Monday, September 6, 2010

History never repeats.

I'm having a bit of a Split Enz moment tonight - if you aren't familiar with the song 'History never repeats' then you should listen to it here. Split Enz were one of my favourite bands in the eighties and I find them (and the Finn brothers' offshoot, Crowded House) rather inspiring to listen to, when I am writing.

Speaking of inspiring, opening the Collective Barossa shop in the magnificent historical landmark c.1866 building which houses the Barossa Museum in Tanunda, was serendipity as far as the continuing journey to write my first (published) book. I have dreamt of writing this particular book for at least five years, and whilst I had the basic concept of it in my head, I had been unable to find a starting point in many ways; the format, the publishing and a sense of confusion as to how I was going to expand on the very early history of the region with little experience of digging so deeply through archives, and not having the time to do so. So by having a shop in the Museum (also the Barossa Valley's first Post Office and Telegraph Station) and walking regularly past the amazing array of historical items whenever I venture to the toilets or glass washing area, I have found the encouragement to begin working on what will no doubt be a very rewarding project.

As my ancestors were the third largest landholders in the Flaxman's Valley area until the very early 1900's, I have long been curious as to how the land was divided up, and how much of it is still in the hands of generations descended from these first families. Some of the (previously) well-known families of this region (which I have lived in since 1985) such as Argent and Randall, married into my ancestors families, and small sections of the region were even named after them i.e Argent-Town and Randall-Town. The past fifteen years or so have seen most of these families leave the region, and with many newcomers to the area, our history was slowly being lost, and this is what gave me the original idea of recording what I could, whilst some of these family members were still alive and able to contribute to what will possibly be the first book dedicated to this region.

My landlords of the Collective Barossa shop are the small and amazing group of people who dedicate their time, on a voluntary basis, under the banner of the Barossa Valley Archives and Historical Trust. Since 1963, when the Trust was formed (due to concerns that the Barossa was fast succumbing to development and the subsequent loss of our valuable historical buildings and items) the members of the Trust have preserved an incredible array of anything and everything that relates to the Barossa and its German heritage. Many of them have recorded some of the informaton in a collection of historical books and their passion and skills are second to none.

I have enlisted the help of one of the members, Mr. Reg Munchenberg, to help me in researching information to write an accurate account of what the Flaxman's Valley area was like from settlement in the late 1840's to the early 1900's. Reg is a wealth of information and his experience in historical research is truly amazing. I thank him sincerely for his assistance, and have no doubt that without it, I would never have been able to get this project started so soon. It is really important to me that some of the older generation - my former neighbours in the area in the 1980's - get to see this book finished as they have already shown such excitement at the prospect, and gratitude to me, even in this very embryonic stage. Earlier in the year I sent out questionnaires to former residents to see if they were interested in participating, and I was thrilled to check my mail and see the completed questionnaires, copies of photos and heartfelt notes enclosed. I feel privileged to have lived out here early enough to have seen the lifestyle that was so simple and different to what it has become over the past fifteen years.

The photo below is of Reg with some of the information he has already collated for me. Now, in my spare time, I get to the fun part of reading it all, cross-referencing and formatting it into a very interesting beginning to my book. I look forward to the day when I can proudly announce that "Tales from Bullfrog Flat" is published and ready to read:)

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