Koorie Heritage Trust / NGV Australia / State Library Victoria
Koorie Art and Artefacts
Koorie makers of art and artefacts draw upon rich and ancient cultural traditions. There are 38 Aboriginal Language Groups in Victoria, each with unique traditions and stories. These unique traditions include the use of geometric line or free flowing curving lines in designs.
This selection of artworks and objects has been chosen from artworks made across the range of pre-contact, mission era and contemporary times and reflects the richness and diverse voices of Koorie Communities. It showcases prehistoric stone tools, works by 19th century artists William Barak and Tommy McRae right through to artworks made in the last few years by leading and emerging Aboriginal artists in Victoria.
The majority of the items here have been selected from the extensive and significant collections at the Koorie Heritage Trust in Melbourne. The Trust’s collections are unique as they concentrate solely on the Aboriginal culture of south-eastern Australia (primarily Victoria). Over 100,000 items are held in trust for current and future generations of Koorie people and provide a tangible link, connecting Community to the past.
Within the vibrant Koorie Community, artists choose their own ways of expressing identity, cultural knowledge and inspiration. In a number of short films Uncle Wally Cooper, Aunty Linda Turner and Aunty Connie Hart practice a range of traditional techniques and skills. These short documentaries show the strength of Koorie culture today and the connection with past traditions experienced by contemporary Koorie artists.
Taungurung artist Mick Harding draws upon knowledge from his Country about deberer, the bogong moth: "The long zigzag lines represent the wind currents that deberer fly on and the gentle wavy lines inside deberer demonstrate their ability to use those winds to fly hundreds of kilometres to our country every year."
Koorie artists today also draw inspiration from the complex and changing society we are all part of. Commenting on his artwork End of Innocence, Wiradjuri/Ngarigo artist Peter Waples-Crowe explains: "I went on a trip to Asia early in the year and as I wandered around Thailand and Hong Kong I started to think about Aboriginality in a global perspective. This series of works are a response to feeling overwhelmed by globalisation, consumerism and celebrity."
Koorie culture is strong, alive and continues to grow.
CULTURAL WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander users are warned that this material may contain images and voices of deceased persons, and images of places that could cause sorrow.
Conserving an 1889 Wedding Dress
This finely tailored cream wool wedding dress with Liberty silk satin trim was worn by Ethel Florence Francis on the occasion of her marriage to Councillor David Phillips at the Brunswick Wesleyan Church on Wednesday 30th January 1889.
On the evening of the wedding guests were entertained at the Brunswick Town Hall, an imposing Victorian building constructed in the 'Second Empire' style.
The Girl from Carisbrook
In 1881 an itinerant blind missionary, Thomas James, was traveling the country teaching Braille. In Carisbrook he came across eight-year-old Tilly Aston. Through learning Braille, Aston would go on to alter the destiny of Australians who are blind and vision impaired.
Matilda Ann Aston (1873-1947), the youngest of 8 children, was born vision impaired losing her sight completely by the age of 7. When Thomas James arrived in Carisbrook, Aston's father Edward, a boot maker, had been dead 6 months, leaving his wife Ann to support the impoverished family on a midwife’s wages.
Following a visit to Carisbrook by the Victorian Asylum and School for the Blind choir, Aston enrolled as a boarder at the school. At 16 she became the first blind person to matriculate.
In 1894 she founded the Victorian Association of Braille Writers (later the Victorian Braille Library). In 1895 she co-founded the Association for the Advancement of the Blind, which in 2004 became Vision Australia.
During Aston's time at the Association it obtained improved rights and services of international significance, including the world’s first voting rights for people who are blind and vision impaired and free postage of Braille.
Tilly Aston’s achievements are formidable. As well as being Australia's first blind teacher, she was a distinguished and critically acclaimed writer, producing 7 books of verse.
Tilly received a Commonwealth grant for her writing in 1935, and the King’s Medal for Distinguished Citizenry twice, in 1935 and 1937.
Aston’s legacy survives in the lives of people who are vision impaired throughout Australia, but her memory is particularly cherished in her home district, where the Maryborough-Midlands Historical Society holds several objects relating to Tilly, including her childhood doll.
Tides of Change: Women of the Melbourne Metropolitan Board of Works (MMBW)
In the lead up to International Women’s Day held on the 8th of March 2018, Melbourne Water celebrates and shines a spotlight on the past and continuing achievements of women within the organisation. Please join us in exploring the major milestones and social change within the MMBW, Melbourne Water and the Victorian Public Service.
Melbourne Water’s predecessor, The Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works (MMBW), was formed in 1891 to take responsibility for the city’s water supply and treatment. Initially, female employees were appointed to administrative and clerical positions. It wasn’t until 1939 that women stepped into more official, technical and specialist roles. These included positions such as chemistry assistants, machine operators and assistant drafts women.
Not only were women’s roles at MMBW based on their contribution to the operations of the organisation, many women were involved in social, recreational and cultural activities. Perhaps the greatest legacy of women at the MMBW was their efforts in building communities, enriching and empowering the lives of those around them.
Wimmera Stories: Nhill Aeradio Station, Navigating Safely
The Nhill Aeradio Station was a part of a vital national network established in 1938 to provide critical communications and navigation support for an increasing amount of civil aircraft.
Situated at the half-way point of a direct air-route between Adelaide and Melbourne, Nhill was an ideal location for an aeradio station and was one of seventeen such facilities originally built across Australia and New Guinea by Amalgamated Wireless Australasia Ltd (AWA) under contract from the Commonwealth Government.
The Aeradio Station at Nhill operated until 1971, when a new VHF communication network at Mt William in the Grampians rendered it obsolete and the station was decommissioned.
The aeradio building survives today in remarkably original condition, and current work is being undertaken by the Nhill Aviation Heritage Centre group to restore the Aeradio Building and interpret its story as part of a local aviation museum.
Wimmera Stories: The Dimboola Banner, communicating history
The first issue of the Dimboola Banner rolled off the press on 10 May 1879, printed by a Mr Henry Barnes and edited by his brother, William.
Many proprietors and editors have come and gone since then but today, more than 130 years later, the Banner is still published weekly, even though it’s now printed in Warracknabeal rather than in Dimboola itself.
Meanwhile, the former Dimboola offices of the Banner have been acquired by the Dimboola & District Historical Society and transformed into a Newspaper and Letterpress printing museum. The museum owns and operates a diverse collection of vintage presses, all in working condition.
Newspapers and printers have traditionally played a vital role in the life of country communities, and a long-time newspaper man comes to know most things there are to know about the life of their town and district. Joe Barry spent 54 years in the newspaper and printing business in Dimboola, which means he’s well qualified to impart a wealth of tales to visitors at the Dimboola Printing Museum.
The printing trade has seen many vast and radical technological transformations, particularly with the dawn and evolution of the current digital era. The Dimboola Printing Museum preserves a vast wealth of functioning relics from earlier eras of print technology, including letterpresses well over a century old in perfect working order.
The museum collection also includes a vast amount of loose type from the long-gone era of hand-set typography.
But That's Another Story
This innovative collaboration between community museums and local artists captures the unique living memories and rich cultural heritage of communities along the Murray River between Wodonga and Corryong.
Seven short films were created as part of the project:
Nox-All Rabbits: How do you deal with a plague of rabbits? With Nox-All. Rabbiting was a way of life in Victoria, especially during the plague of 1932. Rabbits were a source of food and income (the felt from their pelts used in Akubra hats), and thought by some to be "better than chickens".
Jim Simpson's knitted war trophy: During World War II Jim Simpson's aircraft was shot down over Germany and he became a prisoner of war at Stalag IVB. Jim's ingenuity helped to keep prisoners warm, and ultimately resulted in an extraordinary memorial.
Old time music in the blood: Nariel Creek residents have music in the blood, so much so that they've been told their accordion style is special, using all four fingers at once. The Nariel old time style of Australian traditional music and dance continues with the Nariel Creek Folk Festival.
A history of engine power: Watch out... refurbishing engines can become an addiction. The gem of this collection of over 150 engines is an 1866 Ransom Sims engine, one of only 5 in the world, which has been lovingly restored.
The Saleyards Made Wodonga: Cattle were one of the biggest industries in Wodonga, and the saleyards a focal point town, not least because plum pudding was served in the luncheon room all year round.
The Icon of Wodonga: You need more than a trickle of water to fight a fire. The Wodonga water tower was welcomed as it brought the 'luxury' of water to town, and when it was decommissioned the community rallied to prevent its demolition.
The Saw Doctor's Wagon: The 'Sharpening King' and his family travelled throughout eastern Australia sharpening knives in their 'road urchin'. A circus-like wagon, the urchin was first pulled by horses, then a Chevron truck, and finally, by a David Brown tractor.
Participating museums: Granya Pioneer Museum, Man From Snowy River Museum, Tallangatta & District Heritage Group, Wodonga Historical Society.
Supported by: the Commonwealth Government’s Regional Arts Fund, Regional Arts Victoria, National Museum of Australia, City of Wodonga, Shire of Towong, Museums Australia (Vic) and Arts Victoria. Auspice organisation: Murray Arts
Jane Routley and Elizabeth Downes
Flinders Street Station
The current Flinders Street Station building has been part of the lives of Melbournians for over 100 years.
Inspired by the launch of the latest competition to put forward proposals for its restoration and reinvigoration, and to highlight some of the amazing Flinders Street-related material in Victoria's cultural collections, I will be celebrating the past, present and future of my favorite station.
Over the next few months, I will be recording impressions and stories found whilst exploring the station as it exists today, trawling the internet for related sounds and images (such as this timelapse) and featuring some of the wonderful images of the station that are held in Victoria's cultural collections. As a taster for my future posts, here's a selection of images that I've found.
Captain Wilkinson's Swords
Several months ago we were contacted by Stacey Longstaff from Germany who wanted to donate his ancestor's sword to an appropriate museum in the Portland area.
We put Stacey in touch with the Glenelg Shire Cultural Collection team, who were excited to receive the offer of significant items to add to their collection. Glenelg Shire's Cultural Collection Officer Trevor Smith tells the story...
The Dreamer & the Cheerful Thing
Some months after my grandfather Bob Snape’s death in 1977 I collected two old trunks full of memorabilia from his last home, in Sandringham.
What a treasure it turned out to be: jammed full of papers, comprising correspondence, diaries, short stories, a poem or two, much of it typed, some of it hand-written, some official-looking documents and some music scores roughly sorted into manila folders, and a variety of souvenirs and ephemera. There were also half a dozen ordnance maps, aerial photographs of some Western Front battlefields and some battered old albums containing postcards, of WW1 France and Belgium, but also of England and Wales. These have since been catalogued on the Warrnambool RSL Victorian Collections page.
Bob’s treasure trove tells the story of his experiences during the war, and that of his younger brother Harold who also fought. Bob was a prolific correspondent and diarist, whilst Harold’s own tiny pocket diary alone ran to approximately 40,000 words. Near the end of his life, Bob told me, “You can burn the lot for all I care. You decide when I’m gone....”
Walter J.R. Barber
History in Place
The History in Place project connects teachers and students with their local history via a community collecting society or museum.
History in Place provides an innovative and practical implementation of the new Australian Curriculum in History and Victoria's Framework of Historical Themes. It provides a framework for students to engage with their local history and heritage in a fun and challenging way using digital technologies. The program has been designed for grades 5 and 6, but has also been used for year 9s.
History in Place can be initiated either by schools or by community museums and heritage organisations. Students use collection items and interviews with local experts to create short films using tablet devices.
This story includes examples of what happens during a day of History in Place, examples of student films from the program pilot and an education toolkit (available from the Education Resources tab below) which includes course materials, instructional materials and everything that a museum and school need to implement the program.
The pilot program partnered 6 primary schools from across Victoria with local museums.
Museums participating in the pilot were: Barwon Park, Burke Museum, CO.AS.IT Museum, Golden Dragon Museum, the Mildura Arts Centre and Yarra Ranges Museum.
The project is a partnership between the Heritage Council of Victoria, the History Teachers' Association of Victoria and Culture Victoria. The pilot was funded by the Telematics Trust.
During the History in Place pilot, students used the Linking History site to research their films. Linking History is an experimental pilot in the practical application of linked open data, and is part of Portrait of a Nation: History In Place Access Project which is a Centenary of Canberra project, proudly supported by the ACT Government and the Australian Government.
Martin Hallett: In celebration of a career
Victoria is privileged to have a robust GLAM (Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums) sector. The capacity of our sector is the result of work undertaken by many dedicated people. We would like to take a moment to acknowledge and celebrate a colleague who has played a particularly significant role in ensuring the strength of the Victorian scene.
In April 2016, Martin Hallett retired from his role as Senior Manager of Victorian Cultural Network, part of the Agencies and Infrastructure unit of Creative Victoria. Martin was subsequently awarded with a Victorian Public Service Medal and a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Victorian Museum Awards for his four decades of work in the Victorian collections sector.
State Library Victoria
Early photographs: Indigenous Victorians
This selection of early photographs were taken by Antoine Fauchery and Richard Daintree between late 1857 and early 1859 for inclusion in their photographic series Sun Pictures of Victoria. The album consists of fifty albumen silver prints, twelve of which are photographs of Indigenous Victorians and were the first photographic series of Australian scenes presented for sale to the public.
Featuring Victorian scenes such as landscapes and gold mining activities, the series included 12 images of various Indigenous Victorians. Taking a very 19th Century approach to their subjects, the portraits show people in both traditional and western wear, documenting the effects of colonisation.
CULTURAL WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander users of this website are warned that this story contains images of deceased persons and places that could cause sorrow.
Jane Routley and Elizabeth Downes
Degraves Street Subway & Campbell Arcade: The underground artspace
When you first come down the stairs, the Degraves Street Subway seems a bit daunting.
The long, pale pink tiled corridor with its blocked-off doorways and blotched asphalt, seems the perfect place for a mugging. A mysterious blind alley, which used to be an opening into the Mutual Store (and the earliest bowling alley in the CBD), leads off to your right. But stick with this corridor. It’s safe and is actually the route into the Campbell Arcade - a little slice of indie fringe artist-land which I think is a fine place to be.
The Welsh Swagman
Joseph Jenkins was a Welsh itinerant labourer in late 1800s Victoria.
Exceptional for a labourer at the time, Jenkins had a high level of literacy and kept detailed daily diaries for over 25 years, resulting in one of the most comprehensive accounts of early Victorian working life.
Itinerant labourers of the 1800s, or 'swagmen', have become mythologised in Australian cultural memory, and so these diaries provide a wonderful source of information about the life of a 'swagman'. They also provide a record of the properties and districts Jenkins travelled to, particularly around the Castlemaine and Maldon area.
The diaries were only discovered 70 years after Jenkins' death, in an attic, and were in the possession of Jenkins’s descendants in Wales until recently, when they were acquired by the State Library of Victoria in 1997.
Drouin: A Small Town at War
A collection of photographs of the dairying town of Drouin in West Gippsland Victoria taken during the Second World War.
In 1981, two packets of old photographs were returned to Australia by the New York office of the Australian Information Service. Inside these packets were images from the dairying town of Drouin, in West Gippsland, taken during the Second World War.
Presenting the ideal picture of a prosperous and hard-working Victorian town dealing with rationing and manpower shortages caused by the war, these photographs were part of the Department of Information's war effort publicity campaign.
Photographer Jim Fitzpatrick was commissioned to take the photos in 1944 and 1945, and he concentrated on images of healthy and industrious women and children, as well as soldiers on leave and men working in the town. The photographs appeared in the bimonthly South West Pacific which was distributed free to overseas press, and was designed to promote Australia to her allies, particularly the United States.
The images that make up this story now form part of the Drouin Town and Rural Life During World War II collection at the National Library of Australia.