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On Volunteering for History

Updated on May 14, 2015

Historical Villages

I often ponder the name of these places - Villages. It is not a term that was common in Australia, though there has been references to "fishing villages" or holiday villages, but it is fairly rare to hear that. In fact, these days, reference to a "village" it generally refers to a "retirement" place - a collection of homes for over 50's or similar.

However, around Australia, there are many historical places that use the name "village" which is currently causing some confusion. Many younger folk don't quickly diffentiate between the two - and often when the word "village" is used, automatically think of the elderly residential places.

It is as if the "retirement industry" has "stolen" the terminology to the detriment of those wonderful places around Australia that celebrate and demonstrate the history of Australian settlement.

When I drove around Australia I visited many of these historical villages, as I have a great interest in history. I loved wandering, exploring and learning. I find it all fascinating.

I know there were periods in my life where history was not on my personal radar. I focused on so many other things. I was happy having a wide range of interests and not being particularly an expert on any topic.

I guess as one ages, one does connect more with one's history - and as family members depart this world one learns more stories especially family tales.

My own family has a rich history in Australia - my mother and my father's family came to Australia - in fact, South Australia. I think my father's family were on the Buffalo in 1836, and my mother's ancestors came out on the Eden in 1838.

My mother's family (Ragless) has quite an interesting history in that state, and much of it is documented. I attended the 175 Anniversary of the arrival of the Ragless family a couple of years ago, in a hotel, Tonsley Hotel, which was named after the family farm Tonsley. I recall visiting it when I was little.

These days I am very interested in history - and happily visit any historical place - be it one of the Villages or places of interest. I like travelling on steam trains too.

I am a volunteer at the Caboolture Historical Village not far from my home. I started there almost two years ago.

I do not live in the same state of Australia that I spent my childhood and which is "famous" for my family, but it hasn't stopped my interest in Australian history, so despite that none of my families have had any connection with the Caboolture/Brisbane/Moreton Bay Region which is the focus of the historical village I seem to fit in very well. I am retired, but have skills that seem to be helpful in the Village.

As a volunteer I have several opportunities within the Village and choose to use my writing skills, and marketing expertise so I do quite a lot of writing for their website and other material. I also managed to get a role as a Tour Guide, and made my own costume. I pay the role of a convict women - the outfit being similar to what was worn by the early women convicts that were sent out to Australia in the early history to "comfort" the many men who were there. It is also an outfit that was worn by early "servants" especially those working in the kitchen or laundry.

I am part of the Marketing Team too. We have over 150 volunteers, but can always find spots for more. Some are gardeners, we have many men in the carpentry, motor/engine department as many of the old items given to the Village need repairs or maintenance. We have painters, handymen, train drivers, demonstrators for our many re enactments (bush rangers, washer woman, school teachers, blacksmith etc).

The front desk and office is a busy place where our Functions and Events people work to make sure that we have plenty of paying visitors to that there is a regular income.

The old police station
The old police station
A brick making machine
A brick making machine

Village Entrance

Children are in Awe!!

Children are often in awe when they learn about life in the 1800's and early 1900's in Australia. The washing display is full of laughs for us, as children learn that once upon a time a baby wore a cloth "nappy" and the mother had to remove the excrement by hand before washing them nappy. (No disposable napkins then!) or that there were not public toilets and that when one had to "go" they would have to "go" behind a bush. My grandchildren couldn't believe that once upon a time, even in my childhood, we did not have toilet paper and would use torn off squares from the daily newspaper, and wear the stains of the print!!

What??? No supermarkets? No television? No mobile phones? and so it goes. Much to the amusement of our volunteers.

The volunteers enjoy it all and the children go away more knowledgeable. (We have hundreds of school children visit during school term - sometimes with 150 students in a day!)


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    • Aussieteacher profile image

      Di 3 years ago from Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.

      Yes Rochelle. Yes, have a lot of fun with the Chamber pots!!

    • Rochelle Frank profile image

      Rochelle Frank 3 years ago from California Gold Country

      I live in a small historic town established during the California Goldrush. I have led many tours through our history museum which has a lot original household and mining artifacts. Since we do have a lot of school tours of 9-10 year-olds studying state history, I can identify with your experiences. The lovely porcelain"chamber pot" is always an object of awe.