On the research trail…

Or as it might more commonly be known as, spending a few hours in a historical museum. which just happens to cover some of the material you need for a school project.

I brought up the subject of living history yesterday after we all packed off to have an hour ride on a steam train and accompanying equally aged carriages.

Since these trains have been missing for nearly fifty years, there is basically two generations of people who have never had the chance to travel in such a manner in their lifetime, unless, of course, they have found a tourist train like our example, the Mary Valley Rattler.

It’s the same as the early days of finding gold in Gympie, in Queensland, Australia.  It dates back to the 1860s, and one can only imagine what it was like because most of the history is in books.  Yes, they have sketches, and sometimes photographs, but these do not generally date back to the middle of the nineteenth century.

But, visiting a living example of what it was like in ‘the old days’ can give those generations a glimpse of what it was like.

Single room schools, because unlike today when schools now cater to over 1,000 children in varying years, one school held about 20 or 30 in all grades, with a single teacher.

In fact, today, I saw a collection of readers that I remember reading when I was in grade school, a long time ago.  Even the desks and the ink wells brought back interesting memories, one of which when I was ink monitor.

But housed in a number of old-style buildings was the information on the diggings, the mines and the impact of gold in general, and, at the very end, the children got to do a little panning for gold, and found a number of small fragments of real gold.

Once they’d been shown by a panning expert that looked as if he had been transported into this time from the past.

There are similar places elsewhere in this country that preserve the past to show future generations what it was like.

After this weekend, we have more than enough information to work on the project, based around gold mining, and it’s impact on the people, the area, and the government.

And best of all, it has generated an interest in the past, reading more, and perhaps if we’re lucky, an interest in writing something based on history, which sometimes is quite difficult when it has to compete with more interesting pastimes like computer games.

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