2004 Conference – Introduction

Lorraine Stacker

Welcome everyone. We come here today sharing an interest in the history of the City of Penrith, and will leave I am sure, well informed, entertained and with a good deal of food for thought.

I would like to say how pleased I am to have Colin Stevenson here today. He holds the very prestigious position of City Librarian, but that position does not equal the crucial role he played in establishing a local history collection in the Library, which is now the core of our current collection. 20 years ago he came to this city as the Council’s first Local History Librarian. His contribution is enormous and he has achieved a great deal for this city. By knowing the big picture and amassing an importance collection of photographs (especially through donation), maps, books and files, Colin’s vision, I hope continues in the work we do today. Thank you Colin.

Again this year we have as our keynote speaker Carol Liston. Last year she enthralled us with her perceptiveness and insight into the development of Penrith as a town and the city it became. I am sure everyone walked away from the conference last year with renewed enthusiasm.
European settlement began along the Nepean River and South Creek 200 years ago and today we reflect, reinvestigate and challenge our written history. We also are keen to see beyond our white European history, to explore our Aboriginal past and our post war migrant history. We are privileged to listen to today to Jim Kohen a well-known speaker on Darug history. Jan Barkley Jack, a friend of mine established from our days at the University of New England, where we shared our love of Australian history is now digging deeper into the history of the Hawkesbury, an area where she has a deep understanding.

Today we also come to appreciate and acknowledge the hard work of our early settlers in creating a sense of community out of nothing but a place and an odd mix of people from different backgrounds. Siobhan and Danielle will reinvestigate some of these early people and places to highlight the intricacies and difficulties of research, both physical and metaphysical. Danielle, one of my staff, is a reluctant speaker here today but a very keen local and family historian and an exceptional researcher. She is our future. George Gyford and the Nepean District Historical Archaeology Group will in the next few months present us with a well researched and written expose of the first land grantees. George knows best of all the problems involved with researching the early settlers and hardest of all, tackling the Land Titles Office.

Over the next week the city will celebrate the 200th anniversary of the first European settlement in the city. Celebrations will be held at the Regatta Centre at Castlereagh, with bus tours, church services and entertainment. I would like to publicly acknowledge that for without Lorna Parr these celebrations at Castlereagh would not have occurred. She is a dynamo who has worked incredibly hard to achieve it. All at the same time, Lorna is publishing her next book on hotels in the district, gathering contributions for the purchase of a teapot which belonged to the Woodriff family, organising the Castlereagh celebrations, coordinating the food, tours, tree planting, entertainment, unveiling of a plaque, going on Heritage Committees, putting historical pieces in the local newspapers, doing bus tours, as well as being a wife, mother and grandmother. A big congratulations from everyone, we all benefit from your generous work and your understanding of the importance of the city’s history. I hope you all enjoy today.