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Twilight Talks


Twilight Talks have been held at the BMI since 2001, providing a great opportunity to hear some fantastic speakers and meet up with friends over drinks and nibbles.

Participants arrive at the Humffray Room from 5pm for drinks, cheese and conversation, followed by a 30 to 40 minute talk commencing at 5.30pm.

Each Twilight Talks series is held on successive  Fridays, and is great value at only:

$6 for members and
$10 for non-members

Contact Rosemary in the BMI Library for information on 5331 3042.


Twilight Talks 2018


(Four series of six weeks each = 24 speakers)

Return regularly for more information about upcoming speakers.

SERIES 3: 2018

Talks are held in the Humffray Room commencing at 5:30 pm.

Wine, cheese and nibbles will precede the talks beginning at 5:00 pm.

Admission: BMI Members – $6.00, Non-members – $10.00.


20 July – Snjez Cosic, Curator, Gold Museum, Ballarat

A Victorian Silhouette

A Victorian Silhouette

The Gold Museum’s latest exhibition A Victorian Silhouette displays the museum’s collection of women’s fashion from the Victorian era. Gold Museum Curator Snjez Cosic will discuss how this exhibition came together and reveal some of the personal and fascinating stories from this rich collection.


27 July – Sonya Macdonald, Sago on Tuesdays, Napoleons

Bookbinding: one trade, two families

Like all rare trades, bookbinding is a set of precise skills that creates functional objects that last. We will explore the two branches of bookbinding, and how they affect the structure of the book. In doing so, we will see why this marvel of engineering lasts so long, performs so well, and looks so beautiful when it is done right. From there, it is natural to understand and appreciate how and why we take care of well made books and why they are not at all under threat from modern technology.


3 August – Graham Gooding, Ballaarat Mechanics’ Institute

The Early Life Influences of Robert ‘Robbie’ Burns

The statue of Robert Burns (1759-1796) stands proudly on Sturt Street, Ballarat. Researching the early childhood influences of the infamous Scottish Ploughman-Poet, and why he was the first Carrara marble statue to grace the Lydiard Street intersection, produces a story of hardship, inspiration and penmanship of a peasant man gifted with observation. This very talent lifted a nation bowed by social, political and religious doctrine. His humble beginnings, enhanced by a characteristic doggedness and thirst for freedom that lies deep in the DNA, is said to have lifted the very spirit of 1750s Scotland.  The immortal word of Burns, continues to live on today. Graham explores this early social history.


10 August – Ailsa Brackley du Bois, of The Editorial Suite

Museums, Galleries and Theatres of Venice and Milan

Ailsa is the Creative Director of The Editorial Suite, a PhD Candidate at Deakin University and a sessional Museum Education Guide at Melbourne’s Old Treasury Building. Ailsa will showcase a range of photographic images while sharing the highlights of her recent cultural research trip to Venice and Milan.


17 August – Neil Leckie, Ranger Museum Manager, Ballarat

Local Amateur Military Historian and BMI Member Neil Leckie has recently attended Centenary Commemoration Services in France for two significant WW1 battles where the AIF took the leading part. On 24/25 April 1918 the Australians recaptured the town of Villers Bretonneux, stopping the Germans from taking the important railhead in the
city of Amiens. On 4 July 1918 the Australians, under General Monash, launched an attack on the village of Le Hamel. This battle set the standard for all upcoming battles from 8 August when the Germans were pushed backwards until the Armistice on 11 November when the war ended.


24 August – Garry Snowden, Great War historian

The People of the Avenue

Ballarat’s Avenue of Honour, the longest of its type in Australia, lists the names of 3801 servicemen and women who served during the First World War. They were soldiers, nurses and sailors, heroes and larrikins, but they all volunteered. Garry Snowden will tell the fascinating stories of some of those who left Ballarat to answer their country’s call.



Past Talks

SERIES 2: 2018


20 April 2018 – Dr Ross McMullin

‘Never Forget Australia – Transformation at Villers-Bretonneux’

The immense German onslaught in March 1918 caused Britain’s gravest crisis of World War One. Australians, rushed to the rescue, influenced the world’s destiny more than in any other year. Their stunning counter-attack at Villers-Bretonneux on 25 April 1918 was acclaimed as the war’s most brilliant feat. Ross McMullin will tell the stirring story.


27 April 2018 – Dr Glenice Wood Lake

‘The Land They Learnt to Love – Ten years in the life of a squatting family in the Port Phillip district, 1839 -1849.’

After the Scotts family arrived at Melbourne in January 1839, they settled at Mt Bonan Yowang (Buninyong) on 16,000 acres ten months later. They survived drought, a severe economic downturn and sheep success and failures to eventually increase their flock to 100,000 by 1869. The family visited Scotland for long holidays but all returned to the country they had learnt to love. Glen’s recently published book will be available to purchase.


4 May 2018 – Jenny Debney

‘Dr Fanny Reading (1884-1974) Part 2

In her previous talk, Jenny shared her research about Zipporah Rubinovitch, who became Dr Fanny Reading, a member of Ballarat’s vibrant nineteenth-century orthodox Jewish community. In this talk she will tell us about Fanny’s achievements as a medical practitioner and activist who founded the Australian Jewish Women’s Organisation with international links.


11 May 2018 – Julian Laffey

‘Ballarat Memory Atlas – The Future of History’

The internet has spoiled us for ways to record and store information. But what about the stories that don’t really fit anywhere? – the service records and photos of your old army buddy – your memories of the dress shop that was down the road from your grandmother’s house. Tonight we discuss the ways these informal personal histories can be captured.


18 May 2018 – Dr Anne Doggett

‘The History of St Paul’s, Bakery Hill’

In 1854, a year famous for the Eureka uprising, the people of Ballarat East were struggling to establish a church of their own. St Paul’s, Bakery Hill is still a living part of the Ballarat community, with a story that has much to tell us about the society we live in today. Anne’s book will be launched by the Bishop of Ballarat, Garry Weatherill, at this Twilight Talk.


25 May 2018 – Viktor Sheludko

‘Of Brick and Bluestone’

Brim Brim, built in Buninyong 1859 by Mr. Justice John Warrington-Rogers, is one of the early masonry homes in the Ballarat district. Its 159 year existence has included being a family home, private school, a proposed luxury country stay (which failed to get traction), an institutional home and fresh vegetable source, restoration to a family home, a bed and breakfast and a wedding venue. This history, recorded and published in a short publication ‘Of Brick and Bluestone’ is available in the BMI library. A few copies will be available at the talk.


1 June 2018 – Peter Griffiths

‘Welsh Dictionary of Biography’

Historian and journalist Peter Griffiths will speak on his new book, The Welsh on Victoria’s Central Goldfields: A Dictionary of Biography.

The book contains more than 600 individual biographies, tied together by the theme of the Welsh, as a minority in the cultural melting pot of the goldfields, ultimately losing the battle to retain their language and culture.

SERIES 1, 2018:


16 FEBRUARY 2018 – Gael Shannon

‘Where Have I Seen that Ballarat Tree?’

Confessed arborholic, Gael Shannon, will show us portraits taken of some of her favourite Ballarat trees. She’s ranged round the city, and from Buninyong to the Botanic Gardens. Come along to what promises to be an interesting and entertaining talk and see how many wonderful giants you can recognise…


23 February 2018 – Bronislaw Sozanski

‘Music as an Essential for Living’

Music exists in and is an important part of every human society. Children sing before they speak, music is our travel partner through life and is there to send us off at the end.

It is an important part of our physical and emotional well-being. Music contributes significantly to our intellectual development.


2 March 2018 – Roger and Elizabeth Trudgeon

‘Honouring Albert Coates – Twenty Years On’

Why was Ballarat-born Albert Coates singled out as one of the city’s noteworthy citizens, with a sculpture in Sturt Street and tertiary scholarships awarded each year in his name?

With the Albert Coates Memorial Trust marking twenty years of activity this year how does the organisation operate, what does it do and who benefits?


9 March 2018 – Wang Zheng-Ting

‘Chinese Performing Arts in Mid-Nineteenth Century Victoria’

Although there is a distinct lack of information about Chinese performing arts during the early years of Chinese settlement in Victoria, Chinese performing arts played a significant role for the Chinese people. As an ethnomusicologist and a practical musician, the author has attempted to piece fragments together to create as clear a picture as possible.


16 March 2018 – Fiona Tonkin

‘Lady Streets of Ballarat’

Many streets in Ballarat have been named in honour of people. Fiona Tonkin has explored the streets of Ballarat that have been named after women. This talk tells the stories of some of the amazing women who have had streets named after them. You could be quite surprised by who are honoured and which streets carry women’s names.


23 March 2018 – David McGinniss

‘Stories from the Ballarat and District Orphan Asylum 1860s – 1880s’

The Ballarat District Orphan Asylum was established in Victoria Street in the mid 1860s. Hear some of the previously untold stories of people who made their lives there in its early years. David McGinniss is currently completing a research project at Federation University’s Collaborative Research Centre in Australian History on the history of Child and Family Services Ballarat (CAFS), from the 1860s to current times.