“It’s finished, it’s submitted, now relax” – A few short words from my proud grandmother upon the completion of my final project for the unit, ‘History beyond the Classroom’. It is hard to believe that after more than three months of hard work, my walking tour and the accompanying brochure, website and Facebook page are all finished – at least for now.

The response to the Alison Road Walking Tour has been unfathomable. I announced the official launch of the tour just over a day ago and I have received so much positive feedback that it is almost overwhelming. In just one day, the Facebook page for the walking tour received more than fifty likes and this number continues to grow daily. My status on my own account also received more than one hundred likes and thirty comments. From this, I have received several requests to conduct guided tours of Alison Road, which I have readily agreed to do. Next year, I will be returning to my old high school to take the senior modern history students on the tour myself. I cannot wait to share everything that I have learned throughout the project with those that share my passion.

Beyond this, the tour has already reached a far greater audience than I ever anticipated. The page has been shared several times, including most notably by the Wyong Family History Group, Wyong Photos and Chit Chat and the NSW & ACT Association of Family History Societies Inc. I am so honoured and proud to see my work promoted and endorsed by these organisations. It gives me real hope that Alison Road Walking Tour can be developed into something more than just a university project. I have many plans for the tour and I cannot wait to carry them out!

Finally, I have to be honest and admit that it is a bittersweet feeling to be finished. One the one hand, I am proud to see the final result of all the work I have done over the past few months, while on the other hand, I am reluctant to finish such an engaging and ground-breaking unit. ‘History beyond the Classroom’ is like no other unit I have studied at university. It has not only changed my approach to the study of history but also influenced the way in which I will teach the subject to my students as a future teacher!

The last time I read my local paper was… well, I can’t exactly recall. The Parramatta Sun arrives on my doorstep (or somewhere in the general vicinity – usually in a gutter or wedged under a car wheel) on a semi-regular basis, and yet it is only on the rare occasion where I feel like an easy Sudoku ‘challenge’ that I have a flip through its pages. Like most millennials, I get my news online, and in a globalising world, local news appears to be losing relevance. If you were to ask me who any of the contributors to my local paper were, or which section was my preferred read, I would not know what to tell you.

If you were to ask me the same about the Auburn Review, my answers may be a little different. After sifting through every edition of Auburn’s local paper over the past thirty years you’d certainly hope so. As part of my project, which looks into the history of the Auburn Youth Centre, I spent countless hours flicking through the yellowing pages of the Auburn Review in search for anything and everything I could find about the community organisation.

At first, my reading of these papers seemed to conjure more questions than answers.

How does a journalist manage to recycle the same story about footpath improvements over several years?
Is every front page article from 1988 going to be about syringes?
Why is Auburn Baseball Club pleading for ladies to enter their ‘lovely legs competition’? What is a lovely legs competition?
Did the Community Improvement Association realise their acronym would be CIA? Is that why they picked it?

And yet, the real question on my mind was: How did the Auburn Youth Centre feature in the local community - why was it so important for the local youth to have access to this organisation, and how did it benefit their lives?

Although my peripheral questions may forever remain an enigma, the answers I craved were there in the bound editions of the Auburn Review. Looking through the entire issue of the paper really gave an insight into the character of the community. I couldn’t ‘Ctrl+F’ ‘Youth Centre’ like in a digital edition (although my eyes may have developed a sharp radar for locating the words manually), but the lengthy process which resulted was entirely worth it.

The papers revealed so much about the needs of the Community. Certain themes were consistently brought up, and helped to establish context beyond the advertised offer of the centre. I was able to see for myself that Auburn Youth Centre was genuinely needed in the community. Prior to its establishment, there were few affordable activities available for teenagers in the area. Youth surveys and investigations showcased the issues which were at the forefront for Auburn youth: unemployment, substance abuse, boredom, and absence of a platform to voice their needs. The initiatives of the Auburn Youth Centre directly responded to these needs, and it became a valuable asset to the community. Coverage of the operations of the organisation by the local paper, in combination with an outlook over just how well AYC services corresponded to the needs of the community, show that the Auburn Youth Centre consistently provided an indispensable service to local youth.

There is so much to be learnt about the workings and character of a community just by reading the local publications - my research into AYC has shown me that. It has also encouraged me to become more interested in my own local community. The next time I find a soggy copy of the Parramatta Sun resting on my driveway, I will have a read through it to become an expert in my own local history – before it becomes history.

The history of ice rinks and ice skating in Australia is not that long due to Australia’s climate and weather. The first official dates for the start of ice skating in Australia is 1904. In September 1904, the first artificial ice skating rink “the Glaciarium” opened in Adelaide, South Australia. There have been un-supported reports of a Sydney rink on Pitt Street in the late 1870s-early 1880s, which research has not been able to corroborate. The Glaciarium in Adelaide was only open for about a year and today is the home of the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra.

Newman Reid was said to be a pioneer of national ice sports and the founder of ice hockey in Australia. Reid was born in 1862 in Rochester, Kent. He was apart of the entrepreneurial syndicate that established the first ice rink in Australia, the Adelaide Glaciarium in 1904. Reid’s syndicates then went on to build the first ice rinks in Melbourne 1906 and Sydney 1907. “His world-class facilities for figure skating, speed skating and ice hockey were built with venture capital over a century ago and produced the first two generations of National ice champions, and many others who represented Australia at Olympic and World Championships”.

Mr. Dunbar Poole, a Scot, arrived in Adelaide around 1903 to find a group of like minded people interested in ice skating. This included future manager Newman Reid. They opened the rink in Adelaide in a building formerly used as cyclorama with the refrigeration being piped many metres from an ice works down the street.

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The Sunday times newspaper article from July, 1907 introduces the first Sydney Glaciarium. The article states that ice skating is now not limited to those in “chilly districts”. A Sydney Morning Herald article from later that month also speaks of the Sydney Glacirarium opening. This article describes the rink below;

“Skating on the frozen lake to an Englishman is a pleasant and healthful exercise, but it is a pastime that is not easily obtainable in sunny Now South Wales, especially in the busy thoroughfares of a city like Sydney. Consequently in introducing ice skating to this city the management of the Glaclarium hopes to awaken pleasant memories in the minds of those who have previously skated in the fens of the motherland, and at the same time to raise a keen interest in this pastime in the minds of the people of Sydney who up to the present have known no other method than that of roller skating.”

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Sydney Glaciarium

The timeline below shows some of the ice rinks operating in Australia prior to the 1970s. All Ice Rinks opened prior to the 1970s are closed, leaving Canterbury Olympic Ice Rink, the longest running ice rink in Australia. It opened it 1971, and will soon be celebrating its 50 year anniversary.

1904-1908 Adelaide Glaciarium
1906-1923 Melbourne Glaciarium
1907-1955 Sydney Glaciarium
1938-1951 Ice Palais - Sydney Showground
1939-1981 St Moritz Ice Rink - Melbourne
1949-1955 Perth Ice Palais
1959-1996/7 Prince Alfred Park ice skating rink - Sydney
1960-1963 Bondi Junction Ice Rink
1963-late 1970s Hindley Street Ice Skating Rink - Adelaide
1963-1982 Premier Ice Rink - Perth
1964-1969 Burwood Glaciarium

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The development and presentation of 'Eryldene', firstly as a home and now as a museum, may be better understood through an examination of the artistic and academic circles in which Professor Waterhouse worked and acted.

The evidence for my research was diverse both geographically and as to type. My focus was on two distinct areas of artistic endeavour, namely the Burdekin House Exhibition in 1929 and Professor Waterhouse’s role as Trustee of the Art Gallery of New South Wales. As a result, my initial enquiries sought to uncover material that was directly relevant to these two areas and searched the following:

1. The Caroline Simpson Library of Sydney Living Museums
2. The Art Gallery of New South Wales
3. The archives of the University of Sydney and the Sydney Teachers’ College
4. The Macleay Museum of the University of Sydney
5. The personal records of Janet Waterhouse, now with the State Library of New South Wales, and
6. The archives kept by the Eryldene Trust itself.

Secondary sources include monographs of a number of artists who were part of Professor Waterhouse’s circle of friends, including Lionel Lindsay, Thea Proctor, Hera Roberts, Roy de Maistre and William Dobell as well as colleagues from the University of Sydney, namely Leslie Wilkinson and Arthur Sadler.

My aim in completing this project is to arm volunteer guides with little-known information concerning an area of the life of Professor Waterhouse and thus enable a fresh approach to their expositions. Beyond this initial phase, I intend to continue my research to determine whether an exhibition might be mounted on this theme to encourage a higher level of visitations to the property. From my time spent at open weekends this semester, it appears to me that local history, an interest in gardens and interest in the aesthetic connection with China and Japan are the principal reasons for visits to ‘Eryldene’. The ‘Circle of Friends’ theme would hopefully expand this group.

My review of a number of archives and specifically my research into the Burdekin House Exhibition have had significant results. Professor Waterhouse is chiefly remembered for his work in the cultivation of the species camellia and garden design generally: in this regard his work in fostering ties with China and Japan was of continuing significance. However this work was primarily carried out in his retirement, so that his earlier endeavours in education and his connections to the Sydney art scene in the early years of the twentieth century have largely been ignored. Bringing this aspect of his work to light will provide a more rounded view of his life and achievements for visitors to ‘Eryldene’ and generally.

Secondly, the provenance of a number of objects held within the ‘Eryldene’ collection has been altered. Three paintings held in the collection had been recorded as having been purchased at the Burdekin House Exhibition due to labels on the back of their frames. My research has found that items were not sold from this exhibition; rather that individuals such as Professor Waterhouse lent furniture and objects for display. My further research has found that a number of those items were purchased by Waterhouse at an auction of property owned by William Hardy Wilson in 1922. Proper attribution of objects is critical to understanding heritage and is of particular consequence at ‘Eryldene’ due to the inclusion of furnishings within the state government ‘Statement of Significance’.

The findings which have resulted from my research are a foundation for further work to be done in relation to the early life of Professor Waterhouse. It is my intention to utilize my research as the foundation for comprehensive guides to the history and assessment of the objects and furnishings in each room at ‘Eryldene’ and to work towards the presentation of an exhibition which has as its theme the ‘Circle of Friends’ at the heart of this project.

During the research stage of my project I was confronted with a situation regarding archives which I think would be fairly typical in community history organisations.

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Where is the line between community history and community action? And is this distinction ultimately important, or does it create a false dichotomy between academia and community organisations?

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As I’m completing my final project, an online collection of images and objects, and looking back on my notes from the beginning of my work with my organisation, I wanted to use this chance to reflect on those initial experiences. I began working with Wesley College, one of the residential colleges at the University of Sydney, offering to do some work digitizing their archives. When suggesting this to the Director of Programs at the college, I was met with a knowing look and an enthusiastic all clear to go ahead. In retrospect, I should have known.

The “archive” I was led to comprised of a spacious and well-lit cupboard in the newly renovated part of the building. So far, so good. Looking inside however, I found it filled from floor to ceiling with boxes, piles of loose papers and photos slipping haphazardly onto the floor out of overflowing crates, with no discernable order or system. It seemed my task had evolved from the simple digitization of an existing archive to trying to establish some sort of organizational system.

This task has truly exemplified the phrase “easier said than done”. The main challenge I have faced is the sheer quantity of material. Wesley was established in 1917 and student enrollment and academic records, yearly ledgers, photographs of every shape and size, student magazines and countless other records have been (albeit sometimes sporadically) kept and now reside in this room. These often include duplicates or more multiples (up to 50 copies in some cases). Furthermore, the continual shifting of these records has led to damage of some of the oldest books, photographs and files. With my complete lack of skill and experience dealing with old objects, all I could do is try to be as gentle as possible.

Despite this, in sifting through the masses, fascinating nuggets of history have fallen into my hands. The initial appeal of being the first to look at these sources in a historical had almost faded (after ten hours) until suddenly, in sorting through a pile of photos, the face of an 18 year old Rob Carlton (who I had seen on TV playing Kerry Packer) in a debating photo, brought back the interest and excitement. So did seeing the eyes of a close friend stare back at me from the face of her grandfather in the Rugby First XV of 1947. Even reading a memo from the matron in 1965 requesting teaspoons be returned to the dining hall, in the same week as current students of Wesley received a Facebook notification asking them to search for and return missing cups taken at mealtimes had the same effect.

Indeed, the stark digitization of the current Wesley experience, and that which I had discovered in the paper trails of earlier years, was one of the significant things I’ve taken from the experience. The relative lack of photos and records since 2000, after the overload of tangible documentation from previous years, is kind of disappointing. I began to question whether I should be digitizing old sources, or ensuring recent years are physically documented in this room. I think I went archive crazy.

Looking back on the process, I couldn’t imagine trying to do my final project without doing the organizational tasks. Instead of trying to find sources for my final project, I was now simply selecting from the abundance of potential sources I had. I have in no way even approached a satisfactory completion of the task of organizing the archives, however in discussion with the college, I hope to continue this work next year.

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