Torquay is a town steeped in history and the folks at Torquay Museum Without Walls are sharing our colourful stories and educating all of us. We chatted with Chris Barr and asked her a few questions about her role with Torquay Museum Without Walls and our town.
When and why did you start Torquay Museum Without Walls? We started Torquay Museum Without Walls 3 years ago (2015) with the goal of collecting and sharing the stories from our town in a format more accessible to residents and visitors. In particular we wanted to reach younger people and the many newcomers to our town who we found were keen to learn about their new home. Very little had actually been recorded and we have some interesting and colourful characters who I have found have been happy to tell us their stories. Our magazine gives them a perfect chance not only to share but also have them recorded not only digitally but in libraries and record centres for the future. The digital format is perfect for reaching younger people especially students at the local schools. We are very proud to think students can now research their own little community thought our web page.
How important is it for our community to learn the region’s history? Historians often say we can’t know where we are going until we know where we came from, recognising the value of learning stories behind our community. We think knowing about our history and our culture helps us build a sense of pride in our town and region. Torquay has a wealth stores and a very unique and special place in history of our country in that we saw the birth of the surf industry right here in a little town of only a few thousand people. That is pretty special local history story. Sometimes things as mundane as street names can reflect the heritage of past generations connections to the past are an important part of feeling connected in our new and modern community. We think many newcomers are looking for a connection to their new community and hope that the stories in our Magazine will help them make that connection. Learning about he past can change the way you feel about the present.
What do you love most about living on the Surf Coast? I have lived on the Surf Coast for many years. I have seen many changes some good some not so welcome but above all I love the things that never change – our beautiful beaches are still as glorious for a morning walk now as they were 150 years ago. I think the connection of our people to the beach is wonderful whether it be for walking boating, fishing, swimming or surfing. I love Point Danger on Anzac morning when the muffled drums sound the approach of our veterans to remember the fallen at surely the most beautiful place to be at dawn on that day. I love watching the surf when it is big at Bells and reflect on the amazing connection our town has to the surf. I also love listening to people talk about their connection to the town and watch them smile when they reflect and share their story. I am very lucky to be able to be a part of their journey’s. One of the driving factors in my interest in History is that I am INCREDIBLY lucky to live in the old Bell Homestead at Bells Beach. This gave me a good excuse to dig around for the story of my house and the Bell Family after whom the Beach is named.
You can follow Torquay Museum Without Walls on their instagram and facebook pages @Torquay.Museum.Without.Walls and subscribe to their quarterly magazine online or purchase at our local Gilbert Street newsagent, in Torquay. Find them at www.torquayhistory.com.