Archive for August, 2009

P1020011 A poem by Charmian Clift, well-known Australian writer from Kiama (and wife of George Johnston the writer of ‘My Brother Jack) when she was 8 years old, discovered as part of the Kingsford Smith memorial at Gerroa on the south coast of NSW! In the three biographies I have researched all agree that Charmian was first published at the age of 12 in a Sydney newspaper, of which all issues are lost, so this is a significant find! . P1020014 Overlooking Seven Mile Beach at the Kingsford Smith Memorial Park. Mal from the Kiama and District Historical Society has rightly pointed out out that there are in fact TWO poems here, the short ‘Blowhole’, and the much longer and more complex ‘Seagulls’ directly above which seems uncredited for an author and implies that Charmian wrote both! If so, quite an effort for an eight year old! P1020017 The image of her ‘starbaking’ in the rock pools at Bombo or ferociously and gorgeously with her nose in a book at the beach, to me, deserves its own statue , near to where she lived, clift-beach-650<;;;;;;; where the train bridge goes over the lagoon at the southern end of Bombo Beach. This is where Charmian Clift's House is thought to have been. P1020043 There is some doubt as it could be the house opposite! P1020044<;;;;;;; In February 2011 I noticed a new plaque had been added to the park, and here it is! with a closeup of the words Notice it states ‘illustrated and published her own book of poetry at eight’, which is where the poem in the Kiama Independent must have come from!. I recall no such details from the bios I have read of her! Nadia Wheatley’s (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nadia_Wheatley) book (The Life and Myth of Charmian Clift) has a map of Charmian’s World in North Kiama, and here it is! P1020108<;;;;;;; P1020048<;;;;;;; This is the 'bowl' and 'dome' of Charmian's world! And here is a great blog entry on Charmian, especially about Nadia Wheatley's book. http://austlit.blogspot.com/2009/01/very-long-post-about-charmian-clift.html P1020057 And this ocean bath pool, just round the point from Charmian’s house, would have been the ideal place to ‘starbake!’ P1020103 Sadly in many ways the symbol of Charmian as a female Icarus, sun-burnt body and white-hot mind, with a book in her hand on Bombo Beach, seems particularly apt, and sad. icarus Charmian Clift was a well-known Australian writer who idealised her childhood in Kiama in many writings. clift-1968-650<;;;;;;; http://www.abc.net.au/rn/verbatim/stories/2009/2553413.htm Here is a impressive audio interview with Charmian Clift, interspersed with readings from her books by Charmian. Here is her bio online http://adbonline.anu.edu.au/biogs/A130488b.htm CLIFT, CHARMIAN (1923-1969), writer, was born on 30 August 1923 at Kiama, New South Wales, third and youngest child of Sydney Clift, a fitter and turner from England, and his native-born wife Amy Lila, née Currie. Although Charmian attended Kiama Public and Wollongong High schools, she attributed her education to her parents' love for books, and to the wild beach and little valley that bounded her home. After passing the Intermediate certificate in 1938, she worked at odd jobs around Kiama. Tall, with an athletic build, Clift was growing into the beauty that would become one of her best-known attributes. In May 1941 she won the New South Wales title in Pix magazine's Beach Girl Quest and escaped to Sydney. There she became an usherette at the Minerva Theatre, Kings Cross. Enlisting in the Australian Women's Army Service on 27 April 1943, Clift served with the 15th Australian Heavy Anti-Aircraft Battery in Sydney. She was commissioned lieutenant in August 1944 and worked as an orderly officer at Land Headquarters, Melbourne. While editing an army magazine, she began to write and publish short stories. Having transferred to the Reserve of Officers on 11 May 1946, she joined the Argus and met the war correspondent George Henry Johnston. Their employers disapproved of their relationship and three months later both were summarily dismissed. Clift and Johnston left for Sydney and, following his divorce, were married on 7 August 1947 at the courthouse, Manly. They collaborated on the novel, High Valley (1949), which won the Sydney Morning Herald's £2000 prize for 1948. Early in 1951 Charmian, George and their son and daughter went to London where Johnston was in charge of the Associated Newspaper Service's office. Clift completed little in the way of writing until the family moved to the Greek island of Kálimnos late in 1954. She then wrote Mermaid Singing (Indianapolis, 1956), a semi-autobiographical account of life in Greece. In her second travel book, Peel me a Lotus (London, 1959), she described their move to Hydra (Ídhra) and the birth of their second son. Clift next turned her lyrical talent to the landscape of Kiama in her first solo novel, Walk to the Paradise Gardens (London, 1960). A slow and painstaking writer, she spent the next four years on the romantic novel, Honour's Mimic (London, 1964). While struggling with this book, she began an autobiographical novel about her childhood ('The End of the Morning'), and acted as the sounding-board for Johnston during his writing of My Brother Jack (London, 1964). He returned to Australia in February 1964 for its release; Clift and the children followed in August. Her four books had received glowing reviews in Britain and the United States of America, but had barely been distributed in Australia. Back in Sydney, Clift was a literary nonentity—or worse, the wife of a literary celebrity. She soon achieved recognition in her own right: her weekly column in the Sydney Morning Herald and the Melbourne Herald immediately attracted a large and devoted readership. Originally commissioned to produce 'real writing from a woman's point of view', she in fact wrote essays. Although her form was traditional and her style exquisite, her subject matter often included topical issues such as the Vietnam War, conscription, the Greek junta and world hunger. In 1965 thirty-six of these essays were anthologized in Images in Aspic (Sydney). The acclaimed ten-part television series of My Brother Jack, which Clift had scripted for the Australian Broadcasting Commission, went to air in August-October that year. Funding never eventuated, however, for her subsequent film and television projects. Over the next few years Clift met the deadline for her weekly column. She also carried the main burden of housework and parenting, for Johnston was seriously ill and spent many months in hospital. Little time remained for writing books. Receiving a six-month Commonwealth Literary Fund fellowship in late 1968, she again turned to 'The End of the Morning', but it remained a fragment. The combination of work pressure and personal pain had become too great by mid-1969. On the night of 8 July, while considerably affected by alcohol, Charmian Clift took a fatal overdose of sleeping tablets at her Mosman home; survived by her husband and three children, she was cremated. Since her death, her reputation has grown. In 1970 a second anthology of essays, The World of Charmian Clift, was compiled by George and illustrated by their elder son Martin. Her other essays were collected in two volumes, Trouble in Lotus Land (1990) and Being Alone With Oneself (1991), and all her early books were republished in a uniform edition (1989-90). Ray Crooke's portrait of Clift is held by the National Library of Australia, Canberra Another great article here http://www.nla.gov.au/pub/nlanews/2005/may05/article2.html Nadia Wheatley wrote a great biography of Charmian Clift http://www.librarything.com/work/1088019 and here is a great article about that here. http://home.vicnet.net.au/~abr/July01/kerryngoldsworthy.html johnsons,0<;;;;;;; Charmian and George another article here http://www.theage.com.au/news/Books/Charmian-George-and-Susan-too/2004/12/01/1101577544698.html There was renewed interest when artist Suzanne Chick discovered she was the relinquished daughter of Charmian CLift. http://www.precinctgalleries.com.au/SueChick/mediterranean.htm http://www.abc.net.au/rural/telegraph/content/2006/s1941530.htm Should there be a Charmian Clift trail in Kiama Jodie Minus thinks so! http://www.seashellskiama.com.au/pdf/movingwords.pdf Here is another great article on Charmian by Jena Woodhouse (who I suspect visited the Pilot's Cottage in Kiama a couple of years ago!) http://www.proza.ru/2006/12/10-29 And she wrote a lovely poem dedicated to her here Nights without George Stratton Hall, Bondi Nights without George you pace the floor, linger at the balustrade alone as the moon you lean towards expectantly – a dlover’s face cast up by sea on cliff scarp overlooking Bondi; long-lost voyager returning, diver surfacing with trophy… Then your mind runs wild on Bombo, self-styled sea witch lured to the city, wondering how others live, wanting to be the tallest poppy. Now you reside at Stratton Hall, circumscribed by a Juliet balcony’s red-brick smirk of Cupid’s bow, from which you scan the ageing moon and visualise the sandy arc of sorcery somewhere below. You shiver in your hilltop crow’s-nest, listen for a mermaid singing, like the nights you lay in Bombo’s gleaming arms, star-baking silver; hearing whimpers from the nursery, portents in the canopies of banksias that turn their pewter- bellied leaves in fitful breeze: a Juliet who chafes at domesticity, at all constraint, wondering why George is working late; no longer free, still lonely… for Charmian Clift by Jena Woodhouse http://www.foame.org/Issue6/poems/woodhouse.html


The Kiama Pilot’s Cottage is currently (April 2012) hosting an excellent exhibition on Charmian Clift, including one of her typewriters!
The exhibition was opened by her daughter Suzanne Chick who lent one of Charmian’s typewriters to the Kiama Pilot’s Cottage.

Here is a photo of the exhibition!

Charmian’s typewriter!

Some of the detail on the walls.

A photo of Charmian
The Kiama Independent recently did an excellent article on the exhibition (including in FULL the TWO poems she wrote and had published in the Kiama Independent when she was 8) but so far no link.
Here in full is the text Malcolm Bedford wrote for the Kiama Advertiser. Well done to Malcolm and all who worked so hard to put the exhibition together!

The life and times of Charmian Clift
Author: Malcolm Bedford
Date: 21/03/2012
Words: 278
Source: …
Publication: Wollongong Advertiser
Section: News
Page: 33
Kiama has a fascinating history. Each fortnight the Advertiser will bring you a story from its rich past
Perhaps you remember the green-eyed “pagan” child from Bombo Beach born with sand between her toes. You may be a fan of her novels or may have read her newspaper articles in the Sydney Morning Herald in the 1960s. Now you can see her typewriter, personal documents, letters, many photographs and read her story that ended so sadly.

Charmian Clift was born in a house next to Bombo Beach in 1923. Soon she shone at Kiama Public School, having her first poetry published in the Kiama Independent at the age of eight.

At 18 she won the Pix magazine beach girl of the year photographic competition.

Using her prize money she then left to be an actress in Sydney.

Clift became pregnant at 19 and gave birth to her first child, Suzanne, on Christmas Day, 1943. Sadly in that era where babies were often given up for adoption mother and child never saw each other again. You may have read Sue Chick’s moving book Searching for Charmian.

Clift met and married author George Johnston and they worked on novels together and separately. Twice their books won the Miles Franklin award.

Clift’s novels often feature her life growing up in Kiama and the town is very easily recognised in A Walk to the Paradise Gardens.

Clift was a social commentator, radio broadcaster, journalist, author, public speaker and screenplay writer for the ABC.

She lived in Sydney, Melbourne, London, Hydra and Kalymnos in the Greek islands.

Sue Chick opened the Charmian Clift exhibition at the Kiama Pilot’s Cottage last month.

The Charmian Clift exhibition is open on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays between 11am and 3pm.

Admission is $3 or $2 concession. Tour groups are welcome.

* Courtesy: Malcolm Bedford, Kiama & District Historical Society. Phone 4232 1001 or email signals@netspace.net.au


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Here is my first upload Youtube video! Yay!

Here are the Kiama councillors dressed in period costume during the Kiama 150th Anniversary Council Parade on Sunday 9th August, 2009.
left to right; Mayor Sandra McCarthy (in mayoral robes), Councillor Monique Dare-Ward, Council Manager Michael Forsyth (slightly obscured), Councillors Trevor Fredericks, Deputy Mayor Ben van der Wijngaart and (obscured) Brian Petschler, Warren Steel and visible, Peter Bowman. Councillors Lexie Wheeler and Neil Reilly were also present but not in this photo.
Kiama councillors at parade

Here are local marching girls(Shellharbour City Marching Girls http://www.marching.org.au/~nswma/shellharbour.htm) in the parade. Many sports such as netball and tennis also marched, as did all the local service clubs, riding for the disabled, the local schools, vintage fire engines, and council vehicles, and the surviving Kiama mayors in vintage cars. There was a lot of vintage cars!
Marching girls in kiama parade<

Here are the crowds in Hindmarsh Park for a concert (including the Police Band belting out the blues) and stalls such as facepainting, jumping castles and a helicopter down on School Flat at Black Beach.
Crowds in HIndmarsh Park for stalls
Here is some footage of ‘Steam Locomotive 3642 on the South Coast’ shot during the Kiama Celebrations by tryhardparrot on Youtibe

Here is the heritage steam train arriving at Kiama station.
It had 400 pre-booked travellers on Locomotive 3642 which started as a passenger service in 1925. http://www.heritageexpress.com.au/legendsofsteam/3642/default.htm

This was taken from the tower at the Kiama library. Yes, our library has a tower, doesn’t yours?
Heritage steam train arrives


Walschaerts valve gear reversing which Locomotive 3642 uses.

Here is an old cedar-getter at the display by the Illawarra Woodworkers at the Old Kiama Fire Station. Watch out for the snake!
Cedar getter at the cedar display in the old Fire station

Marg Weston of the Weston publishing family ( owned the Kiama Independent for nearly 150 years) and Fran Whalan ( life member of the Kiama and District Historical Society and a member of the commitee that started the Pilot’s Cottage museum) discuss old photos at the exhibition at the Sebel Kiama Harbourside’s Orry-Kelly gallery. This was excellent, and organised by Leanne Webster, the Local History Librarian at Kiama Library, who suggests, Kiama should digitise and database its old photos, just like ‘Shellharbour Images’ and ‘Illawarra Images’ have done. What a great idea! Well done Leanne!

Fran Whalan and Marg Weston discuss old photos

This gentleman caught my eye, looking like the spirit of an old cedar-getter, sitting under a fig tree, re-visiting Kiama and enjoying the festivities.

Under a tree, like a old cedar-getter

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Happy 150th Anniversary of Kiama Council!

A couple of images from the council re-enactment in 1959, covered in the Kiama Independent.

and this one
157 reenactment of first council meeting
and in 2009 in the lake times here
Many events are happening over the coming weekend, (Saturday 8 August and Sunday 9 August, 2009)

and the following week, and I will be posting photos from various events, such as the unveiling of the Joseph Weston statue outside Kiama Council at 11am on Thursday 6th, August, 2009 at 11am.

And here it is! Before….
Before the Joseph Weston statue is unveiled
Joseph Weston unveiled!
Marg Weston, John Weston, Bruce Weston and Weston family left, Mayor Sandra McCarthy, centre, (with Kiama Council flag)and right, artist Vivienne Lowe!

The statue is on the original site of the Joseph Weston fountain, knocked over by a truck in the early 1950s, and here is a picture of that fountain!

The original Joseph Weston fountain

You can find out more about events coming up here

Just after the unveiling of the Weston memorial, a person came forward anonymously saying they had the original Weston memorial fountain in their garden, and here is a picture of it! 


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