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What’s your story?

27 Mar 2012

What’s your story? Image

Researchers are currently compiling Docklands’ rich oral history for inclusion within the soon-to-be-built library and community centre in Victoria Harbour.

Sponsored by Lend Lease, the project is collecting stories from each of Docklands’ three distinct periods of history – Koorie, wharfie and contemporary.

Australian National University researcher Moira Scollay said Docklands was not “shiny and new” but, rather had a rich history which remained largely untold.

“Building on the factual historical research completed about Victoria Harbour, it is time to re-discover Docklands through the stories of the people who have past connections with the area,” she said.

Dr Scollay spent time with former wharfies at the Maritime Union of Australia’s headquarters last month to record and preserve stories from the middle of the last century when Docklands was home to a tribe of tough manual labourers.

Project team member Peter Crowley said: “They worked in a hard, manual environment without many of the benefits or safeguards that modern work assumes, and in that process became a strong, supportive and interdependent community.”

“This group of men (and that is not politically incorrect - sorry ladies, there were no women) supported by their wives and families, operated the Melbourne waterfront through the years before containerisation.”

Prior to that, the area west of the Melbourne CBD was wetlands.  These wetlands were a rich and productive part of the territories of a community of Koorie inhabitants, members of the Kulin nation.  In what is now called Docklands these indigenous Australians have a community history which extends for thousands of years.

Dr Scollay also wants to speak with the current Docklands community about their experiences now that the area has been transformed into a high density residential, commercial and recreational precinct.

“As oral history will be one of the ways that people can tell their stories about Docklands. We are calling for volunteers who would be happy to be interviewed,” she said. “We would like you to tell your stories, share your photographs and let us know of others who might be interested to participate.”

The final product will be housed within the Docklands library to record the legacies of these past communities and capture a local story that will become an asset to all Victorians.

Dr Scollay can be contacted on 0425 756 201.

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