Great doco from 1969 — a world away now!

The Commonwealth Film Unit here in Oz has over the years made many documentaries, some awful, many really excellent, all of course propaganda either for home or overseas consumption, sometimes both. I have recently enjoyed a 1969 offering. available through the excellent National Sound and Film Archive.

The NFSA’s mission is to collect, preserve and share Australia’s vibrant and diverse audiovisual culture as embodied by our evolving collection – reflecting who we were, who we are, and who we want to be. 

Audiovisual technologies enable us to capture moments in time: moving image and sounds in their most vivid forms. At over 3 million items, the NFSA collection transforms these records into ‘living memories’ – the many facets of Australia’s peoples, cultures, ideas and beliefs, both over time and across the land.

The collection invites all Australians to connect, no matter their background and life experiences, and find common ground and a shared sense of community. All can access it to celebrate our cultures and learn from our history to build a better future. 

The particular item I saw is After Cook (1969):

Made by The Commonwealth Film Unit 1969. Directed by Donald Murray. Narrated by John Meillon. A survey of everyday life throughout Australia, emphasising the outdoor and rural element contrasted with modern, urban living and culture. A look at the Australian people, their character, attitudes and way of life. Every three years or so Film Australia made a general film on Australia. At its most basic the film would have a landscape sequence, then a farming sequence, then transport, then cities, then sport and night life. It would probably contain a mining explosion, a ballet class, Uluru (Ayers Rock) and kookaburras. After the first few films, the makers tried to find a new approach – to present its as a quiz show, or a computer report, or a film script conference. After Cook had as its working title ‘Fellow Countrymen’. Helped by the fact that it was made on 16mm with practicable synchronous sound, it is in its final version the warmest and one of the least predictable of all the general ‘Australia’ films.

Here are a few stills I captured:

A steelworker
Political demonstration in Sydney advocating — successfully — lowering the voting age from 21 to 18.
Shopping at Paddy’s Market, Sydney
Volunteer firefighters — bushfire in Sutherland Shire. Rather more sophisticated nowadays.
Family at a picnic playing cricket
CWA — Country Women’s Association — meeting
Country school-teacher
Ballet class

And so many more vignettes, so evocative for me — — some great footage of people going about their business in a very different Australia. This is the place I knew when in my first school appointment, Cronulla High, almost a lifetime away! In fact the Class of 1968, who have their own special private group on Facebook — I am a member! — are now like me septuagenarians! Can you believe it?

If you want to see it:

A touch of nostalgia — photos I took in October 2008

These come from the photoblog that I started after my friend Sirdan gave me his old digital camera! They are thus from 13 years ago!

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Central Station, Eddy Avenue — SGHS students heading for the trains. Now there are tram lines here!
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Hay and Pitt Street pedestrian crossing
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Jacaranda, East Redfern
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Ward Park, Surry Hills
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A Surry Hills lane
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Moore Park, Sydney Boys High on a cold spring day
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The English staff room, Sydney Boys High. The desk next to this sink was mine at one time!

Various lockdown hacks and escapes — 69 — revisiting old haunts October 2011

The third and last from ten years back — a train trip to Sydney and Surry Hills, Oxford Street and old friends.

Train sequences — people watching to pass the time

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Crown Street Surry Hills:

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On Oxford Street:

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Ray outside the Midnight Shift
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Sirdan and Ray, Midnight Shift

Various lockdown hacks and escapes — 65 — thinking about Newtown

As I said on Facebook: part of my regular round through the late 80s, 90s, and first decade of this century. I was introducing this marvellous video:

And a few days before I had thoroughly enjoyed this one:

Looking back through my blogs I find many a reference in the various archives.

2006

Welcome to the Newtown Precinct

07 MAR

Link.

I now have a strange machine called a holter taped to me; it will record all my heart gets up to for the next 24 hours until I go back to Royal Prince Alfred Hospital to get it removed. Just outside the hospital I ran into, and spoke to, Professor Brian McCaughan, still very recognisable, who was a member of the Class of 1968 at Cronulla High, my first teaching post. I have of course heard of him, but have not seen him since 1968. That was nice. Kind of ironic though, given he is a member of the Australasian Society of Cardiac and Thoracic Surgeons, among other distinctions. Some of the most brilliant people I ever taught were at Cronulla High, but then the opposite was also true…

I started the day at Erskineville, dropping in on the ESL teachers’ Information Network meeting. Then up to Newtown where I bought a couple of books, had lunch, and a beer at the Newtown Hotel. King Street beats Oxford Street these days, no risk. There is just no comparison. King Street is a far more interesting place.

2008

Well now, that’s my Mardi Gras event for this year

28 FEB

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After coaching tonight I caught the slow bus from Chinatown to arrive on a cold and wet Sydney night at Newtown’s rather wonderful Courthouse Hotel for the blogger meetup. That’s not our group in the picture on the right. I was late, so I missed Marcellous.

Even before I had settled into the group for an hour I met of all people someone I had taught English with at Dapto back in 1970, one of the Spender sisters, Dale and Lynn, the former a rather well-known feminist writer, the other no slouch either. It was Lynn I saw, though initially I thought it was Dale. We both contemplated the years that had flown since then with some amazement, though I have to say I am a minnow compared with what those two have done with that time. (See also When I was a twenty-something conservative in transition…)

Back to the blogger meet: it was great to put a face to Panther at last. James O’Brien I knew instantly, though I had never met him before, and I discovered why The Other Andrew is so called.

Someone whose travels eclipse M’s trips in duration, if not quite in exotic destinations but he comes very close, is this person:

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I’m an Aussie who has just spent 2 1/2yrs roaming around Europe with my dog, a very large Alaskan Malamute by the name of Bondi. Our adventure began in May 2005. So far we’ve travelled around much of UK, including a week-long walk across Scotland; spent 2 months each in Spain & Paris, plus a 5 week circuit of Ireland; done a load of family-tree research; a coast-to-coast crossing of England on foot along Hadrian’s Wall path, and a side-trip to dive wrecks in the northern part of the Red Sea. Most recently we completed a 20,000km 20-country tour of Europe by car, and 3 months in Scotland.

I also discovered what the wonderful header on Dancing About Architecture is all about.

Check here to learn more about what this meet was and who was there. I imagine a relevant post might appear before long too. Topics as various as knitting, historical reenactments, and Number 96 — that site was especially referred to — were being talked about as I, noticing that it was getting dark out, decided I had to set off home, which I did via an excellent Chinese noodle shop in King Street.

Newtown at night is, I have to say, far more interesting and far more pleasant these days than Oxford Street.

2010

In Newtown – same building, different feeling

Posted on  by Neil

Wonderful what playing with lighting does.

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2011

2011 retrospective–2—February

Posted on  by Neil

I ended February in the cardiac ward at Wollongong Hospital. A neighbour of mine who was helpful at that time was Paul the Poet, himself no stranger to the hospital as he was on renal dialysis there three times a week. Paul passed away on Saturday night. Rest in Peace.

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“This guy Paul used to sit outside the 7eleven store on King Street in Newtown and for a very small consideration he would recite a little poem…. I just thought he was wonderful…. he was quite ill at the time and on some kind of benefit which really wasn’t enough to live on so when he felt up to it he would get out on the street and earn a few more dollars…. so much better than begging although it was still kind of heartbreaking that he had to do it… and yet his poems where really fabulous and it always brightened up my day to see him about….” – Juilee Pryor

So he ended his days living here at The Bates Motel.

2013

On Facebook I shared a story from the South Sydney Herald.

Coby Smith-Carr (second from left) with fellow Corroboree Sydney dancers Photo: Supplied

Smith-Carr, who was featured in the March issue of the SSH, has been chosen to dance as part of the performances for Corroboree Sydney in November. A new national festival, Corroboree Sydney is for all Australians to celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, and according to Sydney Opera House Chief Director Louise Herron is set to be “the largest Indigenous arts and culture festival in Australia’s history”.

Since the SSH last talked to Coby, who has achieved many sporting awards in water polo, swimming and dancing, she has been busy performing with the NSW Aboriginal Dance Company. Being one of only eight students to be selected from a number of Sydney high schools, Coby had the opportunity to learn inside tips on dance technique, performance and production from Bangarra Dance Theatre and Nederlands Dans Theater during a week-long work experience program.

She now works at Sydney Unversity’s Gadigal Centre.

Coby is a proud Aboriginal woman with ties to Wiradjuri Country from her family in Wellington, New South Wales. She joins the Gadigal Centre, having previously held a role within the Indigenous Recruitment Team within Sydney Future Students. Coby believes education is important for everyone, especially our Indigenous people in order to close the gap and make a difference. Students can go to Coby with any questions and support they may need, or just to catch up and have a chat.

2021

On Facebook in July I recalled this person and place:

Looking back beyond the last five minutes, I recall many a conversation in Newtown in the 1990s with the wonderful Bob Gould, whose amazing bookshop was something of a Mecca — so long as you got over your fear of towers of books falling on you. How he ever knew where anything was I’ll never know, but he always did. I was searching out material in those pre-Google days for my book “From Yellow Earth to Eucalypt” (Longman 1995) and knew that not only was Bob’s shop a likely place to find things but that Bob himself was a living treasure on the history of Marxism(s) and the Chinese variety in particular.

Back in the day, as he says himself, he was heavily involved in the Chinese faction of Australian communism: “Just recently, under the Freedom of Information Act 30 year access rule, I squeezed my ASIO file out of the government, and was rather amused to be reminded of the fact that in the early 1960s I was a member of the Australia-China Society and participated on the side of the pro-Chinese grouping in a very intense faction fight with the pro-Russian Stalinists who were trying to hang on to control of the society after the Sino-Soviet split…. I’ll never forget until the day I die, sometime in the heady year of 1968, that enormous Falstaff of popular Australian Maoism, Albert Langer from Melbourne, sleeping on the floor of my house during some conference or other in Sydney, playing The east is red interminably on our record player, and being jumped on playfully by my seven-year old daughter.”

That is from a remarkable wide-ranging essay “Over the hills lies China” which Bob wrote in 1999. It is still very relevant as background to where we are today. Bob reviews a number of books in the essay, including the very popular (at the time) and quite dreadful “Among the Barbarians” by Paul Sheehan. He also (as he did in our conversations) commends Simon Leys/Paul Ryckmans, a critic of Maoism who punctured many an illusion about Chinese Communism, but from a great knowledge and love of Chinese history and culture. “While revelations since 1976 have shown a lot of this to be rather eccentric and sad illusion, and the more critical stance of such China scholars as Simon Leys has been proved much more correct a view of the devastating, cruel and counterproductive effect of the Cultural Revolution, nevertheless, this widespread Western enthusiasm for China and Maoism contributed substantially to a decline in the fear of China and hostility to the Chinese.”

And a bonus ABC documentary from 1995

A 25 minute documentary focusing on the characters that inhabit King Street in Newtown, Sydney – aired on ABC TV 9.2.95. I was around at the time…

Various lockdown hacks and escapes — 57 — wandering (and wondering!) in 2001 still

So yesterday’s post led to my visiting the rest of 2001 — November and December. I am just going to cherry-pick bits to republish here. I do notice that I made a determined effort to give up my 50-a-day smoking habit! At the end of December I boasted “Oh yes: one month and four days without smoking!” Sadly I crashed soon after, only finally giving up in March 2011 in the cardiac ward at Wollongong Hospital! Yes, that worked!

One December entry relates very much to smoking, and to my brother Ian — who passed away in 2017.

My brother Ian (1935-2017) and my sister Jeanette (1940-1952) — Auburn Street Sutherland around 1944

14 December A long partnership over

An hour ago, Australian Eastern time,
in East Devonport, Tasmania
Norma,
my brother’s partner of 30 years,
passed away after a long battle
with emphysema.

15 December: My brother.

My brother and his partner have been living in Tasmania for many years now; I am not quite sure how many, but certainly more than five. Before that they lived in various parts of Queensland.

One of the ironies of their life together was that they were both married on the same day in Sutherland, way back in 1955, but in two different churches and to two different people. My brother’s first marriage lasted ten years, and it was after the end of that that he and Norma got together. I remember once saying to them that they could have saved a lot of trouble by getting it right on that day back in 1955, to which my brother replied, “Oh well, we still celebrate our wedding anniversary.”

While my brother and I have been in regular contact by phone, especially since our mother died 1n 1996, I have not seen him for many years, and Norma even longer. Unfortunately there is no way I can go down to Tasmania either, not that I could do much.

Ian and Norma were together for over thirty years. A second attempt at partnership suited both of them. They were kindred spirits, and were very lucky to have found each other. In the past few years Norma was basically bedridden, constantly on oxygen for her emphysema. My brother could not have been more loving and more devoted. He certainly had more peace and happiness with Norma over the greater part of thirty years than he had ever had before.

He’s not a young man now; neither of us is. I am not sure what he will do eventually–stay in Tasmania or move back up north. At one time he said he might move back to Queensland, should anything happen to Norma.

My brother had four children by his first marriage, some of whom I see from time to time. Norma had at least one daughter, whom I met, by her first marriage. Ian and Norma had no children by their relationship.

And yes, I won’t harp on it, but Benson and Hedges had a hand in Norma’s suffering and death.

The deep blue skies wax dusky and the tall green trees grow dim
The sward beneath me seems to heave and fall
And sickly, smoky shadows through the sleepy sunlight swim
And on the very sun’s face weave their pall

Let me slumber in the hollow where the wattle blossoms wave
With never stone or rail to fence my bed
Should the sturdy station children pull the bush flowers on my grave
I may chance to hear them romping overhead.

–Adam Lindsay Gordon

Back to November

November 18: Wettish Sunday..but yesterday was fine

Now when you are reduced to talking about the weather…

But it was quite lovely yesterday, although I spent a bit of it working. At lunch I ran into a colleague, M.S., who was attending a Teachers’ Federation Council Meeting. After work (coaching in Chinatown) at the Midnight Shift (a venue I am not normally all that fond of) I saw Clive and a few others, and had a very interesting conversation with someone I had seen around for ages but rarely talked to. It concerned family dynamics among other things. It is nice when people talk about their lives with honesty and seriousness.

The warm weather brought out some pleasing sights for such as I. Out in the suburbs they were washing their cars and going swimming, I am told, and I am sure that would be just as pleasing.

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November 19: Life changes for some…and another web page

You may recall my nephew, Warren, who is an “exhibit” at the State Library of NSW as part of the Flinders Exhibition; he is there in virtual form as a lineal descendent of the family of Bungaree, the Guringai Aborigine who sailed with Flinders in his voyages of exploration about 200 years ago. I had a call from Warren at the weekend.

He has moved, with his partner, down to the Sydney region from Queensland and is now living on Guringai traditional land, as his mother’s family has continuously since settlement. Since it is Warren’s historical research that demonstrated the continuity of the descendents of the Guringai in that area, he is about to play a rather significant political role. There is a chance you may read about him in next weekend’s Australian. You can certainly see a lot of him now in the Cadigal Room at the Museum of Sydney.

I wonder if he would like yum cha.

Father John rang also with the sad but not unexpected news that his 98 years old mother recently died. I met her years ago when she was holidaying from Bellingen, where she lived until recently, and a very feisty old lady she was. She rather enjoyed the Albury!

On this diary a little while ago I celebrated the twentieth anniversary of Neos, a magazine for young writers with which I was associated. I have now put the poems, with a few more details, on my Angelfire site*. I think I am getting better at design 😉 What do you think?

*Later transferred to WordPress.

6 December: Calmer…but not yet tranquil

Beware of a man giving up smoking, especially in the first week or two thereof. Do not confront him with sudden change or with anything that might tip his delicate balance. The result can be messy.

Friends need to be especially tolerant of aberrant behaviour. If they have supported the man in his project of giving up, they may be regretting their decison right now. They may be tempted to say “Please, start smoking again! We can’t stand this!” Do not give in to the temptation, but think of your friend’s better moments or track record over time, and remember that before long your friend will reappear as you remember him, and not as the writhing obsessive you see right now.

Yes, a good night’s sleep has helped. But I still need to be treated with delicacy… And on the subject of sleep, I blamed the 3-4 hours only I had on Tuesday night on two things: racing thoughts and leaving a patch on. Quitnet offers this on the latter: “Sleep disturbance almost always occurs in people who use the twenty four hour patch. Since your mind is unaccustomed to receiving nicotine while asleep, it can cause strange effects, including vivid, colorful dreams and difficulty sleeping.”

My best wishes to you all 🙂

18 December: Ninglun is loved after all…and some links for you

It is Day 21 and the cravings still come, but apparently that is normal. The body/mind has learned addiction and does not easily unlearn it. So one just insists: “Hey, I am a non-smoker!” and the cravings eventually pass.

It is nice to have one’s efforts appreciated, so a card from Michael Harmey (ESL/Multicultural Consultant at our Department of Education District Office) received today was very welcome: “Many thanks for your great work this year… You are doing a fantastic job for ESL and Multicultural Education, and it is a great pleasure to work with you.” 🙂

In the current climate where, overwhelmed by a tide of jingoism and a reactionary triumphalism even the modest progressive tends to be vilified as a member of some “elite” or “chattering class”, it is salutary to turn to a site that gives an alternative, non-Eurocentric, non-USA-centred view of the world, if only for balance. Such an alternative is New Internationalist which I commend as a means to keep your views balanced in our unbalanced age.

For fun, on the other hand, try Bad English. Just look 😉

20 December. Christmas thoughts…of a naked Ninglun

Yes, it is very warm in Sydney tonight and you should be glad I don’t have web cam. Looking at myself I can have few illusions about being no longer young, despite rather nice remarks today from some female colleagues, who expressed amazement at the concept that I turn 59 next year (God willing, of course.) I told them it must be my healthy lifestyle 😉

It is that time of year, school having ended, Christmas and New Year, just around the corner; a time to take stock. So I am naked in another sense, trying here to be unpretentious and honest with myself and my readers, some of whom I know and are dear to me, others of whom are total strangers. I so love the web diary–it has helped me so many times since I started, simply in the fact that I can say and do things here in total privacy and yet I am sharing it with the world. It is quite amazing, as happens from time to time, when someone suddenly pops up from, say, Denmark or Texas, and tells me: “Thanks for that” or “Yes, I love what you said…”

A year ago I made a list which is now on on my Home Page of ten beautiful things in life. I still stand by that. But this year I will put in ascending order the year’s six greatest blessings, bearing in mind what a horrible year it has been in some ways. This is a very personal list, and are the things I thank God/fate/circumstance for in 2001.

6. Some good things professionally, targets achieved in some areas at least, and students whose difficulties I have been able to make easier.

5. The blessing of reading and our local library.

4. Being able at my age to still think new thoughts and learn new things, and to take an imprudent decision when I knew it was what I had to do.

3. My friends at yum cha and around the pubs/coffee shops for their fellowship and confirmation of one’s worth and existence.

2. Becoming a non-smoker at last.

1. Finding one is loveable after all, and seeing another find that too about themselves.

Yes, I know the grammar is not quite right in number 1, but the thought is wonderful 🙂

23 December: Almost Christmas

Yes, so close, but I still haven’t done my cards! Looks like I will be making a few phone calls, sending email or ICQ, visiting some (hopefully) and, a last resort, sending late cards.

Yesterday I went to the Green Park Hotel with Sirdan; in time PK, James, Sailor A, and a number of others, joined us. PK gave me a very nice bottle of whisky.

I savoured it in rare indulgence for the next decade!

Today is another Christmas gathering at the Forresters Hotel, and it would appear quite a few are coming to that. The gathering there a couple of weeks ago was very pleasant indeed.

I received a lovely card from “Master Fu”, an ex-student (class of 2000) who has been doing well in Advanced Mathematics at Sydney University. He has a delightful way of expressing himself:

There are many thanks for many things, none of them comes easily with words, for gratitude is the heart’s memory: thank you for everything you have done. Yours, Xiang

Really nice.

If yours is a family Christmas today, have a really good one; treasure those times, as they do pass.

LATER

The Forresters offered T-bone and mash as their $5 grill today, and it is so long since I have indulged in something so decadently Western; it was delicious. Company comprised Sirdan, James, Malcolm, the Empress, Bruce, Sailor A, Dark Cloud (a rare manifestation) and myself. The cuteness index at the Forresters was definitely near 9/10 today as well. (Elki, a very attractive ex-student who must be about 22 now, was there with his girlfriend; his noticing me was noted by the assembly and brought credit on my white beard!) So a good time was had. The Crown Prince had requested his greetings be passed on and it was done.

Meanwhile I have been reading an absolutely fascinating book on a cross-cultural phenomenon very few of us would have known of before: Martin Palmer, The Jesus Sutras (2001), about a thriving Christian movement in China during the 7th and 8th centuries AD. Have a look at that review and you will get the gist.