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Untold stories of Wittenoom

Lovenfosse, Sylvia (2013) Untold stories of Wittenoom. Masters by Research thesis, Murdoch University.

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Abstract

This thesis consists of two parts: the first being the research and study I conducted to write the memoir and the second being my memoir. Firstly, I discuss the methods and skills I drew on and developed to prepare the memoir. These included joining the Oral History Association (NSW division) to attend lectures on the art of oral history interviews and completing units in creative writing. I was able to use research skills learned during the study for my Bachelor of Arts (BA) in modern history to research the history of Wittenoom. This was difficult from NSW and, for much of it I used the Battye Library in Perth. There I accessed oral recordings from some of Wittenoom’s early residents and newspapers from the fifties that showed the hype and expectations for the mine and mill at Wittenoom Gorge. I also drew on school records which indicated families with children had stayed in the town for a few days, a few weeks, a term, or perhaps years. They also recorded the child’s birthplace and the father’s occupation; from these I was able to ascertain which families had migrated to Australia and realised that very few of the men were experienced miners. It was soon obvious to me that of the Australians, it was mostly the previously unemployed and unskilled who stayed and became miners or millers. The remainder of the workers were assisted European migrants, who were contracted by the Australian Government to work on designated projects for two years in return for their families’ and their own fares to Australia.

For this thesis, I have submitted a portion of an incomplete memoir intended for publication. The submitted portion covers the period 1948-1960. The remainder of the memoir covers 1974 to present day and tells of our slow realisation of the disaster that was happening to former Wittenoom workers and even later to former residents. It will describe the town’s evolution from a mining town to a sought-after tourist destination, with art galleries, motel accommodation, bus tours and helicopter flights and the attempts by the locals to stop the Government closing the town in 1984. It will end with my visit to the remnants of the town in 1999, 2003, 2004 and 2006.

Publication Type: Thesis (Masters by Research)
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Arts
Notes: Note to the author: If you would like to make your thesis openly available on Murdoch University Library's Research Repository, please contact: repository@murdoch.edu.au. Thank you.
Supervisor: Owen, Christine
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/41660
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