An innovative interactive website will bring to life the story of one of Australia’s most fascinating chapters of early settlement by Europeans.
The website explores the intriguing story of the popular Pacific Highway icon, the New Italy settlement just south of Woodburn in Northern NSW. The site aims to highlight the valuable contributions of the Italian settlers to the region, giving users the chance to submit their own stories and making New Italy truly a ‘living heritage'. Features of the site include a discussion board and a resource centre for materials such as photos, maps and research relating to New Italy.
The project is being done through community-based New Italy Committee's relationship with the Centre for Regional Tourism Research at Southern Cross University (SCU), in partnership with Richmond Valley Council.
The New Italy settlement was built upon dreams. It is the story of a group of Italian immigrants who battled great odds, leaving an imprint of success and prosperity and helping to shape the Northern Rivers as it is today. The New Italy Museum was developed as a tribute to the courage and strength of those pioneering families.
The virtual museum is an online depository for stories relating to the history and culture of the New Italy region and the Italian immigrants who first arrived there in 1880. The virtual museum will enable residents, past residents, students, researchers and community groups to upload specific or general stories about New Italy in a standard format using templates designed and tested in this project.
New Italy Committee chair, Nic Volpato, said he was impressed by the vitality represented on screen, with more than 60 pages telling the stories of individuals and families.
“The innovative elements allow website visitors to contribute their own stories and photos,” Mr Volpato said.
The Head of the Centre for Regional Tourism Research (CRTR), Dean Carson, has identified this website as providing a workable model for replication to other community based special interest museums.
Mr Carson said the important research underpinning this website was conducted by specialists and students of SCU’s CRTR, collaborating with regional stakeholders including Richmond Valley Council and the Woodburn community.
The Italian Consul General based in Sydney has agreed to fund the first stage of this project recognising that it will create awareness of the contribution of Italian immigration into the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales. The CRTR has established a relationship with the New Italy Museum Inc. through involvement in the successful 2002 application for State Heritage Listing for the Museum site and surrounds, and undertaking of a site audit in 2003.
Website designer, Craig Clark, from Dynamic Art and Text and web page content developer, Nadine Smith, worked closely with local researchers and heritage advisors Jane Gardiner and Maria Cotter.
The website address is http://www.new-italy.com
Media contact: Brigid Veale, SCU Media Liaison, 66593006 or m. 0439 680 748.