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Talk: Historical Experience of Urbanisation of North Melbourne by Fiona Gatt

Oct 26, 2021 @ 7:30 pm - 8:15 pm


Fiona Gatt is doing a PhD at Deakin University on North Melbourne History and has very kindly agreed to make a presentation to members and friends of our group on the 28th of July 2020.

Fiona’s Honours thesis used family history methodology to show the long view of the Great War. The thesis followed five related families from their immigration to Victoria in the 1850s, to the service of eight cousins in the war and their post-war lives. The technique uncovered just how influential pre-war circumstances were to the experience of war. Some of those families developed in Hotham/North Melbourne, which has inspired Fiona’s continuing fascination in the area and lead to the development of her PhD topic.

Although the scope of Fiona’s thesis is 1852–1905 her presentation at the Hotham History Group will focus on a smaller time period, to be advised closer to the date.

Thesis summary:

The area we now call the suburb of North Melbourne was destined to be urbanised as soon as the European settlement of Melbourne had proven successful. Sub-divided in 1852, its early years were shaped by the needs of those who came to Melbourne en-route to the goldfields and those who came to settle. But its early years were not typically urban, a process of dividing cities into areas of specialisation. There was a frontier uncertainty and promise of opportunity, which residents felt so strongly they established themselves as a municipality when only about one-half of the municipal area was even built on. What is urbanisation in this context? How much agency could residents assert to shape their urban ‘town’? What was out of their control and rather shaped by the commercial and property boom within which North Melbourne developed? What or who shaped the material environment and what relationship did this have with the society that developed there in the nineteenth century? To these queries, Fiona’s thesis pursues the primary question, what was the historical experience of urbanisation in the Victorian age on this colonial frontier?


Oct 26, 2021
7:30 pm - 8:15 pm


North Melbourne Library
66 Errol Street
North Melbourne, Victoria 3051 Australia
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Hotham History Project
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