Penrith, NSW. Signs of the Times

Do History and Heritage Still Matter?

Penrith is fortunate to have the Nepean River. Captain Watkin Tench was the first European to find and name the river, in 1798. Today, the river is the centre of many social and leisure activities which will greatly increase once the Nepean River Pedestrian Bridge is completed in 2018, although its history and heritage are much neglected. Penrith City Council is promoting growth and development in Penrith which will soon be a sea of high rise apartments. While there has been considerable work at Tench Reserve by the river to greatly improve the facilities of locals and visitors to the area there is still no Penrith Visitors Centre, just a website. If you visit the river, there is not even a map to help you explore either the river or its heritage. Instead there are only signs for new developments, such as those above, which are near a popular cafe, and include a map which highlights the current lack of visibility of the river as well as ignoring both its physical and historical significance. It is also incredible to believe that the Panthers Rugby League Club has put a proposal to Penrith City Council to build sixteen buildings which include 850 apartments, not far away.

Now, it would be great to have an artistic and informative map of the area which features the Nepean River and the various points of interest (besides businesses) for both visitors and locals whether picnickers, walkers, cyclists, kayakers or history enthusiasts. In fact, such a map could be a mural on the side of a building or amenity and become a feature of Tench Reserve and the area in its own right. While travelling to Kakadu in the Northern Territory I came across a terrific map at the Bark Hut Inn which was designed and printed by Sign City in Darwin that highlights the immediate locality but also extends into neighbouring tourism areas and shows the main routes. Surely, Penrith could do this and at least link to the Blue Mountains, Windsor and Richmond to make the most of both their separate and combined histories and geography, especially as the Greater Blue Mountains Drive which briefly includes Penrith Valley and features some historic sites, canoeing, picnics, the connection to the Lapstone Zig Zag and also has an interactive map.

Bark Hut Inn map

If you have any comments, maps or murals which may provide further inspiration, please let us know. You never know, it might just happen!

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Trove Detective: Craig Baynes’ 1950 film ‘Undertow’

Have you visited the National Film & Sound Archive either online, or at their offices in Canberra or elsewhere? While investigating further research on the ballet dancer Queenie Royal, I came across an interesting article on her husband Craig Baynes, who was a film producer. This film review was intriguing and meant I had to visit the Sydney Office of of the National Film & Sound Archive, at Pyrmont. If you are interested in surf life saving or surfing history you might like to visit & view it at the NFSA in Canberra or elsewhere. It’s not digitised or online yet but there is some great vintage footage.

 

The review said: Craig Baynes, who produced the film, claims it is in the screen-dream class and is a new sort of documentary with an emotional instead of an intellectual appeal. His approach to the documentary film is as unorthodox as, say, a contemporary artist’s attitude to painting compared with that of a disciple of the old masters.

After viewing the film, I wondered about these comments as it seemed fairly typical of modern documentaries. However, the article also mentioned that Baynes had originally been a news reel camera man. As this was soon after World War Two this may explain the changes that we take for granted today.

Undertow focussed on Baynes’ impressions of Surf Life Saving Clubs in Sydney and Australia. The article said he had arrived here from England about 1948. The film was both informative, even technical, as well as descriptive and picturesque, and entertaining.

  1. What is an ‘undertow’ & why we need surf life savers & clubs.
  2. Detailed explanation of how life savers rescue ‘bathers’ in trouble with a tow rope followed by resuscitation. The life savers are skilled volunteers who have to train & even pay membership to save lives. The drilling is very militaristic but the reasons why are explained. It’s simply that marching is the easiest way to cross the sand, although you can’t help but be aware of the recent shadow of war. This footage is excellent from a historical perspective as it shows exactly what was done & how.
  3. An interlude which highlights the power and majesty of the sea, especially if people hadn’t swum before or visited the sea. There is both a narrator and a soundtrack which reflects the pace and mood of the images. Craig Baynes actually introduces the film himself and describes the surf and man as the principal characters in this film. The narration includes wonderful language such as ‘wind & wave combine in wild majestic fury’ or ‘when the irresistible force of the surf meets the immoveable mass of this rocky coastline, the sea has almost met its match’.
  4. Surf boats are described and their use is demonstrated both on land and in heavy seas which is an interesting comparison to modern day power boats. Here the viewer is drawn into both the drama of the surf lifesaver’s rescuing bather’s and even the battle against sharks which are supposedly chased away with harpoons! Defending the nation against sharks has strong military overtones as it talks about casualties, the front line of defence and the need for keeping a constant lookout & patrols. Once again, excellent historical footage.
  5. Even surf boards are featured to show the athleticism & lighter side of being a lifesaver. Another historical delight!
  6.  The competitive side of Surf Life Saving culture & the camaraderie between men (no women here). Their carnivals are competitive and tough but at the same time are likened to ‘all the fun of the fair’. Their motto of ‘Vigilence & Service’ is considered worthy of these noble life savers.
  7. Here are the credits:
    Cinematographer/Director of photography: Peter Dimond
    Director: Craig Baynes
    Music director: Leo White and His Orchestra (The Sydney Philharmonic Orchestra)
    Narrator: Bill Eldridge
    Producer: Craig Baynes
    Production company: Commonwealth Film Laboratories
  8. Sorry, no pictures from ‘Undertow’ as yet but I am checking out the copyright. I wonder what Baynes’ brief was from the Commonwealth Film Commission. If the film was shown at the Savoy Theatre in Sydney, has a poster survived somewhere?

Apparently, there was a ‘film making boom in Australia’ during 1950 and although, Craig Baynes also worked on a 1950 full length feature film about two boys with a prize bull at Sydney Show called “Bonza the Bull”, he is not yet listed on the NFSA’s heritage listing of people or titles at ASO-Australian Screen.  Perhaps, this may change in the future. The NFSA also have the script for Bonza but that’s all. Baynes also has a short film that I’m sure car enthusiasts will love to hear about in the future. Please let me know if you have any other information about Craig Baynes or any of his other films, as only a few seem to have survived.

 

 

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Photo Detective: Patrick Pound Exhibition, NGV Melbourne

Winter is a great time to visit Melbourne. Recently, I travelled to  Melbourne for the Van Gogh exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria and was extremely pleased to find myself in the middle of the Festival of Photography. What particularly caught my attention was Patrick Pound: The Great Exhibition at the NGV Australia in Federation Square, nearby. Patrick Pound is a collector not a photographer. This exhibition features a vast assortment of photographs which are organised according to themes. They were discarded or sold by their owners and have been reinvigorated and join this conglomeration of unwanted photographs to reveal many interesting aspects of our daily lives. Some feature celebrities but the majority are unknown. Great care and attention has gone into the selection, arrangement and presentation of these photographs which are also accompanied by artworks from the NGV’s Collection.

(Sorry, awaiting permission for photos)

This inspiring exhibition provides many intriguing ideas of how to display and organise your photographs, even those that would seem worthless with shadows, mishaps or missing parts or writing on the back.

At a recent NGV talk Patrick Pound said that “to collect is to gather your thoughts through things”. There was also an interesting exhibition in 2008 called Order and Disorder- Archives and Photography which sounds worth exploring if your interested. If you are in Melbourne, Patrick Pound’s exhibition is running to the 30 July 2017 and is well worth a visit, especially if you also get to visit the nearby Hopetoun tea rooms.

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Photo Detective: Keepsakes or Clutter?

Preserving and Sharing Family Photographs

Now that winter is here, it’s an ideal time to think about that mysterious shoebox (or pile) of family photographs and documents that you’ve been wondering what to do with. Before you decide to declutter or downsize, please take the time to explore the contents of your shoebox to see what you actually have. There may be family photographs which bring back vivid memories or provide dates and details to enhance your family stories. Photo Detective will help you with ideas and guides for preserving and sharing your most precious photographs, but first you need to investigate what you have and consider what to keep, pass onto someone else, copy or discard. It’s your choice.

Shoebox full of photos and papers

A shoebox overflowing with family photos and documents*

When space is a premium we are forced to make some hard decisions. Best selling books on Decluttering like Nagisa Tatsumi’s The Art Of Discarding: How to Get Rid of Clutter and Find Joy or Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing have sold millions of copies but consider what your collection means to you and your family before you permanently rearrange or remove anything. Marie Kondo does recommend doing something with your old photographs NOW so they can be shared and enjoyed, sooner rather than later (or never). However, I would not follow Kondo’s suggestion to separate photographs from their albums or context, for now, as you may lose some valuable information or the ‘feel’ of an album or collection as the whole is always greater than the sum of the parts. Why not search for clues and consider these questions first.

Step 1: What’s In The Box?

Where did the shoebox come from?

Do the photographs and papers seem to be from the same or different times?

Are there any labels or notes?

Is it the same or different people and places?

Is there any obvious themes, order or dates?

Are there postcards or letters with dates, names and addresses?

Do you know who, when or where any of them are?

Is there any kind of obvious order?

Who else might know something?

Take the time to think about things before you make any irreversible decisions.

When Clutter is Good News

 It’s incredible what people throw away. Unfortunately, photographs are often discarded after a death in the family and are lost forever, but not always. Here is a marvellous newspaper article about an English garbage worker who rescued 5000 World War One photographs  and other paraphernalia from the garbage over 36 years, mostly after the veterans had died. Similarly, a treasure trove of 3000 World War One photographs were found in an old farmhouse in France, in 2010, and these are now part of the Australian War Memorial’s Thuillier’s Collection. Finally, there is the recent exhibition of the ‘Lost Photographs of Marilyn Monroe’ which were found in a forgotten shoebox.

We might not be famous but our photographs and memories are still priceless. If you have any other marvellous stories of unearthing photographic treasures please leave a comment and share your story or pictures with us.

*Also, while the photo above is from the State Library of Western Australia‘s website they are unable to trace any copyright owner. If you recognise the photo or have any knowledge of its copyright, please contact me so any necessary changes can be made.

Posted in Australian War Memorial, declutter, Family History, Military, Photo Detective, Photographs, World War I | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

ADB: Australia’s First Three Fleets 1787-1791

While having a quite coffee at the National Library of Australia cafe I came across an article in their June 2016 magazine on the Australian Dictionary of Biography (ADB). My blog on Parramatta Cemetery contained information on first fleeters buried there, some have headstones but most don’t so it was exciting to discover that the ADB is going to ‘trace the fates of all the people -convicts, crew, naval officers -who set off from England in the first three fleets to New South Wales in 1787-1901’. They also intend to include their children and grandchildren who were born or settled here, will map their movements and use Trove for information from Australian newspapers.

anmm_borrowdle_00009033_e

The Borrowdale c. 1786, Francis Holman ANMM9033

  • Here are some links to ADB for St John’s list of 17 first fleeters with headstones. Let me know if you find that the others have been updated or have some information on them.
    Augustus Theodore Alt  (1731–1815)
    Frances Hannah Clements (alias Dalton)
    Henry Edward Dodd(?-1791)
    Mary Kelly
    Thomas Eccles
    Edward Ellett
    Thomas Freeman
    Deborah Herbert
    John Herbert
    Hugh Hughes
    David Killpack
    Isaac Knight
    John Martin
    Jane McManus
    Christopher Palmer
    John Palmer (1760–1833)
  • and James Wright

In the meantime do a simple search of the ADB in case they have someone your interested in. In the advanced of faceted search you can search for people with by:

  • birth town, birth state or birth country
  • Death town, state or country
  • ethnicity
  • gender
  • occupations
  • religion

I simply searched for Bowning and found two entries. Check the links if you want more detail but here are the summaries .

awm_march-bowning_p03444-001

Fred March (1891–1977)

March, Frederick Hamilton (Fred) (1891–1977)

Birth: 6 August 1891 Bowning, New South Wales, Australia

Death: 30 October 1977 Khartoum, Sudan

Occupation: adventurer (general), heroic civilian, road contractor, soldier

 

Oberg, David Olof August (1893–1975)

Birth: 24 September 1893 Coolamon, New South Wales,

Death:15 February 1975 Bowning, New South Wales, Australia

Cultural Heritage: Swedish

Occupation: company manager,employers’ organiser, government adviser, timber merchant

Posted in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Australian War Memorial, Australian War Records, Bowning, Parramatta, Parramatta, Research, St John's Parramatta | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Spring Clean Up: Photo Rescue

KEEPSAKES or CLUTTER?

Pexels_5842_CC_people-vintage-photo-memories

Welcome to September and the first week of Spring. Where do we start our Spring Clean up? What about your family photos? Are they languishing in a box unloved and unsorted like this? Their prospects look grim unless they are sorted and labelled or passed onto new owners, family, friends, local libraries or family history societies. Someone was cleaning up and found some wonderful old photos of Adelaide in the 1920’s as this ABC article shows. I love to see them scanned and recycled into photo books or slideshows that can be shared with all & sundry.

I’m working on my next series of workshops, consultations and get togethers and would appreciate your input on what you would like or need help with in regard to your family history and photos. If you would like to contact me and share your thoughts that would be great. In the meantime, spring cleaning is a good start!

 

 

 

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Parramatta, NSW. St John’s Cemetery

PECULIAR FAMILY TRIALS

Have you ever been curious about why people visit cemeteries or headstones? I recently visited St John’s Cemetery for a tour by the Friends of St John’s Cemetery. These dedicated volunteers are passionate about St John’s and are doing their best to improve its appearance and maintenance. It is the oldest existing burial ground in Australia with the oldest headstone still in its original place and dated to 1791, so it is worth looking after. There are gravestones for 17 First Fleeters and many more early settlers and still more that are unmarked. There are different denominations too but as the cemetery is not divided into denominations these are hard to identify from the headstones. One grave I found particularly interesting had a connection to Yass and an interesting epitaph. It was for Sarah Moses who died on April 1st 1841, Aged 47 Years. It reads:

Sarah Moses (c. 1794-1841)It reads:

IN MEMORY of SARAH WIFE of Mr MOSES MOSES formerly of HOBART TOWN and now of YASS

Died of broken heart from peculiar family trials April 1st 1841 Aged 47 Years

Peace to her ShadeMay the Divine Creator receive her Soul into everlasting rest – and pardon her former unnatural oppressor(s?)

The Sydney Morning Herald for the 5 April 1841 simply says: DEATH.  On Wednesday last, March 31st, at Parramatta, Sarah Moses, formerly of Hobart Town.

Moses Moses died in Yass in 1858. Now what is the story here? Who organised the headstone?

Posted in Cemeteries, Parramatta, St John's Parramatta, Yass NSW | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

From Bowning to Elizabeth Farm, Parramatta NSW

William Swann and his family are rather interesting. William Swann was born near Bradford in England and arrived in Sydney in 1864 after spending nearly four years at sea before he explored outback NSW and worked along the Australian coast. William did not find gold and began teaching in 1876 and continued until his retirement as headmaster of Parramatta North School, in 1906. In 1903, William Swann purchased Elizabeth Farm and endeavoured to restore the former home of John & Elizabeth Macarthur which was built in 1793 and is the oldest surviving building in Australia. William’s wife Elizabeth Swann (nee Devlin) was born on the Sofala goldfields in 1854 where her father was a storekeeper and when she died in 1940 was described as ‘a typical pioneer, and had that independence of mind and resourcefulness which characterise the Australian of the outback’.

Seven of William and Elizabeth Swann’s daughters lived at Elizabeth Farm until it was sold in 1968 and many were school teachers or music teachers and social activists. Isabel Longford was the only daughter to marry and was one of the first dentists, who was first registered in 1902. 

I recently visited Elizabeth Farm to see what they had about the Swann family. Unfortunately, most traces of the family were removed after the property was sold but there are photos of them on the Elizabeth Farm website and in an excellent audio visual presentation that you can take around the property as you view each room. It is a living museum so you are encouraged to use the furniture and soak up the atmosphere. Sadly, there weren’t many other photos available online so I include the photos I took on the day.

If you have any photos or other information on the Swann’s that could be used, that would be great. There are a few books on the Swann family but otherwise they are generally overwhelmed by the Macarthurs, although it was the Swann’s who saved Elizabeth Farm for posterity. What a pity they don’t have a replica of Grannie Brown’s quilt.

 

Posted in Bowning, Newspapers, Places, Swann, Trove Detective, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Bowning, NSW. Hidden Gems.

Grannie Brown’s Medallion Quilt.

Women are often missing in action in our histories. Everyday people doing everyday things don’t usually get much attention, especially women. While recently researching Bowning there was plenty to be found on Trove and elsewhere on the activities of men. In the process, I happened upon Grannie Brown’s quilt at the Powerhouse Museum  with the images found here. The Museum provides some very interesting information. The quilt was made by Amelia Brown of Bowning between 1857 & 1900. It came to the Museum through the family of Margaret Swann of Elizabeth Farm in Parramatta which kept it as a precious heirloom. Margaret Swann appears to have been president of the Women’s Suffrage League. However, Margaret Swann was also the wife of William Swann who was the headmaster at Bowning School between 1877 and 1880 and presumably met Amelia at that time. Amazingly, the quilt was featured in last years Labours of Love exhibition in Sutherland and also used ‘on the logo for the bicentennial exhibition Quilt Australia 88’.  It also provides her maiden name, which was Parsons and that she came to Australia with her husband & seven children in 1857.

Back in Trove we find that Amelia’s husband, John Brown, died at Oak Vale Farm at Bowning on 29 September 1884, aged 74, according to the Evening News. A similar quilt on the National Quilt register says Amelia lived from 1817-1905. It is also in the Powerhouse Museum’s collection and is dated 1857 when Amelia first came to Australia. Unfortunately, there does not seem to be a death notice for her on Trove but there is an Amelia Brown who died at nearby Boorowa, in 1905, on the NSW Births Deaths & Marriages, perhaps that is her. Neither Amelia nor her husband are listed as buried at Bowning, although it may just mean they don’t have a headstone & more research is required.

Grannie Brown has unknowingly made a place for women in the history of Bowning and Australia. Perhaps there is much more to the story. We have a few clues now but there are sure to be many more stories. Perhaps in time, we’ll learn more or even unearth a photo.

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Bowning, NSW. Beginnings & Endings

The State Records of New South Wales holds an amazing assortment of archives. While exploring the School archives I came across this wonderful photograph of Bowning Public School  from about 1900 in their Photographic Collection.

SRNSW_Bowning School 1900Bowning Public School, c. 1900. SRNSW 15051-a047-001628

What can we see? It looks like a garden working bee. How many people are there?            How many adults or teachers and how many children? There’s certainly a variety of ages.

How many children were enrolled in the years about 1900? What ages & grades were they? Who was the teacher at this time? Who took the photo? When was this building built? Is it still there?

SRNSW_Bowning School c.1900_32 people

I found 32 people including the photographer.  It appears to be 23 women & 8 boys although No 30 could be a girl & no 17 in the window may be a boy. There is one woman dressed in dark clothing (21) at the back & perhaps 22 & 23 are women too while no 12 seems to be older than school age. Perhaps there are family members too.

Bowning Public School was established in 1849 and celebrated its 125th Anniversary in 1974 & produced a booklet which may shed some more clues. As yet I haven’t found a copy of it but the authors in Trove’s catalogue are worth a look.

If you know anything about Bowning School & this photo or you have others, please let me know so we can add more to their story.

Posted in Bowning, Schools, State Records of NSW | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments