Oral history, community & 'tin kettling'

For the past few months, we’ve been regularly travelling down the Mornington Peninsula to speak to people in the local community as part of an oral history project with the Mornington Peninsula Shire.

From the ups and downs of the lives of generations of farming families to the fond memories of regular holiday makers and the passion and dedication of those running local businesses, we have uncovered many fascinating stories and documented the significant changes that have occurred on the Peninsula over the years.

There is an urgency to the collection of these oral histories, as the generation with links to the early history of the area is disappearing. Our interviewees, many of whom have lived in the area their whole lives, have been selected by eight historical societies involved in the project, and come from a variety of areas along the length of the Peninsula. They have all been extremely generous with sharing their memories and their deep connections to the Peninsula with us.

One story that we were particularly struck by was told to us by a couple that recalled the charming tradition of ‘tin kettling’. When a newly married couple returned from their honeymoon, a welcoming party of locals would sneak quietly to their house and once they had it surrounded, they’d yell out and bang on tin pots, pans and kettles (hence 'tin kettling') they’d brought with them, and generally make as much noise as they possibly could. Once the couple had recovered from their surprise and realised what was going on, everyone would be invited inside for a drink and some supper. The idea was to welcome the couple home to their new married life (after scaring them into one another's arms). To us, this story represents the strong community spirit that exists on the Peninsula and we wonder if it might be time to revive tin kettling for a new generation of newlyweds!

The interviews have been both audio and video recorded, forming a fantastic oral history collection for the Mornington Peninsula Shire that they can continue to build on. It is an absolute pleasure and an honour to record these stories as a valuable resource for future generations in the Peninsula community.

Fiona Poulton