New England, Australia

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

History of the New England New State Movement to the Second World War

Just a short note to say that I have now brought on line the History revisited columns telling the story of the New England New State Movement up to the aftermath of the Nicholas Commission.

I stopped then for two reasons. First, at nineteen columns in a row I feared that I would outrun the patience of the paper and readers in such a concentrated burst! Secondly, I needed to do more research.

The material up to to the Second World War is now close to book length, so the columns are very selective.

The story begins again towards the end of the war when two academics, Belshaw and Voisey, launched the regional councils movement. Belshaw was just about to become David Drummond's son-in-law, but unlike his later son was not a new stater. He believed that regional councils were the answer. He became disillusioned when Sydney would grant them no power, when their areas were to small, bemused too when the regional council movement he had founded turned into a resurgent new state movement. Disillusioned, he developed the concept of selective decentralisation that would be picked up at ANU and become the heart of the Uren growth center model.

The movement he had helped re-create maintained the pressure until the 1967 plebiscite when exhausted, it effectively went into recess, now again carried forward by us.

Monday, April 27, 2015

ANZAC Day 2015 across inland New England

Today, just a few round-up shots of ANZAC Day across the New England. This is ANZAC Day in Walcha.

And this is ANZAC Day in Armidale.The TAS cadets march.

And this is the service at Dangarsleigh south of Armidale. Again, TAS cadets. Those boys get around!

And this is Inverell

In Quirindi

Finally, the dawn service in Manilla.

My thanks to TAS, New England High Country and ABC New England North West for these shots.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Hunter Valley v the Southern Highlands: the Hunter Culinary Association's 6th annual 'Food Fight'.

This one isn't cheap but sounds rather fun.

On Tuesday 2 June, chefs from the Hunter Valley will take on newcomers from Canberra and the Southern Highlands in the Hunter Culinary Association's 6th annual 'Food Fight'.

Hosted by celebrity Chef, Matt Kemp, the event will pit the two competing teams against each other as they push themselves to create the best 3-course lunch the regions have to offer. Dishes will be made only from the freshest, locally sourced ingredients and the passion of the Hunter Region and Canberra/Southern Highlands teams will be served on the day. These creations will be presented with an array of matching wines by leading Hunter Valley Wineries.

Guests will judge each of the six dishes, and cast their votes to crown one team the winner of the 6th annual ‘Food Fight.’

Representing the Hunter Region are culinary warriors Troy Rhoades Brown (Muse Dining), Michael Robinson (Margan), and Emerson Rodriguez (Emerson’s). The fresh-faced opponents cooking for Canberra and the Southern Highlands will be lead by a familiar face of the ‘Food Fight’ family, James Viles (Biota Dining), alongside Ben Willis (Aubergine), and Sean McConnell (Monster). 

Celebrity chef Matt Kemp will use his knife-sharp wit and vast knowledge of food to entertain and delight, whilst also hosting a worthy charity auction. The auction’s proceeds will go towards the Brett Graham Scholarship and other initiatives that focus on the growth and development of the region’s young culinary talent. 

I said it wasn't cheap. The price itself is okay. Luncheon costs $120 for Hunter Culinary Association members, $160 for non-members, and $70 for apprentice chefs. That's not too bad. But to really enjoy yourself, you need to stay overnight at the venue, the Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley. Who want to drive after a hopefully extended lunch?

To avoid missing out on this clash of the culinary titans, book early and RSVP to Kirsty on by Friday 15th of May.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Dhiiyaan Indigenous Knowledge Centre reborn

Looking back, I first mentioned  the troubled Dhiiyaan Indigenous Knowledge Centre in Moree back in 2008 when as the Indigenous it was part of the is part of the Moree based Northern Regional Library & Information Service. I said then that its web site had some useful material, including photographs.Sadly, that's gone,

In 2009, I reported on the problems the Centre was having. I said then:
At present, the Centre is part of the Northern Regional Library & Information Service and is based in Moree, servicing the shires of Brewarrina, Gwydir, Moree Plains and Walgett. Included within these shires are a substantial number of Aboriginal settlements. They include; Boggabilla, Boomi, Brewarrina, Collarenebri, Mungindi, Toomelah, Walgett and Moree itself. 
The plan now is to develop it into a larger stand-alone entity. 
I do not know whether or not the Centre is unique in Australia. I do know from my web searches that it is unusual because of its focus (among other things) in helping Aboriginal people trace their families. 
The Centre lies at the heart of Kamilaroi territory, but extends beyond this.
My only criticism of the Centre's Mrs Noelene Briggs-Smith and her supporters is that their vision is arguably too narrow, too local. Here I am thinking not so much of services, but of the support base. 
My feeling is that the Centre should be selling itself more broadly, seeking to attract support not just from the Moree area and State Government, but also from interested people elsewhere in New England and beyond.
Now, finally, I see that the the future of the Dhiiyaan Indigenous Knowledge Centre in Moree appears to have been secured with a $495,545 Clubgrant for renovations to the building housing it. Clubgrants are administered by Clubs NSW, the peak body for registered clubs in NSW and are available to community groups, charities and sporting teams across NSW. Last year, more than $100 million was allocated to worthy causes by Clubgrants. Yes, I know that's a plug, but I am happy to provide it!

The funds will be used for a total refurbishment of the Moree War Memorial Hall including purpose-built archival rooms, a new common entrance foyer, new offices and galleries, carpets, painting, furniture and fittings.

The existing amenities will be upgraded to include disabled facilities and an access ramp.

Moree Plains Shire Council has also kicked in with $306,900 to the project for first stage capital improvements and ongoing management costs.

The hall, a product of the Moree and District War Memorial Centre Educational Centre Act of 1962, will eventually also house the Moree and District Historical Society collection and a military history collection.

The building previously housed Moree’s public library with Dhiiyaan as part of its facilities. Dhiiyaan was developed over many years by Noeleen Briggs, Moree Elder and former Indigenous Librarian Auntie, who bartered for people’s family documents, obtained grants to buy books on Indigenous history and culture and arranged for object loans from the Australian Museum.

When the library moved into a purpose built space several years ago, the local Aboriginal community feared the Dhiiyaan Centre would be dismantled with the books dispersed to regional libraries and the objects returned to the Australian Museum.

The grant will help preserve 100,000 genealogical records of local families including databases, significant objects, photographs and burial records.

The stress of losing the centre took a personal toll on Auntie Noeleen who has since retired but not before intensive lobbying that eventually saw Arts NSW provide the State Library with $200,000 towards collection evaluation and preservation and assistance with transition to an independent organisation with the support of Moree Shire Council.

Chris Binge started this month as Manager of the centre and expects the staff to grow to five in the next few months.

They will oversee 100,000 genealogical records of local families including databases, significant objects, photographs and burial records. The team will also begin negotiating with the Australian Museum for the return of the historical objects.

Museums & Galleries of NSW is supporting the Dhiiyaan Centre with its Travelling Places program this year, which seeks to embed skills for the development of a digital Keeping Place within the community.

That's all good news. Hopefully, the centre will grow it's broader role to benefit all those with Kamilaroi connections or interested in the Kamilaroi and in so doing also aid the promotion of Moree.


Another story on the work of Noeleen Briggs - Moree Aboriginal researcher finishes 20-year project. Notice two name spellings, of Noeleen though. Are there two?. 

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Newcastle real estate booms, Upper Hunter prices drop

This chart comes from the Newcastle Herald. Brief comments follow the graphic.  

The story reports that the median house price in Newcastle have grown faster than in every Australian capital city over the past five years. It also reports that house prices in Upper Hunter coal dependent towns have collapsed.

Have a look at the story. What do you think? Surely the results are not surprising. 

Monday, March 23, 2015

Polling shows Coalition ahead in NSW, but suggests Labor to win Ballina

The latest Fairfax/Ipsos poll shows the Coalition leading Labor by 54 to 46 per cent on a NSW state wide two-party-preferred basis. With the Coalition apparently set to win, the focus has now turned to individual seats that might change with a special focus on the National held Northern Rivers seats of  Ballina, Lismore and Tweed where the backlash against coal seam is especially strong.

Recent Reachtel polling suggested Labor is set to win Ballina, despite a National's margin of 24.6 per cent. An interesting feature of the Ballina poll is the shift in the Green/ALP vote. At the last elections, the collapse in the ALP vote saw the Greens out vote Labor. Now the Green vote is slightly down, while the ALP vote has resurged. 

Outside the Northern Rivers, Tamworth is another electorate where environmental issues are important. Here the Green vote has traditionally been very low. The main interest in Tamworth is whether or not independent Peter Draper can regain the seat he lost at the last state election. 

Sunday, March 08, 2015

Collating the stories behind New England's writers

The Armidale Express has just featured Janene Carey's latest writing project.

Following publication of her latest book, A Hospital Bed At Home which attracting praise from author Helen Garner, .Janene hopes to take on the enjoyable yet daunting challenge of collating the stories behind the region’s greatest writers.

The new project will be in collaboration with the New England Writer’s Centre, and aims to showcase writers who have portrayed the region and its people, as well as writers nurtured here who have achieved fame elsewhere.

“It’s not going to be a scholarly book, it’s for a general audience,”Janene said. “So there will be anecdotes and snippets of [interviews] and hopefully [it] will be written in a colourful, engaging way.” From my viewpoint that's a good thing, for it will help give us the back story to the writing itself.

One of the people Janene would like to interview is Shirley Walker whose book, The Ghost at the Wedding, won the 2009 Asher Literary Award.
I haven't actually read Shirley's book. I have to say that it sounds interesting from the Penguin blurb.
"Three generations,two world wars,one family
The young men who worked in the canefields of northern New South Wales in 1914 couldn't wait to set off for the adventure of war. The women coped as best they could, raised the children, lived in fear of an official telegram. They grieved for those killed, and learnt of worse things than death in combat. They bore more sons to replace those lost, and these were just the right age to go off to the Second World War.
The Ghost at the Wedding chronicles events from both sides of war: the horror of the battlefields and the women left at home. Shirley Walker's depictions of those battles – Gallipoli, the Western Front, the Kokoda Track – are grittily accurate, their reverberations haunting. Written with the emotional power of a novel, here is a true story whose sorrow is redeemed by astonishing beauty and strength of spirit."
So much to read!


This is the way that Janene wrote of her contact with Helen Garner on her blog. I have taken the liberty of quoting the piece in full:
Last week I went to a couple of public events connected with the Association for the Study of Australian Literature conference at the University of New England. Iconic Australian writer Helen Garner was a special guest. I spoke to her after a lecture on Judith Wright, and gave her a copy of A Hospital Bed at Home. As homage, really. I love her writing, especially The Spare Room. 
The next day, I went along to the other public ASAL event, Helen Garner in conversation with literary critic Susan Lever. When I arrived for the pre-talk refreshments, Anne Pender from UNE was chatting to Susan Lever, and she introduced us. Susan’s first words to me were, “Oh, are you the Janene who gave Helen a book? She’s been telling me all about it; she’s been reading it all day!” 
When I spoke to Helen before her talk my head was spinning so much that I can’t even remember exactly what her compliments were. She said something about the clarity and directness of my writing, and the way the emotion was handled. I suggested that she’d had a strong influence on my style and she laughed and said, “That might be why I like it!” 
Anyway, this week I plucked up the courage to contact her through her publisher and ask if she would consider giving me a quote for the cover. I thought it quite likely that she would refuse as she must be asked so often. But she emailed it to me within a couple of hours of receiving the request. Actually, I have two – what she sent would fit on a back cover, but I was keen to have it on the front, so she allowed me to trim it. 
So the front cover now says: “An articulate, practical account of the work of love in the face of death.” – HELEN GARNER.  
The longer version that has gone online is: 
“A quietly articulate, intensely practical account of the work of love in the face of death: a guide for the timid and a challenge for the confident.” – HELEN GARNER (Author of The Spare Room)

You can see why Janene was chuffed. By the way, if you want to buy A Hospital Bed At Home you can find out how here. I haven't bought my copy yet, but will do so next pay.

I want to write a little more about the reasons why I think that Janene's new project is important, why we all hope that she gets grants to complete the work, but that will have to wait to a later post. 

Saturday, March 07, 2015

2015 NSW State election - New England thread

I haven't commented to this point on the NSW State election campaign. I thought that I should create a thread that I can add to and on which people can comment if they so wish.

This graphic comes from the ABC Vote Compass. The question asked was: "How do you feel the economy in your electorate is doing now as compared to 12 months ago?" As Antony Green notes, voters outside Sydney feel that their local economies are doing significantly worse than those living in Sydney.

I will add more material to this post as the campaign proceeds.

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Life style Uralla's mini-housing boom

I see from the Armidale Express that Uralla is experiencing something of a mini-housing boom.

Twenty-nine dwellings were approved in the town last year, the highest number of dwelling approvals in a decade. With five dwelling approvals in January plus a 60 lot subdivision application expected to be approved by March, the trend looks set to continue.

Driving around Uralla on a recent trip, I was struck by the continuing if slow transformation of the town. With the decline in the town's rural service function and then the collapse in growth in nearby Armidale during the nineties, the town's economic base was badly damaged. Slowly, and the changes here go back to the early eighties, Uralla has been reinventing itself as something of a lifestyle centre, creating a special atmosphere.

 These types of processes are slow. However, they do build with time. One of the reasons I have supported the continued retention of Uralla Shire despite arguments for local government mergers based on the now standard mantras of "efficiency and effectiveness" lies in the way that it has helped preserve a Uralla focus. I think that's good.  

Friday, February 13, 2015

UNE makes John Ryan Emeritus Professor

Over on my personal blog, John Ryan appointed Emeritus Professor records my pleasure at the honour rewarded John.

I am presently writing something on the history of history in New England. Triggered partly by the death of Lionel Gilbert, I will bring something up on that later, the short series looks at some of those who have recorded our past. John is one such.