News Parliament


On the weekend, I had the privilege of attending an extraordinary event—the Big Little Histories Of Canowindra. It was absolutely spectacular. Organised by the Corridor Project through Phoebe Cowdery, Dylan Gower and their team of supporters, the Big Little Histories Of Canowindra tells local stories and combines four significant local histories, Devonian, First Nation, agricultural and bushranger. During 2015 to 2018, the communities of the Central West, including farmers, graziers and Indigenous Australians from around Canowindra, shared their stories with the Corridor Project, allowing a team to produce a significant compilation of documented local oral histories. These stories were then told through performing art, photography, paintings and multimedia projections at various sites such as the Canowindra Historical Museum, the Age of Fishes Museum, the Swinging Bridge winery, the Royal Hotel and, of course, the railway precinct at Canowindra, which is full of history.

One of the many highlights of the event for me was the silos being lit up with animations to give them the appearance of giant aquariums, housing some of Canowindra's earliest residents such as the Grossi and the Mandageria fairfaxi, which were fish who lived in the area 360 million to 370 million years ago. Canowindra is famous for its fossils. With the fish swimming in the silos above, there were projections down below of local farmers telling their stories of harvests and what life was like for them in Canowindra many decades ago.

The event was a triumph. It breathed new life into Canowindra's railway precinct and is hopefully just the beginning of a new era for that precinct and area. The event was created by the Corridor Project and leaves a legacy of innovative material for Canowindra, Cowra and Grenfell historical societies, the Ages of Fishes Museum, Blind Freddy's Bushranger Tours and the National Film and Sound Archive here in Canberra.

We're lucky to have some extraordinarily talented people living in our region, and the Big Little Histories of Canowindra showcased their talents beautifully. I would like to make mention of them here in the chamber today. They are, of course, Dylan Gower and Phoebe Cowdery, whose vision it was to bring this project to life many years ago. The curators were Wiradjuri artist Aleshia Lonsdale from the Mudgee area; Craig Lawler, Canowindra's very own bushranger expert; and Alison Plevey and Craig Walsh. Production design was by Genevieve Blanchett. Choreography was by Beatrice Murray. And music was by Millthorpe's Chloe and Jason Roweth, Nerida Cuddy, Oli Statham, Maryann Wright, Pascale Stendell, John Bourke and Will Bennett. I also need to mention the contributing artists: Heather Vallance, Kate Barclay, David Isbester, Beatrice Murray, Matt Davies, Genevieve Carroll, Bill Moseley, Mila Gower, Rebecca Dowling, John Daly, Norm Palazzi, Larry Walsh, Clair Liversidge and Lilly Wright.

The people who contributed to the oral histories were Julia Andrews, John Daly and Patrick Nolan. The volunteers were Anna Stranger, Charlotte Carroll, Jackie Yeo and Jo Gollings. There were many people who contributed to the videos, who told their local stories and local histories, which were projected on the screens for everyone to see. Harold Balcomb, who is a very good friend of mine, was one of them, along with his wife, Dorothy. They were just two of the featured identities. It was beautifully presented. I would also like to mention the councillors who were there on the evening: Deputy Mayor of Cabonne, Councillor Anthony Durkin; Councillor Cheryl Newsom; and Councillor Jenny Weaver. I should also mention the Parliamentary Secretary for Western New South Wales, Rick Colless.

One of the reasons that people move to country areas is our vibrant art scene, and this corridor project and the revitalisation of the railway precinct is, hopefully, going to be the start of a new era for the Canowindra region, in terms of arts projects. It was an extraordinary effort and I don't think the area has seen anything like this before. It is very audacious in what it hopes to achieve, but you have very committed, talented artists who are just going to be building on this. So, to everyone who made the event such a success, I offer my congratulations. It was a triumph.