Selected posts from 2013 — 10 – September

I should be talking about the weather…

Posted on September 1, 2013 by Neil

But that Mr Bean versus Laundrette Man competition gets in the way. Thank God, I suppose, that it might be over in a week’s time, though it could just be our luck to have another hung parliament. It is what they all deserve…

The thus far much laundered and starched Abbott person has shown his true colours just lately by backing one of his less well-chosen candidates on (of all  the issues we could have done without)  the old f*cking burqa paranoia meme…  Yes there are votes in it — but no honour.

Personally I find Scott Morrison’s glasses very confronting, and Senator Abetz would be one of the most confronting sights I can conceive of right now… Or maybe Bronwyn Bishop


Cathy Wilcox has read my mind this morning…

Read more…

Seasonal hazard…

Posted on September 5, 2013 by Neil

Aside from the battier political comment or three, of course, as in…

Face palm time! As Politifact points out: “The Refugee Council of Australia says in the areas surrounding the Nepean Hospital – Blacktown, Hawkesbury, Penrith and Blue Mountains – there were 161 asylum seekers last year. The 2011 census shows the area has a population of 617,861.” Yes, 161 can sure cause traffic jams, even if many of them don’t own a car, and they really pack the hospitals too! “We also had a quick look at NSW Health’s handy website showing the number of patients waiting in Nepean Hospital’s emergency department. At  2.40pm, there were four people waiting but only two or none at the surrounding hospitals.”

No, the hazard in the title may easily be confused with that kind of politicking, but it has been happening much longer down the east coast of Oz, not least in The Gong. I had wondered about the numbers of cyclists I have seen lately with antennae. Is this the latest in tinfoil hats, I wondered? Election season could lead to an increase in wearing such protection.


No. Rather the guy on the left in the next image is the villain responsible.


Yes, as The Illawarra Mercury warns today, it is Magpie Swooping Season!…

Read more…

Oh wow! VOTING DAY!!!!

Posted on September 7, 2013 by Neil


Read more…

Spring 2013–4–Election Night continued

Posted on September 8, 2013 by Neil







And finally…

  • Dear me! I am running out of 2013 rapidly here! So for the last quarter go to October 2013, November 2013 and of course this month. Let me finish with one of my best photos this year:

Selected posts from 2013 — 9 – August

August was a month of retrospective posts – with a few added in November.

The August retro series–24–summary so far–and looking ahead

Posted on August 24, 2013 by Neil

I have been casting back through my various blogs focussing on the month of August.

  3. AUGUST RETRO–3–WAY BACK! (2001-2002)
  7. AUGUST RETRO–7 — 2005
  8. AUGUST RETRO–8 — 2006
  9. AUGUST RETRO–9–2007 A
  10. AUGUST RETRO–10–2007 B
  11. AUGUST RETRO–11–2007 C
  12. AUGUST RETRO–12–2008 A
  13. AUGUST RETRO–13–2008 B
  14. AUGUST RETRO–14–2008 C
  15. AUGUST RETRO–15–2008 D
  16. AUGUST RETRO–16–2008 E
  18. AUGUST RETRO–18–2009–B
  19. AUGUST RETRO–19–2009 — C
  20. AUGUST RETRO–20 — 2010 — A
  21. AUGUST RETRO–21–2010 B
  22. AUGUST RETRO–22–2010 C
  23. AUGUST RETRO–23–2010 D — IN VIDEO

And that of course took us past the 2010 Australian election. Now we are on the cusp of the 2013  equivalent.  It isn’t looking good for Kevin Revenant Rudd. (“A revenant is a visible ghost or animated corpse that was believed to return from the grave to terrorize the living.” Unfortunately the other side has zombies in it too! Maybe even more.)


Abbott set for triumph as Rudd’s seat at risk

Another August phenomenon was Lost Wollongong.

Lost Wollongong

Posted on August 30, 2013 by Neil

It is amazing how the Facebook Lost Wollongong group has taken off in the past few months. There are 7,804 members at the moment – the older Lost Sydney has 5,727, Old Sydney Album has 506, and Lost Gay Sydney has 5,684. Mind you Lost Wollongong could almost be badged “lost childhood” as a large proportion is given to school memories and items from members’ childhood years. Not that I object to that, especially as one who was a teacher in the area and whose father grew up down at Shellharbour.

But there are also some rather amazing bits of history surfacing through the group. There’s a start being made on anIndigenous album, for example. The following is there in a smaller copy.


Aboriginal Camp Long Point Shellharbour See also Aboriginal History for the Kiama Region.

The photographer was Henry Holden. It was taken 1880-1900.

In another album are pictures of Mount Keira, at the foot of which I now live.


Wollongong from Mt Keira – 1912

Several times I have posted pictures of a lovely old house just up Mount Keira Road from here. This one is from 2010:

Thanks to Lost Wollongong I now know it is “’Brighton Villa’ Built 1856 by Edmund Geard. Otherwise known as the ‘Christmas House’ as it is decorated each year with an amazing array of lights, scenes and decorations.”  It originally sat on thirty acres of land overlooking nearby Geard’s Hill where The Illawarra Grammar School now stands.

Sign of the times

Posted on August 21, 2013 by Neil

Spotted on my way to Figtree on Monday.


That’s the local Liberal Party candidate. He won’t win. Good to see the even-handed approach to Rugby League though.



I was feeling quite benevolent and replete at the time I saw those signs. You may see why above: the $10 roast lamb at The Hellenic Club.


Before Abraham was, we are…

Posted on August 6, 2013 by Neil

Some may get my allusion and even find it somewhat blasphemous – but facts are facts, and what follows is truer than what we in the West were so long led to believe.

65 000 years ago

There is still uncertainty surrounding the exact timing of the initial human colonisation of Australia, and both the timing and nature of megafaunal extinctions.

For more conservative archaeologists, the most commonly accepted age of initial human occupation is 40 000 years or 43 000 – 45 000 calendircal years after calibration (Allen 200:65; Mulvaney & Kaminga 1999). In contrast, Roberts et al. (1990;1993; 1998; 2001) and others argue for initial colonisation at 56 000 +/- 4 000 years, based on optical dates for two north Australian sites (Nauwalabila and Malakunanja). In south-east Australia, recent datings of the Lake Mungo 3 (LM3) human remains arrived at an age of about 60 000 years (more specifically, 56 000 – 68 000 years) using three different dating methods (Thorne et al. 1999). Although the use of three methods should yield a reliable age estimate with high accuracy, there is still much argument about the ‘true’ age of LM3, with several archaeologists and geomorphologists insisting it is more likely to be 43 000 years old.

40 000 years ago

Clear archaeological evidence that Aboriginal people have been living for some time in south eastern Australia eg. Lake Mungo.

31 000 years ago

Aboriginal people living at the Keilor site in Victoria.

20 000 years ago

Aboriginal people are well established throughout coastal and mainland Australia and Tasmania.

And so on… And the semi-mythical Abraham? Well, “according to Jewish tradition, Abraham was born under the name Abram in the city of Ur in Babylonia in the year 1948 from Creation (circa 1800 BCE).”

Read more.

Family history–some news on the Whitfield front

Yesterday I had an email sent via Family stories 3 — About the Whitfields: from convict days from a granddaughter of my grandfather’s older sister – if you can work that out. The list as in William Joseph John Whitfield (b. 14 Aug 1836, d. 22 Jun 1925) on the Bailey Family of Ireland & Australia family tree is:

Children of William Joseph John Whitfield and Elizabeth Ratcliffe are:

  1. Joseph Ratcliffe, b. 18 Jul 1860, d. date unknown.
  2. Susan Caroline Whitfield, b. 23 May 1862, Picton NSW Australia, d. 13 May 1954.
  3. John Whitfield, b. 24 May 1864, Picton NSW Australia, d. 21 Nov 1956, Burwood NSW Aust.
  4. +Thomas Daniel Sweeney Whitfield, b. 21 Dec 1866, Picton NSW Australia, d. 21 Jan 1948.
  5. +William Joseph Bent Whitfield, b. 7 Oct 1868, Picton NSW Australia, d. 21 Aug 1957.
  6. James Albert Whitfield, b. 18 Aug 1870, d. date unknown.
  7. Sara Brittania Whitfield, b. 24 May 1872, Picton NSW Australia, d. 16 May 1967.
  8. +George Richard Whitfield, b. 10 May 1874, Picton NSW Australia, d. 20 Apr 1953.
  9. Ann Elizabeth Whitfield, b. 25 Dec 1875, d. 24 Jun 1978.
  10. Eliza Mary Whitfield, b. 5 Apr 1878, Picton NSW Australia, d. 4 Feb 1930.
  11. Jane Amy Bent Whitfield, b. 27 Feb 1880, Picton NSW Australia, d. date unknown.
  12. Jessie Winifred Ethel Whitfield, b. 21 Mar 1882, Picton NSW Australia, d. 29 Aug 1912.

The only ones I really remember myself in that list are TDS (#4), my grandfather, William Joseph Bent (#5) and Ann Elizabeth (#9). BTW the Bailey tree, while an amazing ongoing effort. has errors and omissions in it. For example, the list of TDS’s children omits one of my father’s brothers, Colin, and his sister Ella.

The cousin who wrote to me wanted to point out that Bob Starling   — referred to in my page at the head of this entry — also has not got everything perfectly correct. Here is that cousin, the granddaughter of Susan Caroline Whitfield:


She is the one on the left and she is over 90 years old. As she gave her phone number I rang her last night and she sounded fantastic – as bright as a button. She could recall my father as a blonde god of a lifesaver at Shellharbour in the early 1930s!

She referred me to Australian biographical and genealogical record series 1, 1788-1841, with series 2 supplement, 1842-1899 / series 1 edited by John T. Spurway, assistant editor Allison Allen; series 2 edited by Kenneth J. Cable and Jane C. Marchant. It is in Wollongong Library and I will surely check it.

William Joseph John Whitfield was the son of William Whitfield and Caroline Philadelphia West. For the first time ever I have found her portrait!


Caroline Philadelphia West

She arrived on the Grecian as a free settler on 16 April 1832, marrying my ancestor William Whitfield in Sydney on 20 June 1836. (The Second Officer of the Grecian drowned in Sydney soon after the ship arrived.)

William Whitfield


Henry Curzon Allport, George Street, Sydney, looking south, January 1842, Watercolour 

I see they resided at Elizabeth St, Alexandria, Sydney, New South Wales from 1836-1846. That means in the parish of Alexandria, but in fact in Strawberry Hills or Surry Hills according to other sources. In 2008 I did a series called Looking for Jacob – William’s father — and the following picture is as close as can be to where William and Caroline Philadelphia lived, or perhaps Jacob.

… and why would I like a “Time Team” dig around it? It runs from Wentworth Avenue Surry Hills to Foy Lane, where I took this photo…

See :-Surry Hills: Looking for Jacob 12: Zeroing in

That was posted on my new photoblog earlier this week.

You will recall that we “found” Jacob, my convict ancestor, or we at least found the part of Sydney where he is known to have resided in the second half of the 1830s through early 1840s. By the 1860s the family had moved on – Braidwood, Picton… My grandfather was born in Picton in 1867. Him I remember. Just. He died in 1948. His brother William I remember more clearly, because he survived well into the 1950s. That William – son of William, the son of William, the son of Jacob – was still riding horses and ploughing his orchard almost to the year of his death. I remember his house, with its (to citified me) rather magic rural air, and tales of this one and that one, and timber getting, and horse breaking, and blacksmithing, and bullock teams… And Sao biscuits with tomato and cheese…

The tales never went back more than about one generation…

I think I can see why, for several reasons. Sometimes my father would mutter about the Old Testament curse on “the sins of the fathers”… Perhaps too, given what the area they had left behind in Surry Hills had become by 1900, you will see why it didn’t figure in the stories… Anyway, it was not part of my grandparents’ generation’s personal memories. They had become country people.


That whole Wentworth Avenue area was one of the centres of the Bubonic Plague scare of 1900, after which it was largely razed and then reorganised and rebuilt, giving us the streetscapes of the “Looking for Jacob” series. See Purging Pestilence – the Bubonic Plague from the State Library of NSW. Visit that site for bigger pictures.

207Elizabeth exeterplace

Left: Elizabeth St; Right: Exeter Place off Market Lane 1900

82campbell campbellst

Campbell Street 1900

And here is William Joseph John Whitfield, the great-grandfather of both myself and my correspondent Lilian Lee.


On this blog there have been this year several substantial additions to my understanding of or memories of the Whitfield family. Do check them, as they are also, I think, of general historical interest. You will find on some of those posts cross-references to my earlier posts.

An interesting insight into why William and his family would have moved to Picton in the 1840s is to be seen at Picton NSW – The Early Years.

Though much discussion has been held over the years as to who named Picton and for whom, it is believed the name was probably decided on by Governor Brisbane perhaps in honour of an old soldier friend Sir Thomas Picton. In 1840 George Harper decided to take advantage of the natural development of the private town on Major Antill’s land. He advertised in April 1840 that 45 building allotments in the township of Stonequarry would soon be for sale by auction. They would be from one half to one acre in size and situated on his land on the southern side of Stonequarry Creek on either side of the main road.

His private town never took off. Mr Harper unfortunately died in March 1841 and the property was leased in full. George Harper’s property “Abbotsford” extended from the Stonequarry Bridge out along the road that led to The Oaks. The remains of the house are still on the property just past the Abbotsford Bridge. Major Antill, in July 1841 advertised in the Sydney papers, the auction of his sub-division to be called the Village of Picton, late Stonequarry in August that year. He stressed that many blocks had frontages to the main road up which all the wealthy owners from the south travelled with their wool clips.

In 1845 the government made moves to lay out its own town just south of the private town. Surveyor Galloway was employed to survey the area and make half acre blocks for purchase. These blocks were first offered for sale in 1847. They were all sold by 1855. Land was held back for grants to churches and for the school and courthouse. The government town was also called Picton. This led to confusion and it was re-named Upper Picton in 1847.

A petition was made to the government to name its village Redbank but the government decided it was to be called Upper Picton. Even to this day, over 150 years later, local residents still often refer to the area as Redbank. On a number of occasions when money was allocated for a public building, arguments developed on where it was to be located. It seemed each time the government called tenders on a site in its town, the Antill family would offer land in its private town and that was where the building would ultimately be erected.The Upper Picton residents who had purchased land in Upper Picton naturally felt cheated. Unfortunately they had no friends in government and though they fought for the government’s support in its own town they were unsuccessful.

For many years, the resentment between Upper and Lower Picton festered. It lay like a boil beneath the surface of life. When an issue arose where Upper Picton residents felt they were being placed second to Lower Picton, it would erupt and once again cause disagreement and division. As the years passed, the private town flourished and the government town languished. Though it had some businesses, churches and a school, eventually it subsided into an existence as the poor relation. To-day, those resentments have totally disappeared and many people are not even aware of its happening.

Selected posts from 2013 — 8 – July

This led to a great night in December 2013!

A Sunday Session at Illawarra Brewery, Leonard Cohen and Jeff Buckley

Posted on July 30, 2013 by Neil

On Sunday 21st July I went to the Illawarra Brewery for the early part of the Sunday Session and heard some really good sounds. Unfortunately I didn’t catch the name of the singer – embarrassing, as we had a bit of a conversation.



She’s good, too. She finished this set with Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” and then came over and had a chat with me. I asked her if she had been channelling K D Lang.

Which is pretty bloody good, but she said she rather hoped she was channelling Jeff Buckley.

We agreed this is THE version of this complex, beautiful but bitter song. Not that Leonard Cohen himself is far behind… Winking smile

And now we have this news:

Canadian singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen is set to play a concert in Wollongong later this year.

The popular musician, along with his nine-piece band, will perform at WIN Entertainment Centre on December 4.

The Wollongong show is part of Cohen’s latest Australian tour, which will include gigs in several major cities, along with two shows at Day on the Green at the Hunter Valley’s Bimbadgen Winery and Geelong’s The Hill Winery.

Cohen, well-known for his poetic musical stylings, has released many albums and was inducted into the American Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2010.

Tickets for the Wollongong show go on sale from 10am on Monday, August 12.

The original post has some YouTubes.

Politics in July! Oh dear….

See also My vote is now available to whoever keeps me in chocolates for the next twelve months… and Kevin Rudd–Faith in Politics–not. And it did all end in tears, did it not?

Sadly, in retrospect I do find myself rather sympathising with Tracy Spicer’s You won’t find two more hypocritical Christians than Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott (August 2013). Well you could try Scott Morrison I suppose.

I was inspired again partly by some excellent TV to delve into local and family history.

See The triumph of moderation, South of the Lake — 1, South of the Lake — 2, Indulge me…, Kiama in the early 50s, and memories of car sounds…, In 1886–from my eBooks, and one of the inspiring docos First Footprints delivered!

And more generally do revisit Many beautiful things to see here today.

Alas the asylum seeker issue continued its inexorable descent into paranoia and frightfulness during this month. I referred to it quite frequently. See On Kevin 13 and Bob “Spinner” Carr and cleaning up messes…, #QandA in Jakarta–rather amazing TV last night, Poisoned by politics, Kevin Rudd–Faith in Politics–not, My vote is now available to whoever keeps me in chocolates for the next twelve months…, Safe haven, Me, the road and I @ Wollongong Art Gallery–plus, and Looking back on July 2013.

And M was in West Wollongong.