The Birchip Regional Seminar last weekend (May 19th – 21st) was a great success!
The weekend began on Friday with a warm welcome from the Nullawil Historical Society Heritage Museum, where visitors were treated to a carefully curated display of their museum and collection, along with afternoon tea and a marvelous dinner attended by Helen Laffin and historical society representatives from as far as Geelong. The evening included an ‘overall positive’ discussion of the Nullawil Silo Art project, as it’s bringing tourists to the region.
On Saturday, the RHSV organised the second seminar for 2023 (and the first in regional Victoria!), titled “Strengthening your Societies and Communities through History.”
Hosted by the Birchip Historical Society, and supported by the Nullawil and Donald Historical Societies, there were as many locals from the Mallee-Wimmera region as there were representatives from historical organisations from Seymour, Charlton, Queenscliff, Shepparton, St Kilda and other far-flung places—at least 60 all up.
Paul Fearon kicked off proceedings with a session on “leading” people and “managing” things with enthusiastic participation, discussing, and sharing experiences on the challenges societies face to attract and keep volunteers and maintain the energies and enthusiasm for local history. Helen Laffin led the group through archiving “best practices” and the benefits of having a disciplined approach to collecting to meet the community’s needs and facilitating access by researchers.
After lunch, Mulga Fred was featured in the first of the two talks by Richard Broome. Richard provided great insight into how serendipitous research can be, often picking up, following, and building on small leads and evidence—many in local history societies. Mulga Fred and Pelaco Bill, it seems, were one and the same person; as well as a member of the travelling boxing troupe, Mulga Fred was a recognised and important historical character in many ways. One of the participants remembered her mother talking about him. Richards’s second presentation was about how to get started and write history in the most exciting manner.
The following day, the Donald Historical Society turned on both morning tea and a fabulous tour of their old courthouse museum. The extent of their beautifully curated exhibitions ranged from precious indigenous artefacts, masonic chairs, catholic alter, an extensive stair sand collection artfully created by a Donald local, honour boards to 1st and Second World War veterans and fascinating photographic presentations including the tools used by the local Chinese market gardener Willie Lu.
It was clear that the history, cultural and indigenous heritage is alive and well in the Buloke Shire, as is old-style country hospitality. Our thanks to the committees and everyone involved in organising the weekend events. You have raised the bar and made History proud!