Julian O’Shea recognised with community history award

Julian O’Shea recognised with community history award

Southbank resident and online creator Julian O’Shea has made his community proud, taking home the Digital Storytelling Award at the 2024 Community History Awards on February 2 for his video series, Unknown Melbourne.

The annual ceremony is presented by Public Record Office Victoria in partnership with the Royal Historical Society of Victoria to celebrate individuals who are dedicated to telling local stories through creative and unique history projects.

With millions of views across YouTube, Instagram and Tik Tok, Mr O’Shea’s winning series explores the “quirky, weird and wonderful stories” of the city.

“I’m an educator at Monash University teaching media and used to run study tours across the world, but when we all couldn’t leave more than five kilometres from the house, I had a bit more time and was still interested in education storytelling” Mr O’Shea said.

“I’m excited to have won; the series has been a real joy to make and it’s really funny that things resonate with people and that they’ve enjoyed hearing these stories about Melbourne and its design.”

An “engineer and designer by background”, Mr O’Shea utilises some of his professional knowledge to “put together some of the pieces of the puzzle” to Melburnians’ most-pondered questions, from how the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) can be a national gallery of a state, to why so many trucks hit the Montague Street Bridge.

“I think everyone is curious about the world,” he said.

“The challenge for educators and storytellers is to talk about topics which are pretty niche and technical at times but do it in a way which is fun and engaging.”

Living in Southbank, Mr O’Shea has delved into numerous topics that have long-intrigued residents, such as the story behind how the yellow Vault artwork outside the Australian Centre for Contemporary Arts (ACCA) ended up in Southbank, and the purpose of the 450-tonne red smokestack that sits beside it.

“It looks like an artwork, but it’s actually not – it’s a ventilation pipe from the underground Burnley Tunnel that is underneath it and was designed to safely exhaust fumes out of the tunnel,” Mr O’Shea said.

“It’s quite nice to hear that people who have lived here for a long time are learning about the city that they spend a lot of time in, because there’s not a lot of mechanisms necessarily to learn about the design of our water systems or our street design or our bike lanes – it’s been great to fill that gap.”

This year, Mr O’Shea will also transform the series into a live show as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival (MICF) from March 27 to April 7, titled M is for Melbourne: The World’s Mostly* Liveable City.

“It will be my first full-length comedy show – I’m excited and nervous,” he said.

“This really is one of the great cities to live in with so much access to art and culture happening nearby, it’s pretty special.” •

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