Merry Christmas – The Year in Review

Xmas Greetings by the First All Australian Air Mail

Xmas Greetings by the First All Australian Air Mail

Xmas Greetings by the First All Australian Air Mail (verso)

Xmas Greetings by the First All Australian Air Mail (verso)

Day Shift – 16/12/2008 – 02:10 PM
Presenter: Carol Duncan
Producer: Beth McMullen
Interviewee: Gionni Di Gravio, Archivist, Newcastle University

Newcastle University Archivist Gionni Di Gravio brings in a Xmas souvenir of the first all Australian air mail that was meant to arrive at Christmas 1931, but due to misadventure didn’t get to Australia until January 1932 and discusses the achievements of the year 2008 in retrospect.

Broadcast Notes:

I’ve brought in the following item:

A5609 (iv) First day covers including:
Australian National Airways Limited : Xmas greetings by First All-Australian Air Mail, January 21st, 1932.
Souvenir postcard carried by Air Australia to New Zealand, November, 1933.

Here is a description from another one held in the Australian War Memorial (ours is signed only by Mr G. U. Allan):

“The first all Australian air mail from Australia to England left Melbourne on 20 November 1931 in the “Southern Sun, piloted by GU Allan. The plane crashed at Alor Star in Kedah. Charles Kingsford Smith flew to Kedah in the “Southern Star”, retrieved the mail and flew on to England, arriving on 16 December 1931.

The “Southern Star” left London on 7 January 1932, after some repairs due to an accident, carrying mail originally intended to be delivered by Christmas.

The envelope has the message “Xmas Greetings by First All-Australian Air Mail” and is post marked 21 December 1931. It is autographed by both GU Allan and Charles Kingsford Smith. It contained a note reading “Australian National Airways. This letter was carried by air from England to Australia in the SOUTHERN STAR, the first All Australian Mail Aeroplane to leave England. Piloted by Air Commodore CE Kingsford-Smith and Mr GU Allan. Left London 22 December 1931”

University’s Cultural Collections Achievements for 2008

1. Enquiries

Cultural Collections staff handled over 15500 enquiries this year.

2. Photographic Collections

Over 6,089 University photographs have been accessioned. (Thank you Sue and Cheryl)

Over 7,080 digital images have been scanned and uploaded on Flickr during 2008 bringing the total number of images in Flickr to over 8,000.( Thanks to Peter and Brenda )

These included: The Jim Lucey Collection – Maitland Floods 291 images; University of Newcastle – over 4,500 images; St John’s Morpeth – 131 images; Newcastle Teacher’s College – 262 images; Souvenir visit of the Great White Fleet – 40 images; BANZARE Antarctica Expedition 1931 – 56 images; Royal Newcastle Hospital – 41 images; The Great White Fleet Visits – over 100 images; Richmond Main Colliery – 36 images; Newcastle and the Hunter Region – 200 images; Berrima Concentration Camp – 49 images; World War I – 26 Images and Anglican Diocese’ Christ Church and Denman Parish registers – over 2000 images dating from 1826 – 1936. Transcriptions of six Christ Church registers have also been completed.

We have 42 contacts on Flickr including: Blue Mountains Local Studies; Gordon Institute of TAFE; Iowa State University Library Special Collections; Library of Congress; National Archives of Australia; Old Parliament House; Seattle Municipal Archives; State Records NSW; University of Delaware Library.

77 people have made one or more of our images their “favourites”.

There have been 168,817 views of our photos, sets and collections by 21,505 people since the site was set up.

We have 1,770 images in the Picture Australia group on Flickr of which 1,707 have been indexed by Picture Australia itself.

Foyer Displays

During 2008 Peter, Virginia and Lyn created 10 eye catching displays in the Cultural Collections foyer. Of these, seven were related to significant events, while the other three featured important collections including: First Fleet (Australia Day); Town and Gown (University Orientation Week); ANZAC Day (featuring 90th anniversary of the Battle of Villers Bretonneux); Polar Regions (1929-1931 BANZARE Voyage); Great White Fleet (August marked the centenary of the visit of the American Fleet to Australia as part of its voyage around the world). Ms Judith Fergin, the US Consul General, was most impressed with the display and wrote to us and the Vice-Chancellor commending the display. The French Collections (Bastille Day); The Morpeth Collection; Halloween; Found Treasures (our new book), and Christmas.

Cataloguing and Accessioning

We have catalogued approximately 1180 books from a variety of collections within Cultural Collections including the complete Libraries of Orpheus Island, Lambton Mechanics Institute Collection, and John Turner Collection and 95% of The Newcastle & Hunter District Historical Society. Thanks Virginia.

26 items from the Newcastle Dramatic Arts Club archives have also been added to NEWCAT – many of these were signed by prominent members of the dramatic arts profession.

And work has begun creating records for the Snowball negatives in NEWCAT – this involves a record for the online and physical versions – to date 23 negatives have been added.

336 University archival items including boxes of material were added to the University’s records management database TRIM CONTEXT. Thanks Gregg.

History Seminars

Cultural Collections hosted 10 History lectures/seminars during 2008. Highlights included Dr Troy Duncan’s Batty lecture; another on white male sexuality in late colonial Australia; Professor Edward James from Dublin gave us excellent advice in recognizing barbarians and Dr Michael Ondaatje black conservatism in modern America (very topical in light of Obama’s ascendancy).

Coal River Working Party

The CRWP was formed in 2003 as a University business and community partnership to actively research and promote Newcastle’s history.

With the farewell of the founder of the Coal River Working Party, Dr Erik Eklund, who left the University to accept a Professorship at Monash University late last year, the CRWP appointed Mr Gionni Di Gravio, Archivist as its new Chair.

CRWP 1. Membership and Administrative Support
We were very fortunate to secure representatives from the Awabakal Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation, Newcastle City Council and the Newcastle East Residents Group to join the CRWP. We were also able to secure an Administrative support person (2 days a month), Mrs Brenda Sullivan, and a meeting room in the library. Thanks to DVC (Academic) Professor McConkey and Mr Greg Anderson University Librarian who made this possible. Parking permits for our community members were kindly supplied by the Admin Team at Facilities Management.

CRWP 2. Barrallier Handover and Launch of Vera Deacon Regional History Fund
On the 1st February 2008 framed copies of the rediscovered complete 1801 survey of the Hunter Region by Ensign Barrallier were presented by Her Excellency Professor Marie Bashir AC CVO Governor of New South Wales to the community delegates of the Aboriginal, Stockton, University and Newcastle Council. Her Excellency also launched the Vera Deacon Regional History Fund. Thanks to the Kelver Hartley Bequest Committee and the Office of the DV C (Academic).

CRWP 3. Coal River Research Press Publications
In February we posted two surveying reports by the University’s Emeritus Professor John Fryer on our Coal River Working Party and Aboriginal Sourcebook sites. Both reports pinpoint important locations in the region’s history including the site of the Reverend Threlkeld’s mission house at Belmont and the location of Barrallier’s camp site during the early survey mission in 1801. This led to the establishment of a Coal River Research Press Publications design team involving Allan Morse’s Design Students (Honours) which developed design templates and mockups for future publications. An editorial committee has been formed led by Professor Fryer and he and Peter Sherlock (Director of Monteath & Powys) will seek corporate sponsorship in 2009. Thanks to Allan Morse and Tom Hislop (Honours Students Convenor)

CRWP 4. Back to the City – Breath of Life Art Installation
In January members of the CRWP took part in the collaborative Breath of Life Art Installation as part of Professor Steffen Lehmann’s Back to the City Event, to erect windmills on the historic Obelisk Hill site. The Breath of Life Installation went on to be one of two joint winners of the Back to the City Project awards. The Installation will feature in the soon to be launched ‘Back to the City: Strategies for Informal Urban Interventions’ Edited by Steffen Lehmann and published by Hatje Cantz Stuttgart/Berlin in 2009.

CRWP 5. Heritage Week 2008 – Interpretations Exhibition and Heritage Walks Launch
Heritage Week 2008 was officially launched on April 3 2008 at the John Paynter Gallery, the lockup Museum with the magnificent Interpretations exhibition that featured the works of 25 local artists that were inspired by Newcastle’s historic Coal River Precinct. They created an exciting display of paintings, prints, photography, sculpture, ceramics and mixed media. The Exhibition was launched by Chair of the CRWP who took the opportunity to launch the Coal River Heritage Precinct walking tours at the function. Thanks to Ann Hardy, Dr Erik Eklund, Antoinette Eklund and Brenda Sullivan.

CRWP 6. History Week 2008 – Newcastle on the Edge Open Air Exhibition
In September we created the stunning ‘Newcastle on the Edge ‐ Panoramic Visions of Newcastle on the Coquun Hunter River’ outdoor exhibition of seven (7) panoramas of Newcastle dating from the 1812 to the present. It was a collaborative event involving the University’s School of Humanities and Social Science, the Maritime Centre and the History Council of New South Wales. Thanks to Associate Professor Allan Chawner, Professor John Germov and the History Week Committee.
The Panoramas have been now incorporated into the Maritime Centre’s permanent displays as have been Coal River 2D Time displays from the CRWP’s Russell Rigby and Caribe Tawara (Final Year Surveying Student).

CRWP 7. Time Team Submission
A submission to the popular BBC Time Team show to investigate important archaeological sites in the Coal River Precinct was prepared by the CRWP and sent off on 21 August 2008, the 207th anniversary of Governor King’s announcement to Sir Joseph Banks of the fledgling Colony’s first return of 2 pounds 5 shillings from a cauldron of coal from Coal River. Thanks to Professor Fryer, Cynthia Hunter, Roz Kerr, Russell Rigby and Liz Farquhar news editor at ABC 1233.

CRWP 8. 1828 Mitchell Field Book and Dual Naming Application to GNB
In October /November Professor John Fryer submitted an application for dual naming for Nobbys/Whibayganba to the Geographical Names Board (GNB). The application was accompanied with a letter of support from the Aboriginal representatives on the CRWP, the Awabakal Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation. Professor Fryer is Emeritus Professor of Surveying and Photogrammetry at the University of Newcastle. This application was inspired by a recent rediscovery of an original 1828 survey book by surveyor Sir Thomas Mitchell that contains the first recorded mention of Nobbys’ Aboriginal name. The original manuscript has been digitised and is freely available to the Newcastle community on the Coal River Working Party’s blog:‐1828‐field‐book/ . At the November meeting of the CRWP Professor Fryer informed us that he had received acknowledgment thanking him for his application. The GNB will be in consultation with Newcastle City Council and the local Aboriginal Community, a process which we understand will take a number of years.

CRWP 9. National Nomination Coal River Heritage Precinct
Work has also proceeded on a revamped National Nomination for the Coal River Heritage Precinct that is synthesized with five key stories within the Newcastle City Council’s Coal River Heritage Precinct Interpretation plan (Pizzey Report). Thank you to Ann Hardy, Barbara Heaton, Dene Hawken and Doug Lithgow.

CRWP 10. Coal River Time Machine
A series of meetings and discussions have taken place in order to forward the proposal for a 3D Digital terrain model of early Newcastle. 2D presentation has been prepared by Russell Rigby and Caribe Tawara. Mr. Richard Allen and his advanced 3D modeling TAFE students are currently working on this goal utilizing early maps, plans and paintings supplied by the CRWP.

CRWP 11. Coal River Precinct Conservation and Cultural Tourism Management Plan
The CRWP actively assisted and supported the Newcastle City Council’s unanimously adopted Coal River Heritage Precinct Interpretation plan (also known as the Pizzey Plan). It involves the celebration of Newcastle’s historic Precinct with light cannon sculptures and oral sound garden. A feasibility study is currently under way by NCC’s Barbara Heaton.

CRWP 12. Community Inspirations
We have seen quite a renaissance in enthusiasm this year in the Coal River Working Party’s work. We have been invited to speak at the Australian Institute of Mine Surveyors (AIMS) Sydney Conference, Australian Society of Archivists Perth Conference, Reference, Access and Public Programs (RAPPSIG), Mine Subsidence Board, the John Turner Memorial Lecture, Newcastle Club, Enterprise Rotary Club (Mayfield), Association of Independent Retirees Merewether, and the Merewether Ladies Probus Club.

We have also created a Facebook Group and Twitter (thanks to Robert McLardy), posted news broadcasts and videos on You Tube, and continue to expand our online blog resources, and had many news high profile stories in the Newcastle Herald and local radio stations that have followed our progress during the year.

On the 10 November 2008 a select audience was treated to a splendid performance piece ‘Where the Coal Meets the Sea’. Created by David Witchard and his fellow Dram1020 colleagues ‘Where the Coal Meets the Sea’ was a University of Newcastle Drama 1020 production of a Historic Walking Tour (with a twist) around Newcastle’s historic Coal River Heritage Precinct located in Newcastle East. The team hopes to be able to again present the performance during the Heritage Festival in April next year. Thanks to their lecturers and mentors Dr David Watt and Dr Gillian Arrighi.

We have been also invited to participate in the Macquarie 2010 committee convened by Member for Newcastle the Hon. Jodie McKay, and have been actively working toward s an event for next year’s Heritage Festival (Our Place in Space Under the Southern Cross) in 2009 as well as assisting where we can with NCC’s Pride of Place Committee’s sesquicentenary celebrations.

A new symphonic piece is being prepared for Newcastle by the Conservatorium’s Colin Spiers. We also have an Awabakal musical piece entitled ‘Dreaming Endeavour’ by a post graduate student and Awabakal representative Dene Hawken which we hope can be performed as well during the sesquicentenary celebrations.

Notable Donations and Grants

– The Vera Deacon Regional History Fund Thanks to the generous support of Mrs Vera Deacon and her fellow donors we were able to complete the accessioning of the massive Mervyn Copley Collection which included over 348 boxes of his news clipping files and 86 boxes of his diaries and autobiographical writings. In addition a number of other collections that arrived through Merv Copley were also accessioned including those of the South Maitland Mines Rescue Station 1925-1984 (9 boxes), Hunter Regional Council for Social Development, 1973-1977 (30 boxes) and Chamber of Manufacturers of New South Wales, 1925-1983 (47 bound items). In addition the following papers were also accessioned: the papers of the late Ernest Hartup, a fisherman of Hexham, (1933-1998); the Federated Moulders’ (Metals) Union of Australia – Newcastle Branch (1928-1983) , Bob Power Papers including the famous Les Darcy files (1907-2003), Newcastle Workers Co-operative Club (1945-1997) The Parks & Playgrounds Movement (1958-2004), and the Cardiff Rail Workshop (Date Range: 1982-1993); John Turner Papers 48 boxes and over 1400 slides; Damaris Bairstow Slides; Professor Geoff Evans Public Broadcasting Files (16 boxes).

– The Norm Barney Photographic Collection including the Ralph Snowball Collection. Thank you to Mrs Daphne Barney, Mr Geoff Barney and Mr Bill Hillier.

– The Lucey Maitland Flood Photographs – Thank you to Mr David E. Sciffer

– The Papers of Alexander Galloway – Thank you to Mrs Pauline Black

– Archives in the Bush – State Records of New South Wales Thank you to the State Records of New South Wales Archives in the Bush funding are proud to have a conservator Amir Rezapour Moghadam working with us.

Amir Rezapour Moghadam is a qualified art conservator who has worked in the field since 2001 and gained experience over a variety of ancient and historic materials. He has worked a conservator at four world heritage sites, including the limestone façades of Persepolis and even more sites of national heritage in cooperation with international teams from Germany, France, United States, and Italy. He has worked for the Iran Cultural Heritage and Truism Organization, Research Centre for Conservation of Cultural Relics (Iran), Parse- Pasargadae Research Foundation, Persepolis Museum and library of Parliament.

We are very honoured to have Amir here in our Cultural Collections primarly working on our State Records and Norm Barney – Ralph Snowball Photographic Collections. Amir is reviewing our conservation and preservation strategies, constructing a conservation atelier, and conducting free seminars on preventive conservation to the wider campus and regional community.

Speaking Engagements (Gionni Di Gravio)

1 February 2008 Barrallier Plan Handover and Vera deacon Regional History Fund Launch

1 March 2008 36th Annual Convention of Hunter and Coastal Region Museums and Historical Societies
10 March 2008 Presentation to Theological Students in Cultural Collections

4 April 2008 Opening the Coal River Interpretations Exhibition, Lock Up Newcastle.
6 April 2008 Presenter on Coal River Precinct Tour
17 April 2008 Forum: Newcastle: Our Place, Past Present and Future presentation on “Creating a Novocastrian Renaissance.”

20 May 2008 Regional Repository Forum 2008 – “Managing Archival Challenges” Presentation Web 2.0 and Archives

6 August 2008 Karrie Room, Parmelia Hilton, Perth. Reference Access and Public Programs Special Interest Group Seminar “Looking to the Future” and 9 August 2009 Fremantle Room, Parmelia Hilton, Perth. Presented on Web 2.0 and community work with Archival collections and 3d virtual heritage initiatives through the Coal River Working Party.

19 August 2008 Frends Reading Room Auchmuty Library – Address to Hist 1010 students
19 August 2008 Phoenix Club (Wests) Mayfield – Newcastle Enterprise Rotary Club 6.15-8 pm

30 August 2008 Souths Leagues Club Merewether. RNH Graduate Nurses Inc. 2008 Annual Luncheon.

23 September 2008 The John Turner Lecture
30 September 2008 The Newcastle Club Tour of Cultural Collections

7 November 2008 The Association of Independent Retirees Group (Merewether)
24 November 2008 Address to the Merewether Ladies Probus Club
26 November 2008 Mine Subsidence Board’s Annual Christmas Function

We have had a blistering year in providing the University and wider community with a rich variety of state of the art digital resources from some of the region’s oldest and most treasured archival and rare book collections.

We have to thank our supporters, donors and benefactors who place their trust in our custodianship of their treasures for present and future generations of researchers.

Merry Christmas and a happy new year.

Gionni Di Gravio

One thought on “Merry Christmas – The Year in Review

  1. I have the Xmas Greeting by First All Australian Air Mail stamped 21 december 1931 London to Sydney signed by Charles Kingsford Smith and G U Allan Please contact me

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