Various lockdown hacks and escapes — 49 — playing with photos

It really is all the fault of James O’Brien!

James O’Brien is not only a fellow blogger (whom I have also met in real life) and Surry Hills person, he is also on the wireless! Do tune in if you are in range. His blog is responsible for my current addiction to colourising (I am a conservative speller) old photos. The results have pleased many friends and relations on Facebook, so I thought I would share a few today and maybe on Monday and Tuesday. Yes, I have been busy….

And to find out how it’s done, visit James O’Brien’s blog.

That was in May last year, and especially on Facebook I have been indulging ever since. After running the photo through the free Colorize Photo app on I then modify it using a free photo editor, Photoscape, which I have been using for years now.

Here is the latest one, which really pleases me.

Farm, Bass Point Shellharbour NSW — 1946

The original, published by the Facebook group Shellharbour History in Photos, was captioned “1946. A local farmer tending his fields in the paddocks beside the old Blue Metal Works at Bass Point. MLnsw.” I said: “Yes, I was alive when these were taken, and almost certainly in Shellharbour at times — but I turned 3 that July! My Mum and Dad would have known whose farm this is.”

Now, without their originals, a couple more examples:

Crown Street Surry Hills, 1930s
George Street Sydney at the time of Australian Federation, 1901

Finally, in a gloriously politics-free post, some beautiful music:

So here in lockdown June 2021 comes to an end…

A good month for the blog, better than May. I may add details below at the end of the day.

However I thought a peaceful photo post is what we need — particularly of old photos that have come my way via local history and nostalgia groups on Facebook. I have given them a touch of colour.

Lake Illawarra: Looking towards Merrigong (the Illawarra escarpment) or the Saddleback, and what looks like a coming storm. That last detail becomes more apparent with a touch of colour.
This is a scene my father would have recognised from his childhood, having been born in Shellharbour in 1911.
Some nice memories contributed by FB just now. I was rather intrigued by “Mount Keira seen from Gipps and Keira street intersection at Smiths Hill in 1940” so, despite the resolution not being the best, decided to give it a touch of colour. Looks as if Gipps was a dirt road then…
The year my grandfather Roy Hampton Christison began as headmaster at Shellharbour Public School — 1930. In 1935 my mother Jean Christison, and my father, Jeff Whitfield married. In October 1935 my brother Ian was born.

This is the Shellharbour of those years! So rural! So small!
Here is Shellharbour in 1936 when my brother Ian turned 1 year old! Small town, as I said the other day. I can see the Church of England, the school where Grandpa Christison was headmaster, Grandpa Tom Whitfield’s house where Mum, Dad and Ian would also have been living in 1936, and Uncle Ken’s place!

June stats

As at 9pm there were 1,400 views from 509 visitors. That is the second best this year, after March with 1,558 from 671 visitors. The average views per day was 46.

The decades used to be longer once…

Take the 1950s for example. The time that elapsed between the first of the following photographs and the second spans for me the entire decade, even if the second is actually 1955. They also cover my two worlds in that decade — The Shire and Sydney Boys High, and Wollongong to Shellharbour. Both appeared on Facebook in the past day or two, and both have been colourised for my own amusement.

Dressing sheds, North Beach Shellharbour c.1950. FB post by Shellharbour Council.

On FB I wrote: Every chance I was there sometime… That little boy in the foreground could be me, except the girl is not my sister. Could be a cousin though… I had blonde hair when younger…

Then Jeanette may have been wearing some kind of sun hat? On the other hand I would have been six or seven years old, and I am not sure my blonde locks lasted that long.

Jeanette and I maybe 4 years before that Shellharbour pic — evidence of both of us being blondes.

Now to the second photo, this one from the Historic Cronulla and Sutherland Shire FB group.

Photo: Family collection of Lisa Cooper

Back in 1959 after our Leaving Certificate exams were over my Sydney High friend Eric and I one hot summer day hiked from Jannali (where I then lived) via Woronora and Menai to this ferry, the aim being to visit our classmate Roger Dye, who lived in Lugarno — Moons Avenue to be exact!

He was not at home. But his mother was and she had of course met us before when we and other classmates came to visit Roger and go for a row on the Georges River. Mrs Dye kindly refuelled us, after which we caught the bus to Hurstville and train back to Jannali.

So the time between 1950 and 1959 seemed as I said a lifetime. And in a way it was. The time between then and now seems to have gone so much faster! The decade that I have now been back in Wollongong seems mere seconds!

And can this song really have been recorded FIFTY years ago? Surely it was just yesterday….

Such a great Shellharbour photo today!

On Facebook, that is, from the Shellharbour History in Photos Group. How could I not colourise it?

It is dated “late 1940s” and attention is drawn to “City Service Boston wreck in background.”

“The “SS Cities Service Boston”, a 9,348 tons oil tanker, ran aground at Bass Point in New South Wales in a bad storm on 16 May 1943. “SS Cities Service Boston” had been in convoy PG50 four days earlier, when the convoy was attacked by Japanese submarine I-180.” — see Oz At War.

And here am I — the brat on the left — with my dad and mum, my sister, cousin Betty Whitfield, and random girls on the North Shellharbour beach around 1947-8.

See also Shellharbour: very nostalgic and My 1947: Shellharbour. From that second post:

The brat on the left in the sleeveless dark jumper is me, then Mum and Dad, cousin Betty, and in the front row left my sister Jeanette. I am not sure who the other two girls are. There was also a photo, now lost, of my older brother with an air rifle in a bushland area known as Blackbutt. Ian remembered that [in a phone conversation in January 2017].

He was 12, he said, which confirms my thought that this holiday (in my father’s home town) was in 1947. So I am probably 4 years old.

My brother also confirmed my memory that we stayed at Mrs Dunster’s guest house. See this from 9 August 1947:

I was absolutely fascinated by “the weck” as I called it on Bass Point, clearly visible from the verandah of the guest house. My brother actually remembers the event itself, fully described on Michael McFadyen’s Scuba Diving site.

The SS Cities Service Boston was an oil tanker being used during World War 2 to supply the Australian and Allied forces with fuel. Built by Bethlehem Ship Building Corporation Ltd at Sparrows Point, Maryland, USA, for Atlantic, Gulf and West Indies Steamship Lines and launched as the SS Agwipond in April 1921, the ship displaced 8,024 tons and had a waterline length of 141 metres. Its overall length was 146 metres…

Requisitioned by the US Department of War Administration for World War II and operated by them until its sinking, the Cities Service Boston was travelling to the Middle East from Sydney in convoy when it went off course and ploughed into the rocks of Bass Point…

Although the ship sank on 16 May 1943, the only report of the incident at the time was in the Herald on 19 May when it was reported that four soldiers were drowned when washed off a rock platform on the South Coast. It was reported that eight soldiers were swept into the sea out of 34 standing there. It did not report why they were there or give any explanation as to what happened. Absolutely no indication was given to the fact that a ship was sunk that night.

This was because of wartime censorship preventing most bad news from reaching the public. It is interesting to note that the same edition of the Herald carried the good news of the “Dambusters” which happen only short time before. The same edition also had the bad news of the loss of the hospital ship Centaur on 14 May 1943, two days before the Boston was lost (this made the Japanese out to be heathens for sinking an unarmed hospital ship) and was included for obvious reasons.

No other mention of the wrecking appeared in the media until exactly six months after the wrecking when an article appeared on 16 November 1943 in Sydney’s Daily Telegraph actually mentioning the wrecking and the loss of the soldiers. As well as reporting what happened, it reported on the Wollongong Coroner’s Court inquiry into the deaths….

Well worth reading the rest of that.

Another local civilian from Shellharbour, Eric Dunster (?), was driving a milk truck. During break in weather he saw a ship up on Bass Point. He drove out and left the truck near where gates are now into the reserve. He walked out, at 45° due to the strength of wind. Looking back towards Shellharbour he saw there were huge seas hitting the rocks. He got out there about the same time that the soldiers arrived. The rain was horizontal. He helped set up the gear and after a while he left due to the weather.


The “weck”

For more on the Dunster family see Children of Shellharbour’s The Hill.  

On Shellharbour there is also this post from 2020: Dad — would have been 109 today.


I realised soon after posting that the conversation with my brother about that holiday in Shellharbour was one of the last we were to have — possibly even the last. He passed away in April 2017.

See among many posts in April-May 2017 Back again: last photo of my brother. Thanks to my nephew Warren.


Anzac Day 2021

I am staying at home. The Wollongong Dawn Service is indoors at City Diggers, and limited to Sub-Branch members and invited guests.

I have posted often on this, as Anzac Day reposts: 1 shows. In 2015 I posted:

In my Neil’s Decades series you will find much that is relevant.


And going back to the South African War I should add:

….pictures of the people – all relatives – mentioned in those posts…

John Hampton Christison in South Africa; David Christison, his son, a sapper on the Western Front in WW1; Keith Christison, my uncle, WW2

Neil Christison, my uncle, RAAF WW2; Jeff Whitfield, my father, RAAF WW2

Norman Harold Whitfield MC and bar, German New Guinea, Gallipoli, Western Front – from Wollongong; Kenneth Ross Whitfield, my uncle, from Shellharbour