I’m delighted to be invited by the Wombat Post to give readers a taste of the local stuff I’ve been researching, writing and thinking about lately beyond the academic older men’s learning and international Men’s Sheds research and publication that had become my focus at Federation University until productive and welcome retirement five years ago.

It was my recent blog about the complex twists and turns within the forebears and descendants of two more prominent Australian Hepburns, Robert and John that came to the attention of the Editors.  It was researched collaboratively with a present day Aboriginal Tasmanian descendant of Robert Hepburn, Robert Hine.

If you want a longer and more discursive read, my Beyond Contact page  focuses on critical reflections on my seven decades living in Dja Dja Wurrung country, from my childhood in Daylesford to my home for four decades in the former Creswick and District Roads Board office in Kingston, that John Hepburn was the Chair of at the time of his death in 1860. It has lots of new, locally focused material. As with all good material, it is written off the back of insights from earlier local historians including the late Edgar Morrison.

Last week I finished another confronting blog  investigating a back story of abduction and kidnapping by erstwhile Australia Felix hero, Major Thomas Mitchell. Unbeknown to most this was continuing to play out on his 1836 expeditions during his two sweeps across Dja Dja Wurrung country.

It used to take years to research and publish this sort of material, including historical articles about random things each of us might have an interest in. I’ve been collecting stuff for decades and filing it away for a quieter and simpler time. Both are currently possible for me and that time has come with joyful and productive retirement from paid work, heightened by the current pandemic. The advent of fairly idiot proof posting platforms and powerful online searchable resources like Trove has simplified things immensely. There are advantages and also pitfalls of being able to trawl the internet and post so immediately and personally in this way. At 70 I’m more concerned about making stuff accessible than risking reputation and the loss forever of important stuff in our landscape.

You’ll quickly sense an overarching theme in a lot of this. For me it’s about using evidence to find the truth about what happened in this country, including locally, at and beyond contact. It’s also about acknowledging and working with First Nations descendants to reconcile and  to redress the long tail of colonial dispossession.

So if any of this whets your appetite, have a read of whatever else interests you via my website www.barrygoanna.com. I’m meantime collaborating with friend, author and publisher Gib Wettenhall, to research something more like a book which we anticipate will be fine grained, fresh, illustrated, local and place based. Like good Slow Food, this book will take us time to write. Meantime if you don’t have a copy of our  ‘Goldfields Track Walk or Ride Guide (2nd edition)’ locally published by the GDTA (and for which Gib was awarded a statewide history award) get one from the GDTA on-line store (www.gdt.org.au/shop). It will to keep you informed and safe whilst exercising during and well beyond the pandemic.

Professor Barry Golding

Bary Golding is is an Professor (Adjunct) with Federation University, and, as he lives at Kingston, can be found at many gatherings around the Shire – contributing to the Mollongghip Poetry Slam, Leading the activities of the Great Dividing Trail Association, being patron to the Men’s Shed Movement, and on rare occasions, riding his penny farthing.

Barry has been a wonderful inaugural chair of the Hepburn Shire Council’s Reconciliation Action Plan Committee. The RAP was established by the Council in 2017 and has worked closely with the Dja Dja Wurung as the traditional owners of extensive country in central Victoria, including Hepburn. Together with Dja Dja Wurung elder, Uncle Ricky Nelson, Barry has organised walks on country to mark Reconciliation Week. The first was Ellen’s Walk – commencing in Mt Franklin with a smoking ceremony and then on foot to various sites connected to the Franklinford Protectorate. The second, last year, was a tour which visited sites associated with white settlement and included the route that Major Mitchell travelled through this area, and several massacre sites associated with frontier settlement.