2022 Victorian Community History Award Winners



On Friday 21st October, during History Month, the 2022 Victorian Community History Awards ceremony was held at the Arts Centre for the first time in two years!

Quotes attributable to Minister for Government Services Danny Pearson
“The projects recognised today share the stories of Victoria’s past, helping us to better understand the communities we live in and their rich historical heritage.”
“Congratulations to all award-winners for their outstanding work, and whose efforts ensure that Victoria’s diverse history lives on for generations to come.”

Quote attributable to Public Record Office Victoria Director and Keeper of Public Records Justine Heazlewood
“These award-winning projects showcase the excellence, skill and creativity of volunteer and professional historians across Victoria – congratulations to all.”

Quote attributable to President of the Royal Historical Society Victoria Emeritus Professor Richard Broome AM
“From an exceptional pool of entries, the judges have delivered another stellar Victorian Community History Awards line-up. Thank you to every community historian who participated in the program this year.”

See the full media release here. 

Please click the images or titles of entry to be either directed to the entrants website or the History Victoria bookshop.

Click here to view a Where to Find Them document. This will provides information on where to access all the entries into the 2022 VCHA. 




Vandemonians: The Repressed History of Colonial Victoria 

Written by Janet McCalman.

This lively history corrects misconceptions that there was little convict presence in early colonial Victoria. Janet McCalman recovers the lives of 200 convicts transported to Van Diemen’s Land between 1820 and 1851 who were brought across Bass Strait to the newer colonial settlement of Port Phillip (Victoria). She documents the enduring effects of their impoverished circumstances, of their conviction in Britain and Ireland, and of their transportation to Van Diemen’s Land. She evaluates their impact on Victorian society.

Telling poignant and personal stories with wit and irony, Vandemonians is more than a collective biography. Faced with the difficulty of tracing, through scant records, the lives of hundreds of individuals transported to Van Diemen’s Land, McCalman turned to prosopography, a research strategy focussing on the common characteristics of the group of people as a means of explicating the relationships and activities in the subjects’ lives.

The book is also a fine product of the time and effort volunteered by an indefatigable group of family historians (named in the Acknowledgements) who compiled the dataset drawn on by the talented author. This year’s Victorian Premier’s History Award winner shows how the research and the writing of history, and not just its reading in armchairs and libraries, can be a collective enterprise.







About Corayo: A Thematic History of Greater Geelong

By David Rowe

Corayo is a municipal thematic history prepared for the City of Greater Geelong to better understand the history and heritage of the city and its wider municipal area. A thematic history is a standard tool used in heritage assessment at the local government level. While About Corayo follows the standard ‘thematic’ structure, it is also a work of significant detail not typically seen in local government heritage studies. It is based on detailed historical research and wide consultation with community members and organisations. About Corayo includes a rich archive of historical maps and images, which are integrated throughout. It also recognises and integrates the history and heritage of the Wadawurrung people, the Traditional Owners of the area. While such a rich and detailed work is beyond the resources of many municipalities, clear benefits arise from its meticulous research, from its comprehensive rather than diluted explanations of the various historical developments, and from its well-grounded contextual understanding of those developments. This outstanding work sets a new bar for municipal thematic histories in Victoria.






Still On Track: 100 Years of the Melbourne Women’s Walking Club

Melbourne Women’s Walking Club INC

Still On Track: 100 Years of the Melbourne Women’s Walking Club is an engaging read. Well-presented, blending stories from the past and present of the club, Still On Track traces landmarks in the club’s history and explores what the club has meant to members over the decades. It is inclusive of many voices and, while charting a long history, explores the relevance of the club to its members today. Many collaborators have combined to produce this exemplary people-centred and participatory history which shows the social significance of the club.


Wangaratta Festival of Jazz and Blues: 30 Years 
Adrian Jackson and Andra Jackson

Wangaratta Festival of Jazz and Blues: 30 Years is an attractive volume that combines many insiders’ voices with evocative images of changes in the Festival over its 30 years.




The Women of Little Lon

Barbara Minchinton

Drawing on history, archaeology and geography, this history brings to life the once notorious neighbourhood of ‘Little Lon’ in Melbourne’s Hoddle Grid. The tenor of the homes, streets and culs-de-sac, the tempo of residents’ jobs and lives, and the characters of the sex workers re-emerge through the skilled work of Barbara Minchinton. We learn how these women lived, how they were perceived by others, and why most had fallen on hard times. The superb detail of Minchinton’s research, so lightly worn, so delightfully deployed, restores respect and agency to the sex workers and madams that her sources routinely shunned and descried. Minchinton has mastered how to read ‘between the lines’.



The Architecture of Devotion: James Goold and His Legacies in Colonial Melbourne
Jaynie Anderson, Max Vodola and Shane Carmody (eds)
This collection focuses on the cultural expressions of Catholicism understood through the architecture, artworks and books associated with James Goold, the first Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne.

Across Bass Strait: Intercolonial Trade in Meat and Livestock
Jane L Lennon
This well-researched account of the early trade in beef from Gippsland to Tasmania weaves a story of people, place and markets on the colonial periphery from the 1840s to the 1860s.

Charles Strong’s Australian Church: Christian Social Activism
Marion Maddox (ed)
Enduring Australian agendas of religious creed-less-ness and social justice retrieved by this study of a forgotten church reveal colonial Victoria as an engine of innovation.




City of Melton 150th Anniversary Online Exhibition

City of Melton and Way Back When Consulting Historians

2021 marked 150 years since the Shire of Melton was first established in 1871. Way back when consulting historians and the City of Melton worked together with web designer Dimity Mapstone to create an online exhibition exploring the area’s rich history and the thriving community that exists today: https://heritage.melton.vic.gov.au. This entry embodies the idea of ‘Victorian Community History’ by using digital technology in an accessible manner to share the heritage of the Shire of Melton. The information was comprehensive, user friendly, and included a range of digitised primary sources including photographs, maps, museum artefacts, ephemera, and historical and contemporary artworks. The researchers have worked successfully with local historical societies and council collections to select and interpret items.  An empowering narrative addresses Indigenous histories and contributions, past and present. This project helps members of the Melton community engage with their local natural and built heritage.



The Miles Lewis Heritage Building Materials Collection
Architecture, Building and Planning Library, University of Melbourne and Restore Conservation Services, with 3D scanning by SI Projects, and The Australian Centre for Architectural History, Urban, and Cultural Heritage

Innovative technology enhances the accessibility of this niche collection of Victoria’s built heritage by creating 3D scans of residential and industrial building materials.




Prima Donna Podcast

Nat Grant

Prima Donna Podcast brings to life the personal histories and creative work of Australian elder women artists. Each beautifully produced podcast focuses on one woman’s artistic life story, using extended extracts from oral history interviews with the artist overlaid with an evocative original soundtrack produced by Nat Grant. We learn what brought each woman to art, the twists and turns of her creative endeavour, the challenges of being an artist and a woman, and why art matters, for them and for all of us. There are now six seasons of Prima Donna Podcast, each featuring three women artists. Together these sonic portraits illuminate the extraordinary but often neglected lives and works of women artists. See https://www.primadonnapodcast.com/.



Flemington Kensington (Flem-Ken) Community Legal Centre Storytelling Project
History at Work and Malcolm McKinnon
The Flemington Kensington (Flem-Ken) Community Legal Centre Storytelling Project is a fiercely political oral history of a disadvantaged community and of the life-changing advocacy of its community legal centre.

The Benalla Experiment
Lyn Gallacher and Richard Girvan
Sabine Smyth, curator of associated website, Benalla Migrant Camp 1949-1967 – Online Archive
In The Benalla Experiment, a producer (Gallacher) and a sound engineer (Girvan) bring to life the experiences of those who lived in the Benalla Migrant Camp between 1949 and 1967, contrasting the more carefree memories of the children with their mothers’ recall of poverty, hardship and the trauma of war:

Women’s History Month: A Series of Interviews
Alexandra Pierce
Alexandra Pierce provides a glimpse into the largely unheard stories of Melbournian women who protested against conscription and the Vietnam War via short interview excerpts released daily during History Month in 2022.




Red Cliffs Recollections: A century of soldier settlement 1921‒2021

Red Cliffs Historical Society (Helen Petschel, Christine Cook and Matthew Cook)

Much work has gone into producing this history of a small, but important, part of the state and how its land and its people were shaped by the Soldier Settlement Scheme. Many aspects of the soldier-settler experience, the changing landscape, and the development of a community over time are represented (although more thoughtful awareness of First Peoples of the area could have been encouraged). A wide range of sources ― pictorial, oral and written ― frame an absorbing story; this is a considerable achievement for a small organisation.



Early Days: Greensborough and St Helena, Volume 1, Greensborough 1837‒1860 and St Helena 1840‒1900
Greensborough Historical Society

Exemplifying the best of historical society research, Early Days links readers to past sources and to future questions by combining images, press clippings, drawings, photographs and maps, and by aspiring to future research, in consultation with the Aboriginal corporation, on interaction between European settlers and First Nations People on the Plenty River.





Luciano and Georgia Keats (supported by the Australian Queer Archives)

Queerways combines heritage and story-telling in self-guided walks that capture hidden history in the City of Yarra. Discussing tangible and intangible heritage, the project illuminates and contests mainstream narratives. Queerways charts milestone locations in the history of the city’s LBGTQI+ community, acknowledging that this history is a long one.  The project is comprehensive and attractively packaged, with excellent design and navigation, and with a range of voices included. The facility for the general public to add further suggestions of sites of significance makes the project inclusive to all and allows participation and pathways to more knowledge.


The Toolangi and Castella History Project 
The Toolangi‒Castella Local History Group.

The Toolangi and Castella History Project is a web-based local history project that creates an attractive and accessible site that’s easy to navigate and which enables ongoing additions.




‘Report to the City of Moreland on the Place Name “Moreland”’

James Lesh

This six-week project is an exemplary response to an unusual local government brief. By attending explicitly to the evidence, both local and international, and by clearly addressing the requirements of the brief, James Lesh retrieves forgotten pasts and overlooked conceptions underpinning claims about ‘heritage’. This report is a model of ‘applied history’. Lesh reveals heritage in all its complexity. By recovering, without condescension, forgotten contexts for a past naming decision, Lesh has re-enabled a community to make its own decision.



His Walking Feet’ in Meanjin 
Jill Giese

Jill Giese traces the life of Yanggendyinanyuk (a.k.a. King Richard), the famed Aboriginal tracker and cricketer, after she finds that he had likely been admitted to the Ararat Asylum.

Revealing Stories: The Hidden History of the Performing Arts Scene in Brunswick and Coburg
Janine Barrand and Dianna Wells

Simply by juxtaposing interview sources with heritage photography and forgotten advertising, this delightful pamphlet re-enlivens ‘living memory’.




Heritage Making and Migrant Subjects in the Deindustrialising Region of the Latrobe Valley

Alexandra Dellios

This fine case study reflects how migrant groups recover their histories of immigration and settlement. Alexandra Dellios examines the community of Morwell in the Latrobe Valley, where local industry has experienced significant change. Dellios demonstrates how a focus on re-constructing personal and familial experiences of migrant labour helps us understand community heritage and industrial history. Dellios focuses on the Gippsland Immigration Park, her example of local migrant involvement in community. Dellios widens our views of multiculturalism.  The book uses pictures, text and statuary at the Immigration Park to structure its themes. Dellios then decodes the locating of the Park and the aims of the overseeing Committee. Each picture, text and statue is charted alongside immigration experiences of individuals and families in the Gippsland area. This ebook is an exemplary analysis of cultural, social, historical and political themes relating to cultural diversity.


William Cooper: An Aboriginal Life Story
Bain Attwood
This account of the life of Aboriginal activist William Cooper is erudite and engaging; informed and informative.

A History of Trans Health Care
AusPATH and Noah Riseman
This fine study of the development of the profession and practice of trans health in Australia is built up from the accounts of the patients, doctors and clinics involved.

A Sort of History of Me, My Family and a Cow Named Gina
Sebastian J. ‘Sam’ Gatto
This engaging account of an Italian migrant family settling in the coal-mining town of Wonthaggi in the 1950s and 1960s is told from historical records, family stories and the memories of the narrator.




Extinct: Artistic impressions of our lost wildlife

Benjamin Gray

This beautifully produced and professional work of natural history offers a fresh approach to historical interpretation. By combining art with natural history, Extinct illustrates, in an accessible way, how human activity on our continent has impacted other species. This thought-provoking book interprets the wonder of the natural world beautifully through works of art by many artists in a wide range of media.


Truth, Beauty and Utility: The Arts and Crafts Movement in Heidelberg
Heidelberg Historical Society
Features of Heidelberg’s built heritage and of the work of some of its famous residents link the local and the everyday in this fine local history to the broader Arts and Crafts movement.





‘Policing gender nonconformity in Victoria, 1900‒1940’, Provenance: The Journal of the Public Record Office Victoria, issue no. 19, 2021, pp. 33‒42.

Adrien McCrory

McCrory takes the reader on a deeply researched and well-documented journey through fragmentary archival sources to illuminate the policing of gender conformity in the first half of the twentieth century. This is a thoughtful and well written piece, recognising the need to carefully consider past language and context in the use of police records. A model for researchers (professional, family or otherwise), McCrory shows ways to understand archives and histories of individuals and communities previously overlooked and under-researched. Well-chosen case studies, interesting in themselves, reveal the community more generally, and the ways in which the study of the past enriches our understanding of the present.




‘Loyally Made for Loyal Australians’: Industrial Heritage, Modernity and Nationalism 127 at Australian Knitting Mills, Richmond, 1910-55,
Chris McConville
Victorian Historical Journal, June 2022, pp. 127-152.

‘Aboriginal fire-management practices in colonial Victoria’
Fred Cahir, Ian D. Clark, Dan Tout, Benjamin Wilkie and Jidah Clark.
Aboriginal History, Vol. 45, 2021, pp. 109-130.

The Victorian Community History Awards are proudly presented by Public Record Office Victoria and the Royal Historical Society of Victoria.

The Awards recognise excellence and originality in historical storytelling. The range of award categories reflects the variety of formats that can be used to enrich the lives of Victorians through history.

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Email us at vcha@historyvictoria.org.au | historyvictoria.org.au | prov.vic.gov.au

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