The Colac and District Historical Society was established in 1950, making Colac one of the first regional townships in the state to have such an organisation. A primary aim from the inauguration of the Society was to obtain a home where the various components of the district history could be preserved, and be made available to the public. This aim was achieved in 1972, when as a result of over 20 years of hard work and fund-raising by the society and its auxiliary group, a dedicated free-standing building was opened in Gellibrand Street, opposite to the entrance to the railway station. In 2000 this Historical Centre was demolished to make way for the COPACC development. The Society’s premises were transferred to a dedicated space in the new building, an area now shared with the Colac and District Family History Group.
The Society’s collection includes maps, photographs, ephemera, books of local relevance, and original manuscript material. Newspapers from the 1880s to the present day are available on microfilm, and in some cases, in hard copy. A range of clothing has been suitably stored, complemented by furniture and other objects of district significance. These are all useful in mounting public displays, often commemorating significant milestones in the story of the area and its many organisations. There is a wide-ranging collection of school material, including the archive of the former Colac High School, and data relating to the former Colac Technical School.
Since 1970 the Society has published books. Many of these, and a range of other publications, are available for sale, both at the Centre or via this website. Monthly meetings, open to the public, feature speakers of local relevance. A newsletter, published regularly since 1970, has provided a forum for members’ research. Access to these articles, and to the other parts of the collection, has been made available through extensive cataloguing. Indexes can guide researchers to stories of people and of places, of events and institutions. All these elements contribute to a major role of the group – the answering of many enquiries relating to the economic and social history of the district. After 66 years the range of activities continues to meet the expectations of a changing world.
1. To collate information in order that the history of Colac and District be recorded.
2. To promote the interchange of information amongst members of the Society by lectures, readings, discussions, excursions and exhibits of objects of historical interest.
3. To keep members informed of the developments in the field of history.
4. To acquire by purchase, donation or otherwise, such objects and material as are relative to history and in particular the history of Colac and District.
5. To interest the community in the Society’s aims.