With a historical tapestry that weaves large-scale events, community triumphs, and natural disasters against the distinctive backdrop of the Perth Hills, the Shire of Mundaring is dedicated to preserving the past.

The Darling Range-based Mundaring is blessed with not only natural beauty but also an amazing local history.

Shire of Mundaring Libraries and Mundaring Hills Historical Society (MHHS) are proud to have partnered to deliver events and projects that preserve the rich history of the shire.

Competition winner: Forestry workers in the Shire of Mundaring in the 1940s, kneeling next to a Forestry Department motorcycle (image courtesy Michael Thompson)

The collaboration which started in 2015 has blossomed into a series of events and initiatives aimed at engaging the local community and preserving the area’s unique history.

Over the years, MHHS and Shire of Mundaring Libraries have co-hosted talks on various local history themes such as forestry settlements, Chidlow Army Camps, and eastern regions railways, along with displays hosted by MHHS in the libraries to commemorate Remembrance Day and Anzac Day.

The libraries have often re-gifted historical photographs and books they have been given for the MHHS archival and community accessibility.

Competition winner: A misty morning at Mundaring Weir, 1996 (courtesy of Richard Nieuwhof)

Shire President James Martin said with a key focus on community engagement, this partnership has been highly successful.

“There is a keen interest in local history within the community, and with a strong library membership, jointly hosted events have enjoyed strong support and attendance,” he said. 

The Shire’s Libraries can also harness the Shire’s Community Engagement, IT and Communications Departments to support the delivery and promotion of programs and events.

The Shire’s Libraries sees its role in the Galleries, Museums and Libraries (GLAM) sector as closely aligned with local history knowledge and resources for local communities.

Libraries and historical societies are well-positioned to provide resources, knowledge, information and access for community members.

Cr Martin said one of the most prominent joint projects for this duo has been an annual photographic competition which started in 2020.

“Initially conceived by the MHHS as a way to connect residents with local history during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Shire’s Libraries enthusiastically joined this initiative,” he said.

“The competition was a way for the Shire’s Libraries to strengthen ties with MHHS and expand the local history collection.”

Competition winners: Kids and a vintage car at the Mundaring Rotary Club's Small Farm Field Day, 1980 (courtesy Jan Pitman)

The original competition, known as ‘Snapped’ aimed to enrich the MHHS Local History Collection and provide an avenue for residents to engage and share their historical and family photographs. It also created an opportunity to initiate a digital image collection.

MHHS curator Dr Jan Baldwin said the efforts help to preserve invaluable photographs, which would otherwise risk being lost and allow both organisations to share resources and expertise. 

This year, the competition has evolved into ‘Relics, Wrecks and Renos,’ inviting participants to capture the essence of historical buildings and structures within the shire.

The winning photographs from the competition will be on show at the Boya Library in December and January, offering residents a chance to engage with the Shire's history.

A quiz to identify the buildings and a visitor's vote for the best photograph will further involve the community.

Dr Baldwin said the partnership between MHHS and the Shire of Mundaring Libraries has been a great way to preserve the heritage of the area.

“Together we enrich the community’s understanding of its history, one photograph at a time. This successful collaboration will ensure there is a lasting legacy for generations to come.”

Read more in the September/October 2023 Edition of Western Councillor