The 10 Best Events at This Year's Australian Heritage Festival

Indigenous ceremony
Indigenous ceremony | © Australian Heritage Festival
Tom Smith

The Australian Heritage Festival is a nationwide celebration of the country’s historic, natural, Indigenous and multicultural heritage. Its 38th edition is being held across every state and territory between 18 April and 20 May 2018. The National Trust have registered almost 1000 events, and this is their pick of the top 10 highlights.

The Good Old Bad Old Days

Woolloomooloo, Rushcutters Bay, Potts Point and Elizabeth Bay are now among Sydney’s most salubrious suburbs… but the 2011 postcode wasn’t always so genteel. Cultural historian Warren Fahey presents the sordid history of Sydney’s inner-east on Saturday 12 May, including the old roller coasters of the White City amusement park, the Silver Spade cabaret, and the ‘peeping Toms’ of Elizabeth Bay.

280 Pitt St, Sydney NSW 2000 — Saturday 12 May, 2.00pm

Rushcutters Bay

Let’s Talk MCM Heritage: An Expert Panel Discussion

Sometimes Australians cringe at our provincial suburbia — a great source of material for comedians like Barry Humphries and Kath & Kim — and its mid-century modernist (MCM) architecture is much maligned. But this expert panel of architects aims to convince its audience of the heritage value possessed by these humble suburban homes built between the 1950s and ‘70s.

Beaumaris Bowls Club, Beaumaris VIC 3193 — Thursday 17 May, 7.30pm

Mid-Century Modern townhouse in Melbourne

Two Cultures, One People

Cooktown — a small locality on the Cape York Peninsula in Far North Queensland named after British explorer Captain James Cook — is the site of the first recorded act of reconciliation between British colonisers and Indigenous Australians, when Cook’s crew spent seven weeks there repairing their ship in 1770. Today, Cooktown is home to one of Queensland’s premier museums, tracing the history of race in this historic town.

50 Helen St, Cooktown QLD 4895 — open Tuesday to Saturday 10am to 1pm

James Cook Museum, Cooktown

South Perth’s Old Mill — Fact and Fiction

How old is a mill that’s earned the name ‘Old Mill’? One hundred and eighty three years, to be precise, making it Perth’s oldest surviving domestic structure. Join historians Prof John Stephens and Prof Ian Reid as they step through the the fascinating history of the Old Mill — a building that’s served as a hotel, a private residence, a wine saloon, a police station, a poultry farm and a folk museum since 1835.

Melville Pl, South Perth WA 6151 — Wednesday 16 May, 6.30pm

The Old Mill, Perth

Pioneer Women’s Trail Walk: Hahndorf to Beaumont

The first German settlers in the 19th century used to regularly trek 35km from their homes in Hahndorf to the market in Adelaide, and you can follow in their footsteps — literally — on this trail walk through the Adelaide Hills. There is a series of pick-up points if you want to join in the fun on Sunday 20 May, ending up at Beaumont House for the annual Heritage Harvest Festival.

631 Glynburn Rd, Beaumont SA 5066 — Sunday 20 May

Hahndorf, South Australia

Landscape of Learning – Old Tuggeranong Schoolhouse

Sitting at the bottom of Simpson’s Hill in the Canberra suburb of Chisolm, this old schoolhouse captures what it was like to be a student in the late 19th century with vintage furniture, artefacts and antiques. Enjoy the gorgeous gardens and impressive nearby landscapes on Sunday 22 April at this well-maintained heritage property dating back to 1880.

34 Enid Lorimer Circuit, Chisholm ACT 2905 — Sunday 22 April, 2.00pm

Pencil and paper

Chinese market gardeners and storekeepers in North Sydney 1870-1932

These days, more than 1.2 million Australians have Chinese ancestry, but the Chinese population was almost invisible in North Sydney in the late 19th century. Local historian Dr Ian Hoskins explores how this tiny group of immigrants — a mere 70 according to the 1871 census — forged a life in an area better known for its grand harbourside homes, spired churches and exclusive schools.

234 Miller St, North Sydney NSW 2060 — Thursday 17 May, 1pm

North Sydney

Guided tours of the National Heritage-listed Qantas Hangar

The national airline has just completed its first non-stop flight from Australia to Europe, which would’ve seemed like an impossible dream to those who worked in Qantas’ first permanent hangar in Longreach 96 years ago. From humble beginnings servicing outback Queensland’s airmail, Qantas has grown into one of Australia’s most revered companies — learn a little more about the history on a free weekday guided tour for the duration of the Australian Heritage Festival.

1 Hudson Fysh Drive, Longreach Airport, Longreach QLD 4730 — open daily 9am to 5pm

The Qantas Dreamliner before taking off

Multicultural Belmont

The riverside suburb of Belmont has been one of Perth’s most multicultural neighbourhoods, with a long history of Chinese market gardeners, Italian farmers and generations of post-war migrants successfully living and working alongside each other. Explore the suburb’s multicultural past at this special exhibition hosted by the Belmont Museum in April and May.

215 Wright St, Cloverdale WA 6105 — open Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm

Belmont, Perth

Now you see it…

You might have visited the historic Anderson’s Mill in the picturesque town of Smeaton before, but you’ve never seen it like this. This Mother’s Day weekend, take mum to this tiny town two hours’ west of Melbourne to check out the art, light and music display that will illuminate the five-storey mill that harks back to Victoria’s Gold Rush era of the 1850s.

9 Alice St, Smeaton VIC 3364 — Friday 11 May to Sunday 13 May

Smeaton, Victoria

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