Thursday, 17 April 2014

City of Greater Geraldton's 2014 Heritage Awards

The City of Greater Geraldton's Heritage Awards took place at the Geraldton Regional Art Gallery on Friday evening 11 April 2014. I was fortunate enough to attend, having been invited as guest speaker. Below is a partial copy of my speech...

Thank you for the great honour of being asked to speak at your heritage awards. Before I get started I'd like to extend my congratulations to the City of Greater Geraldton for its worthy win in the recent State Heritage Awards.

But to pull you all away from Geraldton, for just a few moments, I'd like to take you to Carnamah - a small town and farming community towards the southern end of the Mid West region. Carnamah's history and heritage went mostly unchronicled until movements in the late 1970s and early 1980s led to the formation of the Carnamah Historical Society.

We helped save and continue to conserve the State Heritage listed Macpherson Homestead, we published a book and in 1992 we established the Carnamah Museum. I'm pleased to say, however, that our organisation's development did not end there.

In 2003 we started our first website. It was a very exciting time... for the portion of our membership who understood what a website was! Initial misunderstandings aside, it was a great opportunity, and not one to be wasted on simply promoting our organisation. It was one, we decided, that should be used to help further our reach and share our history and heritage with new and greater audiences.

I'm pleased to report that our website and blog are now visited by almost 30,000 people each and every year. The increased discoverability of having some of our content online has led to Carnamah's history and heritage being featured in books, magazines, calendars, on radio and even at the National Museum of Australia in Canberra.

But this isn't because we have a website, it's because of what we've put on it.

I then confessed that I couldn't decide whether I should write my speech or not, so I did a bit of both and the rest was off the cuff! In a somewhat more informal manner I then talked about and showed some examples of our online content...

  • Fully referenced biographical databases that detail the lives of thousands of individuals with a residential or other connection to the local government areas of Coorow, Carnamah or Three Springs
  • A series of Virtual Museum exhibits that share some of our physical collection of objects in an interpretative way that helps tell some of our local heritage stories (I showed our Toys exhibit as it never fails to get waves of 'awww' from a crowd)
  • Australian Curriculum education resources that can be used with our online content from classrooms all over Australia but also with physical school visits to our museum
  • Our Virtual Volunteering program which is allowing greater parts of the much broader community to give us a helping hand

It was then over to City of Greater Geraldton councillor Jerry Clune to present the awards. Incidentally, Jerry is a descendant of the Lynch and Clune families who can be found in our Three Springs Database!

City of Greater Geraldton Award for Excellence in Heritage Building Design and Conservation
  • Winner: Peter Creek, Swansea House, 184-188 Marine Terrace, Geraldton
  • High Commendation: Dayle and Fay Kenny, Fitzgerald Flats, 19-21 Fitzgerald Flats, Geraldton
  • Special Recognition: Dale Hammond, 14 Francis Street, Geraldton; Alex and Judy Holds, Mount Pleasant Holiday Homestead, 577 Company Road, Greenough; Darryl and Joan Grey, 212 Chapman Road, Geraldton

City of Greater Geraldton Award for Outstanding Heritage Achievement
  • Winner: Howard Gray, nominated by the Batavia Coast Maritime Heritage Association.
  • High Commendation: Barry Stinson, nominated by the Geraldton Historical Society
  • Special Recognition: Pat Mills, nominated by Bishop Justin Bianchini and the Geraldton Historical Society, nominated by Alice Thornton

Left: Susan Smith, Manager of Libraries & Heritage - City of Greater Geraldton
Centre: Andrew S. Bowman, Virtual Curator - Carnamah Historical Society & Museum
Right: Trudi Cornish, Coordinator, Heritage Services - City of Greater Geraldton

Many congratulations to the winners but also to the City of Greater Geraldton and the Geraldton Regional Library for raising the profile of local heritage by holding annual awards. This was only the second year and was an impressive step up from its small beginnings in 2013.

The following morning I attended and spoke at the bi-annual meeting of the Mid West chapter of Museums Australia WA. It was a brilliant turnout with most quarters of the expansive chapter being present. It's always interesting to hear about what everyone is up to and planning for the future. Thanks are certainly due to the Geraldton Historical Society and Birdwood House & Military Museum for being very hospitable hosts.

I took my leave after lunch so we could see local artist Rose Holdaway and deliver a giant egg that had travelled up to Geraldton on the back seat!

The giant egg - any trip to Geraldton would be incomplete without one!

On the way home we visited the interesting and evolving Greenough Museum & Gardens. The museum at Greenough, also known as Home Cottage, was originally the home of John and Elizabeth Maley. One can't help feel a sense of history as the old staircase is climbed - but more on that can be read on the Carnamah Historical Society & Museum's blog.

There will be a return to Geraldton in six months for the Museums Australia 2014 state conference, taking place over the 17th and 18th of October.

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