There’s your quote, mate. An anthology of outrageous interviews from the mixed-up, muddled up music scene / Antonino Tati (New Holland, 2019)

There’s your quote, mate. An anthology of outrageous interviews from the mixed-up, muddled up music scene / Antonino Tati (New Holland, 2019)

A review by Steven Haby, Secretary Librarian


there's your quote mate

Cream magazine established in 1997 by the author of this book soon developed a reputation for scoring some pretty decent interviews from bands, songwriters, producers and others in the music scene. Many interviews were with Australian talent but also Antonino was able to sit down or call some of the more famous overseas people in the business as well.

This book is a collection, selected by the author, of some of the more memorable (or in some cases less so – ‘train wreck’ comes to mind) interviews. Many of the interviews include a postscript by the author which presents a reflective perspective on the session with the person in question.

Nick Cave is the first artist on the playlist so to speak and the interview was indeed a ‘train wreck’ of epic proportions. Nick was at his difficult best and the author comes across as completely flummoxed by the Prince of Darkness. To Nick’s credit he was very positive about Kylie Minogue!

Other artists who get a run include Meat Loaf, Simon Le Bon, Dave Grohl and Delta Goodrem. Kath and Kim and Dame Edna Everage are included and are at their acerbic and intellectual best.

The interviews are interspersed with chapters on various musical trivia relating to the Australian scene. An interesting and quick read which can be one of those books you can ‘dip into’ from time to time. A downside was the author’s cataloguing of their imbibing of various illicit drugs which perhaps helped (and hindered) their journalistic abilities which becomes rather tiresome after a while.

Interstate Histories: Parramatta NSW

Interstate Histories: Parramatta NSW

While we are a Victorian History Library we do hold information on areas outside Victoria, to complement the Victorian history collection. An example is this history of Parramatta. Thanks to our volunteer Renee for the insight into Parramatta’s fascinating history.



For this local history article, we will be focusing on Parramatta in New South Wales. It is a town that was instrumental in the survival of the colonialists when they first arrived. Many livestock and agriculture experiments were conducted in the area to ensure that sustainable living in this new colony was viable. The first wheat was harvested by James Ruse, and the Macarthurs wool dynasty created and nurtured the establishment of what would become one of our greatest exports, wool.

The original inhabitants were the Burramattagal people. Their name comes from their proximity to the now named Parramatta River and the eels that inhabited it. Their name literally translated to ‘the place of eels.’. Other neighbouring Indigenous Australian people were the Wategoral, Wangal, Wallumettigal, Toongagal, Warmuli, Bidjigal and Kameraigal. It is estimated that each group had about 40-60 members. There is very little written about them in first settlers accounts. There has been some mention of Indigenous inhabitants bartering fish for bread or salted meat and living on the fringes of the settlement. There have been some accounts written from 1801 and 1804 which detail aggression from both sides eventually resulting in the death of a tribe leader called Pemulwye. After this event the interactions between Indigenous Australians and colonisers became more subdued, with Indigenous Australians fearing more deaths.

By the 1880’s Parramatta was booming with a gaol, a hospital that would be later torn down due to poor conditions, post offices, churches, town hall and in 1884 the Parramatta Steam Tramway. It ran from George Street, Sydney to Duck River. Thus, the first Sydney commuters were born. Tram and coal train services to other local areas were available earlier. More locally, hansom cabs and wagon coaches were available for transport. The large population is due to the sale of land for private use, so many people came to start a life in Parramatta.

Although it had a busy commercial hub, Parramatta relied on schools and government institutions for its prosperity. Parramatta has a history of having the first established state funded schools in the 19th and 20th century. In other less happy traditions, it has a long record of asylums for men and women. It wasn’t uncommon for many inmates on day release to wander the streets and the Parramatta Female Factory was established in 1821 and was open until 1848. This establishment was described by Governor Burke as a place for ‘outcast women’. This factory served as many things; such as an agency for marriage, employment but also a place of ‘behaviour correction’. The factory itself had over 500 inhabitants but was built for 300.

Parramatta had a love of holding many annual parades to show case the local business in the area and has a local NRL sports team the aptly named Parramatta Eels. The Greater City of Parramatta is vast and has many suburbs in its municipality. These are Camelia, Carlingford, Dundas and Dundas Valley, Eastwood, Epping, Ermington ( the birth place of Olympian Betty Cuthbert), Granville (the place of the worst rail disaster in Australian history), South Granville, Guildford, Harris Park, Merrylands, Northmead, North Parramatta, Oatland, Old Tongagabbie, Pendle Hill, Rosehill, Rydalmere, Telopea, Toongabie, Wentworthville, Westmead and Winston Hills.

Meet The Staff: Ellen Coates Collections Librarian and Volunteer Coordinator

Meet The Staff: Ellen Coates Collections Librarian and Volunteer Coordinator

Ellen Coates

Hi I’m Ellen and I’m the Collections Librarian and Volunteer Coordinator here at the PMI. My background is in history, honours degree in medieval history, and I finished my Masters Degree in Information Studies in 2015. When I’m not working at the PMI I’m on a few library committees and I’m a writer and historian- I run an historical blog called Historical Ragbag which you can see here:

I started at the PMI in 2016 as a staff member, but I was a volunteer from 2013 to 2016 working in the archives while I studied and worked casually. It was a great experience as an introduction to the world of libraries and I was incredibly excited when I was offered the position of Collections Librarian in 2016.

Since I began at the PMI my role has changed and adapted, including picking up the role of Volunteer Coordinator at the start of this year. Like everyone else at the PMI I work across a lot of different areas, but the core of my role is coordinating what we order for the collection and what we do with it once it arrives, this includes cataloguing and indexing.

I can’t really describe a typical day because it is always changing. But it can cover everything from: front desk work, answering phones, helping members with research, trouble shooting technology, indexing, cataloguing, managing the volunteers, running the blog, writing volunteer and collection policy, interviewing volunteers, determining what books we want to order, finding where to order books from, ordering books, running our outreach program (which as well as the admin involves driving to Sale once a month), writing conference proposals, holding high teas, running the PMI Twitter account, handling reservations, writing blog posts, writing newsletter content, making decisions about cataloguing policy, helping with grant writing, liaising with the Friends of the PMI, helping with events, managing periodical box transition, writing talks, giving talks and moving things from one to do list to the next.

I am certainly not the only person working on all these areas and one of the delights of the PMI is how fluid it can be, as we all jump onto different projects and work together across many areas. We all work closely to bring about the best outcome for the PMI. The PMI was my first library job out of the Masters and I’ve learnt an amazing amount across a wide range of areas. It’s fantastic being part of a small close-knit team and the autonomy we have to try new things and see what works has been liberating. I really love my work at the PMI and it is a privilege to be in charge of a 165 year old collection and to have the chance to grow it, adapt it and take it into the future. I believe fundamentally in the importance of the work the PMI does in preserving and protecting the history of Victoria in all its facets and making it accessible, and I hope to continue to be part of taking the PMI into the future.

Meet The Volunteers: Keith McLean

Meet The Volunteers: Keith McLean

My Experiences Volunteering for The Prahran Mechanic’s Institute Victorian History Library.

By Keith McLean


I commenced volunteering with PMI around May/June 2018. I think I had previously visited on a library-themed excursion some years ago but that was back when the library was located in its original historical premises on High Street, Prahran. Now they occupy a modern and welcoming and well resourced newer premises on St Edmonds Road not far from the original site.

I met the team and some of my co-volunteers in the first few weeks as a volunteer and they are a friendly and dedicated bunch. Some of the volunteers have a library background and its interesting to hear their perspectives. The staff are also great and enthusiastic about their roles and the library. I was soon encouraged to try some typical library tasks. To begin with, I was encouraged to try my hand at book covering which is a tricky task to master (not quite mastered it yet but have grasped the fundamentals). I’ve also worked with the shelves, reshelving and moving items around to reflect current policies. The shelves are accessible or reachable very quickly from any point in the library floorspace, though reshelving is as you might expect is quite time consuming and the collection is large despite the relatively compact library area.

My latest duty involves indexing the Australian Geographic collection at PMI. The aim of this activity is to help make the content of this serial more accessible via the PMI library catalogue. Like many of the resources in the library, this magazine provides interesting information on a range of Australia topics and localities. The specialty of AG is of course its geographical information and frequently stunning photography.

Speaking of geography, the library itself is located in the heart of Prahran, an urban environment close to the centre of the metropolitan area of Melbourne. Prahran takes it’s name from the aboriginal word “Pur-ra-ran” which means “land partially surrounded by water”. Prahran has over time been the site of various educational institutions – Prahran Mechanics Institute, Swinburne University, NMIT and so on – as well as being a commercial centre. Also, several well-known people have been associated with the suburb, for example Eliza Taylor (actor), Chris Judd (footballer), John Safran (media personality), Daryl Somers (media personality), Raelene Boyle (Olympic sprinter), Gertrude Johnson (opera singer), Keith Campbell (motorcycle racer), Sir Graham Berry (11th Premier of Victoria), etc.

Volunteering with PMI has been an excellent point of comparison for my educational pathway. I’m currently finishing my diploma in library studies and I find my volunteer experience at PMI complements the fields of knowledge and skill sets promoted and developed in my course. Special libraries are important organisations and like PMI help provide the community with resources not usually possible for other libraries to offer or highlight. I am thinking of the special library as a potential career pathway for the future.

Victorian History Showcase

Victorian History Showcase


68621502_2406761482703367_6247680860095512576_oOn the 16th and 17th of August the PMI was proud to present the inaugural Victorian History Showcase. The Showcase was run by the Friends of the PMI under the leadership of Wendy Eldridge.  We’ve asked Wendy to write an article for Instituting The Past about this fantastic event. There were history displays from: Royal Historical Society of Victoria, Malvern Historical Society, Coburg Historical Society, Glen Eira Historical Society, Moorabbin Historical Society and Box Cottage Museum, Seymour Historical Society, East Gippsland Historical Family History Group, Berwick Military Medals, Scout Heritage Victoria, Family History Connections, Mornington Peninsula Family History Society, Australian Railway Historical Society Victorian Division Inc., Cinema and Theatre Historical Society. Thanks again to the Friends and Wendy for their extremely hard work, to everyone who attended and all the historical groups who were involved and provided material. 


The Background:

The Friends of PMI Victorian History Library are a voluntary group that supports the PMI. They spend most Fridays at the library happily working on the second-hand book sales, sorting and indexing the books to be sold. They also run the Family History Social Group on the first Monday of the month and hold around three lessons a year for genealogists.

In 2018 the Friends were one of the groups who took part in the Family History Month Pop Ups. The Pop Ups were individual historical groups coming into the library on an appointed day to answer questions about their area of expertise. On their day the Friends were available to assist any visitor to the library with family history research. Family History Connections, Glen Eira Historical Society, Malvern Historical Society, St Kilda Historical Society and Scout Heritage Victoria also took part. In 2019 the PMI decided to run an expo style event as an extension of the pop ups. The Friends of PMI were approached by Chris Moysey-Barker, PMI Marketing and Communications Co-ordinator, to organise and hold the event, thus the “Victorian History Showcase” two-day event was born. You can see photos of setting up for the showcase below.

The Friends of PMI had a load of fun putting together the Showcase, in many ways it was a journey that just grew as we went along and the support received from so many history related avenues was just astounding. Prizes, brochures and advertising was offered so freely. We are very appreciative of all those who supported us from so many diverse history related avenues. A list of the historical resources available in Victoria was created (from museums, to historical societies, to mechanics’ institutes and more), resulting in a centre display at the Showcase. This list will be on going and added to as more places are located and will be kept at the Library for future reference.

The concept of the showcase was to bring together diverse Victorian history resources, (historical, genealogical, special interest, heritage groups and more). By bringing all these groups together we highlighted the fact that we are all branches that create and interpret the history of Victoria and Victorians and that each is interwoven in creating the history of people, places and events.

On the 16th and 17th of August thirteen different exhibitors showcased wonderful displays and passed on valuable information, while the PMI showed off the library and the excellent facilities and resources available. There was a diverse range of exhibitors offering a wide selection of information, not only to the visitors over the two days but to each other. This highlighted the need to network and support each other to ensure Victorian history is retained for many generations to come.

The Friends of PMI are proud to have been able to achieve what was considered a successful event and hope going forward that many rewards come to all who participated, supported and assisted with the event.

Finally, I have to say that none of this would have happened if it had not been for the very special band of volunteers that worked with a committed goal to do the PMI proud. You can see more photos from the event below




Book Review: The World is One Kilometre: Greville Street Prahran by Judith Buckrich

Book Review: The World is One Kilometre: Greville Street Prahran by Judith Buckrich

Review by Evangeline Young written for Lots Wife- reproduced with permission


Sometimes it seems as if Melbourne and its inner suburbs simply materialised as a full blown metropolis, complete with city skyline, streets ordered in a perfect grid, concrete sidewalks interspersed with manicured gardens.  Perhaps it’s because Melbourne is a young city in comparison with London or Rome – its oldest buildings dating from the 1800s, its main attractions not castles or cathedrals but graffitied alleyways like Hosier Lane, hipster cafes on Degraves Street, vintage warehouses in Brunswick, diminutive bookshops in Fitzroy, and restaurants on almost every street and laneway boasting cuisine from all over the world.  It is difficult to imagine Melbourne with a history, in the same way that we think of the history of statuesque European cities. To us, Melbourne is a rebellious teenager: quintessential grunge meets functionality.

So it is a new and refreshing experience for me to read the history of one street in Melbourne, meticulously researched and written by historian Dr Judith Buckrich.  ‘The World is One Kilometre’ traces the narrative of Greville Street in Prahran, mapping the natural and geographic features of the landscape pre- and post-British invasion and colonisation, charting the course of two World Wars, the waves of migrants in the 60s, the ‘countercultural’ movements of the 70s, before landing in the 21st century.

In Judith’s richly descriptive prose, the world does become one kilometre of busy, complex, colourful existence.  The accompanying images – highlights are a painting dating from 1880, done by Yarra Yarra chief William Barak and depicting a dancing scene, a sketch of the avant-garde swimsuits of the 1930s,  and the vibrant multi-coloured windows of 1970s record shops – reflect the evolution of an iconic social, political and cultural hub.

Buckrich, who studied law at Monash in the late 60s, writes fondly of Monash University’s role in this change. The Monash Labour Club moved their city headquarters to 120 Greville Street in January 1969 and Jill Joliffe, Monash university student at the time and later known for her work as a journalist in East Timor, opened ‘Alice’s Restaurant Bookshop’ which sold radical leftist literature.  Down the street, at the Labor Club city headquarters, a large room behind ‘Dobie’s Bakery’ served as a meeting room for the Revolutionary Socialists.  Greville Street, described by local, Robert Greaves, as far from the ‘gentrified, active, clean street’ of today, was ‘run-down and much unloved’, but the ‘cheap rents, good public transport and community’ attracted ‘musicians, artists, students and hippies’.

‘The World is One Kilometre’, read as a journey through time, a way to understand and recognise the depth as well as the breadth of history, is entertaining, informative and deeply satisfying.  Buckrich weaves fascinating minutiae into the grander scheme of events, giving readers a sense of the changing social and economic landscape from the perspective of ordinary Melbournians.  She describes, for example, a single property, No. 43 Greville Street, and its evolution from a ‘brick and wood house of six rooms plus stables’ to a private music school and residence for music teachers in the 1900s, to a ‘magnificent solid brick Victorian’ in 1989, when it was sold for $350,000. It is interesting to note the one constant: its steadily rising value, peaking at $2,200,000 to $2,800,000 in 2018.

It is also interesting to observe the quiet nostalgia threaded through the book – Buckrich’s homage to a hub of ‘counterculture social revolution’, ‘the bohemian epicentre of Melbourne’.  Perhaps the pace of social and cultural change which made this strip of Melbourne so magnetic has slackened.  Perhaps we are more complacent now, coming off the hard-won victories of the 70s where ‘gender and class divisions’ were radically challenged and it seemed as if the world was riding an endless tide of possibility and progress.

But we still have causes to fight for.  Our generation faces the ‘the skyrocketing rents that drove independent stores out’ of Greville Street and stripped it of its character, the grim reality of rising house prices and threats to job security, the apocalyptic consequences of climate change.  While our epicentres of cultural and political discourse may have shifted, while the concerns that occupy the public consciousness may be different, we can still look back and pay tribute, as Buckrich does, to a street whose people were never frightened of change.

‘The World is One Kilometre’ is available for purchase from the PMI (10% off for members) and you can also borrow it. 

Meet The Staff: Steven Haby Secretary Librarian

Meet The Staff: Steven Haby Secretary Librarian

This is the first in an ongoing series introducing the PMI staff. We are beginning with our intrepid leader: Secretary Librarian Steven Haby.

Steven with new Akubra book in 2017

“I’ve been asked to contribute a profile about me so if you are seated comfortably with a cup of tea, let’s begin.

Born in January 1969 at Geelong Hospital to parents Edwin (Murray) and Diana June Haby I was the first of two children. Mum and dad were both teachers and prior to my arrival dad was a ‘nasho’ drafted as part of the conscription to support Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam conflict. Dad hated army life but was pragmatic to accept that if he refused then his teaching career would be over. He made many lifelong friends in the service. During this time mum moved back to her parents in Belmont to raise me so I became very close to my grandparents and Geelong in general.

Allegedly my first proper word was ‘train’ which cemented my life long love of all things railway related, which has expanded over time to include trams, buses, ships and old trucks.

young Steven
Steven in 1983 at St Kilda train station

As a child I really wanted to run the railways but ended up studying and becoming a librarian. I did manage to incorporate my interest in transport to various research projects, theses whilst at university.

I joined the PMI back in the 140 High Street days in 1995 when a fellow librarian friend and I were researching the history of the Hawthorn to Kew railway line. Over time my membership lapsed but I rejoined back in 2011 and was fortunate to be appointed Secretary Librarian in December 2016 following the retirement of Tim McKenna. I was very lucky and thankful to be given a comprehensive handover by Tim in the transition period which placed me in good stead.

As Secretary Librarian I am responsible for the day to day management of the PMI which includes working with a small and dedicated and extremely hardworking team and reporting to our Committee. I see the role as being a cross between running a SME and being a librarian. One needs to be very resourceful and independent as unlike previous management roles I don’t have a HR or IT team to call upon. I am very grateful to be able to have exceptional support from our Treasurer Ben Quin for example. I am also in regular contact with library managers from other ‘Mechanics’ such as Sue Westwood from the Melbourne Athenaeum.

A typical day might include: payment of bills, financial record keeping, preparation of reports, answering queries from the public and members, event planning with the team, providing advice and support to staff and volunteers, ensuring the cleaning has been done, liaising with external organisations and suppliers, seeking out grant opportunities, cataloguing and indexing of recent acquisitions, writing content for the newsletter, getting milk, answering the phone and email, attending meetings and more.

It is a wonderful and thoroughly enjoyable job and I am lucky to be able to be in an environment that aligns to my passion for local history and transport. I am also lucky to be able to work with such a dedicated team and band of volunteers.”