July 31 - August 6, 2016: Issue 274

Moments In Time: A Book Of Australian Postcards

From page 53: Dee Why lifesavers on parade, 1929, chapter on The Beach

Moments in Time: A Book of Australian Postcards

On August 1st 2016 we will all have the opportunity to access a wonderful new book that focuses on Australian postcards and our own history portrayed through them.

Now growing in popularity among collectors, with societies such as the New South Wales Postcard Collectors Society (whose members share information on some of the many subjects postcards address), these colourful and rare pictures capture ‘Moments in Time’, allowing us to see and wonder about buildings, landscapes, people and events now long gone in places still familiar.

At the height of the postcard boom there were several deliveries of the post every day, central Sydney had three and was exhorted to match Melbourne’s four a day, you could send a postcard in the morning to arrange a meeting for that afternoon. As a penny stamp was applied to postcards mailing costs, they were an affordable and quick way of communicating making postcards the emails of their day.

Postal cards, a simple bank card for a posted message, with the address and an officially imprinted stamp on one side, first appeared in Austria in 1869. Post offices in the Australian colonies began using this method in 1875, with New South Wales leading the way. Cards with pictures on them had begun appearing in many places, including the Paris Exposition of 1889. An image of the Eiffel Tower was put on a postal card, proving so popular that masses of them sold; this effectively began the postcard age. 

Tasmania copied this example for its own 1894 Exhibition and although there had been decorative edges featured on the New South Wales postal cards, the Tasmanian one is deemed Australia’s first picture postcard. This was of a general view of Hobart and the exhibition building.

Official souvenir postcard of the Tasmanian International Exhibition 1894 to 1895 - PIC Album 1197/1 #PIC/15675/3 – page 10

Another early example is an advertising card published by the ‘Marine Hotel, Dangar Island’ in the Hawkesbury River – ‘for the Excursion Season 1892-93’ – page 8, Moments in Time.

This one, a lithograph produced by Gibbs, Shallard and Co., Sydney, tells of other progress in printing. Germany led the way here, where lithography had been invented as a black and white art technique. In the 1870’s ways to introduce colour were developed. 

This may also spark all those who cruise up the Hawkesbury from Pittwater to wonder about this ‘Marine Hotel’

By 1907 the development of autochrome meant high quality coloured photographic printing. German-printed postcards revolutionised what can be recorded in these miniature records. 

When George V and Queen Mary appeared in Dublin in 1911 a photograph postcard of the event appeared that afternoon.  The use of photographs allows as postcards us to delve into not only the photographers themselves in days when plates and unwieldy cameras were used, but also to see wonderful buildings and structures now gone: hotels, houses, wharves.

In the opening pages Mr. Davidson shares an anecdote of  staying on a farm as a youngster in Tasmania where, among other lovely objects, were postcard albums of exotic places. Among these a postcard of Epping in Tasmania with big red Tasmanian stamps on the back - it shows a view of the South Esk River, with yacht. 

‘Epping! It was little more than a dot on the map.’ Jim states.

Nevertheless, he was fortunate to see a record of a place as it was then, although Epping, Tasmania, is still fairly unspoilt today. This also tells you why people collected ‘photo albums’ of postcards of places they went to as souvenirs in the days prior to the advances in cameras. 

Arranged alphabetically the sections of The Postcards opens with Aboriginal People and a striking image on page 39 ‘S.O.S. Torpedo pumpkin, Lake Tyers’ showing a crying Aboriginal baby placed in a hollowed out pumpkin boat with a Union Jack at one end and an Australian flag at the other translates articulately, perhaps without meaning to, what was then and what is now. Anne Geddes would not publish that creation!

On one double-page spread, a postcard of soprano Nellie Melba on which Melba herself has scrawled a note about a particular singing method is next to postcards of the popular vaudeville group, The English Pierrots, and a touring gum leaf band. 

The sender of another postcard—a souvenir of Melbourne showing Parliament House and the Treasury (in the days before Canberra existed)—has wittily written 'otherwise known as the lunatic asylum'! 'No chop, no tucker' captures a common occurrence in past times in rural Australia, with two itinerant workers (or 'sundowners' as they were called because they would turn up at a station just on sundown) being directed by the farmer's wife to chop the wood if they wanted a feed.

Author Jim Davidson, whose passion for this medium shows through the wonderful insights he shares on each subject, takes readers on a historical and celebrational journey through an extraordinary range of postcards that provide fascinating insights to moments in time.

We asked Mr. Davidson to nominate three of his favourites from this current work

(a) A very early Perth card, from just before 1900, which shows the original sweep of the bay in front of the City of Perth, beautifully engraved in a number of colours, in Germany. Floral decorations, too; a real miniature. (p 16)

(b) A card, issued by a Melbourne department store, of a topographical model of the Gallipoli Peninsula. It is captioned 'Where Our Boys Are Fighting'. There is a poignancy about that; no-one much knew where it was. (p 119)    

(c) The card of beach amusements, at Bondi. Later - particularly at St Kilda, in Melbourne - huge entertainment strips were built on the seashore. This card shows their humble beginnings. The performers and the crowd almost look as small as for a Punch and Judy. (p 52)

Why does he think there has been such a renewed interest in postcards?

Interest has been building since the late 1970s, although a lot of people disparaged them because a lot of more recent postcards are of low quality. There was also a sense that they were obsolete - replaced by more recent, superior technology. But now they can be seen as a record of the past, and offer a tangible connection with it.

As well as having a life-long interest in postcards, Jim Davidson is a historian and biographer. His books include the multiple prize-winning lives biographies of the historian Keith Hancock (A Three-Cornered Life) and the musical patron Louise Hanson- Dyer (Lyrebird Rising). With Peter Spearritt he wrote Holiday Business, a history of tourism in Australia: for that book postcards served as a kind of data base. He is currently writing a double biography of the Melbourne literary editors Clem Christesen and Stephen Murray-Smith.

Moments in Time, release August 1st by publishers The National Library of Australia, will delight and inform young and old alike.

As Mr. Davidson states in the opening pages that preface this catalogue under ‘The Accessible Past’; - An appreciation of postcards as cultural artefacts underlies this present book. Of all genres, the postcard is the least elitist – in every sense, it was open to all. Calls to high patriotism can be found at either end of the spectrum, naive art and sentiment (and homemade cards) at the other….

Postcards can capture a moment and align unexpected thing. They have become Joycean: from that close focus on what is in front of them (especially when a sprightly message completes the time capsule) they open up an entire lost world. Few other single objects can make the past seem so accessible. – page 25.

Available online and at all great bookstores from Monday, we’re sure this book will inspire you to rediscover more about where we came from and how and why our predecessors thought as they did.

Moments in Time: A Book of Australian Postcards

Author:   Jim Davidson 

Publisher:   National Library of Australia

Edition:   1st Edition Pages:   208

Publication Date:   01 August 2016

Price $44.99

Available at http://publishing.nla.gov.au/book/moments-in-time-a-book-of-australian-postcards.do

In and About Dangar Island.
A welcome addition has just been, made to one of the many delightful holiday retreats, within easy distance of Sydney. A syndicate-fortified with ample capital, and cognisant of the opportunity that offered for a suitable club sufficiently removed from Sydney to provide pleasure and retirement for the yachtsman and amateur fisherman — has erected on Dangar Island (Hawkesbury River) club premises that fulfil to the measure all the comforts and conveniences of a first-class city club. 

Dangar Island, we may mention for the information of the reader who is not aware of its geographical position, lies in one of the most picturesque parts of the Hawkesbury River, near to the Hawkesbury railway bridge. One can approach it by rail as a first-class passenger for 2s 6d, being something under 1d a mile. By sea a suitable steam service is at the command of the visitor who may prefer the rugged scenery of the coast line to the stretch of tiny mountains, ravines, and clustering wild bush growths that the land trip affords. At Barranjoey Heads, where the Hawkesbury empties itself, new points of interest come and go with unceasing regularity. The beauties of Newport, Pittwater, Narrabeen, Church Point, Lion Island, and the many tiny bays inletting the foreshores are generously distributed by nature and can be taken advantage of by the tourist. Growing pictures of rural beauty are disclosed as the steam packet with its measured gaspings — resounding in muffled harmony through the towering - shore thicknesses — nears the point of destination. 

Arrived at the island's substantial wharf the Marine Club —for such is its name — gives evidence of inside comfort from the attractiveness of its outside dress. It is erected on an easy slope up some 100 yards from the water's edge, and enjoys an almost uninterrupted view of the best scenery thereabouts. The graceful proportions of the Hawkesbury Bridge, which spans the river for a mile or so, are seen to advantage, and the magnitude of the great work can be best understood and appreciated from that site. Surrounding the club premises a liberal enclosure of land has been cleared and put under cultivation. Couch grass, tree ferns, and a varied assortment of ornamental trees have been transplanted, and give evidence of the wholesome care bestowed on their nurture. Inside the club is fitted up like a modern hotel, and special attention has been given to the proper care necessary for ladies and children. A social hall, which is reached through a conservatory festooned with verdant creepers, can be used for parties, balls, or banquets, and is well supplied with side rooms for card parties. 

The club has its steamer and rowing and sailing boats, which are all at the disposal of the guests. The island is well provided with material for the 'crank' who enjoys mountain-climbing, and can boast an oyster-bed of rare wealth. At the invitation of Mr. Oscar Schulze, the promoter of the club, a representative of the Evening News journeyed by rail to Hawkesbury Station on Saturday, and was conveyed thence by boat to the island, where he remained the guest of Mr. and Mrs. Busch — the active managers — until Sunday evening. The staff of waiters and waitresses is ample and effective, and the culinary department, which is managed by Fran Schmidt, resists captious criticism. A water service is laid over the club and immediate grounds, and the sanitary appointments are similar to those in use in the city. Dangar Island should be popular during this and indeed all seasons. In and Abort Dangar Island. (1891, November 18). Evening News (Sydney, NSW : 1869 - 1931), , p. 3. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article111996840 

Sydney-Newcastle Railway.
(See illustrations on pages 26 and 27.)
When the first settlers established themselves on the Hawkesbury River in 1794, they little thought that the time would come when the river would be connected with Sydney at two points by railway. In 1796 Governor Hunter paid the first vice-regal visit to the district, and ordered a road to be cut through the bush from Richmond to Parramatta. Later on the late Mr. Peate constructed a road from Peats Ferry to Hornsby, across a wild and mountainous country by means of prison labor. The road is still to be seen, and is generally in good condition. It shows evidence of considerable engineering skill and perseverance and it was no doubt very useful as a guide to the surveyors who marked out the railway line from Sydney to Newcastle.
is noted for the loveliness of its scenery. The character of the country is somewhat similar to that round Port Jackson, but bolder and more picturesque and the beauty of the scenery has not yet been marred by rotten tumble-down wharves, staring factory looking buildings (like those on Garden Island), gas-works, and other structures which will not harmonise with green hills and valleys, and are not satisfactory substitutes for tall gum trees and flowering shrubs. Although the Upper Hawkesbury has been settled since the end of the last century, the lower parts of the river are still very much as they were when the first families landed in Australia. Here and there patches of ground have been won from the original earth and the gum trees have given place to orange and other fruit trees. But these, so far from detracting from the beauty of the scenery, lend it variety. Even the monster bridge, the last span of which was floated into position on March 1, blends while it contrasts with the pervading dark green of the trees and scrub and the soft glistening of the water.
the point at which the railway crosses the river, is a new settlement some three miles farther down the river than Peate's Ferry, where the old northern road crossed and the township owes its origin entirely to the railway works. It is reached by a line over about as rough a piece of country as any yet crossed by railway in Australia. From Sydney to Hornsby the line rises gradually. From Hornsby to Berowra it is nearly level. But in the seven miles between Berowra and the flat on which Brooklyn stands, there is a drop of no less than 669ft. Between Ryde and Hornsby there are numbers of places in which the tall, straight gums have been replaced by orange, lemon, peach, and other fruit trees. But the rest of the way is over or through steep ridges, with huge blocks of sandstone cropping out and between these are various sorts of eucalyptus, and acres upon acres of goobunga and five corners-in fact, a regular paradise for the youngsters. On this portion of the line are
which, when seen from a distance, and compared with the 500ft pr 600ft of mountain rising above them, look like ratholes in a wall; and yet they are constructed for a. double line of rails, although at present only one is laid down. Four of the tunnels are straight (figures 3 and 8). But the one nearest Brooklyn has a gentle curve (figure 9), Between these tunnels are huge cuttings. In some places the mountain has been cut away for some hundreds of feet on one side to make a ledge on which the rails might be laid; while on the other side some beautiful vistas open out to view. It is from one of those breaks in the mountain that the first glimpse of the railway bridge is obtained (figure 5); which from the "big sweep" through the last cutting on the way down to the river a fine view of the embankment which connects Long Island with the main land is obtained (figure 6). At the foot of the range close to the water's edge is the Brooklyn station (figure 2) ; and just beyond is the mole or embankment running out to Long Island, a high rocky ridge rising abruptly from the water, and about two miles long. On the side of the embankment, near the station, a deep score is pointed out as the place where the engine fell over in
on Jubilee Day, May 24, 1887. Farther on is another score, where the engine was dragged up again. The township of Brooklyn is neither picturesque nor beautiful. The store is a slab hut, whose principal decoration consists in enameled plates, setting forth that the TOWN AND COUNTRY JOURNAL is the “most popular paper in Australia " (figure 4). Immediately behind is a shop where "choice fruits, tea, coffee, and cool summer drinks " are said to be obtainable. The most connected part of the township, perhaps, is " Bridge-street " (figuro 13). But the moat imposing buildings are the Brooklyn Hotel (a two-storeyed weatherboard building, kept by Mr. Joshua Everingham), the residence of Mr. Lovett (the station-master), and a few other well-built cottages. At the end of the mole or embankment, on a little platform scooped out of the rocks of Long Island, is the wharf from which the General Gordon, steam wheel steamer, conveys passengers across the river to the landing place at Mullet Creek ; and close at hand is the siding from which goods trucks are run on to the heavy punt, to be carried across the river (figure 10).
made to hold nine trucks, is towed backward and forward by a small steamer seemingly out of all proportion to the monster it has to move and yet it does its work satisfactorily though rather slowly. Above the temporary siding to the wharf is the permanent line. Long Island rises abruptly from the water and, consequently, the only portion of the line outside the tunnel which can be said to be on the island is that which is placed on the little plateau formed by the cutting to open the tunnel. The embankment run out from the main land to Long Island therefore ends close to the mouth of the tunnel through the island (figure 12) ; and immediately on emerging at the other end there is another small plateau caused by the cutting ; and then comes
(figure 1). The bridge is formed entirely of iron; the main portions or beams being of great thickness. Yet the whole has a light appearance, and at a distance looks like a broad line of delicate tracery against the dark green of the trees, or the blue of the sky. The bridge consists of seven spans of 416ft each. It is supported by six oblong piers in the river, and massive buttresses at either end. The greater part of the bridge was made in Glasgow, and sent out ready for putting together. But in so large a job there was much to be done after the material was landed in the colony. The contractors were the Union Bridge Company of New York, and the price £367,000. Messrs. Hylands and Morse, of Chicago (U.S.A;), were the sub-contractors for the erection of the iron work and during the two years it has taken them to finish their work no accident has happened, and no lives have been lost. The work of putting the spans together was performed on Dangar Island, which is situated a little below Long Island. Here' workshops were put up, as well as house accommodation for the contractors, the engineer for the Union Bridge Company (Mr. Birge), the engineer for the contractors (Mr. Schulze), and the workmen. A recreation hall and a school were also provided. 
The spans wore put together on as enormous punt-specially constructed for the purpose, which was moored off Dangar Island. It is 365ft long, 61ft wide, 10ft deep, and capable of bearing 7000 tons. It is said to be the largest in the world. On the deck of the punt is trestling to the height of 35ft; and on this the ironwork was riveted or pinned together. 
"When the span was complete, the punt, with its unwieldy burden was towed into place at high tide, and the span placed in position on the piers. With the sixth span some difficulty was experienced, in consequence of the heavy wind, which turned the punt completely round, and gave the workmen some trouble to get her in position again. This involved too much risk, as the loss of a span would mean the loss of nearly £60,000 worth of labor and material ; and, therefore,
in position was postponed from Thursday to Friday of last week for calm weather. Although every care', was taken the placing of the seventh span in position was not accomplished without trouble.' The huge Manilla rope which was used for towing the punt, and which was fixed round the pier toward which the punt was to be drawn, broke ; and the punt swung round. It appeared for a time that the only thing to be done was to tow the punt back, and wait for another tide. But the energy of the contractors was equal to the emergency. The tackle was changed in a very short time, and the punt towed to its place; though only difference being that the span had been turned round. But, as the two ends were exactly alike, this was of no consequenco. The span was placed in position amid the cheering of the workmen, the whistling of the steam engines, and the hearty congratulations of all present. The view up the river
near the bridge (figure 7), is a charming one. Numbers of islands diversify the scenery, while the long stretches of water, closed in by the dark foliage of the trees, have a charming effect. The hills appear also to stand back from the water so that there are some stretches of low land which might be turned to account. Opposite the wharf at Dangar Island, and near the main land, are the
for the supply of the workmen. They are fed from a spring which rises among the rocks, and from which pipes are laid to the banks placed out in the stream. One of the identities of Brooklyn and its neighbor-hood is the vegetable-man who plies his trade from a boat instead of from a cart, as in other towns (figure 14). He has his eye to business, as was shown by his remark to a young man who offered him 6d for a melon for which ho was asking 9d, "What ud I see in you that I'd lose my money by yer, I'd like to know?" he exclaimed. "What did yer leave Sydney, for if yer want to bargain? To'd get plenty of it there widout coming all this way." Sydney-Newcastle Railway. (1889, March 9). Australian Town and Country Journal (Sydney, NSW : 1870 - 1907), , p. 44. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article71116064 

1. General View of the Bridge, with "the last span in position.
2. Brooklyn Station, scene of the Railway Accident on Jubilee Day. ; 3. A Tunnel on the'line. 4. Brooklyn Store, office of
9. No. 6, or the Curved Tunnel. 10. Conveying Railway Trucks across the River. 11. Fresh Water Tanks opposite}
The TOWN AND COUNTRY JOURNAL 5. Glimpse of the Bridge from the Mountains. 6. The Big Sweep. 7. View up the River from Long Island. Dangar Island. 12. The Tunnel through Long" Island. 13. Bridge St. Brooklyn. 14. The Water Vegetable-man. 8. A couple of Tunnels on the line. THE SYDNEY TO NEWCASTLE RAILWAY—THE GREAT BRIDGE OVER THE HAWKESBURY RIVER. (1889, March 9).Australian Town and Country Journal (Sydney, NSW : 1870 - 1907), , p. 26. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article71116161 
Long Island and Dangar Island, Hawkesbury River, circa 1900-1910, image no.: a116432, courtesy State lIbrary of NSW