Tuesday, October 30, 2012

the history of your place



I've been reading another book lately. In fact I can't seem to get enough of it, and I'm finding it to be one of the the most fascinating books I've ever read. It is a humble locally bound book about the history of our little village and the surrounding area. I've always been enthusiastic about history, it being one of the few subjects I actually enjoyed at school. But how very interesting to find a book full of eyewitness reports about the places I pass every day and the very human stories behind them.






Our valley and the surrounding farms have a rich and colourful history. At one stage filled with little mud huts and a few grander homesteads, inns and sawmills to name a few. Some of which are still lived in today, and some with nothing but a chimney being the only reminder that people lived out their lives here.

It has always been a harsh climate, and the first settlers struggled with storms, flood, fire and drought. Who would have known that there was a foot of snow at christmas many years ago? That one storm the water rushed down the very hill that we live on? There were many drownings and horse accidents. There was the scary influenza epidemic and diptheria. Ghost stories and bushrangers. Life could be very hard. But they must have been a resilient lot, and despite tragedy being far more common, many people said they were also very good years. Entertainment in the form of picnics, local balls, music and horse racing. There was a true community spirit.






In a practical sense there is a lot of useful information on what was grown to sustain this little community. There were several dairies (all of which are long gone), there was a lot of potato growing and during the war there was much growing of these potatoes, as well as carrots and peas to sell to the army. (I'd always thought potatoes grew particularly well in the soil here).

I learned about the local wells. How the one behind us sometimes ran dry. (Which makes me wonder how a bore here would perform?)  How our neighbour's well was the coldest in the village and how they used to store the butter from the dairy down there.

Walking past the old inn the other day, which has been a house for many years, the lady that owns it stopped her gardening for a chat. Owned outside the original family for some time, it has been bought back by a direct descendent and being lovingly restored. Before I knew it I was being shown around this fascinating old building, shown old fireplaces and black and white photos. There was a patch of plaster worn away revealing the original mud bones underneath.

I feel learning all this has led me to a greater appreciation of the land we live on. When you have a sense of who came before you there is new respect and gratitude. An awareness that our lives are fleeting in the scheme of things, but our legacy may remain around for future generations.






If you haven't read up on your local history, I would encourage you to do so. These books may not be easy to find, but most towns will have one. The local historical society or museum, the library or local book shops are a good start. I do believe that country or city, there is so much to learn about the history of the place we call home, and those that lived upon it's ground before us.



Do you enjoy reading about history? Have you read about your local history before? What have you discovered about your local past?

17 comments:

alison@thisbloominglife said...

Love that you're finding all the history, and enjoying it so much! This is what I do for a living, collecting people's stories. It's a real privilege and I just love talking to 'old-timers'. This is a long shot, but....the lady at the inn isn't Therese is it? If it is, she's a great gardener, we worked together when I managed an historic house.

Tracey said...

History has always been a favorite subject of mine too. I live in the deep south of South Carolina in the US and am surrounded by history. While I grumble about how hot the summers are and having no snow in the winter, I do have a wide range of histroy to read about, pirates, indians, war, voodoo and so on. Enjoy your book.

Tania said...

Yes that is her name Alison! I'm willing to bet it is the same one :) Small world isn't it?

theoldmilkcan said...

I have found this very same thing - because we usually live in wine regions there are often a lot of tourist things to do (including local history) and we would get visitors who wanted to be shown around. I realised that we had just taken everything we had on offer for granted so, some years ago we started to actually go and see and do....and learn. I completely agree that it is very important to learn about the past of your area to create a strong future (through mistakes made as well as triumphs).
Ah look, you've got me babbling but it was lovely to read this post, just lovely.

Brenda @ Mira Narnie said...

sounds like a lovely if not difficult at times history for a town i think! We are moving next year to a glorious old gold rush town in regional victoria. It still has the cobblstone roads, and is soaking in history...our favourite pub in the street has old photos plastered all over the wall and we just eat and then take our time admiring what was before our time! History is a glorious thing! Enjoy learning more about your town Tania x

alison@thisbloominglife said...

Small world indeed, next time you see her, let her know Alison from Lanyon said hello! xxx

Naturally Carol said...

Is that Lanyon in the ACT? We used to visit there a lot when we lived in Canberra 'cos we were in the Tuggeranong Valley. We've since moved to Queensland and I love the history of our old town here and seeing photos of our road when it was just a dirt one. Our house is about eighty years old and some of the people around here knew previous owners and what they did.

Tania said...

@Alison (and Naturally Carol)- yes, I will do :) We lived not too far from there (Gordon) while in Canberra, but never got around to visiting the old homestead (though I wanted to!). Must be a fascinating job.

BLD in MT said...

How wonderful that you should be able to read such a book! Local history has always been the most interesting to me. I've poured over the books at the library. There are so many interesting tidbits that are treasures of knowledge.

Max said...

It is facinating. All libraries have a local history section, its part of their remit. Ours is stuffed with info which as a relative newcomer to our town i've been slowly working my way through. Our house is built on the original town square and i found some vivid descriptions of the local milita using the land for marching practice though no photos. It adds riches to my gazing out the window whilst cooking daydreams!

Sarah said...

How fascinating to know the origins of your township.
I do enjoy reading about my local history. We were able to obtain the history of our house but this was quite vague. As I live in quite an old suburb I have discovered old maps and pictures area in the early days. My street used to be an almond grove, if only it still was my suburb was used for market gardening. I also read a book on my favourite port in SA (Port Elliot) where a whaling settlement started in the neighbouring Encounter Bay. All very fascinating. What I do find interesting, years before we purchased our house, two of my husband's cousins rented the house for themselves. The chance of that is quite slim.

Sabrina Roberts said...

Local history is the best. I always feel like I'm standing right in the middle of greatness when I learn about my town's history! Love the post!

xxx Sabrina
http://bbutterflybrain.blogspot.de/

A little bit Country said...

Local history is amazing. We had some pretty awful land wars in the 1800's. I'm going to pop into the library this week and find out a little more. Thanks Tania.

Bungalowgirl said...

Goodness, how uncanny that we were writing a post about exactly the same thing at the same time! I love thinking about the people who have come before me, travelling the same paths, different but yet the same. I read a great book as a kid called Playing Beattie Bow about a girl in I think Sydney who goes back in time to the same house but in the late 1800's and her experiences, I think it really struck a chord with me. (Julia might be nearly about the same age as when I read it). mel x

Christina Lowry said...

I grew up in Ipswich, and we learnt a lot about our towns history at school and went on excursions to local landmarks. Fascinating stuff. There are some wonderful historical buildings to visit in Brisbane too that are like stepping back in time and the guides have a wonderful knowledge of the history of the City and many tales to tell.

As always, you have put it beatifully. :)

xo.sorcha.ox said...

I love books on local history but sometimes they can be surprisingly difficult to find, or only focus on a particular industry. I'm yet to find anything for our town. :/
~S.

Tammi said...

I always find local history fascinating. A few years before we left NZ a book was published on the area that I grew up in. I was totally amazed at how much our little community had changed over the decades and of the stories passed dpwn and told by the elders of our area. It certainly made me see our home in a new light.
x