celebrating History Week 2008 – row, swim, sail, fish, bathe!

70 people joined us down on the waterfront at Balmain’s Dawn Fraser Baths – the oldest surviving tidal-baths in Australia- as we celebrated History Week 2008.

Heritage consultant Meredith Walker gave an illustrated presentation on the history of bathing pools around the Leichhardt and Balmain foreshores, and Leichhardt Rowing Club’s Barry Moynahan held our attention with his words and an image presentation exploring the history of the Club that was opened in 1886 by Sir Henry Parkes.

Meredith Walker has identified 9 bathing pools that have existed around the Balmain and Leichhardt foreshore since 1875. We’ll be putting up some of her research into swimming baths here on LOCAL NOTES soon.

at the water’s edge : History Week 2008 September 6-14

We are celebrating life at the water’s edge during September!

Wherever waters rise or fall, there’s a story, and events across the Leichhardt area in September are a great opportunity to explore just how central the water’s edge has been since before European colonisation. From photographic exhibitions, speakers nights to guided walks there’s plenty happening – download our events list here (requires PDF reader):dl_brochure_web1 And don’t forget we are wanting to hear about your time spent ‘at the water’s edge’ – log on and share your memories – see the ‘MY WATER’S EDGE’ tab at the top of our masthead, and get typing!

Place is People – Annandale 1907-2007 – a book launch

Leichhardt Library hosted the launch of a publication by writer/historian/performer Mary Haire on Wednesday, 9th April. UTS journalism student Dan Bishton attended the launch and posted this report for LOCAL NOTES:

Local historian Mary Haire launched her new book to a packed Leichhardt library on Wednesday April 9th. The event opened with a speech from fellow actress and author Judith Nunn. Haire; an historian, actress and 23 year Annandale resident took on the project with a $5000 grant as one of five local history grants awarded by Leichhardt Council last year.

Place is People – Annandale 1907/2007 presents a colorful cast – leaders, ghosts and chimney-sweeps feature in twin portraits of a suburb a century apart. Haire reveals uncommon knowledge of a mild suburb in her obvious delight for untold stories – two examples being Annandale’s sudden secession from Leichhardt Council and Sydney’s bubonic plague outbreak – complete with the district’s own rat catchers.

Born in Perth, Haire moved to Annandale in 1985. She cites the inspiration for her forays into Annandale’s past as her discovery of the story of Esther Abrahams, a Jewish convict who arrived in Australia on the first fleet and eventually became first lady of the colony. “I discovered Esther at the Jewish Museum, I’d never seen her name in Annandale – I was fascinated, and from that moment I decided I wanted to bring her back to Annandale.”

Esther’s story became the basis of a guided walk started by Haire in 1999, which covered important sites in Annandale’s development from estate to municipality. The success of the walks led into a successive set of local history projects that have culminated in the publishing of Place is People.

Haire’s Annandale projects aim to provide a reference point for current social developments by drawing strong parallel between the two eras, for example the recent influx of wealth into the suburb that is comparable to its 1907 status as one of the wealthiest in Sydney. Her motive in drawing this comparison is an attempt to regain an element she’s seen disappear. “I think we’ve lost our sense of community generally,” she says. “I want people to go away and be stimulated to think – not just have some entertainment and then close the book. I’d like to inspire people to be more community minded, and I’d like people to be inspired to do something themselves on heritage and history.”

Place is People: Annandale 1907/2007 is a limited release of 250 copies, and is available for sale through Leichhardt Library.

People in the Park

A photographic exhibition of visitors to Pioneers Memorial Park by Mick Scott, the Park’s maintenance officer. Wednesday, 2 April 2008 6.30pm. Bookings for opening: localhistory@lmc.nsw.gov.au or 93679266. Free event. Exhibition 2 – 30 April 2008. Leichhardt Library

Women at Work

An international event, International Women’s Day was conceived in 1908 when many women were officially cast as second class citizens. Women in NSW only received the right to vote in 1907 – just a little over 100 years ago! (and women in many other places waited much longer) As well as being denied their democratic right at the ballot box, many worked in appalling conditions, earned half of men’s wages (maybe) and frequently died prematurely due to poor nutrition and maternal health.

It is sobering to reflect that the gains women have made have are due to the strength, determination and courage of women who risked their lives and their reputations to make the world a better place for all women to live.

We got into the International Women’s Day spirit with an exhibition of images of women at work taken from our photographic collection. Here’s a sample. . .