Public Talks

I am regularly asked to give public talks, included lectures, addresses at openings/launches and to speak on discussion panels. Below are a few of my recent and up-coming public engagements.

If you would like me to address your group about environmental history, Aboriginal history of the North East Alpine valleys and ranges, or early gold rush history, please email me to request a schedule of fees.


Fire on the Plateau — In Conversation | Beechworth Spring Arts Festival

To launch of the Beechworth Library’s ‘Culture Club’, I will be interviewed about my new book, Fire on the Plateau — A History of Fire and Its Management in Stanley.

Where: Beechworth Library, 101 Ford Street
Date: 10-11am, Saturday 16 November, 2019
Further details: Free

Mysterious Mogullumbidj — the first nations people of Mount Buffalo, a historian’s perspective

Today, the Mogullumbidj are virtually unheard of, but at the time of European settlement they were well-known as the inhabitants of Mount Buffalo and the Buffalo River Valley. In this talk, I will be presenting unpublished research about the ‘Mogullumbidj’ people, as well as providing historical context for Aboriginal life in and around Mount Buffalo at the time of European-Aboriginal contact (mid-1830s onwards). I will also discuss the cultural and spiritual significance of the Alps to the Aboriginal peoples of North East Victoria.

Where: Myrtleford Landcare AGM, Gapsted Hall
Date: 6.30pm, 10 October, 2019
Further details: TBA


2019 Geoff Craig Memorial Lecture, 15 September 2019

‘Revisiting the forgotten world of Victoria’s alpine valleys and ranges — the case for restoring our ancient open woodlands’

While researching local history using journals and diaries dating from the 1830s and 1840s, historian Jacqui Durrant felt she had stumbled upon a forgotten world — a world of spectacular ecological richness, filled with unexpected sights, sounds and sensations. In this lecture she will explore the dramatic environmental changes that have happened since European settlement, and how a knowledge of the past can radically change the way we think about nature conservation today.

Date:  Sunday 15th September 2019
Venue: Stanley Soldiers Memorial Hall, Main Street, Stanley, Victoria
Time: 11am, 15 September.

‘Co-ordinator of the Stanley Athenaeum and Public Room, Chris Dormer, thanked Dr. Durrant for what she described as an, ‘important, inspiring and innovative lecture exploring the past to inform the future’. “We are still dazzled by the way you can bring together your findings to tell yet another ‘ripping yarn’ which will be talked about and remembered for years to come”.’
— The Nine Mile News, Issue 115 OCTOBER 2019.

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, Star Hotel, 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 Festival

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.