History Festival

Mr DULUK (Davenport) (15:20): I rise today to discuss South Australia’s History Festival, and the many outstanding events that have been hosted in my local community. As many in the House would know, May is the festival month. It is an opportunity to discover the hidden gems in our communities, explore heritage trails and learn more about the history of South Australia.

The first SA History Week was held in 2004, before becoming a month-long festival in 2011. It has since grown to be one of the largest community events in South Australia. The growth is a testament to the efforts of the History Trust and thousands of dedicated volunteers.

In my own community, the first European settlement in the area was around Coromandel Valley, owing its name to the circumstances connected to the ship Coromandel, which arrived in Port Adelaide in January 1837. The Blackwood Times of 1914 reports that the crew:

…were so attracted by the accounts they heard of this ‘New Land of Promise’ that, when the time was approaching for the departure of the vessel, some of them resolved to abscond and hide in the bush until after it had sailed….

Taking hammocks and a good supply of provisions, they proceeded in a body to the hills above Brownhill Creek, where they formed a camp.

So, the history of settlement of the Mitcham area goes back to the 1830s. In 1840, Mitcham Village was established, and by 1853 Mitcham was proclaimed the first district council in South Australia. In the 1880s, suburban living accelerated with a rapid growth in land subdivisions, driven in part by the introduction of horse-drawn tram services from Adelaide, which made it easier for local residents to commute to the city for work.

Each year, the History Festival provides a fantastic opportunity to explore this rich history, get involved and learn more about the origins and growth of the Mitcham Hills. I thank all those who have helped make it such a success in 2017.
The City of Mitcham hosted several events, including a day of games and activities to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the former Mitcham police station, as well as guided walks through Belair Village, Brownhill Creek and the Mitcham Anglican and
general cemeteries.

In addition, the council supports the Mitcham Heritage Research Centre, which provides local history services and maintains an extensive collection of documents, photographs and research relating to the history, development, environment and culture of the district. Staff and volunteers work year round to help individuals or groups learn more about our local history.

The tireless members and volunteers of the Blackwood Action Group are incredibly
committed to the preservation and promotion of Blackwood, and they were once again very busy throughout the History Festival, leading several walking tours that explored the history and changing face of our community.

The Mitcham Historical Society and the Brownhill Creek Association together presented the Brownhill Creek and Ellison's Gully history walk. The walk provided an opportunity not only to enjoy the stunning scenery of Brownhill Creek but also to learn about the crew of the Coromandel and the fascinating local history of the valley.

I would like to acknowledge the involvement of historic Carrick Hill, which hosted several guided tours and exhibitions; Flinders University; the Friends of Glenthorne Farm, who help unlock the secrets of that heritage precinct; and the Flagstaff Hill Golf Club, which celebrated 50 years of golfing history at its unique golfing estate.

Deputy Speaker, you do not have to wait until May 2018 to explore and enjoy the rich history of the Mitcham Hills. Visitors are welcome year round at Old Government House in Belair National Park, Gamble Cottage, the beautiful Wittunga Botanic Gardens of course, as well as Urrbrae House and the Waite Historic Precinct, which are perfectly and diligently looked after by the Friends of Urrbrae House, the Friends of the Waite Arboretum, and the Friends of the Waite Conservation Reserve.

Finally, there is a history in our community that is very important and one we should never forget, and that is on the site of the Colebrook Reconciliation Park. Of course, this part of our history is a memorial to the Aboriginal children of the stolen generation and their families who resided at the Colebrook home, which served as a home from 1924 until 1942. The park incorporates the poignant Fountain of Tears and the Grieving Mother statue, sculpted by Sylvia Apponi.

Last Sunday, the Blackwood Reconciliation Group and the Blackwood Uniting Church offered the community a chance to walk for reconciliation. Despite the inclement weather, it provided a welcome opportunity for the public to support reconciliation in our community.