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2023 RAHS Conference

The Way Ahead: Local and Community Histories for our Future

Wagga RSL, 21–22 October 2023

The City of Wagga Wagga is the perfect location to explore the 2023 Conference Theme – The Way Ahead: Local and Community Histories for our Future. Today the people who call Wagga Wagga home – Wiradjuri people, other First Nations people, and non-indigenous people from Australia and around the world – reflect its rich and diverse history. The commitment to remembering and honouring this history both now and for future generations can be seen with the launch of the redeveloped Museum of the Riverina. The museum is dedicated to telling stories about the people and events that helped shape the City of Wagga Wagga and the Riverina Region. This commitment to local and community histories includes an outreach program that supports thirty-eight Riverina museum collections.

We are sure you will enjoy the RAHS Conference program and exploring this region’s museums and historical sites. The RAHS Conference website includes ideas to make the most of your visit to Wagga Wagga and the Riverina Region. We thank the Wagga Wagga and District Historical Society for sharing resources from their collections on the conference website.

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Program and Bookings

Conference Program

Conference attendees will be treated to sessions that engage with the 2023 Conference Theme – The Way Ahead: Local and Community Histories for our Future.

As always, there will be plenty of opportunities to network with RAHS members and friends, especially at the pre-conference event on Friday, 20 October, hosted by the Wagga Wagga and District Historical Society at the Historic Council Chambers.

Download the 2023 Conference Program to learn more.

Conference Bookings Closed

We look forward to seeing conference delegates in Wagga Wagga.


Fitzmaurice Street East between Gurwood and Johnston Streets, 1891 [Image Courtesy WWDHS]

The Lesley Muir Address

About the Lesley Muir Address

In June 2012, the RAHS Council agreed that the keynote address to all RAHS Conferences would be named after Lesley Muir OAM and would be considered for publication. This acknowledges Lesley’s contribution to the RAHS and local history in Australia.

Learn more about the Lesley Muir Address and past addresses.

2023 Lesley Muir Address

Adjunct Associate Professor Bruce Pennay OAM

Looking for ways ahead: A local response from Albury-Wodonga

Participants at a conference themed The Way Ahead come with hopes of pondering the ways ahead for their work and that of their historical societies. This talk will be a picture-led analysis of how one local history society is feeling its way ahead. It is inspired by both grim and optimistic predictions made by local history practitioners and theorists on recent developments in the field.

I want to point to the ways local historians are meeting the challenges and realising the promise of new technologies. And I want to point ahead to ways one society is trying, with Aboriginal collaborators, to unravel stories about contact and post-contact engagements between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people at the Murray River Crossing Place.

Bruce Pennay is an Adjunct Associate Professor at Charles Sturt University. His research interests focus on two broad topic areas: the cultural heritage of the New South Wales/ Victorian border region; and post-war immigration history and heritage. Shortly after he retired in 1999, he won several awards, including a life membership of the History Council of New South Wales and a Medal of the Order of Australia. Twenty years on, he received additional awards, including an honorary doctorate from Charles Sturt University in 2019. In 2023, he was made an honorary life member of the Albury and District Historical Society. Bruce has been a member of local historical societies for many years. He has contributed articles and reviews to the RAHS Journal and Magazine. He is a volunteer at Albury Library Museum and the Bonegilla Migrant Experience. At 85, Bruce is still pursuing several self-funded and community heritage-funded projects. All have involved close collaborations within the Albury and the Wodonga District Historical Societies.

Conference Events and Tours

Welcome Reception – Friday 20 October, 5.30 pm to 7.00 pm

Conference delegates can attend a pre-conference welcome reception at the Museum of the Riverina Historic Council Chambers site, corner of Baylis Street and Morrow Street, Wagga Wagga. The event will be hosted by the Wagga Wagga and District Historical Society and will provide an opportunity to enjoy the architectural heritage of the City of Wagga Wagga.

Museum of the Riverina – Saturday 21 October, 3.30 pm to 4.30 pm

Conference delegates can participate in a behind-the-scenes tour of the redeveloped Museum of the Riverina. The tour includes bus pick-up and drop-off from the conference venue.

Black and white photograph of the Australian Joint Stock Bank in Wagga Wagga. The ground appears flooded, and a man sits on a horse.

Australian Joint Stock Banks, Fitzmaurice and Gurwood Streets, 1891 [Image Courtesy WWDHS]

Transport and Accommodation


For information related to transport and travel, go to the Visit Wagga Wagga website.


Wagga Wagga is about a 5-hour drive from Sydney or a 2.5-hour drive from Canberra.

Canberra – 2 hrs + 45 mins

Sydney – 4 hrs + 50 mins

Melbourne – 4 hrs + 50 mins


NSW TrainLink’s train and coach network operates to over 360 destinations, linking Wagga Wagga Railway Station with Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney, Brisbane and regional NSW.

Sydney – 6 hrs + 40 mins

Melbourne – 4 hrs + 40 mins


Wagga Wagga Airport is serviced by carriers Qantas and Regional Express. To get to and from the airport: Car hire counters are located near the Arrival Gate terminal. A taxi rank is also located directly outside the airport terminal.

Sydney – 1hr + 10mins

Melbourne – 1hrs + 15mins

Brisbane – 2hrs


The Wagga Wagga RSL Motel and Apartments adjoins the Wagga Wagga RSL Club, where the 2023 Conference is being held. The Wagga Wagga City Council has also prepared a list of accommodation options.

Visit Wagga Wagga provides various accommodation options, as do websites such as Airbnb.com.au, wotif.com, booking.com, trivago.com.au and lastminute.com.au.

Please note: The RAHS makes no specific recommendations, and conference attendees are responsible for booking accommodation to meet personal requirements.

Things to See and Do

The City of Wagga Wagga is the perfect location for the 2023 Conference. Wagga Wagga is a vibrant regional centre with an interesting local history. Nestled in the heart of the Riverina Region, visitors can sample its museums, galleries, and gardens.

Click the images below to learn about things to see and do around Wagga Wagga.

Learn about Wagga Wagga's History

In addition to our selection of sources, you can find other resources on Wagga Wagga’s history at:

  • Wagga Wagga and District Historical Society
  • Museums of History NSW, State Archives Collection
  • National Library of Australia’s Trove database.

Click the images below to learn about Wagga Wagga’s history.


Certificate of Achievement Nominations

RAHS Affiliated Societies are critical in promoting local and community history throughout New South Wales. The RAHS Certificates of Achievement honour the wide-ranging contributions made by their members.

Has one of your members made an outstanding contribution to your historical society? Consider nominating them for the RAHS Certificate of Achievement award. Certificates of Achievement are presented at the RAHS Conference and provide recognition to those members of societies whose contribution is significant and noteworthy.

All nominations must be in writing and show one or more of the following:

  • Comprehensive evidence of achievement
  • Quality of service
  • Significant support (financial or benefit-in-kind).

Candidates for the award must be nominated by a member of an affiliated society and be approved by either a general meeting, an executive meeting or a specially convened subcommittee. The presiding President and Secretary (or other appropriate office bearer) must also sign the nomination.

The deadline for nominations is Friday, 22 September 2023. Nominations should be emailed to admin@rahs.org.au.

Successful society applicants will be notified before the RAHS Conference so that arrangements can be made for their presentation.

Click the images below to learn about past recipients of the Certificates of Achievement.

Black and white photograph of Fitzmaurice Street in Wagga Wagga featuring unpaved dirt roads. The clocktower is visible in the background.

Corner or Johnston and Fitzmaurice Streets, Wagga Wagga, c.1890 [Image courtesy WWDHS]