Welcome to the fourth in this series of interviews with members of the Society for One-Place Studies! Last week we travelled to America to hear from Eric White (Richmond, Maine OPS) and this week we are on the move again, to Australia. Please give a warm welcome to Jennifer Jones, who is carrying out the one-place study of Axedale in Victoria.
I am nothing if not consistent, so I will begin by asking you to tell us a fun or interesting fact about yourself.
We live in a fairly isolated area, in Central Victoria, surrounded by National Park. Our house is entirely off the grid, which means we have no power connected to our house. Power is supplied from solar panels and batteries. For those days when sunshine is rare, we have a generator to provide power. Contrary to what people think about this type of life style, we are able to have all the usual mod cons.
What got you interested in one-place studies – and what keeps you interested?
I have been interested in starting a One Place Study for many years, but couldn’t decide on a place. When I moved to Axedale, I knew it was the Place that I had been looking for. I have no family or family history connection there, but from the moment I moved there, I felt a connection. I no longer live there but still live fairly close by, and feel that connection through my OPS. Finding the stories and building up a picture of the people who lived there in a particular time, keeps me interested.
When did you start your OPS?
I started my one place study in 2014. There have been a few periods over that time, when I’ve had to put the study into hiatus, due to work commitments.
Tell us a little bit about your OPS research and what you are concentrating on at the moment.
As I’ve had a few gaps along the way, I would still say I am in the beginning stages of my One Place Study. Due to Covid I haven’t been able to do any hands on research, so for the past year I have been mainly recording Axedale burials and stories of the people taken from newspapers.
Of all the different types of records you use for your one-place study, which are your favourites and why?
I love using Trove, which contains collections of newspapers, magazines and much much more. It’s an entirely free service which is an added bonus. I’m looking forward to being able to get back to the Public Records Office of Victoria which is an archive of government records.
What has been your favourite OPS discovery or ‘wow!’ moment?
There are many old bluestone buildings around Axedale, which are still in good condition and beautiful, but until I started my One Place Study, I didn’t realise the quality of the bluestone or its importance to the development of Axedale. While researching, I have found many reports that the bluestone from Axedale is of excellent quality and considered the best bluestone in Australia. Some say there is no better bluestone anywhere in the world. This is little known amongst locals and caused quite a bit of interest when I published an article on the OPS blog.
Name your go-to websites for one-place study research – or tell us about some brilliant online OPS resources which you think are overlooked
Trove for newspapers and photos
Public Record Office Victoria for passenger lists, wills, inquests, land records and more
Royal Historical Society of Victoria for Victorian history and heritage
If you could go back in time and meet someone from your one-place study, who would it be and what would you talk about?
I would like to talk to Napthali Ingram who lived in Axedale in the 19th century and was the owner of the bluestone quarry and the Quarry Hotel. I’m sure he would have many stories to tell about his business and also about the locals. The Quarry Hotel is a landmark of Axedale and I’m sure has seen many interesting times.
A random question: Vegemite – love it or hate it?
An every day food. Love it!
Which places – related to your OPS research or otherwise – are you most looking forward to visiting when Covid-related restrictions are over?
Firstly, I’m looking forward to going to Queensland to visit my son and grandchildren. I would love to do a research trip to Scotland, when international travel is allowed. In relation to my one place study, I’m looking forward to more chats with locals about the history of Axedale and their lives.
Thank you for talking to us Jennifer, and for those who might be wondering, Vegemite is like Marmite (made from yeast extract) but is, according to The Culture Trip website, “more intensely gobsmacking”.
Photos supplied by Jennifer Jones.
Would you like to occupy the hotseat and take part in a future interview as a Society member? Let me know and I will send a set of questions winging its way to you by email.