2023 RAHS Conference: Featured Session

Local and Community Histories: Stories from the Riverina

Wagga RSL Club, 21-22 October 2023

Photograph of the Historic Council Chambers in Wagga Wagga

Historic Council Chambers, Wagga Wagga [Photo: Geoff Burch]

Bookings are open for the 2023 RAHS Conference in Wagga Wagga. Book now to save up to $15 on your tickets. In this blog post, we take a closer look at our Session B speakers, who will share local histories that will deepen our understanding of the Riverina Region.

In 1865, Wagga butcher Tom Castro stepped across the threshold of his shop and into the history books. Claiming to be the long-lost heir to the Tichborne family’s Hampshire estates, Tom unwittingly set in motion one of the greatest cases of disputed identity in recent criminal history. Michelle Maddison is Curator at the Museum of the Riverina and, in her talk, will answer the question: Who was the elusive Tom Castro, and did he ever really exist?

Dr Stephen Gapps is a historian committed to bringing the Frontier Wars into broader public recognition as Australia’s First Wars. He has published award-winning books and has previously worked as a consultant historian and curator at the Australian National Maritime Museum. Stephen is now Senior Associate Historian at Artefact Heritage Services and is working on his next project ‘The Rising. Resistance Warfare along the entire frontier of the Colony 1838–1842’. Stephen’s paper will build on his previous research on the Wiradyuri wars of resistance.

Marie Narelle was a Riverina-born Edwardian concert singer blessed with a voice of operatic quality. With the aid of her extended family and her church, she drew upon her rich Irish heritage to overcome early challenges in her life and establish herself as a leading exponent of traditional Irish folk music in Australia, the British Isles and North America. Local historian Bill Spiers will showcase the life and career of Marie Narelle, ‘The Australian Queen of Irish Song’.

Conference delegates will also have plenty of opportunities to explore Wagga Wagga’s history, especially during the Friday welcome reception at the Historic Council Chambers and the Saturday behind-the-scenes tour of the redeveloped Museum of the Riverina.

Visit our conference website for bookings and a detailed program.

We look forward to seeing you in October!

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