Saturday 12 October 2.00pm. A walk lead by Val Noone – In the Footsteps of Nicholas O’Donnell: doctor and community leader in Hotham 1869-1919.
Dr Nicholas O’Donnell (1862- 1920) was a prominent medical practitioner and Irish scholar who lived and worked in North Melbourne during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. His remarkable manuscript of Irish family history, Nicholas O’Donnell’s Autobiography, has been edited and annotated by Dr Val Noone who will lead this walk highlighting the events and places in Nicholas’ life in our area.
Talk by David Sornig – Blue Lake: Finding Dudley Flats and the West Melbourne Swamp.
In Blue Lake, David Sornig examines how the 8km-square zone to the west of central Melbourne became the city’s blind spot. Once a fertile wetland with a large blue saltwater lagoon, it passed through various incarnations: from boneyards and rubbish tips; through the Depression-era Dudley Flats shanty town; to the modern-day docks. Through it all, one thing that has persisted is its uncanny, liminal quality.
As well as being a social history and a psychogeographic contemplation, Blue Lake is a biography of three specific characters: Elsie Williams, a Bendigo-born singer of Afro-Caribbean origin; Jack Peacock, the king of Dudley Flats’ tip-scavenging economy; and Lauder Rogge, a German hermit who lived for decades with sixty dogs on a stranded ship. By charting the rises and falls in their individual fortunes, Sornig reveals much about the race and class divides of their times and explores questions about those strange and singular places in the urban fabric where chaos is difficult to contain.
Guest Speaker: Professor Janet McCalman AC – Vandemonians in North Melbourne: our Local Convict Past.
Janet is an eminent scholar in her field of Australian social history, with particular expertise and reputation in the history of health and medicine. Janet is a superb communicator and scholar whose most notable accomplishments have been in making the richness of Australia’s social history accessible to other scholars, students of history and of the philosophy of science, medical students and postgraduate students of population health, and to the community at large.
Talk by Des Tobin – ‘A. V. (Phonse) Tobin – Irish (and North Melbourne) to his core.
Alphonsus Vincent Tobin (1905–1993), funeral director and football administrator, was born on 23 August 1905 in Melbourne, third of six surviving children of Irish-born Thomas Tobin, labourer, and his Victorian-born second wife Alice, née O’Dowd. Phonse’s twin brother, Bernard, died two days later. His father struggled financially and the family moved frequently. For a brief period they lived at an undertaker’s premises where Thomas worked as an assistant while Alice sewed casket linings, cleaned, and attended to customers.
Talk by Ian Shears – Greening Melbourne.
Melbourne’s historic urban forest includes approximately 20,000 trees in the private realm. These trees help keep our landscape resilient, our city liveable and sustainable and maintain Melbourne’s character and heritage.