Public Talks

These days I am asked to give public talks, included lectures, addresses at openings/launches and speaking on discussion panels. I am most often asked to speak about local Aboriginal history and culture, and environmental history and issues. Here are a few of my recent public engagements:

Up-coming: 2019 Geoff Craig Memorial Lecture

I am very proud to have been invited to give the 2019 Geoff Craig Memorial Lecture at Stanley, courtesy of the Stanley Athenaeum. Although I haven’t given the talk a title yet, the lecture will be about recognising ecological change from human impacts, from a historian’s perspective.

Date:  Sunday 15th September 2019
Venue: Stanley Hall
Time: TBA

Address at the launch of Just Biodiesel’s Barnawatha biodiesel plant

Just Biodiesel has a vested interest in creating new sustainable fuels for a low-carbon future. I was asked to address their audience regarding philosophies of environmental sustainability and circular economies embedded in local Aboriginal culture, and how we might look to Aboriginal economies and philosophy regarding the management of resources and the environment to guide us into a more sustainable future.

I was pleased to be able to talk alongside Jida Gulpilil (welcome to country), John Hewson (keynote speaker), Dr Helen Haines (federal member for Indi), and Dr Rowena Cantley-Smith.

17 July 2019, Barnawatha

‘Beechworth’s First Nations: A Historian’s Perspective’

This was billed as: ‘Dr Jacqui Durrant will present a discussion of her most recent unpublished research, providing historical context for Aboriginal life at the time of European-Aboriginal contact (mid-1830s onwards), as well as addressing the question of ‘What happened to Beechworth’s Aboriginal population?’ There will be time for a Q&A afterwards.’

Date: 6th March 2019
Venue: The Old Railway Station, Beechworth
Time: 1pm-3pm
Cost: Contact Beechworth U3A

Art chat — landscape then and now | Beechworth Spring Arts

Arts Council vice president and PhD student Daren John Pope leads a lively discussion with art historian and Eugene von Guérard biographer Ruth Pullin, Beechworth historian Jacqui Durrant and painter Alan Phillips about the 19th century Romantic landscape tradition, Indigenous histories and contemporary landscape interpretation.

Nov 24 | 10am morning tea, 10.30am start | $15 entry, Arts Council members $10. Pre-paid bookings essential

Beechworth Town Hall, 103 Ford Street, Beechworth


International Women’s Day at the Stanley Athenaeum

To celebrate International Women’s Day 2018, the Stanley Athenaeum launched an exhibition, titled ‘Stanley Women of the 19th Century: Hearts of Gold and Minds of Mettle — Mary Rawes to Mariette Craig.’

The Friends of Stanley Athenaeum asked me to give the key note address to open the exhibition, which I did in the Stanley Hall before an audience of about 100 people — a great turn out for this small but lively country town.


The Monster Petition for women’s suffrage presented to the Victorian Parliament in 1891, contains the signatures of women from Stanley — now held in the Public Records Office of Victoria. (Image from The Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka).

As I’ve had a long-standing interest in the nature of history and the ‘gaps’ that exist within mainstream history, I spoke about the people and themes that mainstream history has until recent times chosen to ignore, and speculated on the structural reasons for its continued failure to fully integrate the histories of a range of groups, including those of the working and lower classes, of different ethnic, indigenous and migrant groups, LGBTQI people, and of course, of women — who despite comprising 50% of the population, still get treated by mainstream history as a specialty area of study.

Regarding the exhibition, historically, the women of Stanley ran local businesses, worked in the health professions, held mining claims, and were involved in political reform. However, learning about their lives has been incredibly difficult because their efforts were barely noted in public records. For this reason, the historical women of Stanley would be totally invisible to us today, if it weren’t for the hard-won research that has been conducted in recent years by the women of the Stanley Athenaeum — in this case, chiefly by local historians Valerie Privett and Helen McIntyre. This exhibition was truly a case of women upholding women.

2.30pm, 10th March 2018, at the Stanley Athenaeum and Hall.