Many Interests, One Group: Creating and Celebrating History in a Modern Environment

Article excerpt

The Hobsons Bay Libraries Family History Group draws together interested people on a monthly basis giving maximum returns for minimum outlay. By offering themes as diverse as its community and alternating between training in resources such as librar), ancestry and specialist guest speakers a broad, popular and responsive program is provided for the community. Each session includes afternoon tea, a forum for feedback and suggestions for future meetings. The added benefit to the library_ is the creation of a relevant and enthusiastic focus group giving members of the community the opportunity, to build social networks around common interests. Edited paper presented at the conference A sense of place: local studies in Australia and New Zealand Sydney 5-6 May 2011.

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Prior to European settlement, the Yalukitwillam aboriginal clan occupied the area now known as Hobsons Bay. Williamstown, in the south eastern part of the municipality, is the oldest continuous settlement on Port Phillip Bay. Communities grew around specific industries in the decades following settlement, such as the railway workshops in Newport and Spotswood. Established in 1835, it has a range of heritage buildings from its history as a thriving seaport.

From the 1840s onward the suburbs of Altona, Laverton, Brooklyn and Altona Meadows began to be used for heavy pastoral and industrial land uses. Coal was discovered in Altona 1881. Land in Altona North and Brooklyn was leased for quarrying, which was Hobsons Bay's first heavy industry. Most residential development in the central and western parts of Hobsons Bay occurred in the second half of the 20th century. It was driven by significant industrial expansion throughout the city and post world war two immigration. In the 1970s the opening of the West Gate Bridge improved access, resulting in further growth.

The city of Hobsons Bay covers 66 sq kms at the northern end of Port Phillip Bay and is between 7 and 20 kilometres to the south west of central Melbourne. It has over 20 kilometres of bay frontage, distinct residential areas, and a large expanse of environmentally significant open space and a range of major industrial complexes. The city has a rich natural environment of beaches and foreshore areas, and significant other flora and fauna habitat areas. This diversity and breadth of habitats is rare in an area so close to Melbourne.

The local economy includes chemical and petroleum industries, light industrial, manufacturing, and transport and goods distribution companies, together with service industries.

Who we are

The estimated population of 87,000 (2009) is relatively older than Melbourne's western metropolitan region as a whole--18% of the Hobsons Bay population is aged 60 years and over. The largest growth is among those aged 35-59 and there was also an increase in residents over the age of 60. This ageing of the population is consistent with state and national trends (source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, Census of Population and Housing).

The average number of people living in each household is 2.53, lower than the metropolitan Melbourne average of 2.61. By 2020 it is forecast that this figure will further decline to 2.43. One quarter of all households comprise people living alone. Around 29% of residents were born overseas and 22% speak a language other than English. The main countries of birth are the United Kingdom, Italy, New Zealand, Malta, Vietnam, Greece, The Philippines, Lebanon and the former republics of Yugoslavia. There are many statistical contrasts between each community within Hobsons Bay.

Overall the average of number of households connected to the internet is 55.7%. Williamstown is above this figure with 64%, and contrasts sharply with Altona North with only 47% of households.

Census information highlights that overall Williamstown and Williamstown North residents are less likely to have left school early, with a higher proportion of residents completing year 12. …