History in (many) Places

Way Back When was engaged by the National Trust of Victoria to facilitate the History in Place project at four National Trust sites. The History in Place project is the result of a partnership between the Heritage Council of Victoria, the History Teachers’ Association of Victoria and Culture Victoria. The project was designed to establish a framework for students to engage with their local history and heritage.

Students learn about the mulberry tree at Mulberry Hill

Students learn about the mulberry tree at Mulberry Hill

Over the course of several months, Way Back When coordinated the History in Place project at the Portable Iron Houses in South Melbourne, Mulberry Hill in Langwarrin, Endeavour Fern Gully in Red Hill and Gulf Station in Yarra Glen with groups of local primary school students. Each school was taken on a tour of the site and encouraged to take photographs, film and notes about the site and themes that interested them to later turn into a film using an iPad and iMovie. 

Students in the Gulf Station school house

Students in the Gulf Station school house

The hands-on nature of the day appealed to students and they loved using the iPads to film, photograph and curate their films. The films the students produced showed us what appealed to them at each site. The slaughter house was a particular favourite at Gulf Station, while Daryl Lindsay's paintings were a highlight at Mulberry Hill.

It was a great learning experience for us as historians. Working with kids between 10 and 12 years of age certainly presented some challenges! But it was so rewarding to be a part of students experiencing history in a tangible way, sometimes for the first time. The students' positive reactions to the sites, the concepts and the overall project were so encouraging and reaffirmed to us our belief that history is inherently interesting and fun - when presented properly.

A bonus for us in this project was getting to work with so many passionate and interesting volunteers at each of the National Trust sites. Without the dedication of these people, these important historical links to our shared past would not be accessible. So we'd like to say a very big thank you to everyone who helped us with this project.

If you'd like to see what these students came up with, the finished films will soon be available on the National Trust website, so stay tuned!

In the meantime, below are two previews:

Learning about the Portable Iron Houses in South Melbourne

Learning about the Portable Iron Houses in South Melbourne

The land at Endeavour Fern Gully, looking almost exactly as it would have during the time of the Bunurong people

The land at Endeavour Fern Gully, looking almost exactly as it would have during the time of the Bunurong people

Lucy Bracey