Mildura Weekly : Friday September 19 Vol 8 No 46
RIVERLAND 23 FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 19, 2014 MILDURA WEEKLY.COM.AU THE Village in Loxton is us- ing technology to bring the past alive with the installation of interpretive signage on 10 popular Village exhibits along with a complete website re- vamp www.thevillageloxton. com.au. The 10 feature exhibits were chosen because of the exciting stories they each tell and the roles they played in Loxton’s history. Informative signs tell stories of Loxton’s past, and feature original pho- tos sourced from the town’s heritage collection. Each sign includes a QR code linked to audios spe- cifically created for each indi- vidual exhibit, telling impor- tant stories about the people, businesses and industries that made the region what it is to- day. Visitors without a smart phone to access the online en- vironment will be able to bor- row an iPad. History SA senior commu- nity history officer Amanda James said the organisation was happy to support the in- terpretive project through the Community Museums’ Pro- gram and work closely with The Village volunteers to de- velop the elements of the proj- ect. “The mix of signage, audio and web content gives visitors different opportunities to en- gage with local history,” she said. “The project adds depth and character to the history that the Village represents, particularly in highlighting personal stories of local peo- ple and events within a broad- er historical context.” The project has taken 18 months, and was funded by the District Council of Loxton Waikerie and History SA. The Village is hoping to extend the project and feature another 10 buildings in the coming year, but for now the blacksmith, entrance build- ing, 1920s’ style garage, 1917 institute, irrigated fruit block, Nissen hut, pug and pine set- tler’s cottage, Pioneer Memo- rial Chapel, former Bandon School building and early shearing shed are enough. To listen to the audio sto- ries head to The Village web- site www.thevillageloxton. com.au and click on displays. Bringing back the past with technology • TELL ME A STORY: Loxton Village volunteers Melvin Fielke and Shirley Gibbs use an iPad to access the audio story behind the 1920s style garage – one of 10 exhibits with new interpretive signs and a QR code linking the viewer to an online link with details of the historic importance of exhibits. KEN STOKES started life in Broken Hill, but his family moved to Ad- elaide when he was aged 14 to give him and his siblings opportunities beyond working in the mines. However, since mov- ing to Berri for work back in 1980, Ken has called the Riverland home. The Stokes family lived in Broken Hill for three generations – in fact one of his great grand- fathers was killed while working in the mines back in 1901. All Ken’s ‘great’ parents lived in the mining town – with one grandfather driving the local ambulance. Ken’s father Ray ran a local plumber business, however none of his chil- dren were interested in taking that on, and he and wife Betty wanted to give their children a chance to take up other careers. Despite moving from Broken Hill as a teenager, the experiences playing in the outdoors there were to shape Ken’s life. “As a young boy I just enjoyed being outdoors,” Ken said. “I was one of three boys, and we were very active.” He said they would have played sport every day of the week if they had been able to, playing cricket in summer and football in winter. Ken also did gymnastics for many years, and played baseball after moving to Adelaide. When they weren’t playing sport at Broken Hill, the boys would be playing in the backyard or in a paddock across the road. They also spent many weekends camping on the Darling River at Menindee with their par- ents and grandparents. After leaving school in Adelaide, Ken studied microbiology at the then Institute of Technology – now part of the Univer- sity of South Australia. He then went to work in the laboratory of the En- gineering and Water Sup- ply Department – look- ing after water quality in supplies throughout the State, and working from Bolivar. After 18 months he moved into the section looking after the water in the Mount Lofty Ranges catchment area, now covered by the Adelaide Hills’ Natural Resources Management Group. “They formed a group to look after land management that affect- ed water quality in the catchment areas, which was really agricultural land – dairies, pigs, that sort of stuff,” he said. “As part of that I also got involved in looking at water quality along the River Murray.” From initially being employed as a bacteri- ologist, Ken moved into water quality, land man- agement, water policy and the environment, giving him the qualifica- tions and work experi- ence needed when the National Parks sought a regional manager for the Murray Lands in 1980. “I moved from Ad- elaide when they cre- ated the regions and was based at Berri – I established the Murray Lands region and I have been here ever since,” Ken said. “The National Parks thing allowed me to not be locked up in an office.” In the mid-1980s Ken moved from Nation- al Parks into the Lands Department, which was to become one organisa- tion by the early 1990s. Further State Govern- ment changes saw them again become separate departments again dur- ing his working life – al- though under the one Minister. “I was seconded in 1997 to establish the Murray Darling Catch- ment board and man- agement board – that meant involvement with both the environment and the community,” he said. These days Ken is re- tired, but remains a vol- unteer with the Natural Resource Management as chairman of the River- land Group since 2006. “I think the thing that gives me the most satisfaction is looking at what the schools and young people are do- ing with environmental projects,” he said. “There are so many schools do- ing a lot of good things. Some of these things have actually been taken interstate to go to na- tional conferences.” Ken said one of the things that the Riverland NRM Group did annual- ly was to run a volunteer recognition day to high- light people and groups doing various environ- mental projects. He was pleased that the group had been able to support a number of projects for funding. However, it is the changes in community attitudes to the environ- ment, particularly those of young people, but also more adults, that pleased him the most during the past several decades. “I think one of the things that have changed attitudes to the environ- ment is the dry periods,” Ken said. “They have made people more and more aware of what dam- age can be done. Things like the drought are a fairly good example of what can happen to the environment ... and of the need for good envi- ronmental practices. In irrigation industries in this area we are nearly world leaders in efficien- cy.” Big changes had been made since the late 1970s when irrigation channels were a com- mon way of dispensing water. Irrigators were also far more aware of measuring what water they were using. Ken has also seen major developments made in the manage- ment of wetlands such as Banrock Station, Gurra Lake, Catfish Reach and Nigra. “There are a lot of these areas that have been improved – in many cases delivered by private enterprise – not everything is being done by government – a lot is being done by commu- nity organisations,” he said. Ken and his wife Anne have two sons – Brett and Scott – who have returned to the Riv- erland after studying in Adelaide and are now raising families of their own. As well as his volun- teer work, Ken enjoys his golf and lawn bowls, and gets across to Moonta fishing as often as he can. A childhood growing up in Broken Hill gave Ken Stokes a love of all things outdoors. And a later working career gave him experience in managing the environment. These days he is retired in Berri, and spoke to BEV STORY about his volunteer work as chairman of the Riverland Natural Resources Management Group. It’s fair to say Ken has a... 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Friday September 12 Vol 8 No 45
Friday September 26 Vol 8 No 47