2010 Conference – Introduction

2010 Makings of a City History Conference – Macquarie’s Legacy


Good morning and welcome to our 9th Makings of a City History Conference, this year entitled Macquarie’s Legacy

I would like to especially extend a welcome to:

  • Our honoured citizens Freda Whitlam AM and Ron Mulock AO
  • His Worship the Mayor, Councillor Kevin Crameri OAM
  • Deputy Mayor Councillor Ross Fowler OAM and Councillor John Thain
  • Member for Penrith, Karyn Paluzzano
  • General manager of Penrith City Council, Alan Stoneham, Director of City Planning, Craig Butler and Group Manager, Information and Customer Relations, Brian Steffen.
  • I am very pleased to welcome today our esteemed speakers. I am always very grateful for their willingness to share their time with us and to impart their knowledge in our pursuit to broaden and understand the City’s history. What will they say about Macquarie and the legacy that he left in to this region?

Well, our journey begins right here in the Richard Bonynge Concert Hall. This move was the result of your comments, particularly from last year. We are very grateful for the support of Council in hosting this conference in the Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre. Many of you will well remember how we squeezed into the Nepean Room. Well, now we are double that number. And what a pleasing sight it is, for we know that what we are trying to achieve is shared by so many.

Our goals are:

  • To inform you on all aspects of our City’s history
  • To challenge you to think about that history
  • To bring you together with others who share an interest in our history.
  • To challenge what has already been written and researched
  • And to unearth and rediscover the history and heritage of our people, places and culture.

These are the goals of our History Conference and I believe we achieve these goals with every challenging theme each year.

This year, like many other historical organisations, we have Macquarie as our theme, and more specifically, what was his legacy for this region and its people. I am expecting to see Macquarie the man, emerge with all of his flaws, but at the same time, see us grow to fully appreciate and understand the real legacy and vision he had for our nation.

We are fortunate to have with us again this year Dr Carol Liston who is our keynote speaker. Carol has a knack of initiating thought-provoking discussion and I know she will do that again this year by looking at the big picture of Macquarie and his impact on Australia.

Dr Siobhan Lavelle OAM, and Dr Ann-Maree Whitaker have attended many of our history conferences. Both are distinguished in their respective fields of research and both will bring along with them some thought-provoking aspects of our colonial history.

Last November, I participated in the celebrations organised by the Mulgoa Progress Association in commemorating the bicentenary of the approval by Lieutenant Governor William Paterson of land grants to the Cox, Luttrell and Hobby families at Mulgoa. Macquarie approved these grants on 1 January 1810. As part of those celebrations Dr James Broadbent presented a paper on the Cox family and their homes in the Mulgoa Valley. Today, James will extend that talk onto the relationship between and Lachlan Macquarie and his builder, William Cox.

In the past year, we have been busy in the Library with the help of our volunteers working on new projects enhancing our collections and making them more accessible to researchers.

  • Our Research Room has been once again been refurbished and extended which now houses our Nepean Times behind beautiful glass cabinets.
  • Our collection of original land records including leases, contracts, deeds, mortgages and abstracts of title are now searchable in the Library catalogue
  • Picture Australia : We are in the process of linking our Penrith in Pictures Photographic Database with Picture Australia. We expect this project to be up and running by the end of the year.
  • Penrith Municipal Council minutes from 1871 – 1875 have been indexed into our Library catalogue by volunteer Meg Hayward. I am constantly amazed by the amount of information that can be gleaned from these minutes. Council’s second minute book 1877-1887 has been missing for many years and so with some dedication our volunteer Graham Seaman has been meticulously trawling and copying the council meetings from the Cumberland Mercury and Evening News before the commencement of the Nepean Times.
  • Our biography files are all fully catalogued. Thanks to volunteer Lyn Forde. These files have grown quite a bit since we started our research for the History of Penrith Project.
  • Oral histories – over 40 oral histories have been undertaken by staff member Geraldine Cook as part of the history of Penrith project. She is currently recording the experiences of men who worked in the quarrying industry at Castlereagh.
  • Pat, Pauline and Cathey continue to index the Nepean Times into our Library catalogue and the National Library’s digitisation program has immeasurably enhanced our research capabilities into the Sydney Morning Herald. It is now searchable to 1954 and our library holds a subscription to the online Sydney Morning Herald from 1955 to 1990.
  • Thank you also to Sue, Iris, John, Lorraine and Fiona – for helping to catalogue, index, rehouse and immeasurably enhance our Local Studies collections.
  • Pat, Greg, Christine, Rona and Helen – all Nepean FHS members are transcribing the Penrith Council Valuation books. They began with the first book in 1871 and are now up to 1894. This searchable database has been pivotal in my research on the history of Penrith.
  • The State Library’s Travelling Macquarie Exhibition is on display today. It will be on display at Penrith Library from 8th—20th March in the Lower Lounge Area. On Friday 19 March at 6.30pm Tracey Bradford, Manuscripts Curator, State Library will be present a talk on Macquarie in the Library. This event is free and tickets are available from the Library stand from morning tea. At this talk she will be bringing along for the night, original documents that are featured in the exhibition. A flyer is in your conference packs.
  • We have received an extensive collection of material from the Hunter family at Emu Plains. This material includes memorabilia such as convict bricks, trophies, Bible and film footage, not to mention the enormous amount of family history documents on their businesses as orchardists and caterers. Many of their items were displayed at our History exhibition last year.
  • I would like to thank all organisations and individuals who helped by donating their treasured items and their time to make our travelling History Exhibition a success and a credit to our City’s history. Held from October through to December last year we exhibited over 500 items dating from Aboriginal prehistory to this new millennia.

Congratulations are in order to the Nepean Family History Society for the release last year of their publication: Penrith Municipal Lists 1890-1908. They transcribed original documents held in Penrith Library’s Special Collections, making them easily accessible for researchers. The interesting thing about these records is the number of votes people were entitled to and that women were voting at municipal elections before 1900. Nepean should also be congratulated for their Family History Fair held last year after the conference and on again tomorrow. Last year over 700 people attended with stallholders from around the state.

St Marys & District Historical Society published three new histories last year:

  • The Early History of the South Creek-St Marys Area
  • Sweet music: the St Marys Band Club story
  • Ammunition filling: the St Marys Munitions story.

I would also like to thank all of our local and surrounding district societies for their contributions and events put on throughout the year and for their publications on our City.

Again this year, I would like to thank the Library staff for the professional manner in which they represent our Library, our Council and the City. Also, Vanessa and Alison have done a wonderful job in designing brochures and forms, promoting and setting up the conference in our new venue. Thank you also to Alison for her professionalism as conference convenor.

It has been a tough year for us in the Library with several of our staff suffering from serious illnesses. We lost a wonderful colleague in January this year in Peter Goodfellow – story teller extraordinaire, visionary and a damn good bloke. Many of you will remember Peter’s rendition of the poem, Penrith as it is. We will miss him terribly.

Well, I hope you find our History Conference this year a rewarding and thought-provoking event and that you will leave with more questions than when you came.

Thank you

Lorraine Stacker