Friday, April 19, 2024

Goldfields Re-Imagined book launch

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If you’re interested in the history of the goldfields, here’s an event not to be missed: the launch of historian Marjorie Theobald’s latest book The Goldfields Re-Imagined: Militant Miners, Miscreants and Poor Mary Anne. The launch and book signing is being held at the Castlemaine Market Building on Saturday 24 February, from 3pm to 5pm and the guest speaker will be well-known author Robyn Annear. 

Speaking to the [Tarrangower] Times about her book, Marjorie said that the most interesting period of Castlemaine’s history was the early goldfields days. There’s a motley collection of characters in the book, including swindlers, bigamists, rebellious miners, sly groggers, total abstainers and publicans.

The goldfields were, for most of the women in Marjorie’s book, a brutal and uncaring environment. The chapter about ‘Poor Mary Anne’ is a poignant case in point, as is the one describing the way in which women and children were treated at Castlemaine’s Benevolent Asylum.   

Marjorie’s knowledge of the history of the goldfields is a personal one; her family tree stretches back to five families who arrived at the Mount Alexander region during the gold rush. “My father was sluicing for gold when I was born,” she said. To this, add the years she spent working as an academic historian and the countless hours she spent leafing through documents at the Public Records Office. There are few who would know as much as Marjorie about the region’s history.     

While it’s apparent that Marjorie’s book is the result of a great deal of scholarship and research, it’s also a cracking good read.  “I have an obligation to make people want to read my books,” Marjorie said. 

And you will want to read this book. It’s well written, entertaining and brings 19th century Castlemaine to life – warts and all. 

You’ll be able to buy The Goldfields Re-Imagined: Militant Miners, Miscreants and Poor Mary Anne at the launch and afterwards at Stoneman’s Bookshop.  

The book launch is being hosted by Castlemaine Society Inc (CASSOC). This is an organisation that consults on planning issues in relation to heritage and streetscape in Castlemaine.

Here’s another date for your diary: to celebrate the National Trust’s Heritage Month in April, CASSOC is conducting a tour of the Castlemaine Government Camp on Saturday 27 April. The tour is being run in conjunction with the National Trust Bendigo and Region Branch. Go to www.nationaltrust.org.au/ahf_event/tour-of-the-castlemaine-government-camp-precinct for more details. 

This article appeared in the Tarrangower Times, 16 February 2024.

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