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Author: Tara Oldfield

Senior Communications Advisor

image of Jill Giese's book cover

A book about the history of mental health during the gold rush in Victoria has been awarded top prize at the 2018 Victorian Community History Awards.

Melbourne clinical psychologist and writer Jill Giese was awarded the Victorian Premier's History Award for her book The Maddest Place on Earth in a ceremony at the Arts Centre Melbourne on the 8th of October. 

Other winning entries included the online documentary series Migrant Stories from Medea Films, the book A Secondary Education for All? by John Andrews and Deborah Towns, while the Judges' Special Prize was awarded to Jennifer Bantow and Ros Lewis for their self-published book Barro-abil providing the fascinating history of Barrabool sandstone. 

Among the commendations were histories about Melbourne Football Club, Alfred Deakin, Pentridge Prison, Melbourne's vagrants and murderesses, and the Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria's Show Girls, with local area histories including Kilmore, Linton, Yarra Valley, Warrnambool, Ballarat, Lancefield, Castlemaine and Torquay just to name a few.

The Victorian Community History Awards are presented by Public Record Office Victoria in partnership with the Royal Historical Society of Victoria. A major event of History Week, the annual awards recognise the work of individuals and groups committed to telling stories of local history. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the awards program. 

Special Minister of State Gavin Jennings congratulated all 11 winners on telling important, informative and engaging local stories.

"It's fantastic to see so many Victorian writers, historians and creatives committed to telling diverse stories of our past in ways that provide us all with access to the many different facets and perspectives of Victoria's rich history."

Director and Keeper of Public Records, Justine Heazlewood, said that these award winning stories help us to better understand our past.

"Congratulations to all the winners, including the many volunteers who give up their time and creative energy freely to tell and share stories they are passionate about. We share that passion for history with them and are thrilled to be able to award them for their efforts, in partnership with the Royal Historical Society of Victoria."


The 2018 Victorian Community History Award winners and commendations:

Victorian Premier’s History Award 

  • WINNER The Maddest Place on Earth by Jill Giese, published by Australian Scholarly

Judges’ Special Prize 

  • WINNER Barro-abil Our Beautiful Barrabool Stone: History and Use of Barrabool Sandstone by Jennifer Bantow and Ros Lewis

History Article (Peer Reviewed) Award

  • WINNER ‘The Happiest Time of My Life’: Emotive Visitor Books and Early Mission Tourism to Victoria’s Aboriginal Reserves by Nikita Vanderbyl, published in Aboriginal History  

Collaborative Community Award winner and commendations

  • WINNER ‘A Secondary Education for All?’ A History of State Secondary Schooling in Victoria by John Andrews and Deborah Towns, published by Australian Scholarly Publishing 
  • Urban Choreography. Central Melbourne 1985- by Kim Dovey, Rob Adams and Ronald Jones
  • Heathmont Sketchbook by Heathmont History Group
  • Pentridge. Voices from the Other Side by Rupert Mann
  • Navigating 45 Years. A History of the Yarra Valley Orienteering Club 1972-2017 by Peter Black

Local History Project Award winner and commendations

  • WINNER Silent Lives: Women of Warrnambool and District 1840-1910 by Elizabeth O’Callaghan, published by Warrnambool and District Historical Society
  • The Welsh on Victoria's Central Goldfields. A Dictionary of Biography by Peter Griffiths
  • High Country History Hub by Mansfield Historical Society
  • Top Dog of the West. A Study of the Belfast and Western Civil Service 1841-1885 by Pamela M. Marriott
  • Vagrants and Murderesses by Amber Evangelista

History Publication Award winner and commendations

  • WINNER Granville Stapylton: Australia Felix 1836, Second in Command to Major Mitchell by Gregory C. Eccleston, published by Evandale Publishing
  • The Enigmatic Mr Deakin by Judith Brett
  • Hanging Rock - A History by Chris McConville 
  • The Buxtons. 150 Years of Developing Melbourne by Peter Yule
  • Made to Order. George Thwaites and Sons, Colonial Cabinet Makers by Robert La Nauze
  • The Good Country. The Djadja Wurrung, the Settlers and the Protectors by Bain Attwood

Local History – Small Publication Award winner and commendations

  • WINNER Art Captured: Hans-Wolter von Gruenewaldt, Prisoner of War Camp 13 Murchison: His Story and His Art by Hans-Wolter von Gruenewaldt and Kay Ball, published by the Murchison and District Historical Society
  • And the Women Came Too. The Families of the Founders of the Melbourne Mechanics' Institution by Anne Marsden
  • Linton. A Photographic History by Jill Wheeler and Del Atkinson
  • A Pictorial Guide to the Long Lost Lancefield and Kilmore Railway by Kylie McKay and Bob Tomkins
  • Ballarat's Blooming Begonias by Friends of the Ballarat Botanical Gardens

Cultural Diversity Award winner and commendations

  • WINNER Migrant Stories by Stella Dimadis, Medea Films
  • The Melbourne Welsh Church. In the Beginning 1852-1914 by Bill Jones
  • Grandmothers MMV Group Project by Multicultural Museums Victoria
  • Passages by Port Melbourne Historical and Preservation Society

Multimedia Award winner and commendations

  • WINNER Secrets from the Mallacoota Bunker by the Mallacoota and District Historical Society
  • Demonwiki. The History of the Melbourne Football Club by Adam Woolcock and Travis Warren
  • ReCollection by Memento Media and Moreland City Council
  • Miss Showgirl by the Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria Heritage

Historical Interpretation Award winner and commendations

  • WINNER Wangaratta Stories, a collaborative exhibition by the Wangaratta Historical Society, Wangaratta Art Gallery and Museums Australia (Victoria) Roving Curator Program
  • Castlemaine Cemetery. A Walk with Glimpses of the Past by Ian Hockley
  • Stanley Women of the 19th Century. Hearts of Gold - Minds of Mettle by the Friends of Stanley Athenaeum
  • Torquay History App by Cheryl Baulch and Chris Barr, Torquay Museum Without Walls
  • Walks in Port Phillip by Meyer Eidelson and others 

Centenary of World War One Award winner and commendations

  • WINNER Lest We Forget: Southern Mitchell Shire Volunteers Who Served in World War One by Grahame Thom and the Kilmore Historical Society
  • Chinese ANZACs of the Loddon-Mallee Region by Golden Dragon Museum
  • The Bendigo Roll of Honour by Murray Poustie
  • Victorian War Heritage. The Rich War History of Springvale War Cemetery and Springvale Botanical Cemetery by Celestina Sagazio

More information

Photos from the ceremony will be available to view and download from our Flickr page after the 9th of October 2018 here.

Download the winners booklet to read judges' citations on the winning entries here.

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