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August 17 - August 18

Free – $55

The RHSV thank the Leongatha Historical Society and the South Gippsland Historical Network who are hosting this weekend in Gippsland. This is our second HSSC* regional seminar for 2024. Drawing on the experience of local and visiting speakers, the seminar will explore how your local research and collections can lead to valuable publications and uncover wider themes and stories. The program is spread across Leongatha and Korumburra which are only about 15 mins drive apart. We love our weekends out of Melbourne and we encourage members of historical societies to ‘take a break’ and enjoy some great history in a breath-taking setting.

*HSSC is the RHSV’s Historical Societies Support Committee.

The destination

Leongatha is located 136 km south-east of Melbourne via the Monash Freeway and South Gippsland Highway (1 hour 43 mins drive) and 60 km (45 minutes) south-west of Morwell. The towns in South Gippsland Shire and adjacent Bass Coast Shire provide some unique heritage stories as well as reflecting trends similar to the story of Victoria.

Leongatha Historical Society

Located at 10 McCartin Street, Leongatha, in the former Mechanics institute, Leongatha Historical Society collects, records and preserves the history of the former Woorayl Shire.

The South Gippsland Historical Network

The organisation consists of Historical Societies and Genealogical Societies in the geographical region of South Gippsland. The network includes Korumburra, Wonthaggi, Inverloch, Leongatha , Mirboo and District, Meeniyan, Foster, the South Gippsland Genealogical Society and the Toora Family History group.

Wonthaggi Historical Society

Providing a significant contribution to the discussions, Wonthaggi and District Historical Society is the custodian of the town and district’s mining, social and cultural heritage. The historic, former Wonthaggi railway station building is both a museum and home to the society.

The Seminar

The seminar will be held within the Memorial Hall at 6-8 McCartin Street, Leongatha on Saturday 17 August.  Commemorating those who served in World War One, the hall dates from 1926.

The Dinner

In the evening, after the seminar, an optional dinner will be held at the Leongatha RSL, corner Smith Street and Michael Place, Leongatha, commencing at 6.00pm. The RSL has a significant collection of memorabilia, and local historian, Lyn Skillern, will provide background on items on display as well as on significant local identities.

Coal Creek Community Park and Museum

A guide will provide background on some of the 53 significant heritage buildings on-site. Coal Creek was a Community, Local and State government funded project to preserve the cultural history of the area and was opened to the public in 1974. The first building relocated on site was the Korumburra Courthouse, followed by Krowera Church, Jeetho School House and the Mine Manager’s Cottage. These now form the heart of the of 53 building heritage village. As Gippsland’s largest open air heritage village, its vast collection of original buildings and objects tell the story of the coal mining, agricultural, transportation and social history of the southern Gippsland region.




Venue: Leongatha Memorial Hall, 6-8 McCartin St (enter off Michael Place)

Please note that in every session there is time for questions and answers and sharing of experiences.

9:00am REGISTRATION tea/coffee and networking

9:45am – 10am PROGRAM START: Acknowledgement of Country, welcome, housekeeping.

10am – 10:40am PRESENTATION 1: Rees Quilford. “Unity and Strength: the ongoing legacy of the Wonthaggi Miners’ Women’s Auxiliary”

10:40am – 11:15am PRESENTATION 2: Sam Gatto. “The development of the cooperative movement in Wonthaggi.”

11:15am – 11:30am MORNING TEA

11:30am – 12:30pm PRESENTATION 3: Rosalie Triolo. “Local and international historical sources and resources rarely used in local and family research”

12:30pm – 1pm PRESENTATION 4. Rosemary Cameron. “Impact of new tax laws on Historical Societies.”

1pm – 2pm LUNCH and mingling/networking

2pm – 2:45pm PRESENTATION 5: Craige Proctor. “Telling the stories of pioneer women.”

2:45pm – 3pm AFTERNOON TEA

2:45pm – 3:45pm PRESENTATION 6: Neil Breeden. “Tracking Down the Past: a rediscovery of the original road network into the Western Strzeleckis”.

6pm DINNER at the Leongatha RSL, Smith Street (Cnr Michael Place) Leongatha.

The RSL has a significant collection of memorabilia, and local historian, Lyn Skillern, will provide background on items on display as well as on significant local identities.


This is an optional program.

9am – 9:40am LEONGATHA MECHANICS INSTITUTE (Leongatha Historical Society Rooms) Lyn Skillern will guide us as we inspect the Leongatha Historical Society rooms at the 1912 Mechanics Institute building as well as the adjacent Memorial Hall. (10 McCartin St, Leongatha)

9:40am – 10:30am Join local historian Lyn Skillern for a GUIDED TOUR OF THE LEONGATHA MEMORIAL HALL . (6-8 McCartin St, Leongatha)

10:30am Depart for Coal Creek (time for morning tea, if you wish)

11am COAL CREEK TOUR. Meet the local guide who will show the participants over the park. Coal Creek Community Park and Museum is a recreated coal mining village that depicts the history of Korumburra; from everyday life, to the coalfields and the early agricultural development of the area. Come immerse yourself in 1870s – 1920s rural life. (12 Silkstone Road, Korumburra)

Lunch: Buy own lunch in Korumburra




Born at Dandenong in 1948, Neil attended the Dandenong State School No. 1403. His father was an electrical contractor and in 1955 bought a share-farm at Mirboo North. The share-farm proved unsuccessful and in 1961 at the age of 13 Neil moved with family to Mirboo North where he was introduced to the joys of Dairy Farming including a large piggery. Neil matriculated from Mirboo North High School in 1966 and then went on to obtain a Diploma of Civil Engineering from the Gippsland Institute of Advanced Education later to become Monash Gippsland. After graduating in 1971 he had a short stint working for the then Country Roads Board and in 1972 was appointed as a junior engineer with the former Woorayl Shire. After a succession of promotions he was appointed as Deputy Shire Engineer in 1984 a position held until 1992. It was during this latter part of his engineering career that he had the privilege of working with the late John Murphy in providing information and maps for his Local Government histories , “No Parallel” the history of the former Woorayl Shire in 1988 and “On the Ridge” the history of the former Shire of Mirboo in 1994.

It became apparent to Neil while working on these local histories with John Murphy that much of the history surrounding the settlement of the Western Strzelecki’s was determined by the original tracks into what was a somewhat forbidding region. Of particular note were McDonald’s Track, Liddiard’s Track and Whitelaws Track. While being mentioned frequently in the early records of settlement in South Gippsland their locations and extent seemed to have disappeared over time yet they seemed to him a key element in the proper understanding of the history and development of the region. It was with this in mind that he set out to re-discover these and other overland routes into the dense rain-forest of South Gippsland. This research has culminated in the production of “Tracking Down the Past” a rediscovery of the original road network into the Western Strzelecki Ranges

ROSEMARY CAMERON has been the RHSV’s Executive Officer since 2017. Her entire career has been in not-for-profit membership-based arts management. Overseas she worked for London’s English National Opera and Royal Opera House and Oslo’s Early Music Festival. She is former director of the Melbourne Writers Festival (2005 – 2009) and the Brisbane Writers Festival (2003 – 2005). Rosemary is a judge of the 2023 Victorian Premier’s Prize for non-fiction. She was involved in Melbourne’s successful bid to become a UNESCO City of Literature.

“Impact of new tax laws on Historical Societies.” The new laws regarding not-for-profits and income tax came into effect on 1 July. This is a complicated issue with many spin-offs (applying to become a charity / updating constitutions etc). If your society is NOT a registered charity with the ACNC then this new law will have an impact and your society may may have to pay income tax.


Born in Southern Italy, Sam came to Australia at the age of 9, in 1951. After matriculating from Wonthaggi Higher Elementary School, he studied to become a teacher at the University of Melbourne. He taught mainly History in Victorian secondary schools for five years. From 1971 to 2000, he taught English and Drama in upper secondary schools in the Italian part of Switzerland. Since his return to Australia in September 2000, he has dedicated much time researching the History of Wonthaggi. He has written six books on the subject, exploring different aspects of the town’s unique history.

His talk on The Cooperative Movement in Wonthaggi describes how, shortly after the establishment of the State Coal Mine in November 1909, the mining community set out to build a social welfare system based on solidarity and cooperation. Although the Union played a leading part in this process, the institutions were created also with the cooperation of non-union sections of the community and with the support of the State government. The talk will outline the development of this social system from 1909 to 1927, well before anything similar was created anywhere else in Australia.

CRAIGE PROCTOR a recently retired teacher and university program manager, is a fifth generation Mortlake resident who joined the first incarnation of the Mortlake and District Historical Society in the 1980s and the re-floated Society in 2000. His passion for storytelling came from listening to his grandparents’ tales and has evolved over more than fifty years, resulting in town and cemetery tours and co-authoring or authoring five books on the district’s history but managing the Society’s Facebook page since 2011 has taken storytelling in many new and rewarding directions. Beyond Mortlake, Craige is a committee member of the Western Victorian Association of Historical Societies and the Association’s Newsletter Editor, a committee member of the Pebble Church Heritage Association at St Arnaud, Secretary of the Wimmera Mallee Pioneer Museum at Jeparit where he also lives and is a member of the RHSV’s Historical Societies Support Committee. In 2022 Craige received an RHSV Award of Merit, one of his proudest moments.

As a local historian and genealogist, Craige appreciates the challenges of researching, chronicling and sharing the stories of pioneer women. Some were prominent in their communities and so their stories can be woven together more easily than the stories of the majority who have not made it into conventional historical narratives. In this presentation Craige will provide a framework for telling the stories of women from the past either in writing local or family histories or in verbal presentations.


Rees Quilford is a writer, a maker of  short films, multimedia narratives and physical artworks and PhD candidate at RMIT University based in Cape Paterson. His project-based research examines the intimate and sometimes contradictory nature of place-based historical storytelling. He has been published in newspapers, literary magazines, and academic journals. His mixed-media essay ’92 days of winter’ was named as the winner of the 2021 Bass Coast Prize for Non-Fiction.

Rees presents a lively talk on the nationally significant legacy of Wonthaggi Miners’ Women’s Auxiliary. Those trailblazing women delivered an amazing array of social, cultural and community legacies for Wonthaggi and the district. More than that, they played a prominent role in Australia’s union and strike movements, in improving women’s rights, as well as in demonstrating the political influence women could have on public sentiment and policy.


Lyn has been involved with telling the history of Gippsland since the early 1980s. She is the Secretary of Leongatha Historical Society and has written books and articles on many subjects relating to the history of the region. Her books relate to State secondary education in Leongatha and the men of Gippsland who served in Lark Force 1941-42.

Lyn has researched the local service men and women especially those who lost their lives in conflict. She is also interested in the development of Leongatha’s Memorial Hall and RSL.

Dr ROSALIE TRIOLO FRHSV is the Chair of RHSV’s Historical Societies Support Committee. She has enjoyed over 40 years in History education, including multiple, long-term, volunteer Victorian and national leadership, presentation and advocacy roles; teaching Australian history in diverse Victorian rural and city government schools; publishing for general public, as well as tertiary, secondary and primary education audiences; and facilitating the development of specialist teachers of History for 25 years at Monash University.

Rosalie’s workshop prompts the sharing of historical sources and resources that attendees regularly use in their work. It then recommends a variety of less commonly considered Victorian, Australian and international historical organisations that support and inspire creative thinking in research, writing and non-traditional methods of presenting family, local and wider Australian histories.


Leongatha is about 110 minutes by car from the centre of Melbourne.

  • Opal Motel, 155 South Gippsland Hwy, Leongatha VIC 3953
  • Leongatha Motel, 18 Turner St, Leongatha VIC 3953
  • McCartin’s Hotel, 4/2 Bair St Leongatha VIC 3953 (some rooms have shared facilities).

There are also further accommodation options in Leongatha and in nearby centres – Korumburra, Inverloch, Wonthaggi etc – and accommodation can be booked through a variety of websites. Try booking.com, Stayz, Airbnb, or LastMinute.

Located in Gippsland’s famous dairy country and in the foothills of the Strzelecki Ranges, Leongatha is the key commercial centre for South Gippsland. When travelling in Leongatha, you will be visiting the lands of the Bunurong People. Leongatha was originally known as Koorooman and was first settled in 1845 on a cleared area of land on the western edge of the Strzelecki Ranges.  The countryside supported rich dairy farms from the 1870s onwards. The opening of the South Gippsland Railway in 1892 boosted development as more forests were cleared to make way for cattle grazing. The area was renamed Leongatha in 1891 when a township was established on the arrival of the railway.  The town’s historic railway station can be seen from the trail at Horticultural Park.  The original Mechanics Institute (1912) serves as a local history museum while the Memorial Hall (1925) houses a gallery showcasing local art and craft.  It also hosts several renowned floral events each year including the Leongatha Horticultural Society’s Daffodil Show and Rose Spectacular. Leongatha is a starting point of the Great Southern Rail Trail. This 87 kilometre walking, cycling and horse riding trail extends south-east to Port Welshpool, passing through a number of small towns which offer visitors refreshments and attractions such as wineries, galleries and antique shops. Scenic views of Wilsons Promontory National Park can be enjoyed from the trail around the Foster area.

  Photos. From top : Coal Creek, the Leongatha Mechanics Institute and home of the Leongatha Historical Society, Leongatha Memorial Hall and the gorgeous Strzelecki Ranges.


100 available Attending dinner on Sat 17 Aug If you wish to attend the dinner at Leongatha RSL, Smith Street (Cnr Michael Place) on Sat 17 Aug @ 6pm please RSVP here. Everyone will choose their meal and pay for that meal on the night. Please ask for the tables booked under Leongatha Historical Society

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For those attending the seminar and who are financial members of either the Royal Historical Society of Victoria or one of the RHSV's affiliated historical societies.
$ 35.00
For those attending the seminar and who are NOT financial members of either the Royal Historical Society of Victoria or one of the RHSV's affiliated historical societies.
$ 55.00


August 17
August 18
Free – $55
Event Category:


Leongatha Historical Society
0400 249 048


Leongatha Memorial Hall
6-8 McCartin St
Leongatha, VIC 3953 Australia
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