Folk history

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1 FRUITS book cover

FRUITS OF THEIR LABOURS Orchard Empire to Urban Affluence: A Folk History of Doncaster. Click here to preview and/or purchase at cost price. (Just covers the cost of printing.) 

FRUITS OF THEIR LABOURS – Orchard Empire to Urban Affluence: a Folk History of Doncaster (350 pages)spans 120 years from Doncaster’s 1850s pioneers, to the first orchardist industry, to a 1960s suburb, to a city: the city of Manningham.
But Fruits of Their Labours is not just about Doncaster nor the struggle to establish Victoria’s orchard industry.
It is about people and families, their tragedies and triumphs: the human aspect typical of many developing Victorian towns. It is about pioneers old and modern – mid-19th century ground-breaking pioneers to mid-20th century suburb-making pioneers – without whom today’s demographics could not have flourished.
Lives of pioneers, letters, maps, old news stories; 128 pages of photographs, many not published before.


My passion for folk history blossomed, as did my community activism, in that new outer Melbourne suburb where I made my married home in 1960, Doncaster: swiftly superimposing itself on orcharding descendants of pioneers. The need to rescue and write about these beginnings before they disappeared beneath the bitumen, set me to interviewing old residents.

 And so I became the first to systematically obtain, record and publish the stories and photographs of Doncaster’s early families, its industry and development. This was 1966. My seminal article, Where Have all the Orchards Gone? (Walkabout, July, 1967), was the first national magazine feature published on the history of the area.

Byways pix

The following year, 1967, I instigated formation of the Doncaster and Templestowe Historical Society of which I was a committee member for many years. Over the next 26 years I continued writing and broadcasting, and in 1981 began the popular weekly newspaper columns: Byways of Local History (Doncaster Mirror 1981-1986) and Yesteryear (Doncaster News 1991-93).

In 2012, I wove these local cameos into the setting of general Victorian history and published Fruits of Their Labours: Orchard Empire to Urban Affluence: A Folk History of Doncaster. Its profusely illustrated 350 pages contain letters, maps of the period, excerpts of old news stories and a comprehensive index. Many of its photographs have not published before.

Fruits of Their Labours spans 120 years from Doncaster’s 1850s pioneers, to the first orchardist industry, to a 1960s suburb, to a city. But Fruits of Their Labours is not just about Doncaster nor the struggle to establish Victoria’s orchard industry. It is about people and families, their tragedies and triumphs: the human aspect typical of many developing Victorian towns. It is about pioneers old and modern – mid-19th century ground-breaking pioneers to mid-20th century suburb-making pioneers – without whom today’s demographics could not have flourished.

1 FRUITS book cover -for web

This book was a long time coming to fruition – if I may use this word without it being taken as a pun. (See The trials of publishing folk history.)

Articles of mine on Australian folk history have been published in many national magazines, state and regional newspapers: Walkabout Magazine, the Herald, the Adelaide Advertiser, Hobart Mercury, Australian Women’s Weekly, Woman’s Day, Australasian Post, Parade, the Weekly Times, The Australian Municipal Journal, The East Yarra News, Doncaster Mirror, Doncaster and Templestowe News, and broadcast on ABC radio.

The Whitehorse Manningham Heritage Network Local History Database has documented these historical works on Doncaster. It includes tales from Byways of Local History and Yesteryear, from daily newspapers and national magazines and broadcast on the ABC and is available on:
http://www.localhist.wev.vic.gov.au/search.php?Subjects=&SubjectsList=AND&CollectionType=&CollectionList=AND&LocationCode=&LocationList=AND&AuthorCode=Joan

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