More “Neil’s Decades” –6: Heimat/Shellharbour

Several decades here, but let’s start with this photo from 1956.


That’s Shellharbour’s ocean pool, image from Shellharbour History in Photos. It’s a bit unclear but I could almost believe the man right foreground is my father, especially if what is immediately behind him is a white dog (is it?) in which case the kid running towards him may well be me! We were holidaying in Shellharbour in the summer of 1956.

That pool was renovated and renamed Beverley Whitfield Pool in 1994. See Beverley Whitfield on the Shellharbour Local History blog.

12661968_1740439649512704_2123985810144368757_n L to R: Edgar (Dunc) Gray, Mayor Cec Glenholmes, Beverley Whitfield, Andy Gerke and Terry Gathercole

Andy Gerke was Beverley’s uncle, and my cousin Una’s husband. Sadly Beverley died two years later at the age of 42. I was at the funeral, but circumstances had led to my family not seeing much of the Shellharbour Whitfields after 1975.

For my father Shellharbour remained Heimat.

Heimat is a German concept. People are bound to their heimat by their birth and their childhood, their language, their earliest experiences or acquired affinity. For instance, Swiss citizens have their Heimatort (the municipality where the person or their ancestors became citizens) on their identification. Heimat as a trinity of descendance, community, and tradition—or even the examination of it— highly affects a person’s identity.

Though in the war years he broke away yet he always was rooted in that place and time 1911-1938. Indeed he returned in 1970 until illness/distress forced his return to Sydney in 1975. Strangely I too have returned in a way, back here in Wollongong almost six years now after an absence of 30 years, But I have only been back to Shellharbour once, and that just before I actually returned to the Illawarra. See Shellharbour – a double post (2010) and more posts here, here and here.

You see, there is much of Heimat in Shellharbour for me too, even if my parents left it before I was born. We did constantly visit in my childhood, and many a story have I heard about the place. But the place of my childhood is not there any more. Well, it is, but its surrounds buried under suburbia, some of it good and some of it rather awful. Progress I suppose.

Here is my childhood’s Shellharbour:


Star Wars VII — The Force Awakens

I hadn’t really planned to see this but my friend Stephen H suggested we go to Greater Union here in The Gong, which we did yesterday morning. I am glad I went as I thoroughly enjoyed Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens. See IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes where you may see the critical response. Of the negative responses this from The Nation can serve:

Star Wars: The Force Awakens dazzles audiences with a surface of nostalgic fun made shiny new-but beneath that mask, if you care to notice it, lurks an abyss of futility.

But most responses have been positive, even enthusiastic. I don’t propose an in-depth review. Instead, an aspect or two.

Go to ABC for a rather amazing Star Wars: every scene from I-VI charted. Enjoy. Now the new film.

There are old (older!) familiar faces of course, and good they were too! Among the newish faces is this one:


Adam Driver. There were moments when I thought of Ian Mckellen in the movie Richard III. Yes, you do get to see his face, but I will avoid spoilers.

Force Awakens 4

I was very taken by the effects and locations. This interview with those responsible is interesting.

If there’s one thing you can be certain to find in a Star Wars movie, it’s glorious special effects. So after The Force Awakens opened last year, an Academy Award nomination for the film’s VFX leads seemed inevitable. Roger Guyett and Patrick Tubach will be going up against visual effects teams behind other big-budget sci-fi films, including Mad Max: Fury Road and The Martian, as well as a rare indie nominee, Ex Machina. We sat down with Guyett and Tubach ahead of the Oscars on February 28th to explore how they went about bringing Star Wars back to life. (Warning: This interview is naturally full of spoilers.)…

At the very end is an amazing location. I thought South America and Incas, but I was wrong. See The spectacular island that hosted Star Wars The Force Awakens’ final scene.

This incredible setting for the (almost literal) cliffhanger ending of The Force Awakens is no fantasy realm. If Star Wars creator George Lucas was still at the helm of the franchise, his love of computer-generated special effects might have resulted in this island being filled with giant alien birds, purple grass and floating rocks. 

Instead, The Force Awakens director JJ Abrams opted to use a real location for the final scene of his film – the island of Skellig Michael off the coast of Ireland…


Photoblog recycle: February 2010 — 2– Canberra

A highlight of 2010 was the trip to Canberra in February with Sirdan and P to see the Masterpieces of Paris exhibition: To Canberra to see Van Gogh etc and Canberra trip – what can you say? On the way there I took one of my best landscape photos ever — from a moving car at 110kph.

Bonus: large version of the Lake George photo

Posted on February 10, 2010 by Neil

Sirdan (who was driving the car) thinks this is the best photo I have ever taken.

Click to see full size

Black swans — Lake Burley Griffin

Posted on February 9, 2010 by Neil

The Canberra trip again. “Black swans were first seen by Europeans in 1697, when Willem de Vlamingh’s expedition explored the Swan River, Western Australia.”


For more see Canberra trip.