Researchers at the University of Newcastle’s Coal River Working Party have prepared biographies and histories of Newcastle. The National Trust of Australia (NSW) celebrates Newcastle’s (living) histories through the NEWYhistory App, bringing history to life through digital mobile media. Newcastle is a hidden gem with a rich human history dating back 50,000 years, and a tradition of work, play and progress at its heart. The city has been a key player as the ‘engine room’ of Australia. This app will help you uncover the keys to Newcastle’s amazing stories through its cultural and built landscape.
An initiative of University researcher Dr Ann Hardy, who, as Secretary of the Hunter Regional Committee of the National Trust of Australia (HRCNT), spent the last two years fundraising for a “Lost Newcastle App” to be produced that would include the historic places of Newcastle. The App was inspired by the ‘Lost Melbourne App’ developed by the National Trust (Victoria).
“Newcastle has many historic themes and items and we believe that the ‘Lost Newcastle’ App will be an exciting digital product and a first for the National Trust (NSW). To cover the cost of the software licensing fee both the University of Newcastle and the Vera Deacon Regional History Fund have contributed to get the project off the ground for which we are very grateful” – Dr Hardy said.
Dr Hardy also thanked the University Librarian, Mr Greg Anderson, for providing the in kind support of the Auchmuty Library’s Cultural Collections as a base to work on the histories and consult the University’s vast collections of historical resources.
The HRCNT has been liaising with the University of Newcastle’s Coal River Working Party (CRWP) about the project and a small research group has been formed to plan, organise and oversee the content of the App. The CRWP is a multi-disciplinary team with diverse expertise to assist with development of the App. At this stage information about each item (historical, social, cultural etc) is being compiled and will later be uploaded to the App by the Melbourne based software designers.
The idea of having a ‘Lost Newcastle App’ came about when the HRCNT was contacted by radio broadcaster and founder of the Lost Newcastle Facebook group, Carol Duncan from 1233ABC radio, drawing our attention to the App developed by the National Trust in Victoria. The interest in history in the Hunter seems to be on the increase, especially since the Lost Newcastle Facebook page which was established in August 2012 has now over 15,700 active participants and has surpassed the ‘Lost Sydney’ Facebook page. Digital media is a terrific way to connect with the community, to share the region’s history and the University’s rich archival material held in its Cultural Collections.
Dr Hardy has been based in the University’s Cultural Collections in the Auchmuty Library volunteering her time and professional expertise for the past year carrying out the research and sourcing images from across the University’s collections and the private hoards of the Lost Newcastle Facebook “Losties”.
Much of the research and compiling of data is being conducted by Ann Hardy in consultation with others. Dr Hardy is an historian who has been a volunteer on the Coal River Working Party for the past 9 years, and has post graduate qualifications in history and cultural heritage, and is at present the Administration Officer for the CRWP.
We will keep you all informed of the progress of this exciting initiative.
Gionni Di Gravio
University Archivist and Chair, CRWP
July 2014 (Update 2016)