History Week 2016: Neighbours

3-11 September 2016  |  #HistoryWeek16

The theme of neighbours is crucial to our understanding of the past’s impact on the present. It includes stories of individuals, families and communities living near one another and links between adjoining suburbs, regions and countries. As the success of the Australian television program Neighbours shows, the theme has long been a significant component of popular culture. It shaped imagination and memories, created identities and was a source of both conflict and friendship.

How important were class, the economy, gender, governments, the media, race, religion and sport in the formation of ideas regarding neighbours? How have attitudes regarding a nation’s geographic neighbours determined defence, foreign, immigration, refugee and trade policies? Did new types of communication and transport from the nineteenth century onwards radically alter how neighbours and neighbourhoods were perceived? In 2016 History Week focuses on these and other related questions.

Download our History Week postcard (PDF 976 KB) or poster (PDF 2 MB). If you would like copies of the postcard or poster, please contact us.

Featured events

Annual History Lecture

Neighbours – and heroes

When: 6pm-9pm, Wedesday 7 September 2016
Where: The Mint, 10 Macquarie Street, Sydney
Tickets: $45 HCNSW members / $50 General admission (excl fees)
Contact: 02 9252 8715, admin@historycouncilnsw.org.au

How have Australians thought of themselves as ‘neighbours’ in the Asia-Pacific region? Professor Heather Goodall will look at how many Australians have had the courage to cross borders – taking risks to build relationships across old borders and new borders, cultural borders and ethnic borders. Find out more

Presented by the History Council of NSW. Supported by Arts NSWSydney Living Museums and De Bortoli Wines.

Speaker Connect 2016

Everyone has at least one really good story

Join oral historian Benjamin Thorn at Grafton Library as he explores how the oral history of ordinary people can be an excellent historical tool.

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Women radio broadcasters and their listeners

At Moruya, Dr Jeannine Baker will reveal the ways women listeners actively participated in radio broadcasting and shaped programme content and style.

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From Canton to the colonies: Chinese women in 19th century New South Wales

In 1871 there were just 12 Chinese women in NSW. At Corrimal Library, Dr Kate Bagnall will explore four of these women and their lives around the colony.

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Deathly Neighbours: the evolution of Sydney’s cemeteries

At Ashfield Library, City Historian Lisa Murray will explore the design of Sydney’s cemeteries and how friends and neighbours were treated in death.

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Territorial Myths: The construction of legend and historical ownership in country town communities in the 20th century

At Tamworth Library, Dr Louise Prowse explores how country towns took ownership of folk myths and historical legends in order to form distinct identities.

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More than just neighbours: Māori in NSW since 1793

At Addison Road Community Centre, Hohepa Ruhe will explore Māori history and heritage in NSW that spans 223 years, connecting past and present.

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Macarthur and Harris, and the Kings who came between

In this History Week, Jo Henwood will explore historic neighbours John Macarthur, John Harris and Governor King at Katoomba Library and Cultural Centre.

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Deathly Neighbours: the evolution of Sydney’s cemeteries

At Fairfield City Museum and Gallery, Lisa Murray will explore the design of Sydney’s cemeteries and how friends and neighbours were treated in death.

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Finding the ‘Perfect Blend’ in an Undervalued Genre

At Margaret Martin Library, Dr Liz Giuffre and Dr Sarah Attfield will examine television soap opera Neighbours as a piece of Australian media history.

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Australia’s Southern Empire: How Antarctica was made Australian

At Yamba Museum, Rohan Howitt traces the origins of the Australian Antarctic Territory and the fascination it inspired in the Australian community.

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On the neighbour’s circuit: good and bad neighbours in the colonial Hunter Valley

At Singleton Library, Dr Mark Dunn will explore the politics of neighbourly visitation to homes of prominent settlers in the colonial Hunter Valley.

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Community Sporting Histories

Inclusion, Exclusion and Authority

When: 6-7:30pm, 5 September 2016 (screening of documentary film, Scrum), 9:45am-4:30pm, 6 September 2016 (symposium)
Where: Metcalfe Auditorium, State Library of NSW
Cost: $29.59 (includes admission to film screening)

The History Council of NSW is proud to be collaborating with the Department of Modern History, Macquarie University on this symposium and film screening in celebration of History Week. Community Sporting Histories: Inclusion, Exclusion and Authority will draw together historians working on local, community and intimate histories of sport in Australia to ponder the tensions between the ideal of community, the politics of difference and the writing of history. Find out more

Australia’s Asia-Pacific Neighbours

Teachers Professional Development Day

When: Friday 9 September 2016, 9:30am-3:15pm
Where: Dixson Room, State Library of NSW
Cost: $55/$100/$150
PLEASE NOTE: This event is BOSTES/ QTC endorsed.

The History Council of NSW and History Teachers’ Association of NSW is proud to present a professional development opportunity – ‘Australia’s Asia-Pacific Neighbours’. This professional development conference will give teachers the opportunity to hear keynote lectures from noted academics and historians on topics aimed specifically at the NSW History syllabus. Find out more

Nightlight Tour: Elizabeth Bay House

Join Sydney Living Museums for a special evening tour this History Week and experience historic Elizabeth Bay House as you’ve rarely seen it before.

Nightlight Tour: Elizabeth Farm

At Sydney Living Museums’ Elizabeth Farm you can experience Australia’s oldest house in a whole new light on this evening tour during History Week.

Neighbours of Lavender Bay

Stanton Library’s Local History Librarian tours Milsons Point, Lavender Bay and their iconic neighbours: the Harbour Bridge, Olympic Pool and Luna Park.

Mini-discoverers: Cooking

At this Camden Museum hands-on event for pre-schoolers and their carers, participants can handle cooking and household implements from the past.

About History Week

Now in it’s 19th year, History Week is a significant event that engages local communities on the NSW cultural calendar. Each year members of the History Council of NSW collaborate to host events that explore a particular theme. From talks to exhibitions, tours to online engagement, there is something for everyone. With over 100 events across NSW, History Week is about celebrating the best in community and professional history, highlighting its role
in our cultural life and inviting people to get involved. During History Week, community groups, local councils, libraries, archives, museums, universities, cultural institutions, professional and amateur historians across NSW open their doors to present the latest in today’s historical research – fascinating stories, artefacts and experiences about both our past and ourselves today.


To showcase history in an innovative and exciting format


To provide educational experiences that reach students and the general public and promote lifelong learning opportunities


To attract new audiences to history, demonstrating that history is exciting, important and all around us


To present audiences with rich and diverse history that is relevant to all aspects of our community

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