About the Toolangi and Castella History project


The Toolangi Castella Local History Project was initiated in 2020, through the Community Planning Scheme, thanks to the Shire of Murrindindi. At that community meeting on the plan, I got together with Jan Williams of the Singing Gardens, the Toolangi head school teacher of 2020 Andrew Bagnell, and our Taungurung Land and Waters Council representative, Brett Letman, who was later joined by Aunty Angela ten Buuren of the Taungurung. We gradually built a great group of local residents from Toolangi and Castella, some with a long family community history of several generations, some with a long-term residence and some new to the area in recent years. We outlined a project and were invited to apply for funding for the Toolangi Castella Local History Action Plan. This became part of the Toolangi-Castella Community Plan.

It was a strange time to collate community history, due to lockdowns and COVID restrictions. Despite this, we were able to get off to a good start. Community members were enthusiastic and supportive of the project and we had lots of great community input, including reference material, photos, great stories and terrific suggestions for the project. Based on this we outlined plans in an exciting project for 2021. We applied through the Shire for funding for the initial stage of the project. Our initial application for funding to the Shire of Murrindindi, under the Community Planning Scheme, was successful. This grant covered:

  • Filming of some of the older residents in the area, to record a permanent oral history of their family stories
  • A Community History exhibition to be held at the C.J. Dennis Hall, originally planned for September 2021 and which now, due to COVID restrictions, is rescheduled for 19-20 February 2022. The curated exhibition will include photos, archival film and historical treasures of the district, plus a series of oral presentations by locals to provide a taste of local history topics.

Further funding was received from the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal (FRRR, the bushfire communities support funding) to support:

  • Design and construction of a Toolangi-Castella Local History Website
  • Running of two community days for photo collection
  • Taungurung Smoking Ceremony and Welcome to Country to start the exhibition
  • Professional support throughout the project from Way Back When, a Victorian-based professional historians’ group

The website has 40 articles, contributed by the amazing work of members of the Local History Group and an article from the Taungurung, links to the Taungurung and the Wurundjeri websites and links to Animated Creation Stories of the Taungurung, five filmed interviews and a photo gallery to capture images of Toolangi-Castella’s history.

Many thanks to the Toolangi-Castella Community House for its support and auspice of this project and particularly Kerry Starr. Thanks to Brad Letman and Angela ten Buuren from the Taungurung, Stacey Piper from the Wurundjeri, Ian Skurrie film maker from Video Centric, local website designer Adam Fletcher from Dinosaurus, Katherine Sheedy of Way Back When Consulting Historians, Lisa Hodgson, our star curator for the exhibition, the Gould League for coming onboard with the project and to all the locals who were involved in developing and supporting the project, writing articles, researching, sharing stories, editing, proofreading, networking, assisting, being interviewed, preparing material for the exhibition and posting notices. This included David Pockett, Jo Priestley, Jan Williams, Sharon Keogh, Steve Meacher, Heather & Bruce McClements, Geoff Biggs, Heather Briggs, Cliff and Nance McLaine, Dennis (Herb) Cherry, Ross & Garry Demby, Kerryn Blackshaw, Wayne Waters, Ken Alcorn, Jack & Ngaire Walhout, Margaret O’Connell, Lynn Dean, Corina Hostra, Sunderai Felich, Dawn Hartog, Bernard Mace, Don Walker, Sheryl Jakobs, Ali Downes, Bert Biggs, Sally Herbert, Sheryn Wiggins and Kay Rowe.

Well done all! A terrific effort for the Toolangi-Castella community, to research and preserve our local history for generations to come.

Bernie Miller