History of West Australia by W. B. Kimberly

How thoughtful of Nature to not be disturbed by people.

It was near to the ship, and there Mr. Broadhurst found the traces of two distinct camps, which nearly a century and a half had not obliterated. Indentations were still apparent in the ground made by the feet of the company while moving, in the form of a half circle, round the camps. Captain Stokes saw the bones of seals which had evidently been killed for subsistence, and these Mr. Broadhurst also found. Nature, in thoughtfulness, had not rudely obliterated these traces of such remarkable occurrences, and in the neighbourhood, amid sad memories, Mr. Broadhurst’s quest disclosed a varied selection of articles.

History of West Australia, by Warren Bert Kimberly, 1897. Wikisource edition.

The awards night

Just home from the WA Heritage Awards, where the Freo Society won the community based organisation category (which surely they should’ve hyphenated?). Nice evening, jolly exciting—despite a fair bit of a gosh-this-is-middle-class-Perth feeling—makes me glad to be part of it nonetheless.

It was good to be there, also, because my grandmother Marnie (aka H. Margaret Wilson), won the inaugural state heritage award in 1992. It makes me miss her, and wish she were around to talk to about all this stuff…

Freo on the web

I am trying to get my head around all of the various places that Fremantle features (regularly, topically) on the Web. I want to figure out where the Fremantle Society’s website fits in, and what it might be used for (what might be missing from elsewhere).

So I started from the outside, yesterday, and moved inwards…

  1. Wikipedia, a first port of call for general info about anywhere, gives a reasonable overview to Freo from an outsider’s perspective. The Fremantle category has the subcategories show in the graph at right (which comes from the catgraph tool by User:Dapete). Obviously, this categorisation isn’t complete, and needs to be improved to reflect what’s actually important in Freo. (More on this later…)

  2. Next, there’s the Council’s website, fremantle.wa.gov.au, which has recently undergone a redesign, and is looking… umm… well, there’s lots of great information for residents and whatnot! There is a news feed, and a calendar of upcoming events (which I’d link to, but it’s a JS overlay thing that doesn’t seem to have it’s own URL). There are plans for new web-based methods of communication with constituents: firstly via a CRM for interacting with Council (for the general public? or just precinct committees?); and secondly (and I think this is going to be separate from the CRM) a network of community-group/precinct websites, called FREOSPACE. This is akin, perhaps, to the Cockburn Community Portal.

    I got my information about these plans from the presentation that Jen Valesini (Coordinator of the Fremantle Volunteer Service; is that right? perhaps not; anyway, she was part of the Precinct Review) gave to last week’s Freo Society meeting; and the Precinct Group Report.

  3. Then, there’s a host of topical and personal blogs: Adele Carles, State MP for Fremantle, Brad Pettitt, Fremantle’s Mayor, Cyclefreo, Dismantle, FERN, the Fremantle Environment Resource Centre, Freo Tribe, the blog of the Fremantle Society, Freo’s View, Tom M. Wilson, Love Freo, Melissa Parke, Federal MP for Fremantle, and The Painted Fish. There are more. I’ve started collecting a list of these as a ‘Freo Planet’ (to use that possibly-too-geeky term for an aggregation of news feeds); the planet itself has a news feed, the idea being that one could subscribe to just one source to get all Freo news.

There’s more to be looked at, but in a general sense I think there is room for a ‘reference’ website about Fremantle. An open site for the stories and detail of Freo, rather like Wikipedia but with ‘non-notable’ topics permitted (not notable in a global perspective, that is). Somewhere that will record, preserve, and make available the minutiae of what goes on here. Is the Freo Society the best organisation to provide this? I don’t know. I’m talking about something more than just the straight ‘history’ of the City (for that one might say that the Local History Centre would be the best coordinator). This would be a site that accepts photos of caravans on South Beach in the ’40s as well as contemporary cafe reviews. It would have a comprehensive calendar of events, and essays on life in Fremantle…

Perhaps I’m getting a bit carried away. Certainly it’s time to stop writing, and head down to Kulcha….

History is Fanfiction?

Reading history is a bit like reading fantasy or sci-fi; it’s just that the fanfic of history is generally more consistent than that of fantasy. I have been reading history lately (Victoria and Disraeli by Theo Aronson, the last couple of days, to be precise; history about personal relationships) and it is the story that I enjoy most of all. I don’t mean this particular story, but rather the way in which historical writing is concerned with constructing this great, rich, world, where all things can be infinitely detailed (indeed, in one’s imagination they are so) and linked. It’s similar in fantasy novels, and any body of work that grows up around some central world or story. Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Darkover stories, for example, or the Dune saga and associated fanfic — it’s all about completing missing bits of the story, trying to fit things together. The composite story, written by many minds and many sources.

This aspect of history has really got nothing to do with the fact that the world described ‘actually existed’ — although that’s a benefit insofar as consistency between works is concerned. There is a great deal of satisfaction to be had in reading about some ‘alternative world’, from different authors; whether it is ‘real’ or not is, in a way, irrelevant. I just like that process of building up the feeling of knowing a world, real and historical or otherwise.