DAMsmart has undertaken a project to digitise all of the local news content produced by Prime Orange, starting from 1962 through to 2008. The material, in due course, will be made available online for research and public access. Projects such as this are important and valuable to regional Australia for a couple of reasons that are worth elaborating on:
Regional news, from its formative period through to the present, has been the primary means of visually recording the events and concerns of communities outside of the metropolitan broadcast areas. They provide, over their span of time, a narrative of regional development (or decline), which is both immediate and evocative to the viewer.
The decision by Prime to digitise its news collection in its entirety allows the people of Central West New South Wales to explore their own history and seek out their own significant events. Just as importantly, the collection invites viewers to enjoy aspects and events in their region that both beautiful to look at, and often very entertaining.
The other important factor to appreciate when projects of this sort are undertaken is correct placement of historical records, to ensure maximum benefit to users. Quite simply, the historical records of a region belong with those who have the interest and specific knowledge to best use them. Obviously, if an event of national significance occurs in the Central West of New South Wales, then that event should be made available within a national archive or museum, as a reference for future Australians. Regional news broadcasts did not often produce this level of significance, resulting in the footage being viewed by the audience once, and never seen again. The digitisation of such material by DAMsmart for Prime Orange will open up an historical resource for the Central West, allowing access to material that has not been viewed for up to 50 years. Some events, like the 1969 NSW Tennis championships in Cowra show a very young Evonne Goolagong-Cawley competing. Others, like the funeral for Mrs Chifley in Bathurst, are quite extraordinary documents of community grief.
For all of you Central West aficionados, however, I have my own recommendations: the 1963 Festival of Lakes at Cargellico will provide you with an insight into how anarchic local street parades could be; for the hard-core enthusiast, the 1962 Forbes Ball may be for you, because I’m still not certain about what was going on!