The National Trust Heritage Festival

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Debbie Sommers talks to Phillip Bowman about events happening in our region as part of the 2016 Heritage Festival Celebrations.

Hi Phillip. What is your role with the Heritage Festival and the Camden Haven Historical Society, and how long have you been involved?

I am one of many heritage volunteers who are working this year to produce an interesting and diverse programme of events across the region for the Port Macquarie – Hastings Heritage Festival, which will run from 16 to 24 April. I’m the President of the Camden Haven Historical Society and work with a small group to document and exhibit our collection at the Laurieton Museum in the old School of Arts building. I’ve been doing this work for more years than I would like to admit and never tire of making sure our cultural heritage is preserved, respected and enjoyed. We are currently working on two new exhibitions, Waterways and The Cavalchini Photographs of 1916-1918 for the Heritage Festival and, in partnership with the Camden Head Pilot Station, will be hosting this year’s festival opening on Saturday 16 April commencing at 10am.
What do you have planned for this year’s festival opening?

With the spotlight on the Camden Haven this year, we thought the Camden Head Pilot Station would be the perfect location to officially launch the festival. The Pilot Station has a long and important history, continuing connections to the local community and of course the beautiful coastal views that the Mid North Coast is renowned for.  The festival will be launched by Peter Besseling, Port Macquarie-Hastings Mayor followed by the launch of an art exhibition of maritime signal flags created by Laurieton Primary School students under the guidance of Artist in Residence, Sarah Parker. The flags have been inspired by the original set of maritime signal flags from the Camden Head Pilot Station, now held in the Mid North Coast Maritime Museum collection. The Laurieton Men’s Shed will be providing a barbecue, or people are welcome to bring along a picnic. After the opening people can visit the Pilot Station and flag exhibition, which will be open until 4pm, comb the beach, take in the views, walk around the headland and view the grave site of those who lost their lives on the Prince of Wales when it was shipwrecked in 1862. Then, visit the Camden Haven Museum in Laurieton and stroll the “Beach to Beach” river walk.
Give us a brief overview of what the Heritage Festival theme is about this year?

The theme for this year’s Festival is “Discovery and Rediscoveries” and with our long and rich history and significant cultural heritage collections, there are lots of stories to delve into, places to explore or re-explore and treasures to discover. Our museums, heritage organisations and businesses will be offering many events, including exhibitions, open days, talks, walks, tours, church services and workshops including how to research your family history. This year’s festival also coincides with Australian Heritage Week. 
Looking to the wider Greater Port Macquarie region, can you give us a description of the people and organisations involved and what visitors can expect?

Local heritage organisations will be showcasing some of the region’s hidden treasures this year, and I would encourage everyone to explore, discover and rediscover our local heritage through the many events on offer. Event information can be found on Council’s website: www.pmhc.nsw.gov.au/Culture-Sport-Leisure/Heritage/Heritage-Festival or pick up a National Trust Heritage Festival guide from local museums. Some of this year’s festival highlights include:

The Cavalchini Photographs, 1916-1918: Exhibition at Laurieton Museum from 16 April, featuring photographs from the Camden Haven Historical Society’s extensive collection. Cost: Gold coin donation (16 – 17 April), other times $2.50, children free.

Laurieton Historical Walks: Sunday 17 April, hourly from 10am. Departing from the Laurieton Museum, corner of Bold & Laurie Streets, enjoy an easy guided town walk highlighting historic sites and town history. Bookings: Camden Haven Historical Society; phone Mike Dodkin (02) 6559 9105. Cost: Gold coin donation.

Relics, Rocks and Remnants: Exhibition at Port Macquarie Museum from 18 April. Discover hidden treasures and delve into the past as the Port Macquarie Museum reveals some of Port’s best kept secrets and untold stories. Cost: $7 adults, $5 concessions, $3 children, $15 families.

In Oxley’s Footsteps: Talk at Port Macquarie Museum on Tuesday 19 April at 10am. Exploring historic maps and contemporary images, this talk retraces Surveyor General John Oxley’s account of his second expedition into NSW, a virtual walk in Oxley’s Footsteps. Cost: Free.

An Introduction to Family History: Workshop/Presentation by Port Macquarie & District Family History Society at Port Macquarie Library, Wednesday 20 April at 1:30pm. For those new to family history, learn the basics and the importance of evidence in documenting your ancestry. Cost: Free.

Upper Rollands Plains Discovery Tour: Thursday 21 April; Coach departs Andrews Park, Wauchope, at 9am. Tour Wauchope and morning tea before travelling via Bain Bridge to Pembrooke, Telegraph Point to Rollands Plains School for lunch. Continue to Upper Rollands Plains before returning via Reids, Pembrooke and Redbank Roads to Wauchope. Bookings: Wauchope Historical Society: Jeannette Rainbow 0424 226 258 or 6585 1895.Cost: $70, includes coach travel and meals.

Wauchope Walking Tour: Friday 22 April; departs Town Clock 9am. Discover Wauchope’s built history and the people who have made the town what it is today. Bookings: Wauchope Historical Society; Jeannette Rainbow 0424 226 258 or 6585 1895. Cost: $25, includes morning tea.

Heritage Celebration Day: Open day at Douglas Vale Historic Homestead on Saturday 23 April from 9:30am. Experience a taste of history and discover or rediscover this unique homestead, dedicated museum and vineyard in Australia with tours, wine tastings, entertainment and more. Cost: Gold coin donation.

Thanks Phillip.

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