THE LOST PORTRAIT OF A BIG HEARTED SINGER

THE LOST PORTRAIT OF A  BIG HEARTED  SINGER

To mangle the words of Oscar Wilde, for an institution to lose a miniature portrait would be unfortunate, to lose a life-sized framed oil painting sounds more like carelessness. Catherine Hayes (1818-1861) was a celebrated, Irish born soprana who toured Australia extensively in the mid 1850s. At

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THE NEW IVANHOE HOTEL – A BLACKHEATH TIME-WARP

THE NEW IVANHOE HOTEL - A BLACKHEATH TIME-WARP

The name New Ivanhoe Hotel is a delightful contradiction in terms. Little has changed at this Blue Mountains pub in 70 years. It’s located at 231 Great Western Highway, Blackheath. I’ve been working on my new book here recently. The pub has just the right atmosphere for

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ODE TO GOLDEN SYRUP!

ODE TO GOLDEN SYRUP!

Peter Kotz, a fellow social history buff, took the photo below. The rusting, 70 lb golden syrup drum was found on a rough bush track near Alice Springs. Golden syrup was such an integral part of life in the parched Australian outback. It replaced butter on a

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GHAN TRIP – THE DINGO PROOF FENCE

GHAN TRIP - THE DINGO PROOF FENCE

You wouldn’t think that a scruffy looking fence in the Australian outback would capture the imagination of so many people, myself included. Stretching for 5,614km it’s the longest continuous fence in the world. It was constructed to keep marauding dingoes out of the relatively better pastoral lands

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CATCHING THE GHAN AT ALL COST!

CATCHING THE GHAN AT ALL COST!

In days gone by you could turn up a week late to catch The Ghan and still be in plenty of time. The Aussie outback train was often delayed by wash-outs, sand-drifts or mechanical failures. I love this poem from 1952 about a car speeding along the

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A DISAPPEARING HOUSE AND WALKING TREES

A DISAPPEARING HOUSE AND WALKING TREES

This is a guest post from Warren Bishop, a direct descendant of James Smith, who built Tasmania’s famous ‘disappearing house.’ The Disappearing House at “The Corners” Conara Standing at the turnoff to St Marys at Conara, the so-called “Disappearing House” earned its name by the illusion of

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THE REDOUBTABLE DR GARDE!

THE REDOUBTABLE DR GARDE!

Dr Henry Croker Garde  was a long term resident surgeon at the Maryborough General Hospital in Queensland. Born in 1855, he was a graduate of Queen’s University, Belfast and  a prize winning Fellow of  the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh. The doctor was well travelled, having

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ARNOTT’S MILK ARROWROOT BISCUITS- BEST FOR BABY?

ARNOTT'S MILK ARROWROOT BISCUITS- BEST FOR BABY?

In the late 19th and early 20th century, Arnotts sought testimonials from people feeding their little ones on milk arrowroot biscuits. The possibility that an image of their child might be chosen to illustrate an advertisement was irresistible. The company was soon swamped by photos and letters

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THE LOST PORTRAIT OF EDITH CAVELL

THE LOST PORTRAIT OF EDITH CAVELL

IN APPRECIATION….. In 1931, Dr Victor Ratten performed life-saving surgery on 14 year old Myra Garnett at the Royal Hobart Hospital. Some weeks later the girl’s grateful father presented Dr Ratten with a generous and most appropriate gift. George Garnett was a British born art connoisseur and

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A MIRACULOUS BONE GRAFT?

A MIRACULOUS BONE GRAFT?

Stephen W. O’Flaherty was a worker in a sawmill at Derby, a small community in the north-east of Tasmania. In the early 1900s he suffered a significant injury when a lever at the mill rebounded, breaking his arm in two places. It was said that he had

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