YouTube rolls back the years to the Albury Hotel in its glory days

Oh yes, I have blogged before about this place. Remember when it closed?

Is it that long ago?

31 Oct 2007

The Empress has sent an edict:

Lest We Forget

31 October 2001


Yum Cha this morning was myself, The Empress, Clive, James, and eventually M, absolutely exhausted and needing the food. It was a good Yum Cha (The Emperor’s Garden service was friendly and excellent). After that M went home to sleep — he starts again tonight at 6 pm, and I went with James and The Empress to the Albury — yes, I was there this Sunday — where we surprised the bar staff by eating barbecued quail that Ian had purchased, and added a Chinese tonic to our beer (it said it could be used in beer) which caused the beer to look like some Jekyll-and-Hyde potion, but actually improved the taste!  — March 4 2001

It is also where M and I first met in July 1990. Is it that long since it closed?

See also the images at mais où est l’Albury d’antan?

Last night I confessed on Facebook:

Instead of watching what I intended on ABC2 I have found myself deep in memories thanks to Bruce Part’s photos of The Albury Hotel. This is a rendition of one of those photos.

And someone comments on Bruce’s album:

Such an beautiful original old pub destroyed! I was saddened when I finally moved to Syd and it was gone. I met a lovely guy there on my first visit around 1996 and didn’t leave empty handed….a big deal for a country boy!!!

“Such an beautiful original old pub destroyed!” indeed. I hope Bruce finds a few more to share in that “boot box full of photo memories.”

I have cropped a couple and given them the art makeover treatment.

FotoSketcher - 16042_232492893548533_882882010_n

There are more images there.

Last night on Facebook I posted these musical discoveries I had just found on YouTube. Of the first I said: “Time warp time! Sylvana in the Piano Bar of the Albury Hotel in 1986! I certainly knew the place, and I certainly heard Sylvana. She was good!

“Among other memories — sitting one night at the piano next to the famous former South Australian Premier Don Dunstan. Told him it was a shame all the good politicians were retired or dead….”

And here was another: “And more from the Albury Piano Bar back last century! You see the piano in this one. I and my friends would often sit right at the piano! You will also note the background chatter — well, this is a live performance on possibly a crowded bar. Another reason to sit close to the piano….”

And that wasn’t all I found. Jan Preston used to play at the Britannia Hotel in Chippendale — when? 1987? Gary Croft was running the joint then and he liked his jazz. I recall embarrassing myself once (or am I dreaming?) singing “House of the Rising Sun” to Jan’s accompaniment. She was a great personality as well as a brilliant musician.

Sometime around then I lent them a cassette deck when theirs had broken. For as long as they were using it I got free drinks! They used it for a good while.

See Hour-long phone call takes me back to Chippendale 1985.

Blogging the 2010s — 117a — December 2013 — mainly family history

Ending with a Scottish moment at the turn of  the year.

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.


Exeter Place off Market Lane 1900

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.

2013 to 2014

Blogging the 2010s — 114 — December 2010

My first Christmas back in Wollongong. Sydney drew me back, as did a wake.

Christmas Day: Missy the Jack Russell

Spent the day with Sirdan in Rosebery. Missy (four months old) is the latest resident there.

There was some shocking news about a friend of ours too, but that I’ll tell you later.

Christmas Eve Wollongong: Crown Street Mall 2

Not the most tuneful but certainly the cutest buskers in Crown Street Mall yesterday.

And a Christmas Day bonus from South Sydney Uniting Church Christmas Day 2008.

Requiem for a Dowager Empress

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, so he is somewhere here:

At Lord Malcolm’s funeral in 2007 Ian read this:

Death Is Nothing At All
Henry Scott Holland

Death is nothing at all
I have only slipped away into the next room
I am I and you are you
whatever we were to each other
that we still are
call me by my old familiar name
speak to me in the easy way
which you always used
put no difference in your tone
wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow
laugh as we always laughed
at the little jokes we enjoyed together
pray smile, think of me, pray for me
Let my name be ever the household word
that it always was
Let it be spoken without effort
without the trace of a shadow in it
Life means all that it ever meant
it is the same as it ever was
there is unbroken continuity
why should I be out of mind
because I am out of sight?
I am waiting for you
somewhere very near
just around the corner
All is well

I have known him for 22 years. We’ve had our ups and downs — most did with Ian, but he could also be wise and brilliant. A complex man. Rest, brother.

This is for you. You wouldn’t object.

Blogging the 2010s — 108 — November 2014

Rediscovered the very post to share so close to National Reconciliation Week.

Friday Australian poem: #NS5 – one of my own reposted

I chose this in part as a response to seeing all episodes of SBS/NITV First Contact, and particularly the panel with Stan Grant after Episode 3 last night. Let me quote one of the younger participants, Bo-dene Stieler.

…Before the journey, I would never have thought that my biggest life inspiration would come from Aboriginal people. Looking back, I can’t believe the ignorance I showed and the disrespect I showed by not even taking the pro-active approach to find out more and just believing everything that I had been told.

To have access to knowledge and education, I should have tried to find the truth. I always thought negatively about Indigenous Australians, blatantly disregarding their heritage and honestly having no real facts to fuel my claims. It is not okay to regard the First Australians as being ‘wasters’ and I am ashamed of myself for proclaiming that. If I could go back to the beginning of my trip, having learnt what I had by the end, I know that I would have approached the people and communities very differently. I now realise that I had approached the journey with a set mindset, despite having thought I was being open-minded…

It wasn’t until I met Lucas at Roebourne Regional Prison that my bigotry started to slowly chip away. I did not care to listen to what any of the inmates had to say as I had already made my mind up that I didn’t care for their personal stories. I had painted Lucas to be just a crim, and felt somewhat shocked that his intentions for leaving school were to help his parents through a separation. I felt a connection with him, and I couldn’t believe that an Aboriginal inmate of a jail in the Pilbara shared a common story with me.

I felt the pressures of family breakdown since I was about 13 and I know how hard it is to try and keep your family together. It is devastating to watch the support and love of your family disintegrate before your eyes, and I am only lucky that I had my older brother Jared to look after me. Unlike Lucas, who had no one to keep him on the right path and no role models to look up to, I had my brother. I never realised that I would share so many connections with Aboriginal people. I always thought that there was some huge divide that could never be crossed. But I was wrong.

The journey showed me that instead of many non-Indigenous Australians showing prejudice towards Aboriginal people, we can draw strength from their resilience and determination. I would not have been able to face the next phase of my life without having met such incredible people and being welcomed into their homes. Meeting these amazing people has changed my life in ways that I could never have expected.

REPOST: In 1983 I learned more than I knew I was learning…

Posted on February 11, 2013 by Neil

At that time I lived in Glebe and was in some ways at a rather low ebb, in hiatus from teaching but still editing Neos. I lived for a while in a boarding house in Boyce Street with assorted students, crims and schizos and one or two ordinary folk. It was an education. Among my neighbours was a schizophrenic Aboriginal woman whom I call “Marie”.  As I listened to Marie, who was also kind of concierge to the house, I found a story emerging amid the apparent randomness and even craziness. I tried to capture that in a poem at the time. Every word in the poem she actually said, though not all at once, and I have structured it so that her story emerges, as it did for me over a much longer time. An artist who lived upstairs read it and said I had captured her exactly.


The house in Boyce Street. At the time I occupied the front room. “Marie” was on the second floor at the landing. The artist had the balcony room.

It is clearly no longer a boarding house.


Marie: Glebe 1983

(for the “stolen generation”)

my mama was black
dadda a scotsman

in the home there was a flower
it woke us up

see here it is

and here’s one i’m saving for matron
(i loved you matron)
i’ll write a book for matron

she’s gone now
they say she died

i think i will come back to her

she said “you’re in trouble, marie”
she said “have the baby”
(i was nineteen or twenty)

i know all about cocks
men can be cheeky
but the girls are worse
two backyard jobs

matron’s gone now
see her flower?
i’ve pressed it for her

i’m forty-two years old i am nothing
a woman not married in this society
is nothing

my dream is to get married
i said to matron
“i will have babies for you”


i’ll give up smoking
i must control the grog
but when my head’s upset i need a beer

the pub is good
nobody looks down on you there

i hope my joseph is happy
he chose his family
and thomas
where is thomas?

there have been too many men

i’ll go picking again
on the riverina

this is not my place

this is a dead end street this is a dead man’s house
but there is a lane

they call me

words are very powerful
you must be careful how you use them

do the children still read?

the television
i got mine at the hock shop forty bucks
it freaks me out


i see myself and matron and joseph and thomas
i learn a lot
it freaks me out


this is not my place
my head hurts here

all that fucking going on
over my head

i’ve never hurt no-one
let them kill me it’s good
it doesn’t matter
i’ve never hurt no-one
but i’ve been hurt

do you know my dream?

this is my dream
i’ll have a coffee shop
and there will be little huts
and no-one will be turned away

we did that once
had pillows all over the house

i learned
and elocution

i’ll get up early and get a job
it’s good i reckon
will be good
after christmas
next year
i’ll leave this place

but it’s good
i reckon

see this flower?
i’m saving it for matron
and here is the one
that woke us in the home

my dadda was a scotsman
my mama was black




Each photo is linked to its story.  See A guide to Australia’s Stolen Generations and 100 Year Commemoration of the Cootamundra Aboriginal Girls Training Home.

See also Punishment and death at Cootamundra for a contrarian view from Keith Windschuttle. BTW, if you happen upon that chapter directly via a search you could be forgiven for thinking it had some kind of official status. I find that a bit deceptive, but then I guess it is up to me (caveat emptor) to check the home and about links.

– Originally posted 25 January 2013

Blogging the 2010s — 107 — November 2013

In the present: planning today to 1) pay my electricity bill — very modest it is! and 2) visit City Diggers!

Appropriate fare, perhaps — the day after the Great Rudd announced his necessary exit

On that, briefly: did some great things, such as the Apology. Was at times a barrel of laughs, at others a total wanker/bastard. Shame about the Gillard/Rudd thing – and I do believe she has proven more gracious really. But these are just impressions. This Herald/Age item is not too bad: The Labor messiah who could not save himself. He really had to go.

Maybe then it was fitting that with three friends I had a great Chinese meal yesterday at Illawarra Steelers:

Red Dragon Chinese Restaurant…..home of the 2 for 1 lunch!

Red Dragon Chinese restaurant offers a range of quick, freshly prepared Chinese meals. Guests will find dishes such as Whole Salt & Pepper Fish, Seafood Laksa and Black Bean Chili Chicken Hot Pot along with favourites including Sweet & Sour Pork, Mongolian Beef and Honey Chicken.

In addition to these, Red Dragon also boasts a range of traditional Chinese dishes not found in other Asian restaurants. Red Dragon also provides a range of Western dishes in addition to its Chinese menu. These, along with the Chinese dishes are sure to appease all of our guests!…

Should I tell them “appease” may not be quite the right word? The food though – great, especially if you choose wisely.

Afterwards I went to the Illawarra Brewery to sample the Apocalypso, as  I had promised myself last time I was there. It really is very good.


View from The Illawarra Brewery

Alas the Red Dragon is now but a memory!

Recycled pics–3–Chinese Garden

In November 2008 I had a series Best of 2008. Here are three more.

Roof line with clouds: Sydney Chinese Garden

Chinese Garden: waterfall – October 2008. The link takes you to the whole set in its original context.

Reflections: Sydney Chinese Garden

November comes to an end…

I have even started on compiling my annual Christmas DVD, hoping to make it better and more interesting than previous years. Of course much of it is pictures and videos from the year to date, and I really have a few pics I am proud of.

Here are three.