Winner of the Oral History Award, 2019 Victorian Community History Awards
This award recognises the best print or non-print presentation that preserves the first-hand accounts and stories of individuals with unique life experiences and memories, including books, voice interviews and podcasts.
The Victorian bushfires of February 2009 captured the attention of all Australians and made headlines around the world. One hundred and seventy-three people lost their lives, the greatest number from any bushfire event in this nation’s history. In the wake of this tragedy much media and public commentary emphasised recovery, resilience, community, self-sufficiency and renewed determination. Peg Fraser, working as a Museum Victoria curator with survivors in the small settlement of Strathewen, listened to these stories but also to other, more challenging narratives. Although all members of a particular community, Strathewen’s survivors lived through Black Saturday and its aftermath in ways that were often very different from each other.
Fraser’s work draws from the extensive collection of oral history recordings and objects acquired by Museums Victoria in the aftermath of Black Saturday. She draws on hours of recorded personal testimony to understand how the people of Strathewen comprehended and made sense of their Black Saturday experiences. Insightful and beautifully written, this publication steps beyond most Black Saturday analysis and challenges many traditional narratives associated with natural disaster.
Monash University Publishing, 2018
ISBN 978 19225 23683