Recording early memories of the Bellarine

January 21, 2021 BY

In a screengrab from one of the interviews, Marg Campbell talks about her early years growing up in Point Lonsdale.

A NEW project aims to preserve the memories of long-term residents of the lower Bellarine Peninsula so they can be heard by future generations.

The Rotary Club of Ocean Grove has started the oral history project, which aims to bring community life in post-war Wallington, Barwon Heads, Ocean Grove, Point Lonsdale and Queenscliff to the contemporary residents of these towns.

“It is hoped that when they watch or listen to these stories, it will give them a better understanding of the histories of the towns they now call home,” Rotary Club of Ocean Grove’s Xenia Williamson said.

“If these stories are not documented now, this knowledge will be lost forever.”

The first seven interviews are now available online at the club’s website, rotaryoceangrove.org.au.

More interviews will be added as they become available. Both video and audio versions of each interview are provided.

The narrators describe the physical environment and facilities of these towns when their populations were much smaller than today, the arrival of post-war immigrants, their school days, community activities such as infrastructure development, surf lifesaving, the fire brigade, social activities at the old town and recreational reserve halls, fishing, shooting rabbits and sporting teams.

Life at the beach was central to their childhood memories, and the narrators describe the gradual changes to the foreshore.

Their stories also cover many other features of early life on the Bellarine. They recall times when Wynndean Holiday Park functioned as a migrant hostel, when many local children could not swim but knew the surf, and the local roads were little more than dirt tracks.

“Club members undertook the interviews and hope local residents and visitors will enjoy these stories and that they will contribute to a deeper understanding and attachment to the local area,” Ms Williamson said.

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