At the Slim Dusty Centre today the Macleay River Historical Society paid tribute to the late Billie Crawford by holding the first ever lecture in her honour.
It is hoped the ‘Billie Crawford Lecture' will become an annual event held to recognise and remember her contribution to Macleay heritage and history, but also to remind people to continue to preserve the region’s rich history.
Dr Noelene Kyle told the Argus Billie, who was a long-term volunteer and president of the society, had been a great advocate for Macleay Valley history and heritage.
“She made her mark by preparing the heritage study for the council,” Dr Kyle said.
“She was just this indomitable person
“She was absolutely a treasure.
“When we lost her, we lost someone who had a great heart but also vast knowledge.”
This year’s guest speaker was award winning historian and 2018 State Library of NSW Merewether Fellow, Dr Julie McIntyre.
Dr Mcintyre said she was incredibly honoured to be speaking at the inaugural Billie Crawford lecture.
The topic of discussion was her own groundbreaking report into heritage migration.
“I wrote the report for the whole Mid North Coast but I’m pulling out the Macleay Valley material,” Dr McIntyre said.
“What we’re looking at is the movement of Aboriginal people, British people and non-aboriginal people into and around the region, and understanding how that gives us a really colourful sense of the whole place.
“We’re saying who are the people that arrived here and how did they interact with each other in ways that created a distinct region.”
Dr McIntyre’s approach also takes into account the environment of a place tends to shape its migration.
“Migration is often built around the use of natural resources,” she said.
“The Macleay is an area where natural extraction that could occur was timber cutting. There’s also lots of farmland.
“So the types of people who arrived here were either labourers or people who wanted to invest in those industries, so that shapes the place.”
Dr McIntyre said the Macleay didn’t have a gold rush or coal mines so there isn’t the same kind of radicalism and political thinking that exists in areas that have those “natural endowments.”
The migration approach was being applied instead of looking at the region’s history as an unfolding economic development or focussing on an elite minority such as exemplary community leaders.
“It’s really interesting when you look at not just the white people here, which is often the way local histories unfold,” Dr Mcintyre said.
“We’re saying, well actually it takes a whole community to make a place.”
Rex and Yvonne Toomey nee Avery from Port Macquarie couldn’t wait to hear Dr McIntyre’s version of Macleay Valley history.
“Most of my family come from Kempsey,” Yvonne said.
“I feel a connection to the Macleay district so I thought it would be nice to hear someone else’s perspective on the area.
“And we knew Billie Crawford in-person.
“She was a lovely lady, she helped us a lot when we were doing research through the museum.”