Tongala is a vibrant and resilient community that has grown through adversity and environmental hardships. It is a community that cares, understands and importantly supports its members in both the hard times and the good. Over the years financial support has been removed as local governments have been centralised and the national focus shifted to larger more prosperous regional and metropolitan centres. In spite of this the people of Tongala have persevered and through diligent hardwork maintained community spirit and the core of what it is to be a part of a small regional community. The story of Tongala is not entirely unique, there are many communities Australia wide who have faced the same obstacles and overcome adversity, there are others who have floundered. What makes the story of Tongala special is that it is OUR story. For those who grew up there or moved there later in life, Tongala is now a part of their history.

The project ‘We’re Still Here’ is a means for the people of Tongala to get together and share their story. Formally trained Art Photographer Shaun C Mackrell will be spending three months photographing the town and its people as a means of creating a ‘snapshot’ in time of how the town is now. In addition to this, this website will become a means for people to communicate and share their story.

How Do I Become Involved?

There are Number of ways to become involved. Any contribution is greatly appreciated, you can participate in any of the following ways:

  • Have your Photo Taken. Become apart of Tongalas history by being photographed by Shaun. The process takes about 40 minutes in which Shaun comes to your home and using high powered commercial lighting equipment photographs you and your home. Digital files and prints are then available at rates far lower than a commercial photographer will provide them for.
  • Tell Your story. In a thousand words or less tell your tale. It might be how you came to be in Tongala, How you have seen the town change or even an interesting anecdote on something that happened here in the past. Its entirely up to you.
  • Show us the Past. Send in images of how Tongala was, along with a caption or small story to explain. It may be personal or public, its still a part of a larger picture. An example of what you could send in would be images of Tent Town or some other community event that is no longer. As with the written submissions it is entirely up to you, what and how you would like to tell your story.

How did this Project Come About?

In 2010 Shaun had the idea that he would like to work with Tongala and show the world the positive side of the place where he grew up. Consultation with local people and organisations showed that there was a willingness and desire to see the project happen and showcase the town and its achievements for all to see. In addition the Federally funded Regional Arts Fund as managed by Regional Arts Victoria saw fit to provide a grant to see that the project happens.

What happens with all of the images and stories?

Your stories and personal photos will be posted here on Tongala2012 as a means of sharing with the other members of the community. The images taken by Shaun will be shown in an Exhibition of printed images which will be shown first in Tongala, then Bendigo and finally onto Melbourne. In addition there will hopefully be a book published to be distributed alongside the exhibitions.
This is our opportunity to show who we are and get behind our town. I look forward to seeing and hearing from you all soon.
Kindest Regards,
Shaun C Mackrell


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