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  • Writer's pictureThe Beagle

Five Star success for 2023 South Coast History Day

While most locals were doing their democratic duty last Saturday and were voting, one of Australia’s most highly-regarded history conferences was in full swing at Batemans Bay – the 2023 South Coast History Day.

This was the fourth South Coast History Day organized by the innovative South Coast History Society, and was the first to be held in the Eurobodalla Shire.

The thing that has made this seminar so special is that it always attracts a number of Australia’s leading historians who are eager to come down to the South Coast to participate. In fact, every time the word gets out that the date has been set for another South Coast History Day, the South Coast History Society is immediately approached by historians from throughout Australia wanting to attend to present a talk!

This year two historians travelled up from Victoria and three travelled down from Canberra to participate. (A fourth presenter from Canberra was scheduled to appear but, at the last moment, was unable to do so because of a family medical emergency; his talk was given instead by Moruya Heads resident and historian Merrillee Chignall, who received a rapturous applause from the audience for her contribution.) Seven local historians also spoke about aspects of local history during the day.

The topics covered during the day were very much South Coast-focussed and so, for attendees, were particularly relevant. For example, Dr Mathew Trinca, the Director of the National Museum of Australia, spoke about how objects from the South Coast have found their way into the National Museum of Australia’s collection and have become essential parts of the Museum’s relating Australia’s story. Professor Andrew Short from Sydney University illustrated how the Eurobodalla coastline has dramatically changed, especially since the arrival of Europeans who have sought (often very unsuccessfully!) to ‘harness’ or ‘train’ the course of coastal rivers and beachfronts. And three presenters described the challenges of actually getting to the South Coast from the earliest days of European settlement right through to today.

The day ended, on an appropriate high note, with a very interesting and at times somewhat quirky salute to ‘small town’ Batemans Bay by Myf Thompson, the Honorary Curator of Batemans Bay Heritage Museum.

The Day proved to be outstandingly successful. This South Coast History Day attracted more attendees than had previous South Coast History Days, and the vast majority of attendees gave it a 5-star assessment. This will, undoubtedly, lead to even more interest from leading Australian historians wanting to attend future South Coast History Days.

Some of the information from some of the presentations at South Coast History Day have been included in a special ‘Bumper Batemans Bay and District Issue’ of ‘Recollections’ magazine. This will become available later this week from the 100-or-so ‘Recollections’ distribution points (including libraries, many retailers, visitor centres, and clubs) all along the South Coast. It is free.


Above: Christine Greig at South Coast History Day 2023

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