UON Memories



If you studied at the University of Newcastle (Australia), Newcastle Teachers’ College, or Newcastle CAE/HIHE,  you may enjoy a trip down memory lane by browsing through some of the diverse selection of serials published by student societies or by the institutions themselves.  These include:

All of these serials are held in the University Archives.

Some wonderful volunteers in the Cultural Collections team have digitised them and we have finally brought them together in Living Histories @ UON. You can browse through them at https://livinghistories.newcastle.edu.au/nodes/view/79874 or search for a name at https://livinghistories.newcastle.edu.au/nodes/index

If you have some recollections you would like to share with the world, we have some instructions.

East Maitland Church register digitised

Page from Register

One of the most popular registers in the Anglican Diocese of Newcastle’s Archives is the East Maitland baptisms (1829-1859), marriages (1828-1897) and burials (1829-1854) register which was recently digitised by Damien Linnane, one of our wonderful volunteers.

Damien and two of our other amazing volunteers, Emily Hampton and Ethan Simpson, have started digitising  registers from the Diocese. This is a VERY large collection and it will take a long time to get through them as we only have one book scanner, but you can see any that have been done from the lists at https://libguides.newcastle.edu.au/anglican/parishregisters

If the text of a date is dark blue and bold the register has been digitised and is available from Living Histories @ UON.

If you would care to assist us by transcribing a register, or even part of a register, please email archives@newcastle.edu.au


When was your subdivision sold?

Bingles Hill Estate, Tighes Hill

We have just transferred the wonderful Northumberland and Permanent Building Investment Land and Loan Society collection of land subdivision plans from our Flickr site to the Living Histories site. As we did so, we added some details, corrected information and generally fixed up the records.

We invite you to help us to make more improvements:

Any help you can give us is much appreciated!



Relive your Uni days!


Opus – 1965


We have just scanned and uploaded copies of the Newcastle University Students’ Association’s magazine, Opus held in the Archives in Cultural Collections. The project team members were Davina Pellatt, Sue Paton, Angus Glasper and Lyn Keily.

There may be some gaps in the collection, so if you have a copy of one of the magazines not represented in Living Histories @ UON, we would be delighted if you would bring it in and allow us to scan and upload it.

Does a story from your student days trigger some memories? Why not share them with us by adding a recollection to Living Histories? See http://livinghistories.newcastle.edu.au/nodes/view/67980 for instructions.

We have also scanned and uploaded the Newcastle University College Students’ Association’s editions of Opus (1954-1964).


Memories of NUC

Opus front page

Were you a student at Newcastle University College between 1954 and 1964 (inc)? If so, you may like to read the Newcastle University College Students’ Association’s newspaper of the time – Opus. These were scanned by Davina Pellatt.

Read and/or download them from our Living Histories @ UON site.

We welcome your recollections of your time at NUC. There are some instructions for adding a recollection at http://livinghistories.newcastle.edu.au/nodes/view/67980

Uncovering Australia’s climate history since European settlement

Uncovering Australia’s climate history since European settlement
Free Seminar: 22 March 2017 @1PM
Cultural Collections (Auchmuty Library)

Sample page from Belfield's 1877 Meteorological Observing Book

Sample page from Belfield’s 1877 Meteorological Observing Book



The DOI for the transcribed Eversleigh dataset is :http://dx.doi.org/10.25817/5b46a2a483841.

Belfield, Algernon (2018) Meteorological observations for Eversleigh Station, near Armidale, New South Wales, Australia 1877-1922 (transcribed). The University of Newcastle. Collection.dx.doi.org/10.25817/5b46a2a483841.

Dr Linden Ashcroft
Senior Researcher

Centre for Climate Change (C3), Universitat Rovira i Virgili (URV)
Avinguda de Remolins, 13–15, 43500, Tortosa, Spain

Together with the Launch of the scientifically digitised Eversleigh Climate Data

22 March 2017 @ 1PM
Cultural Collections, Level 2 Auchmuty Library
FREE Admission

Dr Linden Ashcroft – Abstract (PDF)


The climate of Australia is notoriously variable: we truly live in a country of droughts and flooding rains. Historical records offer an insight into past climatic events, helping us determine what is natural variability, and what is human-induced climate change.

In this presentation I will focus on the rescue of instrumental weather observations for southeastern Australia from 1788 to 1860. These “old numbers” can support documentary accounts of past weather and climate, and help to calibrate natural indicators of past change, such as tree rings and ice cores.

I will introduce some of our most dedicated 19th century weather observers, including publicans, governors, painters and doctors. Records taken by these men are the earliest numerical information we have on the temperature and rainfall in Australia’s most highly populated region. A good example is Algernon Belfield, a landowner from Eversleigh, near Armidale, NSW (data record 1877 to 1922).

Using their data along with supporting documentary evidence, I will then look into some of the more interesting climate events that occurred during the first 72 years of colonial settlement in Australia.

 ashcroft-jan2016Dr Linden Ashcroft Bio
Linden is a climate researcher who completed her PhD at the University of Melbourne’s School of Earth Sciences in early 2014. Her research focuses on the rescue and analysis of historical weather observations in Australia and Europe, to improve our understanding of past, present and future climate. She is also a qualified science communicator, and have shared her passion for “old weather” through channels including BBC World Radio, The Conversation and the Sydney Morning Herald. Linden is currently completing a post-doctoral position at the Centre for Climate Change Universitat Rovira i Virgili in southern Catalonia, Spain.

For publications and more information, visit lindenashcroft.com or get in touch on Twitter @lindenashcroft.


Conference Poster – The Eversleigh Historical Meteorological Data Set Part 1: Algernon Henry Belfield and his Measurements, 1877-1922. (Click image for larger size)

The Eversleigh Historical Meteorological Data Set Part 2: Data Transformation and Quality Assessment (Howard Bridgman et al) PDF Version


The Eversleigh Historical Meteorological Data Set Part 3: Climate variability in New England, 1882-1922. (Click image for a larger view)


The Trials and Tribulations of Data Digitisation by Linden Ashcroft (Click image for a larger view)



This FREE PUBLIC SEMINAR will also mark the LAUNCH of the scientifically digitised Eversleigh Data Set, recorded by Algernon Henry Belfield between 1877-1922, and meticulously transcribed by crowd sourced volunteers from around the world, between April and May 2016.

The volunteers answered the call from the Algernon Wants You poster that was published on the 11 March 2016, calling for help in transferring, what was arguably, the best and most complete set of weather measurements for the time period on the New England Plateau, into digital spreadsheets.

On the 14 April 2016 the Conversation Article was published http://theconversation.com/19th-century-weather-data-is-helping-climate-scientists-predict-the-future-57342  , and within 24 hours three volunteers had enlisted from three Australian states. That soon grew to twenty seven volunteers, including two internationals, who enlisted to transcribe the data sets.

By the 24 May 2016, all the Eversleigh data had now been input into excel spreadsheets, and we sincerely thank the twenty-seven volunteers who assisted.

The data was then placed in the hands of Dr Linden Ashcroft, whose experience and skills are very important as we change the units to metric, combine that data into a full set, and  begin analysis. The preliminary results of this analysis will be presented.



Containing the three .csv files for the Eversleigh Original Daily Data 1882-1922, Eversleigh Converted Daily Data 1882-1922, and the monthly means/totals calculated from the converted daily data. Only months with less than 15% missing data have had monthly means calculated.

Eversleigh Original Daily Data 1882-1922
Eversleigh Converted Daily Data 1882-1922
Eversleigh Converted Data Monthly Means


Conjoint Associate Professor Howard Bridgman
President Asian Aerosol Research Assembly
Fellow, Clean Air Society of Australia and New Zealand
School of Environmental and Life Sciences
University of Newcastle


New Life for Weather Diaries (Armidale Express)

Richard Thurnwald and Thomas James Rodoni in the Upper Sepik 1914

New Guinea Tribesmen circa 1914 - 1915

Telefolmin men from the highland valley near the source of the Sepik River, Papua New Guinea, September 1914. Image by Dr Richard Thurnwald

A small number of an historic hoard of rare images taken in German New Guinea at the outbreak of WW1 are now understood to have been looted, by an Australian military expedition, from German ethnologist Dr Richard Thurnwald.

And so, another intesting chapter in the life and times of Thomas James Rodoni (1882-1956) and his fellow troops in the Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force (AN&MEF) has now emerged thanks to Dr Barry Craig, Senior Curator, Foreign Ethnology at the South Australian Museum.

Following the launch of Rodoni’s digitised photographic glass and film negatives in the freely accessible Rodoni Archive, Dr Craig commented on the site’s pages in May/June 2015 that he had recognised that a number of Rodoni’s images had not been taken by him, but, in fact taken by a German ethnographer Richard Thurnwald possibly in Sept-Oct 1914.  He stated:

“Thurnwald had returned from his exploration to the source of the Sepik, apparently leaving his photographs at his base camp, and set off up the Sepik again in November to explore the Sand and North Rivers (the latter as far north as the Bewani Range). While he was away, the AN&MEF arrived (with Rodoni) on the Nusa and took all of Thurnwald’s boats, his engineer Theodore Fiebig, and supplies, collections, notes and images back down the river, eventually to Madang. When Thurnwald returned to find his camp ransacked, he went down river in a paddle canoe, sustained by a few cans of beans, and reported to the police station at Angoram, and then went on to Madang where he was befriended by Captain Walter Balfour Ogilvy, the District Officer there. Thurnwald then attempted to get all his things back but it took many years and not everything was returned. It seems these images in possession of Rodoni were part of the looting.” – Dr Barry Craig Wednesday, 20 May, 2015 at 10:57 am

Dr Craig published The Fate of Thurnwald’s Sepik Ethnographic Collections, and it was interesting to finally be able to locate a small portion of the collection, after a hundred years, that had been lying in a suburban garage and lost to the world.

We invited Dr Craig to prepare an article on this story, in order that these images could have their original provenance properly reassigned, which he did, with the assistance of Dr Christine Winter.

We thank both Dr Barry Craig and Dr Christine Winter for permission to publish their work that recounts the story of the images, and the locations in which they were taken.

The following two articles can be downloaded to your desktop, ipad or mobile device.

Richard Thurnwald and Thomas James Rodoni in the Upper Sepik Region of New Guinea 1914 [15.2 MB PDF FILE] by Dr Barry Craig, Senior Curator, Foreign Ethnology, South Australian Museum and Dr Christine Winter, ARC Future Fellow – Matthew Flinders Fellow, Flinders University

The Fate of Thurnwald’s Sepik Ethnographic Collections [8MB PDF FILE]
By Barry Craig, South Australian Museum, Adelaide (1997)

(Reproduced with kind permission of the publisher)

These papers are also published on the The Upper Sepik-Central New Guinea Project pages http://uscngp.com/papers/

Launch of Birdwood Flag Restoration Project


Very Reverend Stephen Williams, Dean of Newcastle giving speech at the launch ceremony

On a Friday morning, 22 April 2016, a nationally significant cultural initiative, The Birdwood Flag Restoration Project, was launched at Christ Church Cathedral, Newcastle.

The Birdwood Flag in its original condition. [Courtesy of The University of Newcastle's Anglican Diocese Archives in Cultural Collections A6137(iv)]

The Birdwood Flag in its original condition. [Courtesy of The University of Newcastle’s Anglican Diocese Archives in Cultural Collections A6137(iv)]

Named in honour of General William Riddell Birdwood, the commander of the Australian forces on the western front, the Birdwood Flag Restoration Project aims to piece back together, and restore this highly significant Australian flag that served as the Australian ensign in World War 1. The Birdwood flag is of high national historic significance as it was the first recorded, and officially sanctioned presentation of an Australian flag in the field of war, created by a local community. Moreover, the Birdwood Flag is of outstanding social and historical significance for people of Newcastle since the funds raised for the flag’s creation and manufacture came from a public appeal organised by Miss Dora Sparke and the Newcastle Field Force Fund.

 Planning War Work

The story of the Birdwood Flag dates back a century ago, when a group of women in the Hunter, led by Dora Sparke, gathered the resources to send an Australian flag to fly over the ANZAC troops in Europe. These women took it upon themselves to make the lives of Australian troops a little better. For instance, they didn’t believe the standard issue socks that were provided to troops were of sufficient quality, so they set about knitting their own, that would be of superior quality and comfort. They also decided that it wasn’t good enough that our troops didn’t have a real Australian Flag to fight under, and so they set about manufacturing one, that ensured it was officially sanctioned. The work of the Newcastle community was presented at the General’s headquarters on a battlefield in Belgium, in September 1917, and served as the emblem of Australian soldiers during the war. It was to be passionately guarded until the time of victory.

General Birdwood (Image Courtesy of Australian War Memorial )

It was during his national tour of Australia in 1920, that General Birdwood took the opportunity to offically hand back the Flag to Miss Dora Sparke, at a civic reception held on the 28 April 1920, and with it The Birdwood Flag returned to its cultural home, the city of Newcastle. It was perceived as a “memento of a glorious cause, and we would do all in our power to see that it was placed where no other enemy but Time could destroy it”. Beyond the intentions in its production, the flag is also an interesting symbol of the formation of Australian nationhood. Its use signifies the distinct identity of the Australian soldiers as a significant collective. What makes the flag even more significant is that such a declaration of national identity occurs about a decade after the Federation in 1901 and many years before recognition of the Australian national flag in 1954 under the “Flags Act 1953“.


Fragment from the Birdwood flag, Image Courtesy ABC Newcastle

Following the Birdwood Flag’s rediscovery in 2013 lying in pieces within a shoebox inside a safe in the Cathedral, a meeting was held between the University of Newcastle’s Vice Chancellor, Caroline McMillen  and the Dean of Christ Church Cathedral, The Very Reverend Stephen Williams, to see what could be done to restore what was probably the most important cultural relic of the Great War in Australia, in anticipation of the Centenary of ANZAC commemorations. Inspired by the local community’s spirit, an action plan was formulated for the restoration of the rediscovered fragments of the Birdwood flag.

The Birdwood Heritage Committee (Birdwood Flag Committee) was formed under the leadership of Dr Patricia Gillard, and initial funding secured through the National Library’s Community Heritage Grants to complete the significance assessment phase.  In 2015, a funding application to the Copland Foundation was also successful. As a result of the committee’s efforts the restoration phase of the Birdwood Flag has offically begun since April 22, 2016.

Birdwood Group

From left: Major Roland Millbank, Birdwood Committee; Dr.Rosemary Barnard, Birdwood Comittee; Dr. Amir Mogadam, Conservator, UON; Mr. Gionni Di Gravio, Archivist, UON; Dr. Patricia Gillard, Birdwood Committee; Mr.Julian Bickersteth, Managing Director, ICS.

In this project, the Copland Foundation, Melbourne, International Conservation Services, Sydney, University of Newcastle (Australia) and Anglican Diocese of Newcastle’s Christ Church Cathedral, are collaborating to put the pieces of the flag back together again and tell the story of the community who enabled an official Red Australian Ensign to represent their troops during World War 1. As part of the ceremony a time lapse movie was screened showing the beginnings of conservation work being carried out by International Conservation Services in Sydney. It was quite an emotional moment to see the original stars of the Southern Cross begin to re-emerge within the fragments of the original flag.

Over many years our communities have become fraught with divisions and fragmentation, with people generally striving to seek their points of difference, rather than what they hold in common. It is hoped that this project is a small step towards bringing Australian communities closer together, as, in reconstructing this fragmented symbol of a local community’s care for its troops, so too it is hoped that the nation will rediscover its fragmented heart, and understand the forces that have shaped Australian national identity and the makeup of its culture and character.

Dr Amir Mogadam, Conservator and Mr Gionni Di Gravio, Archivist.