Thursday, September 28, 2006

Blog Nominations Called For - Do you know a good New England Australia small business blog?

The Ndarala Group in conjunction with Regional Living Australa and Brian Brown's Pajama Market: small business blog of the day would like to invite you to nominate business blogs run by smaller businesses within New England for consideration for inclusion as one of the featured blogs on Brian's site. They can be your own blog or someone else's.

Blogs can come from any sector. The key requirement is that the blog be a business blog.

By way of background, Brian's blog is a leading source of information about and examples of small business blogging. This nomination gives you the opportunity to promote your blog to a wider audience.

The general invitation is open to all Australian small business blogs. However, from my viewpoint on this blog, it gives us a chance to showcase business blog examples from New England thus promoting the region.

In this context, a reminder that I am use the term New England to describe the broader New England region, not just the Northern Tablelands. That is Hunter, North Coast and Northern Rivers, Tablelands, North Western slopes and plains.

Nominations can be submitted by inserting the blog name in the comments section or by emailing me on ndarala(at)optusnet(dot)com(dot)au.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

New England Australia - the siblings

So much to write about, so little time. This is much on my mind tonight.

Earlier this week I bought the Lonely Planet guide to Australia. New England as I define it, an area the size of England with enormous diversity, gets just 35 pages in a book of 1,120 pages. Further, the New England sections are very fragmented with no historical context. Just to put this in context, the ACT gets 21 pages, Kangaroo Island 6 pages.

This blog has only been going since 8 April. Yet already I hope that I have been able to give a feel for the diversity and depth of the New England experience. Four significant Australian airlines began in New England before vanishing. Pound for pound, New England has generated at least as many writers than any other area of the country. We have more major national parks than any other equivalent area. We have three wine regions. And so it goes on.

All this is submerged in Sydney and NSW. If only the New England New State Movement had been able to achieve self government, then we might have least warranted Tasmania's 95 pages, South Australia's 89 pages in the Lonely Planet Guide, including a proper state introduction.

As a way of setting a frame, I had been going to return to the history of New England, providing a time line for separation agitation in the twentieth century so that you could see how developments fitted to this. Then Janet Howie, the daughter of Professor Howie, rang me, reminding me of another unique New England experience.

The term "the siblings" is used to describe the children of the staff of the New England University College. As Janet said, we can talk as cousins even though we have no blood connection simply because we share an intense experience, an experience share by no other Australians. How to explain this?

The New England University College was founded in 1938 as a college of Sydney University. This would not have happened without the New England New State Movement and the agitation and linkages it created.

Armidale was already a major education centre, with a range of public and private schools and the Armidale Teachers College (ATC). Founded in 1928, ATC was seen by its core founder, David Drummond, as a first step in creating the educational base necessary to support the future New England State. The University College was the next step.

While Armidale was a major educational centre by then Australian standards, it still had a population of only around 7,000 and was a city because of its two bishoprics. Into this small community came a small group of academics from around the world. Some were already married, some single and ended up marrying local girls. In dad's case, David Drummond's daughter.

Life was intensely local. There was no TV. Sydney was totally remote, eight hours away by train, more by road. No plane. We walked, rode our bikes, went on broader picnics by car.

But life was also international. Our parents had all travelled, many went on sabbatical leave to other countries especially the UK.

As a child I rarely read the Sydney papers. They came late and said little that was relevant. But for years I read my father's Economist I knew nothing of Sydney politics, but could tell you a lot about the latest political developments in the US or UK. I mean a lot. I could tell you the results of a US primary and why when I had no idea of a Sydney by-election.

Life was not always easy for the siblings. Our fathers especially were away for extended periods. When dad went away on a Fulbright scholarship he was gone for twelve months. Our teachers expected us to be bright. This held regardless of ability and circumstance. We also found problems in fitting in.

When my parents with my grandfather's support decided to send me to The Armidale School (TAS), the local Anglican GPS (Greater Public School) , I entered the loneliest period of my life. The boys at TAS were mainly from the land, so I as an academic's child had little in common. The town boys resented the fact I had gone to TAS, at one point chasing me across town until I escaped them by hiding under a car.

Things change. My role in scouts, I became a patrol leader, gave me a solid base in town. Then I finally broke through at TAS to the point that my last two years there stand out as the happiest years of my life. But things were very tough for a period.

Coming back to the siblings. Our experiences, for both better and worse, cannot be duplicated. Here I am enormously pleased that some are now being recorded so that they will not be lost.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

New England Australia - Stocktake Food & Wine Posts 24 September 06

Photo: Petersons Winery, Armidale.

To help people access previous material, this post pulls together previous posts on food and wine in New England up to 24 September 2006.

Preparing this post reminded me that the second New England (Northern Tablelands) Regional Wine show will be held at Glen Innes from Wednesday 4 to Saturday 7 October.

The first days of the show are only open to exhibtors, judges and officials, with public activities on the Saturday.

Gourmet in the Glen will run throughout the day at the Glenn Innes showground and include tastings, wine and food sales and a cooking display.

There will be a public tasting of the wines entered in the show from 1 to 3pm. The day finishes with the Glen Grape and Gourmet Ball.

After this reminder, previous food and wine posts to this point are:

Previous Stocktakes

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Trial Bay and German Internees

Photo: Zivil Lager, German Internment Camp, Trial Bay, First World War.

Located on the Mid North Coast (six hours from Sydney by car, seven hours from Brisbane, three hours from Armidale), Trial Bay is one of the most beautiful parts of New England.

Its main centre, South West Rocks, is a small peaceful seaside town that remains a holiday favourite for many New Englanders including my family.

Driving around the area I had seen the ruins of the nearby Trial Bay Goal. I also had a vague memory of a novel written by a New England writer - possibly Gwen Kelly (and here) - about a German POW who had fallen in love with a local girl. I do not know at the moment if Gwen did write the book, this is something I have to check, but given what I have now learned I can see how the plot might have arisen.

I found out about the German connection with Trial Bay by accident through a link on Ninglun's New Lines from a Floating Life blog, a very thoughtful blog that I often visit.

The full story can be found on the NSW Government's Migrant Heritage web site.

The Trial Bay Gaol was established in 1876 as an experimental Public Works Gaol where the inmates would construct the breakwater. Only three years later work was abandoned and the gaol was closed in July 1903. After just 17 years of use, the abandoned gaol remained as testimony to an experiment in humane prison reform.

With the onset of World War 1, the old gaol was given a new lease of life as a German internment camp The outbreak of fighting in Europe in August 1914 immediately brought Australia into the Great War. Within one week of the declaration of war, all German subjects in Australia were declared ‘enemy aliens’ and were required to report to the Government and notify their address.

In February 1915 the meaning of 'enemy aliens' changed to include naturalised migrants as well as Australian born people whose fathers of grandfathers had been born in Germany or Austria. This was a very large group, so in practice internment focused on those considered to be most important.

In August 1915 the first group of Trial Bay internees left Sydney on the North Coast Steam Navigation Company's steamship SS Yulgilbar. The photograph shows them lining up to board the ship.

Conditions at the camp were strict. The associated photograph shows roll call. However, internees also developed a very active and vibrant camp life as a partial relief from their captivity including a newspaper and various cultural activities.

The camp finally closed in July 1918.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

New England Australia Aviation - Don Shand

Photo: East West Airlines' DC3 lands at Port Macquarie

I really wanted to find a photo of Don Shand to illustrate this story. I could not.

Born in Sydney in 1904, Don Shand founded East West Airlines in 1947. The company had meant to fly east west between Moree and Grafton, but low traffic densities shifted the focus to north south between New England centres and Sydney.

Don was a remarkable man who deserves many posts. I thought that I would share some personal stories.

While I had heard many stories about Don, I first remember really remember him on a DC3 flight from Sydney to Armidale.

We had just come back from Bangkok. I knew something special was happening as we joined the plane because the crew were running round, holding us at the door. They removed a seat, allowing this very large man to occupy a full row. When I asked my mother who this was, she said Don Shand.

She told me the story of the time she was sick in Armidale Hospital. Her room overlooked the nearby park. She saw great activity with men stringing telephone wire towards the hospital. She asked the nurse what was happening. The nurse explained that Don was in hospital following a mild heart attack. Unable to get access to a phone for his international calls, there was no connection in his ward, Don had immediately ordered men in to install a new phone line to the hospital.

This from Uncle Ron.

Don had just married for the second time and had taken to wearing just a pajama top to bed. A fox had been attacking the hens, Don wanted to get it, so stood a loaded shot gun by the bed.

That night there was great commotion from the chook yard. Don jumped out of bed, grabbed the gun and rushed out the front door, calling his dog as he did so.

It was a bright moonlit night. Don saw the fox, propped, raised the gun to his shoulder. As he did so his dog, running behind and unable to stop, rammed his wet nose up Don's bare backside, causing Don to fire both barrels. The fox escaped, but there was awful damage done to the chooks!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

New England Airways - Postscript

Photo: Passengers New England Airways Hood Collection

Since I wrote my first post on New England Australia - Aviation, I have found some rather wonderful pictures on New England Airways.

I cannot reproduce them all here. The e-blogger format will not allow me to do so in proper size, while I am also not sure of copyright issues. So what I thought I might do is insert one photo as a sample and then give you the links to them all with some comments so that you can enjoy them when you have time.

The photographs are:
  • The City of Grafton at night. The catalogue for this and the following shot refers to the City of Grafton as a WEA plane. I have done a web search check and there is a clear typo. It should be NEA. There is a gritty, almost war like, feel about this photo. Look at the uniforms.
  • Group with City of Grafton at night. Again a gritty feel. Note the different hats, caps and the young boy in the front.
  • New England Airways Lismore-Brisbane. A businessman gets off the plane. The plane's construction including the external control cables can be clearly seen. Note the Royal Mail sign. Mail contracts were a major driver in the formation of the early airlines.
  • New England Airway Passengers. My favourite photo, hence it's inclusion in the post. look at the coats worn by the women. My favourite is the fur coat on the left. Presumably coats were necessary because of the cold at altitude. Note the hair styles.

Palmerston and Petersons Wines

Photo: Palmerston, Armidale

Petersons Wines Armidale Winery and Vineyard has turned one Armidale's historic homes into a luxurious new guesthouse.

Palmerston was built in 1911 by members of the Dangar family, one of the pastoral dynasties that has left an indelible mark across New England's built landscape.

The Dangar dynasty was largely founded by Henry Dangar (1796-1861) supported by brother William.

Starting from Neotsfield in the Hunter Valley near Singleton, Henry had acquired over 300,000 acres (121,407 ha) by 1850 spread across New England. This included Gostwyck near Uralla with its beautiful chapel (photo).

In addition to his pastoral interests, Henry acquired town allotments and established inns and stores along the Great North Road to the Liverpool Plains. At Newcastle he had boiling-down works and meat-preserving and tinning works, and in New Zealand he established a steam flour-mill near the wheat farms around Official Bay.

Petersons, a family company already synonymous with quality, award winning wines, has restored Palmerston in line with its original architecture, retaining a historic element but offering contemporary conveniences, like wireless broadband access, heated floors and plasma television to create a unique boutique style getaway.

With seven spacious suites in a fully restored historic home, the guesthouse will cater for couples looking for a romantic and relaxing weekend away, corporate guests passing through Armidale on business, or guests who are in Armidale for a special occasion.
The two acres of gardens surrounding the property are heritage-listed and create a gorgeous view from the drawing room. Walk through the gardens, and you’ll find yourself at Peterson’s cellar door, where you can sample cool climate wines any day of the week. On weekends, you can enjoy a bottle of wine with a cheese platter, or a barbecue lunch on Sundays.

Guest house manager Katrina George said the Guesthouse is designed to give guests the highest level of comfort in a relaxed, spacious and friendly environment.

“We think this Guesthouse is particularly unique to New England,” she said, “and we trust it will be a memorable experience for anyone who stays here.”

Location Details:

Petersons Guesthouse is at Dangarsleigh Road, Armidale about five minutes by car from the Armidale CBD.

Depending on the route you take, Armidale is around six hours from Sydney, five hours from Newcastle, three hours from Port Macquarie, around two and a half hours each from Coffs Harbour and Grafton, four hours from Lismore and four and half hours from Brisbane.

Phone Peterson’s Guesthouse on +61 2 (02) 6772 0422 or email:

Monday, September 11, 2006

New England Australia - Aviation

Photo. New England Airways Avro parked at Archerfield, Brisbane c 1933.

New England has had more than its fair share of pioneer aviators. Unfortunately, like so much of New England's history, this has become submerged in the mists of time.

When I started at TAS (The Armidale School), a former senior prefect Sir P G Taylor was one of the school hero's.

Taylor was involved with flying since at least 1916. Perhaps his most famous exploit came in 1935. The story that follows is drawn from Keith Isaacs' ADB entry on Taylor given in the previous link.

Taylor was Kingsford Smith's navigator in the Southern Cross for the King George V jubilee airmail flight (Australia-New Zealand). After flying for six hours, the heavily-laden aircraft had almost reached half-way when part of the centre engine's exhaust manifold broke off and severely damaged the starboard propeller. 'Smithy' closed down the vibrating starboard engine, applied full power to the other two, turned back to Australia and jettisoned the cargo. The oil pressure on the port engine began to fall alarmingly.

Climbing out of the fuselage, Taylor edged his way against the strong slipstream along the engine connecting strut and collected oil from the disabled starboard engine in the casing of a thermos flask. He then transferred it to the port engine. With assistance from the wireless operator, John Stannage, he carried out this procedure six times before the aircraft landed safely at Mascot some nine hours later. For his resourcefulness and courage, Taylor was awarded the Empire Gallantry Medal.

This episode was portrayed in Ken Hall's 1946 film, Smithy, a film I saw later in the TAS Assembly Hall where films were held every Saturday night for the boarders. I was one of a small number of day boys, but always used to go.

The first New England based airline that I have found was called, appropriately enough, New England Airways. It appears that there have in fact been three New England Airways at different points in New England's history.

Headquartered in Lismore, the first New England Airways (NEA) was formed in 1931 by George A Robinson with Sydney solicitor Arthur Allen as chair.

In August 1931 NEA began a bi-weekly Lismore-Archerfield (Brisbane) service, later extended to a Lismore-Mascot (Sydney) service, thus creating a Brisbane- Sydney service. The popularity of the service was such that NEA purchased a tri-motor Avro 10 and extended the service to a daily one.

Flying had real dangers in these early days of civil aviation. On 18 September 1932 an NEA Puss Moth flying from Sydney to Brisbane crashed near Byron Bay. Among those killed was the pioneer Australian aviator Leslie Holden.

The industry was also very unstable in financial terms, with companies emerging, closing or merging all the time. G A Robinson took advantage of this, acquiring other airline assets including those of Murray Valley Aviation as well as Australian National Airlines' (the airline founded by Kingsford Smith) Mascot hangar and workshop and one of its planes. With broadening horizons and national ambitions, New England Airways was renamed Airlines of Australia in 1935. Then, in 1942 the second ANA formed by the Holyman family in 1937 acquired Airlines of Australia, giving ANA a dominant position in Australian civil aviation.

As we shall see later, this first New England Airways established what was to be the dominant pattern in New England civil aviation, regional growth followed by broader expansion, acquisition, and ultimate disappearance.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

New England Australia - Stocktake Historical Posts 7 September 06

Even though this blog has only been going for a relatively short time, I am already up to 43 posts. I thought, therefore, that it might be helpful to you as well as me if provided regular consolidated updates on posts by particular topics.

This first update focuses on the history of New England. Most posts in fact contain some historical material. The following list focuses on the main historical posts. I did not realise until I prepared it just how far the discussion thread has taken me away from my opening historical theme.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

New England Australia - Preliminary thoughts on history of Theatre in New England

I have so far written two stories on this blog about playwrights with New England connections.

The first story followed the death of Alex Buzo and looked at his life from a personal perspective. The second story looked in part at the life of Bob Herbert.

In that story I said:

"Bob's story reminds me that there is still no history, or at least one that I am aware of, of theatre in New England. This is another significant gap in New England historiography, one that I will write about in another post to try to explain why I think it is important."

A little later I followed that post up with a story on Personal Reflections, my personal blog, celebrating the 75th birthday of Brian Barnes. Together with Harold Bennett, Brian founded the New England Theatre Centre, the first attempt that I am aware of to establish a fully professional theatre company in regional Australia.

Those who have read the story on Brian Barnes will see that I have now managed to upload one photograph, the cover of his 1968 performance of Under Milkwood in Bermuda. I had seen Brian do this earlier in Armidale.

The limited material I have seen on the history of theatre in Australia, I say limited because this is an area that I have yet to look at in any detail, has a Sydney/Melbourne focus. This is understandable simply because the relatively large population of those centres made them more attractive to performance and performers. However, it is not the end of the story.

We know that there was a thirst for entertainment, we also know that:

  • circuses toured New England regularly from at least the early 1870's
  • there were local theatricals (Harry Clay, for example, apparently began his theatre career with performances in the Singleton area) from fairly early times, but we do not know when or where they began, how they spread
  • individual companies of players such as Clay's toured regional NSW
  • there is a postive but still ill-defined relationship between the spread of schools and schooling and then later of tertiary institutions and the development of theatre in New England
  • there are also almost certainly yet to be defined linkages between broader social and economic trends and changes in theatre in New England.

Just as we have found with New England writers, I suspect that there is a fascinating story here waiting to be told.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

New England Poets Present - 5th Annual Poetry Festival Sydney

I see from the September e-Bulletin from Regional Arts NSW that at least three poets with New England connections - Anthony Lawrence, Yve Louis and Michael Sharkey - are taking part in Sydney activities associated with the 5th Australian Poetry Festival:Between. Good to see New England bringing some culture to Sydney.

Born at Tamworth on 27 April 1957, Anthony Lawrence (and here) has written poetry and fiction. He left school at the age of 16, becoming firstly a jackeroo, and then travelling for several years before returning to New South Wales to become a teacher and writer. Anthony's poems have appeared in many Australian and international literary magazines, including Meanjin, Overland, Poetry Australia, LiNQ. He has won numerous literary awards.

Anthony now lives in Tasmania and is claimed by that state as its own. However, his approach to writing - "I write about nature to define my life", he said in an interview - means that his New England experiences have been an important influence on his work.

Whereas Anthony moved from New England to Tasmania, Yve Louis (and here) is an example of a reverse transfer. Born in Darlinghurst (Sydney) on 10 February 1931 of Jewish and Lithuanian heritage, Yve Louis' first writing was for the ABC's Argonauts' Club.

This actually gives her two linkages with me. I was also born on 10 February if somewhat later and, like Yve, I listened to the Argonauts, glued to the radio from 5 to 6 every week day. Then, if conditions were right, I could switch stations to South Australia and listen to the last half hour all over again!

Few younger Australians would realise just how important the Argonauts were in providing a link to the broader world in areas like New England. The Club began as a national program in 1941. By 1950 there were over 50 000 Club members. It encouraged children's contributions of writing, music, poetry or art and was one of the ABC's most popular children's programs, running six days a week for 28 years, until it was broadcast only on Sundays and was finally discontinued in 1972, a victim of television.

Returning to Yve, she went to school at North Sydney Girls' High School, afterwards working in advertising while also studying by night at Sydney's Independent Theatre. She appeared there in several plays directed by Doris Fitton. Later she worked in radio, and also toured with the Elizabethan Theatre Co as Bubba in a production of Summer of the Seventeenth Doll.

I am not sure when Yve moved to Armidale. She then lived in the Adelaide Hills for five years during the early 'nineties where she became a regular reader at Friendly Street (and active committee member) and was an early participant of the working group, First Draft. With Jeff Guess, she co-edited Friendly Street 18. In 1995 her first collection of poems, Silver from Black, was published in Friendly Street New Poets: One.

Returning to Armidale, Yve edited five editions of the New England Review as well as an anthology, Skylines: New Writing from New England. In 2000 she co-founded Poetzinc, a monthly open reading which encourages local poets, and warmly welcomes all visiting poets. Recent collections by Yve Louis are Lilith's Mirror (1999), Kardoorair Press; and Voyagers (2002), Five Islands Press. Yve's first collection, Silver from Black, may be purchased on-line from the Wakefield Press website.

Michael Sharkey is the third New England poet presenting in Sydney. I have spoken of Michael before, so will not repeat the details.

I do not have full program details for the Festival - there have apparently been some problems with the web site, but understand that Yve and Michael will be reading at the 'Big School' at Sydney Grammar-next to the Museum in College Street-from 1pm till 1.45 on Saturday 9 September. At some point, Michael will also be launching a book by Melbourne poet Simon West.