preservation Trust win the bid for ownership. It formally took control of the Adelaide two weeks ago.

BBC footage of the ship leaving Scotland can be seen here

Sarah’s Sad Story Remembered

Recently I headed for the village of Prospect Hill in the Adelaide Hills, for a special plaque unveiling ceremony commemorating a unique historical event, near to the hearts of this small, close-knit community.

Sunday 25 August marked the 170th anniversary of the discovery of the remains of young Scottish migrant Sarah McHarg in the dense forest near Currency Creek; almost two years after the young woman had gone missing in 1841.  The mystery of her disappearance sparked much interest in the press at the time; despite full scale searches she could not be found. Had she been abducted, murdered?  The story continued to engage the imagination of locals over the years.  Her sad tale highlights a past era where lack of communication in isolated areas meant certain death.

On 3 June 1841, 24-year-old Sarah, who had migrated with her family from the parish of Inch, Wigtownshire in south west Scotland just two years previously, set off from Mr Burr’s survey camp to her father’s house about 3 km away in the Meadows. She was wearing a green and white cotton gown, with black velvet trimmed cape, a pink apron, and a straw bonnet.  With her she had two books: a novel and a small Book of Psalms.  When her remains were eventually found they were surrounded by a makeshift wurley of branches, although her bones had been pulled asunder by dingoes, and she could only be identified by remnants of her clothing and books.  Most poignantly, she had written with a pin in the book of Psalms “Dear Elizabeth (her younger sister), grieve not for me, I am resigned to my fate.” Sarah had apparently died of starvation, having wandered almost 25 km off course, completely lost and unable to communicate her whereabouts.

So on a crisp bright Sunday afternoon on the edge of bushland near where Sarah had set off on that fateful day 170 years ago, I joined a small group of locals, along with McHarg descendants, members of Flinders University Archaeology Department and Sue Ward from the State Library of South Australia.  We were welcomed by Greg Morrison, President of the Prospect Hill Community Association; while Ray Bailey recounted how this commemorative occasion had come about.  Former Prospect Hill student and Uniting Church pastor, Ben Usher gave further insight into Sarah’s story and read the touching ‘The Hour of My Departure’s Come’.  Accompanied by an accordion, we were all invited to sing ’Rock of Ages’ before Rev Usher said a prayer for Sarah.  The unveiling of the plaque was undertaken by Sarah’s great, great niece, Vida Chibnall with her daughter Lesley Rumbelow; and lastly Sarah’s little book of Psalms was formally handed over to Sue Ward, the State Library’s Coordinator of Archival Collection Development.  This moving ceremony over, we headed down the hill again into the warmth of the Community Hall for a bountiful afternoon tea of homemade scones and lamingtons; and time to reflect on our comparatively safe 21st century lives with the likes of 4WDs, mobile phones and GPS devices.

Sarah’s story is just one of many pioneering stories included in the Prospect Hill Historical Museum, located in the former general store of 1872 and a registered museum in History SA’s Community Museums Program.  It is also one of several personal tragedies of the area for Prospect Hill was hit hard by the Ash Wednesday bushfires of 1983, which is commemorated in a permanent exhibition at the museum.

More pictures from the Sarah McHarg ceremony can be found here 

Bravest of the Brave is now in Renmark

History SA/Veterans SA’s travelling exhibition Bravest of the Brave, which tells the moving stories of the eight South Australians awarded the Victoria Cross in the First World War, is now at Renmark Paringa Community & Civic Centre in the Riverland until 17 September. It is hosted by Renmark RSL and displayed in the Exhibition Room at the entrance to Renmark Paringa council building on 61 Eighteenth Street, Renmark.  We are grateful to Tony and Pat Guster for driving the 500 km round trip from the Riverland to collect the display as well as assistance from fellow Renmark RSL committee members, Chester Warren and Denis Coats with installation at the venue. We hope the Bravest of the Brave will receive many extra visitors on Federal Election Day, Saturday 7 September as it is located en route to the polling booths in the council building.

Bravest of the Brave tells the story of eight ordinary men: Arthur Blackburn, Phillip Davey, Roy Inwood, Jørgen Jensen, John Leak, Arthur Sullivan, Lawrence Weathers and James Park Woods – who on one day of their lives, under extraordinary circumstances, demonstrated extraordinary heroism for their comrades and country. Some were born or educated in South Australia; some enlisted here, while others lived here either before or after the war. 

The Victoria Cross is the British and Commonwealth’s armed forces’ most coveted award, their supreme decoration for gallantry, under enemy fire.  Only 1,356 medals have been awarded since its introduction in 1856.

Renmark is the Bravest of the Brave’s9th venue. It is booked up to travel to a variety of venues in South Australia throughout the rest of 2013 and all of 2014.

The first of many projects that are being prepared worldwide to commemorate the centenary of the First World War in 2014-2018, Bravest of the Brave is available from History SA free of charge to travel to schools, RSL clubs, museums, libraries, aged-care facilities, community centres etc. There is also a schools resources kit.  Enquiries regarding the exhibition’s availability should be made on 08 8203 9888 or email for more information. Host organisations need to be able to collect and install the display themselves.  The display consists of 7 double-sided pull-up banners and 4 crates with framed replica medals. As you can see from the photographs here, it will fit into a ute or landcruiser-sized vehicle and is simple to install.

More photographs of the exhibition at Renmark can be seen here; while photographs of it at other venues including its launch by the Hon Jack Snelling MP in April 2012 are here

An Emotional Homecoming

Last weekend, over a coffee and some welcome winter sun at the historic North Adelaide Lion Hotel, I took part in an informal repatriation of some of the earliest photographic images of named indigenous Australians.  Copies of two photographs that have been in a UK collection for well over a century, depicting James Wanganeen, formerly Wanganni, an Upper Murray Maraura man born around 1836, were presented to his great great granddaughter, Lynnette Wanganeen.  He was the first known ancestor of the Wanganeen family and I felt privileged to witness this emotional homecoming.  The prints were being returned from the University of Oxford’s Pitt Rivers Museum in the care of Curator of Photograph and Manuscript Collections, Dr Chris Morton who is currently on a whirlwind Australian study visit.  He noted that this event was ‘the highlight of his tour’.

For me, the moment was also significant in relation to the rediscovery I made of the mid-19th century daguerreotypes from Poonindie Mission at Mill Cottage in Port Lincoln in 2011, the story of which has been gradually unfolding via this website over the last 18 months.  One of the UK photographs, a head and shoulders portrait of James, described as ‘Wongannin, (aged 25), Catechist. S. Australia. 1867, had been central to the identification of one of the Mill Cottage daguerreotypes. When a group of experts examined the daguerreotypes in Adelaide in February 2012, consultant historian Tom Gara recognised one of them as James Wanganeen, because he remembered this identical image in the Oxford collection.  Within hours he located the relevant digitised document amongst his records and emailed it to me to compare, and suddenly part of the jigsaw was complete.  It’s what makes digitisation such a wonderful tool for speedy and efficient access when undertaking this kind of research.

This discovery was amazingly serendipitous as it soon transpired that an ARC-funded project Globalisation, Photography and Race: the Circulation and Return of Aboriginal Photographs in Europe, led by former Monash Associate Professor, Jane Lydon (now at UWA) was currently in progress and Dr Morton was researching Aboriginal visual histories in the Pitt Rivers Museum’s photograph collection.  Much international communication then ensued.  Jane has since identified three images of James Wanganeen; the one in Oxford, thought to be a print taken from a twin daguerreotype of the Port Lincoln example; a Duryea Carte de Visite of James and his wife Mary Jane amongst Mathew Hale’s papers in the University of Bristol library; and now the daguerreotype at Mill Cottage in Port Lincoln.  Jane has indicated that these three portraits collected by the Mission’s leaders expressed James’ ‘status within the community’.

Wanganni is believed to have left the Upper Murray area as a young boy after unrest in the community, and attended the Aboriginal school in Adelaide.  However, when this closed down in 1852 he was sent to Poonindie Mission which had been recently established by Archdeacon Mathew Hale as “a Christian village of South Australian Natives, reclaimed from barbarism, trained to the duties of social Christian life and walking in the fear of God”. Baptised in 1857 and taking the Christian name James, and the new anglicised surname Wanganeen, he was known to regularly read the lessons at church and travel further afield as an evangelist.

Lynnette is extremely proud of her heritage. Although she has known James’ story for some time (The Wanganeen Family Genealogy History was written in 1985 by her relative Doreen Kartinyeri), she has only recently seen James ‘face to face’ when she attended the launch of the newly preserved Mill Cottage daguerreotypes in May.   Now she and her extended family have access to all three of the known images of their ancestor; and we hope that the networks that have been set up as a result of these discoveries will unearth more information and identification of other indigenous images in both Australia and worldwide.

Chris is giving a public lecture about his research in Perth on Tuesday 27 August.

To Whyalla and Back Again

I took a break from enquiries in the last week of the South Australian History Fund grant round and headed up to Port Pirie and Whyalla to visit three museums registered in the Community Museums Program. It’s been a few years since I last visited Port Pirie National Trust Museum in their lovely old railway station building, so it was great to catch-up with Mel, Peter and Stephen and talk about projects they’re planning. The museum has recently acquired an assortment of items from the recently greatly down-sized Prests Department Store, including windows and shop displays, tins, calendars and even office records that will be very useful for research. In its hey-day Prests was the biggest store in the town/region so the potential for telling a range of social history stories is immense.

From Port Pirie I headed up and then down the other side of the Peninsula to Whyalla to meet with Jenny at the Whyalla Maritime Museum. Plenty of the museums I work with have tiny collection items, but Whyalla has the hugest in the HMAS Whyalla, sitting high and dry as the focal point of the museum and visitor centre complex. Collection management nightmare!

The next morning I spent with several volunteers of the Mount Laura Homestead Museum.  The museum has very recently been given priority use of a fabulous building constructed by council as a multi-purpose space. The museum has also gained use of the re-furbished former caretaker’s cottage and it was great to chat about moving all their collections management and administration functions into the building and the relative merits of where to put a compactus. The Museum has some really interesting local history artefacts, including the first aeroplanes to fly in the region (home made!)and a stationary engine with a particularly interesting history of use.

Walkway Storage Solution

I have recently been sent some images of the work in progress for Axel Stenross Maritime Museum’s new collection store.  With space at a bit of a premium the museum devised an innovative way to make storage space – by creating a room in the walkway space between two buildings. So with lots of planning, volunteer effort and a few thousand dollars from the Community Museums Program grant fund, the museum has completed the store and started moving collection items in for safe keeping.

The new store is part of the museum’s grand plan to return the part of the museum which was Axel Stenross’s home and workshop to looking just like it was when was his home and workshop. During the course of the project I had several interesting conversations with Andrew, the museum committee secretary, about lining and insulating the room, whether or not to have a roller door for external access (decided against) and what to put on the floor.  Floor question led to a conversation with Artlab about the relative merits of different types of vinyl tiles – who would have thought that lighter colours off-gas less and so reduce that risk to items in storage!

Getting Closer to Solving the Mystery

It was a great pleasure to return to Port Lincoln recently during the About Time History Festival to attend a very special launch that saw a part solving of the Mission Photo mystery that had begun almost two years ago.

To recap, I visited Mill Cottage Museum for the first time in November 2011 and chanced upon a rare collection of mid-19th century daguerreotypes on display depicting Aboriginal men from the nearby Poonindie Mission dressed ‘as gentlemen’ in European clothes.  You can read more about the Mystery of the Mission photos here.

Since then there has been a flurry of activity relating to their identification and preservation.  More research has been done, and one of the images has been firmly identified as James Wanganeen, courtesy of an identical named portrait in the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford. Wanganeen was a Maraura man from the Upper Murray, who had been sent to the Poonindie Mission Station, in the early 1850s.  He was known to have been a kind of lay preacher, one of the well-respected members of the Mission, then managed by the Reverend Octavius Hammond, the father in law of Joseph Bishop, the original owner of Mill Cottage.   The photographs have sparked much interest resulting in numerous emails back and forth between both interstate and international academics and curators.  Last year I was fortunate enough to visit Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford and see the James Wanganeen portrait that had been the vital clue in solving the mystery, as well as several other fascinating early South Australian photographs in the care of curator Dr Christopher Morton. Jane Lydon, formerly of Monash University and now University of Western Australia, has also shed much light on the subject, identifying and publishing material about other closely related daguerreotypes in UK collections.

At the beginning of this year six of the Mill Cottage images were preserved by Artlab Australia with the help of a South Australian History Fund grant; a new secure glass case for their display was built courtesy of a Historical Society of SA grant; and particularly exciting, another daguerreotype of the same vintage and subject matter has emerged in Port Lincoln and been presented to Mill Cottage.

However, the highlight for me was certainly attending the launch of the restored daguerreotypes in their new display case on 3 May.  Particularly moving was the that fact that it brought together for the first time Lynnette Wanganeen with her great, great grandfather James. Lynnette travelled from Adelaide to the Eyre Peninsula with friends and the event attracted much interest from local media. It was a pleasure to be able to share this moment as well as spend some time visiting the Poonindie Mission site afterwards.

The images continue to inspire interest, the latest being from Judy Annear, the Art Gallery of NSW’s Senior Curator of Photography, who is currently working on a major history of Australian photography exhibition and book for 2015.

So the buzz continues.  The identities of both the photographer and the other portraits are still to be discovered. I love a good mystery!

Photographs of the daguerreotypes after their preservation at Artlab can be seen here; and of the launch here; and the visit to Poonindie Mission here

Bravest of the Brave is now in Salisbury

History SA/Veterans SA’s travelling exhibition Bravest of the Brave, which tells the moving stories of the eight South Australians awarded the Victoria Cross in the First World War, is now at the City of Salisbury’s John Harvey Gallery until 3 July. Hosted by Salisbury RSL, the display was officially launched on Wednesday by the Mayor of Salisbury, Gillian Aldridge and is the first event representing Salisbury Anzac 2015, the partnership between the City of Salisbury and Salisbury RSL to mark the Anzac Centenary.

The launch reception included a moving Anzac presentation by Year 6 students from St Augustine’s Parish School as well as speeches by Nichola Kaptiza, Manager, Community Planning and Vitality at City of Salisbury Council and Mick Lennon, President of the Salisbury RSL.  

Bravest of the Brave tells the story of eight ordinary men: Arthur Blackburn, Phillip Davey, Roy Inwood, Jorgen Jensen, John Leak, Arthur Sullivan, Lawrence Weathers and James Park Woods – who on one day of their lives, under extraordinary circumstances, demonstrated extraordinary heroism for their comrades and country. Some were born or educated in South Australia; some enlisted here, while others lived here either before or after the war.  

The Victoria Cross is the British and Commonwealth’s armed forces’ most coveted award, their supreme decoration for gallantry, under enemy fire.  Only 1,356 medals have been awarded since its introduction in 1856.

Memorabilia relating to the Victoria Cross and other awards from the Salisbury RSL’s collection is also on display in the gallery with Bravest of the Brave

Salisbury is the Bravest of the Brave’s 8th venue.  It is booked up to travel to a variety of venues in South Australia throughout 2013 and most of 2014.

The first of many projects that are being prepared worldwide to commemorate the centenary of the First World War in 2014-2018, Bravest of the Brave is available from History SA free of charge to travel to schools, RSL clubs, museums, libraries, aged-care facilities, community centres etc. There is also a schools resources kit.  Enquiries regarding the exhibition’s availability should be made on 08 8203 9888 or email for more information.

More photographs of the exhibition at Salisbury can be seen here; while photographs of it at other venues including its launch by the Hon Jack Snelling MP in April 2012 are here. 

2013 South Australian History Fund

The South Australian History Fund (SAHF) is History SA’s annual grant fund supporting community groups to undertake small South Australian history projects. Funding up to $2,000 for projects, $3,000 for publications and $5,000 for research projects is available. In previous years the SAHF has funded oral history, archiving, digitisation, conservation and interpretation projects, along with a range of publications and key research projects.

For the first time this year groups will be able to apply for funding to hold events. Events must be held during the 2014 About Time South Australia’s History Festival and funding is restricted to $500 per event.

Intending applicants are very welcome to contact Pauline and Amanda to discuss possible projects and to get advice on putting an application together. The 2013 SAHF grant round closes on 22 July 2013.

There are several help sheets available on the South Australian Community History website that are relevant to the types of projects frequently applied for, including display development, collection storage and interpretive signs.

SA Governor to attend PS Marion’s 50th anniversary celebrations

Fifty years ago, the PS Marion became a static museum in the Randell Dry Dock at Mannum cementing the small township as the birthplace of the paddle steamer in Australia.

The Governor of South Australia, His Excellency Rear Admiral Kevin Scarce AC CSC RANR, and Mrs Scarce will be attending the 50th anniversary celebrations and on board the PS Marion from Bowhill to Mannum taking part in the reenactment of what was supposed to be the last voyage of the Marion in 1963.

Fifty years ago, the PS Marion made the five day trip back from Berri to its new home in Mannum where it sat in the Mannum Dry Dock for over 30 years until its dedicated restoration by over one hundred volunteers and its recommissioning in 1994 some 20 years ago. 

To celebrate this milestone at Mannum a river festival day will be conducted at Mary Ann reserve on Saturday 15 June 2013.

The PS Marion left Mannum Tuesday 28 May for Berri in readiness for the 50th Anniversary re-enactment trip back departing on 6 June and arriving in Mannum on 15 June.

Don’t miss the loading of the cargo at Berri wharf on 6 June where the crew will be dressed in replica t-shirts worn 50 years ago and official proceedings conducted by Mayor Peter Hunt of the Berri/Barmera Council.

If you would like to be part of history again on the Murray River with PS Marion and help celebrate her 50th Anniversary in Mannum, short cruises are on offer at Berri on Sunday 2 June and at Waikerie on Sunday 9 June, and departs Berri on 6 June for the re-enactment voyage arriving in Mannum on the 15 June for a River Festival day.

50 years ago crowds lined the banks of the Murray River in the town ships of Berri, Loxton, Cobdogla, Kingston, Waikerie, Morgan, Blanchetown, Swan Reach, Purnong and Bowhill as the unloved heritage vessel built in 1900 meandered down river towards Mannum.  The crew had special t-shirts produced for the trip which are being replicated for the re-enactment cruise along with the original cargo being loaded on board. 

The 50th Anniversary Committee, which includes original members John Norris and Chris Snow, are organizing a shipment of brandy to again be sent to the Queen to re-enact this gift forwarded back in 1963.

What Bug is That?

As part of the About Time South Australia’s History Festival program, Community History Programs hosted an information session on common pests affecting historical collections. What Bug is That? focused on identifying pests and simple ways to keep them at bay.

Led by Anne Dineen, Senior Preventive Conservator from Artlab Australia, the information session looked at basic pest identification and management – which pests are a potential problem, what objects are most at risk, how and when to check for pest activity and strategies for averting pest infestations.

Anne brought an army of pests with her (not alive) so everyone could get a close up look at various insects at different stages of their lifecycles. She also brought a variety of pest-damaged objects to demonstrate what damage can be done and how to recognise what pest may have caused the damage.  A framed photo so badly damaged that many of the photo features are now unrecognisable was a striking example of how much damage can be done if pests go undetected for any period of time!

You can find information about managing pests and cleaning in museums on this website.

Celebrations for SAAM

Last weekend I attended the official handover ceremony at the South Australian Aviation Museum (SAAM) in Port Adelaide, of a retired F-111 jet bomber aircraft from the Australian Defence Department.

It’s not every day that a museum receives such a significant item which literally dominates  a collection.  The 25 ton jet fighter with its iconic elongated black nose cone, had pride of place in the hangar while the presentation area was bristling with pollies, media, SAAM members, aviation enthusiasts and air cadets.

With the SAAM vice president Pieter van Dyk as Master of Ceremonies, there were heartfelt speeches by Mayor of Port Adelaide Enfield, Gary Johanson; Federal Member for Port Adelaide, Mark Butler; and SAAM President, David Byrne before the official handover took place by Group Captain Craig Heap, Officer Commanding 92 Wing.

Official guests were then allowed to climb up and view the cockpit – a mesmerising array of buttons, levers and dials, before partaking in refreshments and enjoying the rest of the open day which included the very popular twice yearly ear-splitting ‘Engine Run’.

SAAM members should be justly proud of their achievement.  There were only a small number of these aircraft made available to the community by the Defence Department following the F-111’s retirement in 2010 and the application process was a tough one.  Many members worked hard on the submission as well as preparing the museum to receive the monster which took 4 days to be trucked in from Queensland’s RAAF Base Amberley, and then reassembled over 2 days by an RAAF team.

Developed by the US in the 1960s, the F-111 was used by the RAAF from 1973. Capable of speeds two times greater than the speed of sound, it is remembered for flamboyant displays at air shows when pilots perform “ignited fuel dumps” that leave a blazing funnel trailing behind.

SAAM’s A8-134 served with both RAAF 1 SQN and 6 SQN in an important reconnaissance role.  Its presence in the museum has already demonstrated a huge jump in visitor numbers, bringing in much needed funds for restoration and maintenance of other aircraft.

SAAM is one of ten accredited museums in History SA’s Community Museums Program.

There are more photos from the F-111 presentation here 

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