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Unearthing the Hill’s history

Thursday, 27th March, 2014

Professor Erik Eklund Professor Erik Eklund

Broken Hill and other frontier mining towns developed “fierce loyalties” but each was connected by similarities that united them across the continent.

 This shared history and the relationship that developed between mining towns helped shape the nation, said historian Professor Erik Eklund who will explain the theme in a public lecture at the Broken Hill City Library on Saturday afternoon.

The lecture, called “Pathways, connections and cultures: Mining towns in Australian history”, is sponsored by the National Centre for Australian Studies at Monash University and will be given at 2pm. 

“Mining near large payable ore bodies was often accompanied by the development of significant towns,” said Professor Eklund, from Federation University.  

“These towns became distinctive features of the Australian settlement process. They were unique communities which were often the subject of fierce local loyalties,” he said.  

“While local cultures are important - and I have spent a great deal of my professional energy exploring them - we also need to consider how the continent was criss-crossed by links that connected mining towns, both financially and socially.” 

Prof. Eklund said his talk will explore the theme using Broken Hill as its focus.

“The lecture will range across a number of different towns, but as befitting the location in Broken Hill, I will draw on examples from our most famous mining town to explore this theme,” he said. 

“Whether its Adelaide or Melbourne money, migrants from Moonta or Bendigo, or union solidarity with Newcastle, the connection theme will be one that is well known to many in Broken Hill.”

Prof. Eklund’s research covers Australian history, especially regional, labour, social and environmental histories. 

He is also interested in heritage studies, mining in local and global contexts, and the role of E-learning and mobile learning in education and community engagement.

Prof. Eklund is a former treasurer of the Australian Historical Association (2008-2012), and a member of the editorial boards for the journals ‘Labour History’ and ‘History Australia’. 

His books include ‘Steel Town: The Making and Breaking of Port Kembla’ (2005) and ‘Mining Towns: Making a Living, Making a Life’ (2012).

For more information about the lecture, call Brian Tonkin at the library on 8080 3460, or Robert Kelly at Monash University (03) 9903 4053.

WHAT: Lecture on mining towns in Australian history

WHERE: BH City Library

WHEN: Saturday 2pm

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