Change the date

Malcolm Turnbull recently released a short video with his thoughts on Australia Day. In it he says …

“Australia Day is a day to come together and celebrate what unites us.”

A thought I wholeheartedly endorse. But he also says …

“I’m disappointed by those who want to change the date of Australia Day, seeking to take a day that unites Australia and Australians and turn it into one that would divide us”

… which is just nonsensical.

26 January marks a day when Europeans arrived on these shores to inhabit this land, and in doing so radically affected the indigenous peoples already occupying the continent. The newcomers of 1788 came with a mix of good, evil, and indifferent attitudes towards the native peoples. They also undeniably brought disease, death, dispossession, and decline to the indigenous peoples. And for this reason, 26 January can never be a date that unites all Australians.

Malcolm Turnbull is 100% wrong when he says that those who want to change the date are being divisive – it is those who want to maintain 26 January as Australia Day who are perpetuating division.

Let’s change the date, so that all Australians can celebrate Australia Day together.

Word of the Year

Macquarie Dictionary has chosen ‘milkshake duck’ as their word of the year for 2017. I find this choice a little odd, because before I read the announcement I had never heard or seen this phrase before. I’m guessing that’s because I’m not on FaceBook/Twitter/Instagram/etc, and that their ‘word of the year’ award is actually a ‘social media word of the year’ award.

So for the benefit of those of us who survive life without social media, I have instituted my very own word of the year award … and the winner for 2017 is …

metaphoric homonymous synonymity, n. Using two words that are spelled differently, but sound the same, and have different meanings, but can be used metaphorically to have the same meaning.

e.g. “Don Burke is a berk.”

Tudor St, Then and Now

While browsing the University of Newcastle’s collection of Ralph Snowball photos, I came across a picture of construction work, with the inscription of “Hamilton Park – 13.10.1911”. It wasn’t immediately clear from the photo what work was being done, but after some searching of Trove I established that it was the construction of sewer mains in the streets of Hamilton. A newspaper article from 3rd August 1911 reports

“Out at Hamilton West the main sewer is being put down at a depth of 16ft. The ground there is a sort of bluish clay, and although it has to be cut out like so much putty, it does not present anything like the same trouble that the sand at the eastern end of the municipality does. Here, as in Denison street, centrifugal pumps, electrically driven, deal with the water, and the current is supplied from the city council’s power-house.

There are 130 men at work in Hamilton East and 61 in Hamilton West. About half of these were coal-miners, and they are doing very well at the new class of work.”

Construction of sewer main, Tudor St Hamilton, 13th October 1911. Photo by Ralph Snowball. University of Newcastle, Cultural Collections.

Tudor St Hamilton. January 2018.

The approximate location of the 1911 photo can be established by taking note of the distinctive fa├žade of the building at 5 Belford St Hamilton. From this it would appear that the photo is taken in Tudor St, somewhere between Blackall St and Samdon St, looking towards the east.

The 1911 photo is inscribed with “Hamilton Park”, which was the name of a new subdivision of building allotments to the west of Hamilton Park, now Gregson Park.

Hamilton Park Estate sale poster. University of Newcastle, Cultural Collections.

Thin on thins

Shopping is not one of my favourite things, but after putting off a number of needed purchases for some time, today I spent more hours in shopping centres than I would normally endure. Here are some things I learnt.

  1. Size labels on clothing are meaningless. In the course of purchasing shirts I tried on many size L shirts, some of which were too small, some too big, and some the right size.
  2. A depressing number of retail outlets ask you to join their ‘loyalty’ programs so that they can track your purchases and send you junk e-mail.
  3. There are a number of perfumery outlets emanating such a stink that I wonder whether they ought to be reported to the EPA?
  4. Thin glasses cords are very thin in stock at the moment. There’s no problem acquiring a thick glasses cord (one that is visually distracting and reminiscent of rope for lashing down loads of freight) but it seems that the thin cords are in short supply. I had to visit 11 stores/chemists/optometrists before finally being able to purchase two thin glasses cord at Bupa Optical Kotara. It turns out they were the last two in their stock. So now there’s at least 12 places across Newcastle that doesn’t stock them.

Map month

The publication of my January 2018 article for the Lambton and New Lambton marks three years of writing the That was then, This is now column. When I started three years ago I thought I might have enough material for 6 months, but 36 months later there seems to be no end in sight of things to write about.

I’ve made myself a little bit of a tradition in having January as ‘map month’. This January’s article is on Lance Corporal Barrett’s valuable 1910 Map of the Country around Newcastle N.S.W.