About Memories of War

Group of women at the entrance to the avenue of trees, possibly Ballarat-Daylesford-Bacchus Marsh area. ca 1890-ca 1915. Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria.

Group of women at the entrance to the avenue of trees, possibly Ballarat-Daylesford-Bacchus Marsh area. ca 1890-ca 1915. Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria.

In this project writing, history, performing arts and education students from Federation University Australia explored what World War One was like for the people of Ballarat through researching and telling the stories of local people affected by the Great War. They looked at the stories of those who went away and those who stayed at home. They explored grand themes and global context, but also the personal, specific individual stories, letters, and photographs of the people who lived through the war experience one hundred years ago.

Student and community discoveries were published on the Memories of War blog hosted by the Gold Museum. Contributions were diverse, with reflective and research essays, poems, stories and artwork. The Gold Museum Blog started publishing material in September 2015.

Students at Gold Museum

Fed Uni writing students visiting the Gold Museum in preparation for their contribution to the WW1 Blog.

From the student stories and performances, a documentary film ‘The Last Goodbye’ was produced by Wind & Sky Productions and was launched on Sunday the 8 of November at M.A.D.E Ballarat in a special screening event. Follow the links to read the event report and see a gallery of images from the screening day.

Troops gathered at Ballarat Railyard, pre-1920. Photograph by Richards & Co. Image courtesy of Museum Victoria.

Troops gathered at Ballarat Railyard, pre-1920. Photograph by Richards & Co. Image courtesy of Museum Victoria.

FedUni graduating actor Grace Pernar reads a WW1 letter to camera.

FedUni graduating actor Grace Pernar reads a WW1 letter to camera.

The project was catalysed by a series of events held by the Ballarat RSL, Federation University Australia and the Gold Museum, culminating in the film screening and project finale in November. Federation University Australia became wonderfully and heavily involved, with student contributions across education, writing, history, and performing arts, and many dedicated FedUni staff working behind the scenes to make it happen.

The Gold Museum opened their doors to students and researchers, holding special open days for students to explore the WW1 collection close up and providing curatorial and historical research support. M.A.D.E Ballarat hosted the screening event and made sure it all ran without a hitch.

The Ballarat RSL hosted meetings, research events, film shooting days and the screening event after party, facilitating what became a wonderful and fascinating project. The film ‘The Last Goodbye’ produced by Wind & Sky Productions was beautiful, gentle, contemplative and sad, an intense and authentic local reflection of the impacts of WW1.

A captivated audience watches the film.

A captivated audience watches the film.


There are many wonderful aspects to this project but one of the most exciting things is the collaborative partnerships fostered by the project, underpinned by the depth of content available. To introduce a group of young people to the Gold Museum collection so that they can sift through it and explore the archives is a great thing.

To have Federation University Australia historians, education researchers, professional writing academics and theatre professionals collaborate on a cross-disciplinary curriculum is a great thing, and that they then connect with Museum curators to deepen understanding and relationships is a great thing. And. The stories this project has uncovered, large and small, global and intimate, are great things. We hope they are meaningful to the community.

RSL President Alex Tascas speaks while the musicians look on.

RSL President Alex Tascas speaks while the musicians look on.

The project continues to have life. Since the film launch and project celebration in 2015, the Gold Museum has published further posts in the ‘Memories of War’ blog category, featuring entries from Fed Uni students, Gold Museum volunteers, and Ballarat community members. In 2016 the Fed Uni Arts Academy student readings produced during the project were shown in the Gold Museum theatrette from May to September as part of the ‘Australia Will be There’ exhibition. The documentary film ‘The Last Goodbye‘ is freely accessible online for community viewing.