Joan Hunt was a champion of local history in the Central Highlands region for many years.
She will be deeply missed by all those who came in contact with her as an extremely knowledgeable historian who was ever ready to share her knowledge and research expertise.
Her passions were genealogy and local history.
Joan and her husband Gary moved from Melbourne to Smythesdale in 1980 and Joan became the teacher at the Ross Creek Primary School, where she enthused her pupils with her love of history.
She was a prime mover in establishing the Woady Yalock Historical Society in 1985, when she was also President of the Ballarat Historical Society.
Around this time she spoke with Peter Mansfield of the Central Highlands Library about the possibility of establishing an umbrella body to represent local historical societies, and the Central Highlands Historical Association was born.
Ballarat’s Heritage Festival grew out of the annual History Fair organised by this association.
In 1988 Joan was awarded a Churchill Fellowship to spend four months in England studying the operation of historical societies.
She returned full of ideas on how to improve support for local history, and became a representative on the Council of the Royal Historical Society of Victoria, lobbying for the interests of regional history, and the provision of training for country volunteers.
After retiring from a distinguished teaching career, Joan enrolled in a PhD in Australian History at Federation University.
She was the first graduate of the Collaborative Research Centre in Australian History’s program established in 2013.
Her thesis explored the lost gold mining communities of the Springdullah area, close to Smythesdale, bringing together her passion for genealogy, local history and landscape research.
I was privileged to be her principal supervisor, and never had a more organised student than Joan, who flew through her research and was awarded her doctorate in 2016.
Right up to the moment of her sudden death, she was totally involved in history, especially active with the Ballaarat Mechanics’ Institute talks programme, and the Ballarat and District Genealogical Society.
In every endeavour, she was fully supported by her husband Gary, a talented photographer, who collaborated in many of her writing and publishing projects.
Her immense knowledge of the archives, enthusiasm and energy will be sadly missed by the local historical community.
A private cremation will be held for Joan Hunt but the family has offered an invitation to extended family, friends and colleagues for a a Memorial Service to celebrate the life and contribution of Joan on Thursday 20th of September. Details yet to be formalised.