Posts Tagged ‘history’

A Sydney reader – 10 classics to read before you visit

August 28, 2011

Thinking of Sydney? I’m off there soon and it got me wondering how my my view of that city has been shaped by its literature.  So here are 10 books selected from my own reading that will get you in the mood for a visit!

The fatal shore

The timeless land

No barrierStorm of time

The secret river

Seven little Australians

Playing Beatie Bow

  • Playing Beatie Bow / Ruth Park – children’s time travel adventure about love and family and growing up.  Read this before you visit The Rocks as most of the places in the book are still there…

Ride on stranger

  • Ride on stranger / Kylie Tennant – an early 20th century journey through a Sydney of con men and communists, radio and religion and the road to independence.  Sharp and funny.

The harp in the south

Women in black

I came to 5 of these from film or TV tie-ins – Seven little Australians, The timeless land trilogy and Playing Beattie Bow – with a very young Peter Phelps as Judah.  All my editions of these ones are tie-in editions with stills on the covers – adaptations do lead you back to the source material!


Oranges and Sunshine – Charity and Ghosts

June 17, 2011

Empty Cradles / Margaret HumphreysAround about 1994 I was browsing in New Edition bookshop in Fremantle and picked up a copy of Margaret Humphreys‘ book Empty Cradles.  I glanced at the beginning, began reading and was hooked.  I bought the book, took it home and read it straight through.  Now that compelling, horrifying, compasionate book has made it to the screen as the equally compelling, horrifying, compassionate film Oranges and Sunshine.

This is the story of the foundation of the Child Migrants Trust.  Of how, in 1986, Nottingham Social worker Margaret Humphreys’ work with adoptees led her to two women who’s lives had been devastated by forced child migration.  At first skeptical that Britain could’ve sent children across the world without parents or foster families, Margaret (Emily Watson), with the support of her husband Merv (Richard Dillane) works to find the women’s families.  To help them she visits Australia and makes the discovery that child migration affected more than just a handful of  children.  Her work snowballs as more and more “orphans” (as they were called, though many had parents living) come forward for assistance.  David Wenham and Hugo Weaving play Len and Jack, two of these damaged men, men who were promised the “Oranges and Sunshine” of the title, but for whom the reality was hardship and abuse.  Margaret and Merv’s lives are taken over  by the the quest to find the now grown children’s families before it is too late.Oranges and Sunshine

Directed by Jim Loach (son of Ken Loach) Oranges and Sunshine is a brilliant recreation of the mood of the book, the acting is understated, with Watson, Wenham and Weaving conveying worlds of emotion in the tiniest gesture.  My only quibble is that as a West Australian I had some trouble accepting Adelaide and South Australia as stand-ins for Perth and Western Australia (I had the same problem with Shine) but it’s not a criticism of this brilliant and moving film.

Margaret’s work for Child Migrants was recognised in Australia in 1993 when she was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia, and in Britain this year (2011) when she received a CBE.  The West Australian Government apologised to Child Migrants for their treatment in 1998, the Australian Government in 2009, and the British Government in 2010.

Go and see Oranges and Sunshine – no Australian or Briton should miss it.

I’ll leave you with another moving tribute to Child Migrants, Charity and Ghosts by the Stillsons.

Global, Local, Personal, computers, the internet and me!

June 3, 2011

Some of you might have seen this video on the growth, not just of the internet, but of the personal connections it fosters, and the undeniable massive changes that this is bringing…

It made me think of my personal journey in the digital world and I thought I’d try a timeline to see how my digital connections have grown…(this isn’t a comprehensive list, rather a compilation of milestones!)

A First Course in Data Processing 1977

A First Course in Data Processing 1977

  • 1974-78 a printer terminal connected our high school to the education department computer, I thought it was called MINIWAFT but it turns out that was the programming lanugage….
  • 1979 studied Systems Analysis 151 as part of my Library Studies degree at WAIT (now Curtin University), using A first course in data processing.   I remember having to submit batches of punched cards to the computing department and wait about a week before picking up the printout.  Hopefully it would be thickish as a thin printout usually meant the programme had failed at the first line!
Thermal paper terminal with acoustic coupler 1980s

Thermal paper terminal with acoustic coupler 1980s

  • Early 80s Worked in a corporate library, we used to search on Dialog using dial up, using a portable terminal with thermal papers and acoustic couplers! The library catalog was automated but accessed from dumb terminals connected to mini or micro computers.

    Computing at work 1985

    Computing at work 1985

  • By the time I changed jobs in 1990 we’d moved on to networked PCs (386 machines anyone?) In January 1993 my new employer sent me to the Information Online and Ondisc conference in Sydney where I remember being very impressed by the latest thing – GUIs (graphical user interfaces) which freed us from navigating by menu and saw the advent of the mouse!
  • The 90s progressed and the internet really fired up – I find I have certificates for training in: Introduction to AARNET utilities (1 November 1993) – AARNET was the first real ISP in Australia, anyone else remember using gopher to search?; Introduction to the internet (June 1995); and Navigating the internet (July 1995).  Those were the days of Mosaic and Netscape browsers and of Webcrawler (with it’s spider logo), Lycos and then the Altavista search engines.  We began to use the web to search Dialog and STN databases.
  • By 97 I’d moved on to part-time work and further study and it was time for a computer at home!  If I remember rightly it cost me a couple of thousand dollars and I signed up with a local ISP NetTrek, which was swallowed up by iinet in late 1999.
  • In 2000 I took a unit in digital art as part of a Fine Art Degree at Curtin and I had my first experiences of setting up webpages and html coding, alas I think that that work is long lost… I’m not sure when I first set up my own website in the iinet members zone but it was running by 2002 and was overhauled  once or twice taking its current form in about 2006…  My use of the web was strong, but, with the exception of my webpage, was as a consumer,  both for myself and as an intermediary for library clients, not a participant.  The biggest change was joining the crowd and becoming a user of Google!
  • In the last decade the personal and professional use of the web and the development of web 2.0 have grown exponentially.  Again, attending Information Online 2007 helped me focus on the changes that social media would bring to my worlds.  I think I’ll mark my milestones in social media adopted and used or abandoned!
  • 2001, now Friends Reunited – not really used, but check occasionally for school reunion purposes
  • 2005 Flickr– this is the granddaddy of my social media spaces, I signed up when I bought my first digital camera.  I use it to back up, organise and share all my photos and I now have nearly 12,000 items in my photostream, most are public, but I have not yet embraced creative commons and retain copyright on them, something I’ll be rethinking.
  • 2007 MySpace – I briefly blogged on MySpace, but abandoned that blog when I started using WordPress, I still have a MySpace account but very rarely use it – occasionally I check on musos, which seems to be MySpace’s strength, I’ve just logged back in and its all changed!
  • 2007 Second Life – had a go after attending the Information Online conference in 2007 but really couldn’t get into it.  It’s one step too far removed from real life, I use my virtual world as an adjunct to rather than an alternative to my real life… So, yes I have an account but I can’t remember when I last visited!
  • 2007 YouTube – slower adoption here, as I use Flickr for unedited video but I now back up my edited videos to YouTube, though as they are mostly family, most of them are private.  This year I’ve been experimenting with using Xtranormal and YouTube, and since I bought the iPhone and the cable that plays videos from it from YouTube through my TV , I’ve been favouriting and making playlists!
  • 2007 facebook – what can I say, I resisted, then dipped my toe in the water and now I’m an addict!  I’ve connected with people I’ve lost contact with, I keep up with friends and causes, I love it… I keep my privacy settings high, am more personal in what I say, but also run the “postcard test” on my posts (i.e. would I write it on a postcard?), I’m also an admin for work’s account.
  • 2008 LibraryThing – I’m adding books as I buy or read them, this year I’ve linked my reviews to automatically post on facebook
  • 2009 WordPress – intermittent blogging, and this is where I started to think in terms of linking between my website and Web 2.0 identities.  Now I automatically publish my posts to facebook and Twitter.  My most popular post is on using the iPhone as a barcode reader in the library.  I also blog for my library…
  • 2009 I bought my beloved iPhone! Now I could start accessing all my social media on the go!  I’ve become an adept and an addict! Got a wireless router for home use…
  • 2010 Delicious – my own social bookmarking account, getting more use now I have added a widget to my browser bar!
  • 2011 Twitter – this is more for sharing information and links, I have low privacy settings on Twitter so try to keep the personal to a minimum
  • 2011 LinkedIn – OK, I’ve just joined this one, so I’m not quite sure how I’ll be using it!
  • 2011 I’ve been an keen onlooker at LibraryHack but am painfully aware I need more practice and skills! I’m dipping my toes in with cross platform applications and cloud computing, using Dropbox and Evernote to sync my devices.  I love the EBSCOHost smart phone app!  I’ve got 4 eBook readers on my iPhone, and I’m eyeing an iPad! (We’re using them at work).
Where to from here?
The journey continues, the personal and professional are melding in ways they never used to, change is the only certainty, and the future is going to be a wild ride!  One thing I know, I’m a librarian because I like knowing things and knowing how to find them and the skills of finding, organising, and facilitating access to information are going to be in demand in the future, but what that future will look like I don’t know!

plus ça change – the saga of the Fremantle Station Facade!

June 2, 2011
Restored facade Fremantle Station 2005

Restored facade Fremantle Station 2005

Last week I came across this gem from the Fremantle Society Newsletter, March-April 1974 under the heading What’s been happening:


The Society has written to the Minister for Railways to have the Fremantle Railway Station restored.  The major part of the facade is Donnybrook Stone but unfortunately has been painted.  This should be stripped and the whole building restored particularly now that it has been given the National Trust’s major classification.

These things can’t be hurried, restoration of the main entrance was completed 21 years later in 2005 and the 2nd stage of restoration of the remaining front and side facades is underway right now in 2011!

Fremantle Station under wraps 2011

Fremantle Station under wraps 2011

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