Mortlake's history has strong appeal

WHILE other clubs and organisations in regional areas are struggling to keep their heads above water, the Mortlake and District Historical Society is growing. 

The group, formed in 2000, has experienced significant growth in its membership over the past five years and now boasts 118 financial members. 

The group’s research officer and newsletter editor Craige Proctor said there were members from across Australia. 

“The only two states or territories we don’t have members from is Tasmania or the Northern Territory,” Mr Proctor said.

“The members fall into four categories generally:  people who had a connection to Mortlake in the past and have moved away or had family in the area; people we’ve done family research for; those who have seen our Facebook page; and people who have moved to Mortlake and want to find out more about the area’s history.”

Mr Proctor said the group’s success and growth was due to a band of dedicated members. 

“We are lucky to have a group of hard-working volunteers that help us hold tours and other events,” he said. 

“Other clubs, because of low and dwindling membership, don’t have the resources to be as active in the community. 

“We hold all sort of walks and tours. It’s something we are very committed to.” 

Mr Proctor said the group’s popular Facebook page had 500 “likes” and the daily posts attracted comments from people of all age groups. 

“I was in the supermarket the other day and two people in their 20s came up and said ‘we love what you are doing on Facebook, how do we join?’,” he said. 

“Its a good way to reach a different demographic. We find that the photos that go viral are the ones of deb balls and sporting events.”

Society secretary Virginia Branton-Hunt is based in Melbourne, but owns a house in Mortlake and spends “a fair amount of time” in the town. 

She said her husband had family links to the area and she enjoyed exploring its history. 

 Ms Branton-Hunt put the society’s strength down to its community profile. 

“I think that’s helped. The events we hold and the Facebook page,” she said. 

“We are working on some events this year that we hope will be interesting and help us to continue to see growth in the membership ranks.” 

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