Appy Trails

  • Locals of North West and New England display the soundtrails app

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    Soundtrails

    Left and Right, Uralla Visitor Information Centre volunteers Gwen and Colin testing out the app with The Story Project’s Helen Wilkinson.

  • Storytrails promo image with different people using the app outside

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    Soundtrails

    People experience the stories on the Soundtrail app outside McCrossin Mill Museum and Function Centre.

  • Storytrails launch

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    Storytrails

    The launch at McCrossin Mill Museum and Function Centre. From left to right; Andrew Parker (Uralla Arts) State representative, Adam Marshall, Hamish Sewell (The Story Project) Georgia Standerwick (Gwydir Shire ...

When you’re in the New England and the North West, make sure you download and experience Soundtrails. This app is an Australian first, weaving contemporary music, oral history, archived recordings, and good old-fashioned yarns into a location-based experience that takes visitors on a time-traveling tour of the region. Three Soundtrails are available so far, featuring in Uralla, Warialda and Myall Creek and there’s plenty more to come!

The launch of this exciting project took place at McCrossins Mill recently and the museum overflowed with people, many of who contributed to the app. Local pollie, Adam Marshall, Member for Northern Tablelands and Christina Spurgeon from Creative Industries joined in the excitement.

 

“When you’re standing at a location and the building speaks to you, it’s evocative. It begins to connect all the neurons in the brain.” Hamish Sewell, Producer

The app is a new take on tales from the past. It uses GPS based maps as a framework to journey in and out of stories but  mobile coverage is unneccessary once the Soundtrail has been downloaded. This can be very useful for regional locations where mobile coverage can be patchy to say the least.

The Myall Creek Memorial trail takes visitors on a ten minute walk along a memorial path, from Bingara to Delungra Road, finishing at the stone memorial on the site of the massacre. Along the way, you’ll meet Len Payne, who led the charge towards reconciliation and healing; you’ll be welcomed with traditional Yugal, Gamilaraay and Yuwaalaraay music and plied with questions from diverse voices: “How would you feel if your parents were responsible for murder?”

Soundtrails Producer, Hamish Sewell, explains that the Soundtrail isn’t simply a podcast on your mobile; instead the high-quality music production and locative cultural heritage is designed as a visceral and transformative experience.

“It’s not like reading text and it’s not like radio that you passively listen to. When you’re standing at a location and the building speaks to you, it’s evocative. It begins to connect all the neurons in the brain.”

The app has been two years in the making.  Hamish came up with the idea while working with Uralla Arts on the recording of stories in Uralla for The Story Project.  The precedent for Soundtrails came from an English app launched in 2012 called Hackney Hear. Triggered by GPS, Hackney Hear provided an innovative way to explore and rediscover London through the stories of residents, local writers and musicians.

This model of community storytelling immediately engaged Hamish but, unsatisfied with its scale, he went on to develop Soundtrails to include multiple trails on the one app.  Andrew Parker of Uralla Arts and Helen Wilkinson of The Story Project presented the idea at a forum hosted by Queensland University of Technology, and the production of Soundtrails commenced. It's had the support of Christina Spurgeon from Creative Industries ever since.

The development of the many stories grew organically as Hamish mixed recordings on his laptop. In-depth research went into every story, finding individuals who were willing to tell their stories and combining them effectively. The app features an exhaustive list of contributors and artists including a respectable line-up of songwriters such as Neil Murray, Roger Knox, and Fred Smith, many of whom considered the stories for several months before composing their tunes.

Soundtrails is a great example of community storytelling which will enhance the cultural tourism of New England and the North West. It will be wonderful to see how this flexible, scalable tool will enable the production of audio tours throughout Australia.

 

Download the app for iphone or Android.

Even if you’re not on location you can still listen to the stories on the website.

Soundtrails is a collaboration between The Story Project and Workware Pty Ltd. The project has been supported by organisations including New England Mutual, Federal and Local Governments (Uralla and Gywdir Shires), Phoenix Foundry, Starfish Initiatives, Uralla Arts, QUT and The Story Project.

In this article

Museums & Galleries of NSW helps museums, galleries and Aboriginal cultural centres of NSW create exciting and inspiring experiences for visitors and strong, thriving local communities. We develop their skills, connect them with others in the industry, provide funding, point visitors their way, and give them access to ground-breaking exhibitions.

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