Max Primmer audio interview, 2016
Max Primmer Way Back When - Consulting Historians
Max Primmer first moved to Daylesford in 2003. He was 53 years old at the time and had been living and working in Melbourne. After a weekend at the ChillOut festival, he decided to move to Daylesford.
Three weeks later, he closed down his business and took the plunge. ‘It was a big spur of the moment thing’, says Max: but a lot of my life has been lived like that ... you make a decision and you just want to do something ... you can’t live on regrets, you’ve just got to do what feels like is right for you. Max quickly made a home for himself in Daylesford, throwing himself into his new community. He was soon invited to join the ChillOut festival committee.
As a gay man, Max recognises that he’s had a very good life. After coming out to his family at the age of fifteen, Max has continued to be open and honest about who he is. He feels this approach has meant that most people have accepted him without any issues. ‘If you’re upfront about who you are’, he says, ‘then you don’t get as many dramas. That’s what I’ve found. It doesn’t work for everybody, I know that’.
Max had no issues being a gay man when he moved to Daylesford, but appreciated the fact that ‘people in the town were just very accepting’. He acknowledges that the response he gets from locals today is in part due to the pioneering efforts of those women and men who moved to Daylesford in the 1970s and 1980s: 'All parts of the community, the gay community and the heterosexual community in Daylesford have just been incredible. They’ve welcomed me and a lot of other people with open arms … you’re part of this town as well as everybody else.'
One of the biggest reasons the Daylesford community has been so embracing of the queer community, speculates Max, is because without it, the town might not have survived. 'The shops had closed down; it was a very quiet town. It was a dying town, and then once the first LGBTI people came here and bought [homes], it came back to life.' As well as reviving the town, the LGBTI community have reinforced Daylesford’s reputation as a place of freedom and acceptance. Some tourists, notes Max, still come to Daylesford hoping to get a glimpse into gay and lesbian life. The ChillOut festival weekend is now the biggest wedding weekend of the year.
Today, Daylesford is a thriving tourist hotspot with a dynamic local community. There is a local cinema, radio station, first-rate restaurants, cafes, accommodation, spa treatments, antiques and art. Community to Max is about being part of something, and in Daylesford there is plenty to be a part of.
I think that’s got a lot to do with the people who live here who are very accepting. I think anyone who comes for Melbourne to stay for the weekend or a night if they’re just passing through, just finds that they are so welcome. They can go into a restaurant and not be looked down on or treated differently from everybody else who is in the restaurant and all that sort of goes on in town and I think that’s why people feel so comfortable. And also because it’s nestled in the middle of the forest, it’s in between hills, it’s got a really nice serene feeling about it and a lot of really nice stuff goes on here. So I think that’s why the people keep coming back. You know, there’s something they can do, they can relax you know?
And I think, I guess it’s still probably a little bit of a novelty for people to come here because it’s such an LGBTI town. There’s still probably that little bit of interest that, we want to go and look at gay people. But they don’t realise that almost anybody that serves them in a café or greets them at the door of their accommodation is ... and I’ve heard it said a few times in the street like, it was probably 12 months ago I was visiting a friend who’s got a little shop and we were sitting out the front having a chat, and there were these four gentlemen about two doors down having this conversation and it was: ‘You know I’ve been here for two days and I still haven’t seen one gay person’. (laughs) And I just sat there and there was a lady there too and we just cracked up laughing, because it was just, you know you’re standing there, just come out of a café which is there and I know for a fact that the two boys that own it, I know that they’ve got all gay staff on – and it’s like ‘I still haven’t seen a gay person’, I felt like saying ....
But just fitting into the community is a matter for you to do as well as people accepting you. You’ve got to go out and show people that you’re part of the community. Which is not hard because there are just so many little jobs you can do – there’s volunteer work everywhere. Almost everything in town is run by volunteers, well except the major shops aren’t obviously. There’s a lot of community events that happen, and they wouldn’t happen without people giving their time. We’ve got community radio, we’ve got the gardens, community cinema – it’s a pretty amazing town for that sort of thing. You do feel sort of encompassed in the whole thing, and maybe get a bit insular because you’re in such a lovely town. When you do go out of town, you realise how lucky you are to come back here.
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Early Lesbian and Gay Daylesford
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Story education resources
Education Daylesford Stories Education Kit
This education resource links to relevant learning outcomes in the Level 9 and Level 10 AusVELs curriculum. It utilises a range of primary sources including audio profiles, short films and images; inquiry and research-based activities as well as group work and critical discussion.