Public Talks

I am regularly asked to give public talks, included lectures, addresses at openings/launches and to speak on discussion panels. Below are a few of my recent and up-coming public engagements.

If you would like me to address your group about environmental history, Aboriginal history of the North East Alpine valleys and ranges, or early gold rush history, please email me to request a schedule of fees.


Making the Invisible Visible: panel discussion for International Women’s Day

I am honoured to be sitting on this panel discussion for International Women’s Day, which is being presented in partnership between Women’s Health Goulburn North East and The Wheeler Centre for Books, Writing and Ideas, for the Women at the Edge: History and Beyond series of events.

Victoria’s north-eastern regions are rich with dramatic scenery – from the majestic Alpine ranges to the storied banks of the Murray River. Indigenous people have lived in the area for tens of thousands of years. The land is home, first and foremost, to their stories and lore. Since colonisation, this region has been the backdrop, too, to many myths and legends that are imprinted on the Australian national psyche – mostly goldrush stories of bushrangers and manhunts in the high country. Where are the women in all these stories? To celebrate International Women’s Day, we’ll hear from local leaders, historians and experts as they delve into the history of the region and share often unacknowledged stories of the women who have shaped the recent and distant past. Join us at George Kerferd Hotel as we salute our foremothers in style.

Alana Johnson
Robynn Nelson
Jacqui Durrant
Raylene Brown
Liz Conor – Host
When: Thursday, March 12, 2020 from 5.30pm to 7pm.
Where: The George Kerferd Hotel, Howard Whitaker Room, Mayday Hills, Beechworth.

Bookings are now open for this innovative event that will take us right to the edge of our understanding and lived experience – and beyond!

Pallinganmiddang — First people of the 15 Mile Creek, King Valley and Beyond

Today, the Pallanganmiddang are virtually unheard of, but at the time of European settlement they were well-known as the inhabitants of country from Glenrowan to the King Valley, and the central Ovens River Valley from Whorouly to ‘the Ovens Crossing’ (Wangaratta). In this talk, I will be presenting research about the ‘Pallinganmiddang’ people based on early primary-documentary evidence (1830s and 1840s). I will provide a historical context for Aboriginal life in and around the Ovens, King and Greta Valleys at the time of European-Aboriginal contact (mid-1830s onwards), including an account of these valley landscapes and their ecological management by the Pallinganmiddang people. I will also offer a short account of local attacks and massacres committed on both sides of the ‘frontier war’ between the European invaders and Pallinganmiddang belligerents.

Where: Moyhu Hall
Date:  7pm, Sunday 1 December, 2019
Further details: This event was hosted by Greta Valley Landcare.

Fire on the Plateau — In Conversation | Beechworth Spring Arts Festival

To launch of the Beechworth Library’s ‘Culture Club’, I will be ‘in conversation’ about my new book, Fire on the Plateau — A History of Fire and Its Management in Stanley, with environmental consultant and former fire fighter, Graham Parton.

Where: Beechworth Library, 101 Ford Street
Date: 10-11am, Saturday 16 November, 2019
Further details: Free

Mysterious Mogullumbidj — the first nations people of Mount Buffalo, a historian’s perspective

Today, the Mogullumbidj are virtually unheard of, but at the time of European settlement they were well-known as the inhabitants of Mount Buffalo and the Buffalo River Valley. In this talk, I will be presenting unpublished research about the ‘Mogullumbidj’ people, as well as providing historical context for Aboriginal life in and around Mount Buffalo at the time of European-Aboriginal contact (mid-1830s onwards). I will also discuss the cultural and spiritual significance of the Alps to the Aboriginal peoples of North East Victoria.

Where: Myrtleford Landcare AGM, Gapsted Hall
Date: 6.30pm, 10 October, 2019

2019 Geoff Craig Memorial Lecture, 15 September 2019

‘Revisiting the forgotten world of Victoria’s alpine valleys and ranges — the case for restoring our ancient open woodlands’

While researching local history using journals and diaries dating from the 1830s and 1840s, historian Jacqui Durrant felt she had stumbled upon a forgotten world — a world of spectacular ecological richness, filled with unexpected sights, sounds and sensations. In this lecture she will explore the dramatic environmental changes that have happened since European settlement, and how a knowledge of the past can radically change the way we think about nature conservation today.

Date:  Sunday 15th September 2019
Venue: Stanley Soldiers Memorial Hall, Main Street, Stanley, Victoria
Time: 11am, 15 September.

‘Co-ordinator of the Stanley Athenaeum and Public Room, Chris Dormer, thanked Dr. Durrant for what she described as an, ‘important, inspiring and innovative lecture exploring the past to inform the future’. “We are still dazzled by the way you can bring together your findings to tell yet another ‘ripping yarn’ which will be talked about and remembered for years to come”.’
— The Nine Mile News, Issue 115 OCTOBER 2019.

Address at the launch of Just Biodiesel’s Barnawatha biodiesel plant

Just Biodiesel has a vested interest in creating new sustainable fuels for a low-carbon future. I was asked to address their audience regarding philosophies of environmental sustainability and circular economies embedded in local Aboriginal culture, and how we might look to Aboriginal economies and philosophy regarding the management of resources and the environment to guide us into a more sustainable future.

I was pleased to be able to talk alongside Jida Gulpilil (welcome to country), John Hewson (keynote speaker), Dr Helen Haines (federal member for Indi), and Dr Rowena Cantley-Smith.

17 July 2019, Star Hotel, Barnawatha

‘Beechworth’s First Nations: A Historian’s Perspective’

This was billed as: ‘Dr Jacqui Durrant will present a discussion of her most recent unpublished research, providing historical context for Aboriginal life at the time of European-Aboriginal contact (mid-1830s onwards), as well as addressing the question of ‘What happened to Beechworth’s Aboriginal population?’ There will be time for a Q&A afterwards.’

Date: 6th March 2019
Venue: The Old Railway Station, Beechworth
Time: 1pm-3pm
Cost: Contact Beechworth U3A

Art chat — landscape then and now | Beechworth Spring Arts Festival

Arts Council vice president and PhD student Daren John Pope leads a lively discussion with art historian and Eugene von Guérard biographer Ruth Pullin, Beechworth historian Jacqui Durrant and painter Alan Phillips about the 19th century Romantic landscape tradition, Indigenous histories and contemporary landscape interpretation.

Nov 24 | 10am morning tea, 10.30am start | $15 entry, Arts Council members $10. Pre-paid bookings essential

Beechworth Town Hall, 103 Ford Street, Beechworth

International Women’s Day at the Stanley Athenaeum 

Monster Petition 1891

The Monster Petition for women’s suffrage presented to the Victorian Parliament in 1891, contains the signatures of women from Stanley — now held in the Public Records Office of Victoria. (Image from The Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka).

To celebrate International Women’s Day 2018, the Stanley Athenaeum is launching a new exhibition, titled ‘Stanley Women of the 19th Century: Hearts of Gold and Minds of Mettle — Mary Rawes to Mariette Craig.’

As I’ve had a long-standing interest in plugging the historical gaps, by paying attention to groups of people and themes that mainstream history has chosen to ignore, the Friends of Stanley Athenaeum have asked me to speak on the topic of ‘finding the spaces in between’. Make a donation, for which you also get afternoon tea!

Historically, the women of Stanley ran local businesses, worked in the health professions, held mining claims, and were involved in political reform. However, learning about their lives is incredibly difficult because their efforts were barely noted in public records. For this reason, the historical women of Stanley would be totally invisible to us today, if it weren’t for the hard-won research that has been conducted in recent years by the women of the Stanley Athenaeum. This exhibition is truly a case of women upholding women.

2.30pm, 10th March 2018, at the Stanley Athenaeum.