Murdoch historian written into history at Elizabeth Quay

October 13, 2014

One of Murdoch’s most esteemed foundation professors, Emeritus Professor Geoffrey Bolton AO, had his name written into history today when Planning Minister, John Day announced that a new road at Elizabeth Quay would be named after him.

Geoffrey Bolton Avenue was named after Professor Bolton to acknowledge the contribution he has made to conserve, record and teach the history of Western Australia.

Interim Vice Chancellor Professor Andrew Taggart congratulated Professor Bolton on this exceptional honour.

“Emeritus Professor Geoffrey Bolton’s reputation as a genial and inspiring scholar, historian and educator has preceded him, and I couldn’t think of a man more deserving of this honour,” he said.

“Professor Bolton is recognised as one of Australia’s foremost historians, socio-political commentators and historical writers, and has also been a fundamental contributor to the success of Murdoch University through his role as Foundation Professor of History, and later as Chancellor from 2002 – 2006.

“It is widely acknowledged that he has done more than any other scholar to help Western Australians interpret their past and relate it to the present, and this is a wonderful way to recognise his contribution to the State’s history.”

Professor Bolton said he had been consulted about a name for the street about four or five months ago.

"I imagined they were going to ask me about some other historical character so I was totally astonished when they said 'what about you'?,” He said.

Although Professor Bolton admitted he had been dubious about the project initially, he acknowledged that there were many opportunities to create a new Perth city for decades to come.

"We still have some way to go before we get it right but it is not a project for a year or two years, it is a project for decades," he said.

"I don't expect it to be rushed but I do think now that we are committed we have a duty individually and collectively to make sure it is as good as it possibly can be."

Professor Bolton said items on his wish list for Elizabeth Quay included good public transport to encourage tourists and older visitors to the riverside would be needed, with a light rail system a priority. He added that an open air area for bands would also be a great addition.

Professor Bolton said using his name was a compliment to the profession of historians.

"I would be more than happy to be regarded as symbolic of all the colleagues I have had," he said.

And he would probably adopt the approach taken by academic Sir Walter Murdoch when he was told Perth's second university would be named after him.

"He said 'it had better be a good one'," Professor Bolton said.

Geoffrey Bolton Avenue will run across the top inlet, bordered by the Esplanade Station to the west and Supreme Court gardens to the east.

The Elizabeth Quay project area was the original site of the Perth Water Baths and was once Perth’s port, a bustling centre for trade and commerce, before being reclaimed for freeway interchanges and parks.

Professor Bolton studied at the University of Western Australia and Oxford, was a senior lecturer at Monash University, professor of modern history at UWA, played a key role in setting up Murdoch University, served three terms on the senate, and was chancellor 2002-2006.

He also held positions in Cambridge, London, Queensland and at Edith Cowan University, and has written 14 books on Australian history, was general editor of the prestigious five-volume Oxford History of Australia and made an Officer of the Order of Australia in 1984.

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Media contact: Jane McNamara
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