Looking back: June 2015

Family history, which slotted into watching ABC’s miniseries The Secret River.

Old Shellharbour 1

Posted on June 2, 2015 by Neil

I posted in February:

You will recall that among the many jobs T D Whitfield worked on was the rebuilding of Shellharbour Jetty in 1909. Many a time I walked that jetty in the 40s through the 60s, but I don’t recall my grandfather’s connection being mentioned. The Clarence and Richmond Examiner (Grafton) mentions him in 1909, even if they get his name wrong.


See also Neil’s personal decades: 18 – 1890s – T D Whitfield and the tag Shellharbour on this blog. Here is that jetty:


I have been looking at the Facebook page Shellharbour History in Photos – see also an account of it in the KIama Independent: Shellharbour history in pictures: Part 1

The Secret River revisited

Posted on June 15, 2015 by Neil

I thought Episode 1 last night was brilliantly done. I particularly admired the recreation of Sydney in 1810, obviously based on paintings such as these, which The Secret River convincingly brought to life. I reflected on the fact that just over a decade later this was what my ancestor Jacob Whitfield would have seen and lived.



My mother and the secret river; Ulster accent; class act

Posted on June 22, 2015 by Neil

A mixed bag indeed.

My mother spent her infancy on the secret river, at this place:


See More tales from my mother 1 — Spencer, NSW. My mother was born in 1911, but her father had arrived at Spencer five years earlier – nearer in time to the events depicted in last night’s imaginative recreation of the life of Solomon Wiseman (Will Thornhill) than her birth is to us today. She recalls a settlement that in her day could still only be accessed by boat…

That Ulster accent! I reflected as I heard it that my ancestor Jacob Whitfield would almost certainly have sounded just like that in 1822 – though there is no evidence he was in any other way like Smasher Sullivan, though I fear it is likely Smasher’s type existed.

See A History of Aboriginal Sydney: 1800s and A History of Aboriginal Sydney: 1810s. It seems that “Green Hills” referred to several times last night is now known as Windsor, so that places the events of last night’s episode prior to November 1810, earlier than the historical Solomon Wiseman.

In November, 1810, Governor Macquarie set out to inspect the outer western Sydney districts. He travelled with Mrs Macquarie and a group of aides and surveyors, including Captain Antill, Dr Redfern and Mr Evans. The ‘tour of inspection’ followed the Hawkesbury and Nepean Rivers. Macquarie surveyed the available land and designated and named five settlements which would become known as the ‘Macquarie Towns’ – Windsor, Richmond, Castlereagh, Pitt Town and Wilberforce.

And more family history…

How are things in Ballyhagen?

Posted on June 20, 2015 by Neil

Sounds like something Bing Crosby might have sung, doesn’t it?


That photo is entitled “Ballyhagen house” and is from a gallery The World’s Best Photos of armagh. I just like it. Furthermore, it seems my Whitfield ancestors may have once been not far away.

At the beginning of June I posted:

At the funeral I unexpectedly found a family link. Prayers were led at one point by Jean Whitfield of St Marks Church. That made me do a double-take as that was my mother’s name. Turns out this Jean Whitfield is part of our Whitfields, the ones descended from Jacob the convict. We had quite a long talk about it after the funeral over tea and coffee in the church hall.

Jean Whitfield sent me her version of the family tree yesterday. As I had already worked out her late husband was the grandson of my grandfather’s brother William (Uncle Bill) of Picton, who died in 1957. I do remember him quite well…

The Killing Season was another TV must-see.

Recycling the killing season

Posted on June 9, 2015 by Neil

You must remember this…

Watch this space

Posted on June 23, 2010 by Neil


One of these people will be Prime Minister of Australia tomorrow

See also The Killing Season part 2 – an excuse to recycle and What a waste! Episode 3 of The Killing Season…

It was the month of Abbott vs the ABC…

Paul Sheehan on ABC bias

Posted on June 29, 2015 by Neil

Not everything Paul Sheehan says today is unreasonable; for example:

The whole set-up and premise was absurd. But I can’t see any problem with Mallah being a member of the audience, or asking a question. Nor do I buy the hysteria that he was a security threat, or that the ABC needs a new layer of bureaucracy to screen guests. I also felt the heavy-handedness of the Prime Minister’s exasperation has enabled the ABC to divert attention from the real issue.

But his thesis of course is:

The ABC’s internal investigation will be a whitewash. It will be carefully confined to a forensic examination of the narrowest possible issue – the selection of Zaky Mallah for a question on national TV. A few reprimands will be issued and the ABC will congratulate itself about its rigour.

The whitewash will be in what is studiously ignored. ABC management will not ask the big question: why did this happen? It seems to fit a pattern of ideological bias, as was evident just a week earlier, when Q&A broadcast a debate about same-sex marriage and the only opponent of same-sex marriage was Fred Nile. The other five panellists were all gay rights activists. In fact, Nile was the only heterosexual guest on the panel.

This was a parody of balance, a mockery. That’s two out of two in two weeks, but the ABC will studiously avoid any ethical audit which looks at the wider context, and thus which examines the sheer weight and tone of coverage of the favoured obsessions of Q&A, which finally stepped on one of its own landmines.

This is the real issue. This is the real source of any consternation with some areas of the ABC, which, as I have written numerous times, is not a monolith.

A similar point was made a week or so back by Miranda Devine.

Dare I point out that there was no Q&A specifically about same sex marriage? There was a special following the excellent documentary Between a Frock and a Hard Place

See also From omnishambles to pizza…,

Speaking of Mr Abbott, I refer you to my 4 March post Put out more flags.

More posts: Food, fear and freaking out, Last night’s mud wrestling on ABC: win to Triggs, Contributions to a wiser, cooler look at IS and terror, Lazy, sneaky or both…, Wonderwoman’s real name is Gillian.

I haven’t posted much on Australian politics lately. It’s far too depressing.


I see Jim Belshaw offers a much more analytical treatment of this same matter. I can but agree with this:

Seeing Mr Dutton effectively wrap himself  in the Australian flag made me feel unwell, adding to my sense of unease.You may play political games if you like, Minister Dutton, but I find it hard to trust you. 

The Friday random memory series continued:

Random Friday memory 15 — constipation

Posted on June 5, 2015 by Neil

Here’s a cute Royal Doulton piece:

Outdoor Dunny Bunny

I could do a whole set of random memories on dunnies, but not this time… 

See also Random Friday memory 16 – among the Chinese, Random Friday memory 17 – Caringbah 1965, Random Friday memory 18 – Latin at Sydney 1960.