What was I up to one year ago?

At my age you have to check! Here are some highlights from February 2016. Feel free to explore that month’s posts. There were some good ones!

Ian Thorpe, Gayby Baby, and today in my life

Surprising big splash in today’s Sunday Telegraph, summarised here on Yahoo.

Australia’s most decorated Olympian, Ian Thorpe, has revealed he feels he was forced out of the closet in his teens, at a time where he was still grappling with his sexual identity…

For the 78ers

Who are the 78ers?

See The 78’ers:

“You could hear them in Darlinghurst police station being beaten up and crying out from pain. The night had gone from nerve-wracking to exhilarating to traumatic all in the space of a few hours. The police attack made us more determined to run Mardi Gras the next year.”

See also SBS.

What has just happened?

1. The Sydney Morning Herald apologises to Mardi Gras founders the 78ers

On June 24, 1978, more than 500 activists took to Taylor Square in Darlinghurst in support and celebration of New York’s Stonewall movement and to call for an end to criminalisation of homosexual acts and discrimination against homosexuals. The peaceful movement ended in violence, mass arrests and public shaming at the hands of the police, government and media…

2. NSW Parliament apologises to the 78ers who began the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras

A brightly sequinned hat, tie-dye t-shirts and rainbow flags in the packed viewing gallery did nothing to distract from the gravity of the historical moment in NSW Parliament on Thursday morning when, after nearly 38 years, the 78ers received a formal apology from the state over the discrimination they suffered at Sydney’s first Mardi Gras in 1978.

“For the mistreatment you suffered that evening, I apologise and I say sorry,” said Bruce Notley Smith, the member for Coogee, as he moved the motion of apology in the NSW Legislative Assembly…

I was working at Sydney University in 1978 and for part of that year living in Glebe Point. Perhaps around mid-year, when that first Mardi Gras occurred, I had moved back to reside in North Wollongong, commuting to Sydney. I honestly don’t recall reading the infamous SMH stories. I was not at that time involved in the gay community.

Now posts of my own.

Back in the day… Oxford Street memories

Posted on March 9, 2014 by Neil  — A rather amazing picture appeared recently on Lost Gay Sydney, a Facebook group.


That is Martin Place June 24 , 1978, according to the original post on Facebook, and there in the centre carrying a triangle flag is Ian Smith.

Requiem for a Dowager Empress

Posted on December 27, 2010 by Neil

The shocking news I alluded to earlier is that Ian Smith, aka The Dowager Empress of Hong Kong, died about a week ago.

He was a 78-er, that is a participant in the first Sydney Mardi Gras…

More “Neil’s Decades” –8: 1956 — 1

Back in 2007 I blogged:

Yes, fifty-three years ago next February this little boy from Sutherland started at age 11 to go to Sydney Boys High travelling through a Surry Hills Ruth Park would have recognised. The god-like Fifth Form students — High School only went to Year 11 then — included quite a few who became, well, god-like figures.

Did you know that the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade can trace its origins to the Department of External Affairs that was first established in 1901? Since that date, five old boys of Sydney High have headed the Department with responsibility for foreign or external affairs: Sir John McLaren (1887), 1929-1933 (as Secretary of the Prime Minister’s Department); Sir Alan Watt (1918), 1950-1954; Sir James Plimsoll (1933), 1965-1970; Sir Alan Renouf (1936), 1974-1977; and Dr Peter Wilenski (1955), 1992-1993. James Plimsoll and Peter Wilenski have also acted as Australia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations in 1959-1963 and 1989-1991 respectively…

In fact quite a crop have been through the old SBHS, as you can see. I belong to the much greater ranks of Undistinguished Old Boys…

One of THE most god-like to us in 1955 was Marcus Einfeld, son of Jewish Labor Party politician Sydney (Syd) Einfeld and his wife Billie. He did indeed go on to a distinguished career, and it is sad to read what is befalling him at this time. Just what he did remains to be tested, but if proven it really would make you wonder why on earth he did it, as Legal Eagle does in How the mighty may fall

And now here I am in Wollongong and it is sixty-one years since 1955! So in 1956 I was in Second Year, or as we now would say, Year 8. Today I offer some evocative pictures. The first two you have seen before.

Memorabilia 16 – 50 years on

Posted on April 7, 2009 by Neil


Me, 1955

See also Memorabilia 15: 1959 — or thereabouts, Fifty years on – guess what, nothing is for ever!, Now, what did I learn half a century ago?, Sydney Boys High School 1955, I wasn’t a prefect…, Time and friendships 2 — the class of ‘59, This may well be me….

Lost Wollongong again

I discovered the Lost Wollongong Tumblr towards the end of January and thought I would check if there were some new items. There are. Here are three that appeal to me.


Stuart Park and Fairy Meadow Beach from Smiths Hill in the early 1900’s (Wollongong City Library)


Crown Street looking east across Church Street in the early 1960’s.



Crown Street looking east from Keira Street in the 1950’s. Lowes is still in the same place (Wollongong City Library)

See the Lost Wollongong main site.

Lost Wollongong members have contributed over 15,000 photos from their personal collections and open sources for preservation and everyone to enjoy…

You can also add your own photos of Wollongong, old and new, to our community heritage forum. Simply go the ‘Photos’ tab at the top of the page, find the album you want to add your photos to, press ‘Add Photos’ and they will be preserved for everyone’s enjoyment.

I have added a few over the years.