Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Northbridge History Project

Today, Northbridge is home to the hospitality and entertainment sectors of inner-city Perth. Originally a series of interconnected swamps, the area has grown in tandem with the progress of the city and state. People from many parts of the world were attracted to the area, creating a diverse population that continued to grow until the 1970s when a proposed freeway led to a residential decline. The area has since developed into the entertainment precinct for which it is now known, once boasting 'more restaurants per capita than anywhere else in the southern hemisphere'. But continued development in the 1990s led to a concern that the area was losing its unique character. This influenced the state government's decision to sponsor an initiative to investigate and preserve the history of the area.

The Northbridge History Project (NHP) is one of the outcomes of this initiative. Consulting with government, communities and individuals, the NHP aims to collect images, documents and oral testimony related to the locality, making them available to the public through an Electronic Archive. To date, the archive contains three displays, 123 documents, 663 images and 47 oral histories, providing a collection of material that provides a rich introduction to the growth of the area.

It is planned that the archive will be used for education and tourism purposes and so a substantial amount of secondary resources are available as well as curriculum materials for use in schools and universities. Contributions from government, community groups and individuals are actively sought, making this a significant collaborative project on many levels. As an example of what can be done for a specific locality the NHP is first rate. Such projects might support investigations into the literary culture of particular areas and provide a wonderful context for the interpretation of setting. A web-site devoted to David Malouf's Brisbane is high on my wish list.

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