Wednesday, 11 December 2013

How Many People Are Researching History?

It is surprising to discover the prominence of historians in Diggers Rest.

Independent groups are hard at work compiling facts, planning icons, and writing about what they know. People are comparing notes about what happened to: Aitken's Gap, the lost cemetery, the Chinese gold, mine,  the Sunbury Rock festival, the ruins of the old Calder Highway, coursing, bush rangers, and soon to be destroy historical locations. There are even groups talking about planting an avenue of honour and building a war memorial.

Where did all of this come from? When did our town begin building historical monuments? Why are so many people studying local history in such a place?

The long term residents were taught about the local history at school. Forty years ago, Mrs Cole would tell the school children stories of: the railway construction, how many rock fences were destroyed, the great rabbit plague and the terribly destructive Woodend to Diggers Rest fire. The students learned a passion for history that many other children never gained.

For a while the Diggers Rest landscape changed dramatically as the central estate blossomed. Out of that growth, a new community service was born - The Lions Club of Diggers Rest.

Some of the earlier students join the Lions Club and incorporated their historical values into that organisation. The Lions were instrumental in all of the major historical restorations. The club preserved and moved the heritage school house to its current location. They built the first Houdini flight monuments. They transported the Aitken Gap gaol stones for rebuilding in front of the Sunbury police station, The Lions created the historical museum, have been instrumental in every historical activity since and are currently writing the "History of Diggers Rest"

In 2010, the Lions Club worked with the Melton Council and a group of community residents to celebrate the most significant historical event of Diggers Rest, "The Centenary of Australian Flight." Many townsfolk discovered a fascinating history of aviation within the region and they begun their own journeys of discovery.

By 2013, the Internet provided a lot more historical information from scanned old newspapers and collaboration forums. By the end of the year, a lot of people are excited to learn more about the history of a small, but significant, town.

Where will this lead our community?

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