Sunday, September 27, 2009

Bitter roots, sweet fruit

Karen Cummings' history of schools in Collingwood, Abbotsford and Clifton Hill won a Victorian Community History Award in 2009.

A total of 169 schools and colleges plus 9 kindergartens are described in this comprehensive study of education in the Collingwood area. As well as providing a history of each educational establishment, side panels provide additional information about staff or families attending a school. A listing of name changes is provided plus any changes of address. The amount of information provided for each school varies depending on availability of information - for some, especially small schools that existed only for a few years, available information is limited. Much of the information was obtained from the files of the Victorian Public Record Office, newspapers and books. An extensive bibliography and notes section are provided. At the beginning of each section of the book a summary article is provided on topics such as State aided schools to 1872, Denominational schools, Common schools, State education from 1873, Technical education, Secondary education, Private schools, Kindergartens etc. There is also a brief history of Collingwood together with an outline of the development of education in Victoria.

As well as providing an insight into an aspect of Collingwood's history, this well illustrated comprehensive account of education in Collingwood will also be a valuable resource for anyone studying the history of education in Victoria.


Port Douglas - sun, sand and restaurants. The most difficult decision when staying in Port Douglas is deciding where to have dinner as the town abounds with quality restaurants. After three visits to Port Douglas we have visited a number of restaurants but there are still many more we have yet to visit including Salsa Bar & Grill in Wharf Street.

Recipes for many of the dishes served at Salsa are now available in the recently published book, Salsa (2009). Starters, soups and salads, Mains, Sides, stocks and dressings, Breads, Desserts, Cocktails are included in this well illustrated book. Interspersed between each section are images of Port Douglas to add to the tropical atmosphere of the book. Many of the recipes focus naturally on the use of seafood but there are also recipes using beef, chicken and lamb with a few vegetarian selections. Recommended for a selection of interesting recipes and for a taste of the tropics.

The use and abuse of history

Frequently in the media we hear politicians using 'history' to justify a viewpoint resulting in a variety of interpretations of an action or event.

In this book Graeme Davison looks at the ways history is recorded and interpreted in Australia, particularly how the past is used and sometimes misused. Sections of the book look at the need for heroes and hero-worship, monuments, statues and other memorials, national celebrations, concept of heritage, historic buildings, reuse of church buildings, teaching of history in schools, use of community history, history and business and history and politics.

Written ten years ago, this book is still relevant today.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The children's book

Two weeks relaxing in Port Douglas required a special book to read by the pool and A.S. Byatt's 617 page novel did not disappoint.

Set between 1895 and 1919 the book chronicles the lives of members of the Wellwood family as well as the lives of the families of friends and others who come in contact with this eccentric group of people. Edwardian England is a major feature of the novel and Byatt provides an insight into life during the early twentieth century set against historical events occurring during these years. While some of the characters delve into bohemianism, Fabianism and experimentation with groups promoting anarchy, it becomes obvious that many of the characters, particularly children's author, Olive Wellwood, live in a world of fantasy with a reluctance to view what is really happening in the world around them.

Fantasy and children's writing weave a major thread throughout the book with allusions to the large number of children's classics written during this period including a number transferred to the stage. The adult characters live in their own world with extreme moral standards and appear oblivious to the affect this is having on the next generation. The world of fantasy is also, of course in dramatic contrast to the reality that many of the younger characters have to come to grips with during World War I.

As well as literature, the arts are also represented by potteries with a major part of the book revolving around the lives of a master potter and his assistant, puppetry both in England and in Germany and the Victoria and Albert Museum where some of the events in the novel take place. Relationships between England and Germany prior to World War I are also explored.

The many themes in this well researched, well written and compelling novel take the reader into a variety of worlds and situations as the complex family relationships portrayed unravel. A book to read when you have time to enjoy it.

The night my bum dropped

This book by comedian, author, television presenter and newspaper columnist, Gretel Killeen, is subtitled - a gleefully exaggerated memoir. The note at the front of the book reads - None of the character depicted here are based on real life. This especially applies to any persons referred to as 'my mum', 'my dad', 'my brothers', 'my sisters', 'my siblings', 'my son', 'my daughter', 'my children' or 'my friends' ... and to the character referred to here in as 'me', 'I', 'myself' or 'Gretel'.

Basically the book is an amusing, exaggerated account of someone facing a mid-life crisis revolving around being a mother, losing a job and horror of horrors, aging. In order to find solutions to her problems 'Gretel' turns to 'family' and 'friends' for usually unhelpful advice. Sections of the book have previously been published in articles.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Beyond the garden gate: Local insight into the Victorian female suffrage movement

In 1891 more than 28,000 women signed the Woman's Petition requesting the right to vote. Joanna Fitch has prepared this set of six case studies investigating the possible suffrage involvement of women in selected towns and suburbs in Victoria in the years following 1891. The six areas are St Kilda, Bairnsdale, Hawthorn, Casterton, Maryborough and Colac.

The general information in the book is gleaned from secondary sources and the information used in the case studies is primarily from newspaper articles and / or books written about the local history of the area. No attempt appears to have been made to investigate the minute books and records of the women's organisations during the period up to 1908 when women in Victoria won the right to vote in State government elections.

The case studies however do provide an insight into some of the factors that would have contributed to the possible involvement or non-involvement of women in working to win suffrage. The many footnotes provide a guide for further research.

A list of numbers of women in towns and suburbs is provided as well as suggestions for locating additional information about some of the women who signed the 1891 petition.

A copy of this publication is available online from the Victorian Women's Trust website - Copies of the book can be purchased from the Victorian Women's Trust.

The index to the 1891 Woman's Petition can be found online.
Additional information about the collection of the petition signatures in 1891 is available in the online exhibition - The WCTU & the 1891 Woman's Petition