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May 18 - May 19

Free – $55

We are thrilled that Mortlake & District Historical Society will be hosting our first HSSC* regional seminar for 2024.

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

Mortlake is located 216 km west of Melbourne via the Hamilton Highway (2.5-3 hours drive) and 49 km north-east of Warrnambool so it makes a great weekend away and a wonderful starting point for more Western District exploring. It is an historic settlement which lies at the base of Mount Shadwell, an extinct volcano. The town, which has a large number of impressive bluestone buildings, lies in an area of fertile volcanic plains which have produced a rich pastoral and agricultural district. The area is known for its olivine crystal which can be fossicked on Mount Shadwell.

Mortlake and District Historical Society
Located at 27 Shaw Street, the Ark Heritage Centre (mortlakedhs@gmail.com | 0435 508 684), Mortlake & District Historical Society collects and preserves material relating to the history of Mortlake and the surrounding district.

The RSL Hall in Mortlake will be our Sunday venue – it is a beautiful bluestone building dating from the 1870s. It is the one-time Temperance Hall and has had many uses prior to 1947 including a glove factory during the Second World War.  Mac’s Hotel is also booked for the Saturday dinner (it is even older than the RSL, dating back to 1859). Mac’s Hotel also has accommodation – check it out here.


DAY 1 SAT 18 MAY 2024

Today is an optional program.

3:30pm – 5pm BLUESTONE HERITAGE WALK with a snapshot of Mortlake’s history led by members of Mortlake and District Historical Society (free and open to the public). Meeting point: Soldiers’ Memorial Hall, Shaw Street, Mortlake

4.30pm – 5.30pm The ARK HERITAGE CENTRE open (open to the public). Venue: 27 Shaw Street, Mortlake.

6:30pm DINNER at Mac’s Hotel followed by a night stroll along Dunlop Street (almost full moon). Our AFTER-DINNER SPEAKER is Peter Yule whose topic is ‘Western District Vignettes’.

Venue: Mac’s Hotel, 90 Dunlop Street, Mortlake https://www.macshotelmortlake.com.au/

Please reserve a spot at the dinner when you book for the seminar. You can pay for dinner on the night.


Venue: R.S.L. Hall, 13 Shaw Street, Mortlake

Includes lunch and morning tea

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. Rosalie Triolo, Craige Proctor and Robert McLaren

10am – 10:45am PRESENTATION 1: Rosalie Triolo, ‘Your community’s young people as your society’s historians; now and into the future’

10:45am – 11:30am PRESENTATION 2: Richard Broome, ‘”Who’ll Take a Glove?”: Aboriginal Tent Fighters’

11:30am – 11:45am MORNING TEA

11:45am – 12:30pm PRESENTATION 3: Helen Laffin, ‘Caring and Sharing – Digitising & promoting your collection’

12:30pm – 1:30pm LUNCH and mingling/networking

1:30pm – 2:15pm PRESENTATION 4: Paul Fearon, ‘Hearts & Minds – Meeting the challenge of managing things and leading people’

2:15pm – 2:45pm FORUM DISCUSSION with all speakers

2:45pm – 3:30pm PRESENTATION 5: Robert McLaren, ‘The Rev. Kay: Front Row Seat to a Changing World from 1850 to 1880′

3:30pm – 3:45pm ROUND UP AND CLOSE




EMERITUS PROFESSOR RICHARD BROOME AM, FAHA, FRHSV has published many articles in Australian history and 20 books, 10 of them in second to fifth editions. He has written about Indigenous History, and also histories of immigration, sport and popular culture, the Mallee, Coburg, and several life stories of Lebanese Australians and Nagaland people. He taught at La Trobe University for thirty years, and has been President of the History Institute in the mid-1990s and is currently President of the Royal Historical Society of Victoria 2019+. He co-edits the Victorian Historical Journal and is currently co-author of The Story of Melbourne’s Lanes, RHSV (in press).

Part performance, part brutal reality, tent fighting was iconic at agricultural shows from 1900 to the 1970s in Victoria and beyond. Were Aboriginal tent fighters exploited by their managers or agents shaping their own lives? Richard Broome will answer that question with special reference to the Western District. Richard began researching tent boxing in Warrnambool in the late 1970s, which led to several articles and a book Sideshow Alley (1998). He will share his insights, which will illuminate Australian life and Aboriginal lives in that era.

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.

PAUL FEARON FAICD FCPA FIPAA (Vic) joined the RHSV Council in 2022 following a 40-year career in the energy industry, including government advisor and regulator. He currently holds director roles in two volunteer-based charities and is undertaking a PhD in history. He holds arts, business and finance degrees and is passionate about leadership training and education.

In his engaging session, Hearts & Minds – Meeting the challenge of managing things and leading people, Paul will lead a discussion on how we can plan for succession, attract volunteers and deal with the most common people challenges in any organisation—effective delegation, giving and receiving feedback, building teams, pre-empting team conflict and dealing with difficult personalities.

HELEN LAFFIN holds a Master of Cultural Heritage, Deakin University, and is currently Heritage Collections Co-ordinator at the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons. She is also part of the City of Whitehorse Arts and Culture team which oversees Schwerkolt Cottage Museum Complex and the Whitehorse Artspace. She has a strong interest in local history and collection management and has worked as staff or volunteer at many small and large collections in Melbourne including Melbourne’s Living Museum of the West, CERES Community Environment Park archives, and Coburg Historical Society. Helen will share practical knowledge from her experiences in the heritage sector.

In ‘Caring and Sharing: Digitising & promoting your collection’ Helen will provide tips on how to start digitising your collection without getting overwhelmed, using examples from her own experience and others. She will then show how these images can be used to promote the value of your collection within and outside your organisation. She is hoping that those attending with share their experiences as well.

ROBERT MCLAREN grew up at Mortlake in the Western District of Victoria. Although he moved away from the district he has maintained a strong interest in the area. Robert has written four local history books and numerous articles on the people and places around Mortlake and district. He worked as an Accountant and Humanities secondary teacher and recently retired from full time work. Robert is the President of the Mortlake and District Historical Society.

‘The Reverend Kay: Front Row Seat to a Changing World from 1850 to 1880′  Great stories on people who lived in our local areas are out there waiting for someone to turn the first stone to shed light on them. The Rev. Kay and his wife Caroline Hoste who arrived at the Wickliffe Charge in 1863 are one such story. A photo in the State Library of Victoria, a Melbourne University scholarship and a large memorial on a grave in the Dunedin cemetery were the catalysts for me to keep searching. The story was to unearth a naval hero, links to the Royal Family, a life in rural Scotland, scandals, the birth of Italy, a messy court case and a legacy that continues today.

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 Society’s Support Committee. In 2022 Craige received an RHSV Award of Merit, one of his proudest moments

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, including Derrinallum; 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.

‘Your community’s young people as your society’s historians; now and into the future’   A local historical society is an excellent setting for encouraging young people’s lifelong love and learning of ‘History’ while nurturing their roles as future carers of their community’s history, heritage and the society, itself. This workshop outlines the importance of engaging at present with young people as visitors, members and volunteers while sustaining a positive, long-term view to their involvement. While interactions with school groups are a first and important consideration, there are many more opportunities for events, programs and resources that specifically welcome individual families with young children, or groups of families, as well as members of other ‘young groups’ in the community. This workshop invites sharing of successful activities in the above regards while offering further strategies and resources to locate and support ‘the next generations’.

Dr PETER YULE had the good fortune to marry into an old Warrnambool family and worked for many years at Grayson’s Newsagency and Collins Booksellers. He has written over 30 books including many Western District local histories as well as books on topics ranging from the Collins Class submarine project and Australian National Airways to the Baillieu and Buxton families. Peter is a member of the Warrnambool, Port Fairy, Koroit and Mortlake historical societies and a Councillor and Fellow of the RHSV.

Peter will give an after dinner speech on Saturday evening entitled, ‘Western District Vignettes’.




Try Mac’s Hotel (it dates from 1859) – many of us are staying there. Some photos of Mac’s Hotel courtesy of the Mortlake & District Historical Society. The 3rd photo below is 1920 and fourth photo is 1909.

Mount Shadwell Hotel and Stables (motel units). Contact through Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/p/Mt-Shadwell-Hotel-The-Stables-Motel-100057078294907/

Accommodation can be limited so, if the above two suggestions are fully booked, please contact Craige Proctor (craige@iprimus.com.au) and he can advise you of alternatives.


100 available Attending dinner on Sat 18 May If you wish to attend the dinner at Mac's Hotel on Sat 18 May @ 6:30pm please RSVP here. Everyone will choose their meal and pay for that meal on the night. Please ask for the table booked under Mortlake & District Historical Society

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Member attending seminar
For those who are financial members of either the Royal Historical Society of Victoria or one of its affiliated historical society members.
$ 35.00
Non-member attending
If you are not a financial member of the RHSV or one of its affiliated member societies then please select this ticket.
$ 55.00


May 18
May 19
Free – $55
Event Category:


Mortlake & District Historical Society
0435 508 684


Mortlake RSL Sub-Branch
17 Shaw Street
Mortlake, VIC 3272 Australia
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03 5599 2338