Slideshow Sampler of photos from the Project
click on the link to view images- and album highlights- from the project.

A Track Winding Back Weblog - A Blog of Our Own!

Now we have a blog of the project, you can easily walk with us along A TRACK WINDING BACK! 

Listen to - and download - audio samples
View photos & a digital storytelling clip
Or click on web links for a taste of the times

And dicover more about the therapeutic value of storytelling
We hope you enjoy your visit and our stories!

What is A Track Winding Back?

'A Track Winding Back' offers a pioneering model for the use of oral storytelling and digital technologies to break down the barriers between those living in Aged Care and the wider community.

Seventeen individual CD recordings were recorded for A TRACK WINDING BACK:MORSHEAD HOME ORAL HISTORY & REMINISCENCE PROJECT during 2007-2008.
This Blog provides an online showcase of the project - widening access to its stories - while also modelling the importance of storytelling to a sense of connection and belonging in our lives and community.

Special Thanks to Our Participants

A TRACK WINDING BACK thanks and honours the 20 residents who participated in the project. By sharing their reflections on life, war, peace, love, change, ageing and learning - their stories are now interlinked with our own. Unwound, retold and shared with new generations, these stories offer us a connection to our past, encouragement in our joys and difficulties, and lasting counsel.

Morshead Home

Morshead Home for Veterans and Aged Persons has a commitment to storytelling and initiatives that foster positive approaches to ageing.

Morshead Home's CEO Nikki VanDiemen sees storytelling as offering "an important therapeutic role in improving the health and wellbeing of ageing veterans and residents living in aged care."

Governor-General's Launch of A Track Winding Back

The Governor-General Quentin Bryce AC declared herself a 'huge fan' of A TRACK WINDING BACK at the launch of Stage II, a weblog sampler of CD recordings, at Morshead Home for Veterans and Aged Persons on March 11, 2009.

" The project brilliantly captures so much of its generous remit: the memories of our veteran servicemen and women - in themselves priceless; recorded and preserved - not only as keepsakes but as invaluable pieces of our national heritage, shared with coming generations in contemporary and accessible ways," Her Excellency said.


 'I really, really enjoyed that!'  'I forgot my backache!'  (at 97 years old)
 'See! I can remember things!'  'I DID have an interesting life!'

Whole Story, Whole Person

Gathering a sense of the 'whole person' and listening to their 'whole life' experience allowed for a deeper appreciation of what wartime had meant for residents... It is hoped that such an approach builds an understanding that extends beyond conventional cutouts of war and common stereotypes of ageing.

New Place Names and Far from Home

For Australian servicemen World War II meant deployment to far off  locations at a time when few ordinary Australians  had the means or opportunity to travel overseas. Those serviceman who came home returned  with  experiences of  distant and 'exotic' places and cultures; something that from this current vantage point of a globalized world we often fail to see as ground breaking.

Click on the link to sail out of Sydney with Kevin into  a new world - as he throws a message in a bottle overboard to his wife:

Oh boy! When the Americans Came to Town!

A number of  recordings included residents' anecdotes of  U.S marines:  their larger than life reputation for  nylon stocking supplies, Australian women,  better  uniforms,  superior food rations and  a predisposition  towards brawling and disorderly behaviour. Not all accounts were so lively, but here's  Maidie on an encounter with a cheeky U.S Marine on the steps of Coles in Melbourne:
To view an amusing extract from an Australia propaganda film circa 1944 with its underlying subtext of encouraging restraint amongst US troops:

Sugar Rations & Parachute Couture!

Jean and Tony recall wedding dresses made from airmen's parachute silk; Jean remembers sitting for hours with other women sewing on beads from chandeliers and offers a fascinating insight into the impact of  food rationing postwar:

To see a parachute wedding dress in the Smithsonian's collection, click here:

Image: Jean and Tony.

Incendiary Bombs & Boys Own Adventures

Never short of a life adventure or anecdote, whether it be flying out to Tangyanika on a flying boat 'Just Married' with his new bride or recalling conversations with John Gorton via Prime Ministerial aircraft communications  on the way to Independence meetings in Papua New Guinea, John has had a full and varied life working in the Law and travelling the world.
Going back to his youth, here John recalls early school years in Surrey collecting debris off crashed fighter planes, running messages on pushbike for Dad's Army; remembering having the side of the family home blown off. Listen at:

View a WWII educational film with the curious title of  'How to Put Out an Incenciary Bomb' at:

Hats off!

Terry's hat: A new lining in it but the original holder of many a good story and musical memory.

Christmas Greetings 2009!

Best wishes to the participants, residents, family, friends, volunteers, staff and  Board at Morshead Home and all of who have helped The A Track Winding Back Project in 2009. Wishing you a peaceful Christmas and New Year with special island Christmas greetings (above) the theme for this end of year!

A Track Winding Back goes to Vanuatu!

On a recent trip to Vanuatu to rest and discover more about storytelling, A TRACK WINDING BACK visited an evocative Havana Bay WWII roadside museum, a  short trip on sealed road out of Port Vila. Its curator- Ernest- who has featured in various documentaries and travel guides, has a passion for found relics from WWII  and the stories they hold. We often forget the intersecting story lines that bound Australia to the Pacific and the contribution and sacrifices many of the Ni Vanuatu - amongst other Pacific Islanders - made. If you are ever on Efate, pop in and say halo and olsem wanem'-  hello, how are you to Ernest, nambawan storyteller and collector.

Bring Your Own Ladder at Lake George!

In this recording extract, Clyde recalls the shallow and at times dangerously choppy waters of Lake George (or Weerewaa in the indigenous language) outside Canberra; a lake regarded as 'mysterious' for its cycles of drying out and filling- and who could believe - once the hub for various yacht and water ski-ing clubs!

These reminiscences provide great social contrast and underlining of Australia's vulnerability to drought. Many would be surprised at the thought of past generations arriving at the lake prepared with ladders to fish in Lake George! Listen in at:

Falling - and staying - in Love

Everyone loves a love story, and here's a lovely one! Betty describes a night where friend Jack  returns home to bathurst after being away. Though they've been friends for some time, she suddenly sees Jack  - her fiancee to be -  in a whole new light... 

Lost Tank

Jean and Tony talk about a 'lost tank', the perils of  friendly fire in war and Tony's lucky escape via a floor hatch at the tender age of  just eighteen or nineteen. Click on:
Image: Tony (middle) resting on a tank WWII

The Track Jack Built

Every day residents at Morshead  and Gardiner Grove enjoy the pleasure, safety and health benefits of a walking track around the perimeter of the home.  Here's a tribute to Jack - "and don't forget Derek" (says Betty) - two community minded former residents who combined their capabilities and extraordinary energy to get the track built.

Here's Betty and a story that reminds us of  how one track is often connected to another...
Chronicled in this beautiful and personal vignette; is a moving reminder of the deeper connections that run like maplines through our lives and relationships. Paths  and tracks joined  together; like the stones thrown for Jack on Betty's travels; and the ripples that spread outwards.

Hold the Line please!

To hear Maidie on working as one of Melbourne's highest paid telephonists  and about her short return to work as a married woman during WWII, click on:

Memory Holder: Digital Storytelling Clip

Pools hold more than water often expressing new hopes for new generations.

Manuka Pool, Canberra's first public swimming baths is utilized here as a 'memory holder' for stories from WWII, reflections of life in early Canberra and as a holding place for explorations of remembrance and peace.

As a meeting point for personal and social history, the pool offers a poignant reminder of the connections between generations and the fragility of  this thing we so often take for granted - 'peace'.

In this 5 min digital storytelling clip  Magella Blinksell weaves a number of  'A Track Winding Back' participants' reminiscences of Manuka Pool  into a contemporary exploration of  memory and  remembrance.

The sharing and convergence of stories is seen as an important part of joining our future to our past; shared physical spaces like pools offering a reminder of the collective histories and waters we share.

To watch 'Memory Holder' click:

To see more images of early Canberra, visit the ACT Heritage Library:

Behind the Glass

One of the challenges of the project was locating photos of the participants and reproducing photos sealed up  in their original picture frames. Captured here is the task of reproducing an image of the project's iconicic 'pin-up' girl, Rita,  from a wartime photo framed behind glass.

You Beaut Ute!

George recalls the pot luck of ordering a car after the war; lengthy waiting lists and a car dealer's response to the rumour of the first Holden ute being in the pipeline: "There is no such animal in captivity!"
Listen here:
Watch  Holden Ute ad history

108 degrees in the Shade

Maidie experiences her first Aussie Christmas; 108 degrees in the shade and not a real snowflake in sight! Cutting off her waist length hair to cope with the heat, she also struggles with the Aussie vernacular:

Snapshots of life voyages

Images from Colin's albums, taken on voyages at the height of German U-Boat sinkings in the Atlantic, and on the way to a blacked out Liverpool as a young pilot.

Up the Sittang

John recounts an extraordinary tale of being capsized by a tidal bore on the Sittang River in Burma. Remaining resourceful in the face of  the craft's sudden entombment, John's demonstrates swift creativity in addresssing its sartorial consequences... And a 'take it in your stride' adaptation to later culinary perils... For his first hand account click on:

Unfolded Papers

One of the privileges of the project was seeing newspaper clippings, photos and letters emerge out of long-closed albums and suitcases. What memorabilia will GenX and GenY unfold, open, or upload when tracking back - digitally or otherwise - through time?

Unfolding Stories

Often unknown interests, passions and achievements came to light as the participants' stories unfolded...

The Way we Map Our Lives

The way that we map our life journey can change over time. One of the most interesting aspects of the project was hearing how participants saw the different twists and turns in their lives with hindsight.
Here's a beautiful tracking back - with no regrets from George:

Northern Exposure

"Do I remember the 'Air Chief'?" asks George with  widened eyes and raised eyebrows,"How could you ever forget it!!!"
Listen to George's account of  working below decks keeping  engines running on highly combustible high octane fuel, while in northern waters on rescue and retrieval missions.

Martin Place the Day Peace was Declared

" War's a terrible thing, even for those not (directly) involved" says Peggy as she remembers the pain of war years and the euphoric feeling in Martin Place the day Peace was declared... "I'll  never ever forget it even if I lived to be a thousand years." Listen to Peggy's evocative description :

The Longing for Life as Usual

A common theme amongst residents' reminiscences was the strange juxtaposition of everyday life and its beauty - 'as though sometimes a war wasn't going on' - and then the all too real reality and destruction of war. Colin's descriptions of arriving in a blacked out Liverpool, the beauty of a halycon, verdant England - and a view onto deadly dogfights across the channel, offers a poignant view onto the times. Photos albums of the Allied Occupation of Japan also show this strange collision between death and beauty, post-Hiroshima; where death and destruction - and the universal  human longing to survive and for life as normal -surfaced  like a phoenix.Cherry blossoms; the frailty of life and the rubble of war sitting side by side; reminders of the thin line between existence and destruction.

Every Letter to this Day!

Arguably the greatest riches in the  interviewes' stories were the relationships of love and connection which they had experienced throughout their life time. Sometimes every love letterwritten by one's loved one had been kept to this day.

Working Together & At The Beauty Parlour

The process of recording interviews was seen as just as important - if not more important- than the audio product. It was essential that residents directed what they would like to talk about and were actively involved in the different stages of the project.

Home at Last!

A humorous anecdote of  happy homecomings; Marge arranges a milktruck  for her husband's arrival back home from Korea. Click on:

Pack up your troubles...In your Old Song bag!

Music and Song emerged as useful reminiscence tools throughout the project and its interviewing process.
To hear  Bill's  vox pop about mateship amongst sailors click on:

The Night of the Mini Subs in Sydney Harbour

Several  residents  were in Sydney on the night of the Japanese mini sub attacks on the Harbour; an evening vividly enscribed in  their memories of youth and early adult years.

Here's Marge on her step-father's response to the attacks  - retold with  amusement - a tale of a broken vase in Rose Bay and memories of visiting injured N.Z sailors hospitalized after the attack on  ships docked at Garden Island:

And Jean with another humorous account of that night and an alarm raised during her work at Spectacle Island:

Hear 'Along the Road to Gundagai'

Play it Swing style again!

O-Wings, Hay in the Wings and the picturesque Rocky Mountains

Training to get his O-wings as an Observer with the RAAF in WWII, Clyde spent time in Canada  flying through the Rocky Mountains. Listen to a humorous account of haystacks, some wild training pilots on leave  from Europe and the cost of forgetting those pesky wind-up-aerials  while landing an Avro Anson.

We Saw Shirley Bassey!

Peg and Ted  saw Shirley Bassey in a Sydney nightclub  during the 1950's. "She's a screamer" said Ted driyly.

Relish Shirley Bassey's big sound well before she was remixed for younger generations with  the  Propellorheads
...Or KanYe West  toyed with Bassey's 70's Bond hit 'Diamonds Are Forever:'

Changed Names - Unfinished Slippers

The names we were given, christened with or nicknamed  tell a story or two! Sometimes the shoe - or slipper fits - other times not. Here's two vox pops from two Morshead characters!

Maidie retraces the slipper steps of her  Grandmother  - via some embroidery - and talks about the Grandfather who 'renamed'  her 'Wee Maidie.' .
While Peggy gives an account of her christened name and her parent's time in England:

After War - Women Remember

Grace and Rita speak about their ongoing  work  -  after the war -   with the War Widows Guild and Rita's service on the Board at Morshead Home. Also recorded is  a moving recollection of the day Peace was declared.