Around the same time a teacher showed Morgan a book about Pompeii and a lightbulb went off in his head. Later he was able to combine his two great passions – archaeology and Abercrombie House. So after attending boarding school he studied historical archaeology at the University of Sydney with a double major in anthropology and history. It was a new course, which specialised in Australian industrial and post-colonial settlement. He then did a graduate diploma in museum studies.
For 25 years he and his wife, Xanthe, ran an outdoor education program for Pittwater House, which included applied history and geography fieldwork. From 2001 to 2007 Morgan was president of the Bathurst Historical Society and museum curator. He has also served on Bathurst Council’s various tourism and heritage advisory bodies for 35 years since 1985. In 2015 he was named Bathurst’s Citizen of the Year and in 2017 won a NSW Premier’s Award for community service.
“I could see the synergy between tourism and a passion for heritage,” he says.
He, Xanthe and at times their two adult children, Julia and Henry, have carried on the family project – continuing to open the house for self-guided tours as well as taking guided tours through it and running events such as weddings, concerts, antique fairs and dinners.
“We were the first privately owned historic house to open to the public in Australia (on a regular basis) and are still doing it,” he says.
“The drawing room is still a drawing room with the family stopping at the end of the day and having a cup of tea or a glass of scotch. I always hoped there would be a way my family could make sure this great heritage treasure could maintain some kind of relevance and meaning in contemporary society because otherwise it’s a waste of money.”
Associate Professor Cameron Logan, the director of Heritage Conservation in the School of Architecture, Design and Planning at the University of Sydney, says most of those who undertake the master of heritage conservation have some architectural or archaeological training. However students also come from the humanities, such as history, or from a geography or planning background, and are trained as heritage consultants through this course.
“As consultants they can’t lead the restoration of a building as that is the job of architects,” he says. “[But] we educate them into the roles as consultants so they can guide or direct the heritage planning and management processes, by doing historical research, writing reports, and giving relevant advice to clients and government authorities.”
There are also museum and heritage studies masters, which are more around the idea of heritage and collections, he says.
Study: The two main courses which introduce students to the burgeoning fields of urban and cultural heritage are the master of heritage conservation at the School of Architecture, Design and Planning at the University of Sydney and the master of urban and cultural heritage at the Melbourne School of Design at the University of Melbourne. Graduates should be passionate about the social and cultural dimensions of the built environment in the 21st century. Dr Logan says the study is centred on how you deal with the conservation of buildings and the management processes, protocols and legal planning issues around that.
Skills: Archival historical research, drawing and documentation of places, being able to understand a place by visual and descriptive means and understanding the value of that place are useful skills, as are research and analysis, including textual analysis.
For more information on the field check the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage: https://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/ or Heritage Victoria: https://www.heritage.vic.gov.au/