South Australia’s History Festival: The wonder of history

South Australia's History Festival will sweep the state in May 2023. Greg Mackie, History Trust of South Australia CEO, tells us about the theme of WONDER and the over 500 events organised.

WORDS: Greg Mackie, History Trust of South Australia CEO

South Australia’s History Festival returns in May and like many event organisers in Australia and around the world, we are looking forward to getting back to whatever normal is these days. My name is Greg Mackie and I am the CEO of the History Trust of South Australia. We have been the proud custodians of the History Festival for 19 years, and it has grown from a week-long event back in 2004 to a month-long celebration of all things history across CBD, metropolitan and regional South Australia.

This year’s History Festival theme is WONDER and over 500 event presenters across South Australia will be exploring the theme of WONDER in all its many facets and meanings throughout May. In past festivals there have been art installations, poetry evenings, eccentric plays, lively performances, walking and talking tours, as well as lectures, talks and debates, often in new and unusual spaces.

“For me, the difference between nostalgia and history is itself a moving wonder.”

The real heroes of this festival are the people just like you and me; from the community of historic societies, local historians and groups, community museums, and history enthusiasts who, through the Festival, draw attention to the rich history and stories of our State.

So, what is ‘WONDER’? It’s a good question. 

Is it like beauty, in the eye of the beholder? For me, the word wonder conjures up a sense of awe. I recall the first time I saw the world-famous Vickers Vimy aeroplane, now located on display at Adelaide Airport. This object made of wood and cloth—as a young boy I was struck with so many different reactions and imaginings, and I particularly wondered how the pilot and his crew could have managed such an epic flight in what seemed to me such a flimsy plane.

I am still struck with wonder whenever I contemplate the ideas behind Colonel Light’s Plan for Adelaide, and I am proud that we, the History Trust, are the custodians of the original plan itself. I often wonder what the future of history will be. These days I am officially a senior (but not yet an elder) and I have so many fond memories and recollections from my younger days that I am now reliably informed by others has now become officially ‘history’! For me, the difference between nostalgia and history is itself a moving wonder. Food for thought for the festive season?

Join me and many thousands of others in May when South Australia’s History Festival 2023 goes into full swing. The online and printed program will be released in mid-April 2023, and don’t forget to follow us on social media to keep up to date.

I look forward to seeing you out and about in May – I dare you!


South Australian History Festival

1 – 31 May 2023

festival.history.sa.gov.au

@historyfestival

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