Dr Bill Garner explores the history of Mount Pleasant as Ballarat’s first residential suburb. With a white history from the time of pastoral settlement, Mount Pleasant pre-dates Ballarat. Although in the 1850s it became the first residential suburb, it remained separate from the city. Stranded between the White Horse Range on the east and the escarpment on the west and stoppered to the south by the sewerage works it remained oddly contained. A fierce Methodist enclave from the mid 1850s, its autonomy was ultimately destroyed by the economic changes of the late 20th century. But now Mount Pleasant's distinctive history is invigorating community identity.
Bill Garner grew up in Mount Pleasant in the 1950s. He is a historian, playwright, screenwriter and author. He received both the Australian Historical Society Serle Award and the Dennis-Wettenhall Prize for his pioneering research on the history of camping, published as Born in a Tent (NewSouth 2014). For the ABC-TV drama mini-series about the Heidelberg School, One Summer Again, he won the Australian Writers Guild Award for Original Work for Television. He was a lead writer on the long-running television series Blue Heelers. A set of historical plays co-written with Sue Gore has gathered critical acclaim and several Green Room Awards. With a PhD in History, Dr Garner has taught at Melbourne and Monash universities. He was a founding member of the Mount Pleasant History Group and its consultant historian.
Image: John Henry Harvey, Woollen Mill, Ballarat, c. 1875–1938, [detail]. Collection: State Library Victoria, Melbourne.