National Science Week has prompted the senior Illawarra community to reconnect with their heritage.
Despite most Science Week activities being aimed at school children, the Ghost of Courtney Puckey tour proved popular with older members of the community.
The theatrical walks through Puckey’s Estate in North Wollongong explored the life of Courtney Puckey and his obsession with salt-making. Many tour-goers had connections to the Puckey family or their estate.
“We have had older people that could tell us things about the Puckeys because they knew them,”Wollongong Botanic Gardens Education Officer Michael Connor said.
Mr Connor created the program and transformed into the ghost of Country Puckey for the tour.
“The program was originally designed for older people because we have had so many programs using drama for younger children at the botanic gardens,” he said.
“We wanted something for older people, adults and high school student as well.”
Mr Connor and the Wollongong Botanic Garden have developed many award-winning theatre performances. Mr Connor partnered with The Eaton Gorge Theatre Company to deliver the latest program, which included building a model of Puckey’s salt making tower.
“Sometimes science can be presented to people in a very dry way and we are trying to do the opposite of that,” Mr Connor said.
“You put the arts into the sciences and that helps get it across.”
Pharmacist Barbara Kennard enjoyed the opportunities for audience participation.
“I think it is fascinating and really helpful,” Ms Kennard said.
Local resident Neil Bott attended the tour because he had seen Mr Connor perform in other programs.
“I saw this man in another disguise and thought it was one of the best things I have ever seen,” Mr Bott said.
Mr Bott remembered camping at Puckey’s Estate in the 1950s and fishing for prawns in the lagoon. The estate is now an annex of the Wollongong Botanic Gardens due to its rare coastal sand dune system, which is home to endangered wildlife.
“Our aim is to get people interested in the science capabilities and the heritage of this area,” Mr Connor said.