The President of the South Coast History Society, Peter Lacey, has called for more support for local history from the South Coast community.
Addressing the monthly Men’s Breakfast at St John’s Anglican Church in Bega last weekend, Peter suggested that the South Coast has an unusually interesting, an unusually extensive history.
“And there is evidence of it everywhere, once you know where to look,” he said.
“Our community is doing a reasonable job documenting and storing that history, but a less-than-satisfactory job in then sharing it with others. This is a calamity because the community would benefit enormously if our local history was more widely promoted.”
Peter presented Bega’s main street, Carp Street, as an example.
“Carp Street is historically important and, thankfully, much of its interesting streetscape is still intact. And there are hundreds of absolutely fascinating stories associated with many of the buildings and monuments along Carp Street - but there is not one single plaque anywhere along that street that presents these histories, and there is not even something as simple as a series of QR codes that leads to information about those buildings and the colourful histories that are associated with them.”
“This is an enormous tragedy because, for example, we are providing absolutely no incentive at all to any visitor to the town to walk down Carp Street and appreciate what is there…and, while they are doing so, perhaps pop into a café to have a coffee, or to have a look at what some of the town’s other retailers have on offer – and that, surely, would substantially benefit the town.”
Peter then suggested that significant community funding should be made available regularly for better promotion of the South Coast’s history.
“I find it odd that, for example, Bega Valley Shire Council funds the operating costs of a substantial visual arts gallery and pays the salaries of its 1½ full time staff. But, at the same time, Council provides absolutely no funding for the preservation and promotion of our local history: absolutely nothing to help the 12 museums and volunteer-based history societies in the Shire, absolutely nothing to enable promotion of our wonderful history…and the Shire now doesn’t even have a Local History Librarian!”
“Our local history is so important and deserves far, far better than this. I’d, therefore, like to see a plan developed by our community to better promote and present our history – utilising up-to-date approaches and media – and for the necessary funding to then be provided to enable it to be implemented.”
“After all, if funding can be provided to promote local tourism and funding can be provided locally to promote visual arts, why can’t funding – and a similar amount of funding - also be provided to promote our extremely important, exceptionally interesting, local history?”
“Council would provide a great service to its community and ratepayers if it was to initiate discussions leading to such a plan, and Council is probably the appropriate community organisation to now do so,” Peter suggests.
“The South Coast community IS very interested in its history,” Peter said. “We only need to look at the extremely positive community reaction to the establishment of the South Coast History Society three years ago and to its regular publication of ‘Recollections’, and to the community’s high level of interest in the Bega Shire’s Hidden Heritage project, to acknowledge that.”
“But the next challenge needs a whole-of-community commitment. Whilst the South Coast History Society has indisputably had successes with its ‘Recollections’ publication and Bega Shire’s Hidden Heritage project, proper promotion of the South Coast’s history is, in reality, far too big an ask of a small, volunteer-based organization such as ours.”
“That is, unless we were to receive a very substantial endowment that would enable us to assemble the resources to be able to do so!” Peter added.
Above: Bodalla Australia Day August 18, 1915 . Without the generosity, dedication and capacity of our own local historians it is believed that Eurobodalla would also be devoid of an tactile history to celebrate.