His­to­rian’s mile­stone

Whitsunday Times - - LOCAL NEWS -

RAY Black­wood came to the Whit­sun­days to re­tire with his wife in the trop­ics. Upon ar­riv­ing Mr Black­wood be­came fas­ci­nated with the his­tory of the Whit­sun­days, and found that some lo­cal sto­ries were not as ac­cu­rate as most had as­sumed.

“The first story I heard was about Matthew Flin­ders, that he stopped here to re­pair his boat on an is­land that is now called Re­pair Is­land, but in ac­tual fact that didn’t hap­pen. Flin­ders didn’t come any­where near Shute Har­bour. It was this that re­ally ig­nited my pas- sion for find­ing the real facts of the Whit­sun­days his­tory,” he said.

Mr Black­wood has spent nearly 30 years re­search­ing lo­cal his­tory, and pub­lished his book Whit­sun­day Is­lands a His­tor­i­cal Dic­tio­nary in 1997. He re­leased a se­cond edi­tion on CD which has up­dated ac­counts and lots of pho­tos.

“I want to get it right. I took no no­tice of sec­ondary sources and went straight to the pri­mary sources. I’ve searched all over the world li­braries and have ac­cu­mu­lated about 100 charts of the area, which are now with the Proser­pine His­tor­i­cal Mu­seum.”

Re-writ­ing his­tory is no easy task, but for Mr Black­wood, it’s his pas­sion.

Mr Black­wood’s ef­forts led to him be­com­ing is a life mem­ber and pa­tron of the Proser­pine His­tor­i­cal Mu­seum.

“I’ve given the copy­right of all my work to the mu­seum. They now pro­duce the CDs and sell them.”

Mr Black­wood is turn­ing, 90, and while he may have slowed down his re­search ef­forts haven’t, he is al­ways chas­ing more in­for­ma­tion.

Photo: Kathryn Cy­gan

HAPPY BIRTH­DAY: Lo­cal his­to­rian Ray Black­wood is cel­e­brat­ing his 90th birth­day.

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