Sweet Survival

In late 1929, stock markets crashed and the world fell into the Great Depression. By 1932, one in three Australian breadwinners were unemployed. Families queued at soup kitchens or relied on government payments that allowed them to buy only the bare minimum of food. For many poor families, the staple meal was bread and ‘dripping’ […]

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Stained Salvage

Described as ‘splendid’ and ‘imposing,’ the Narrabri Town Hall was a two-story brick building erected on Doyle Street in 1892. Built at a cost of 3,500 pounds (including furniture), it was officially opened the following year by the Governor, Sir Robert Duff, who used a ceremonial golden key presented to him for the occasion. Stained […]

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Argumentative Arches

These six wrought iron arches are disused and laying flat now but, back in the 1870s, they were part of a rail bridge that caused John Whitton a big headache. Whitton was Engineer in Chief of NSW Government Railways and was tasked with building the train line from Sydney to Bathurst. At the time, spending […]

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First in Line

This diminutive model of No. 1 steam locomotive represents a train with a very big place in history. The No. 1 locomotive was made in England by Robert Stephenson and Company and was one of four steam locomotives shipped to Australia in January 1855. Its arrival heralded the start of rail service in New South […]

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Fit to Meet the Queen 

NSWR fireman hat header

Barry Purdon must have been very excited when Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh visited Bathurst on 12 February 1954. On their whirlwind tour of Australia, the royal couple visited 57 towns and cities in 58 days, but only travelled by train three times.   On that momentous day, Barry was the ‘fireman’ on […]

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The Many Faces of Ernest Dunton

As demonstrated by the maker of this clock, Ernest Dunton, and his employer, Morris Blasbalk, to be a watchmaker in the late nineteenth century required more than just the skill of making and fixing clocks. Ernest John Dunton (b. 1878) was born in Wagga Wagga and completed a watchmaker apprenticeship with D. P. Symington in […]

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Life in the Shadow of the Hydrogen Bomb

‘If Soviet Russia has the hydrogen bomb… then the West must turn again to its defences.’ Published in the Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners Advocate in 1953, this foreboding warning came in response to the Soviet Union’s explosion of their first thermonuclear weapon—a hydrogen bomb. Soviet Charman Georgy Malenkov considered this the end of the […]

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An Impact on the Scene

A traditionalist in painting style, and an artist who worked primarily in oils, Joshua Smith (1905-1995) was a finalist in the 1937 Archibald Prize for this portrait of his father, titled J.W.A Smith. Prior to the 1940s, the Australian art scene was dominated by conservative artists. Though Sydney boasted progressive creative circles and ideas traditional art […]

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Fickle Fame

Walsh Bay, on Gadigal land, is today a bustling, vibrant arts precinct. But on 26 June 1917, as the ship carrying the body of ‘The Maitland Wonder’, Les Darcy, docked in Sydney Harbour, the silence was loud enough to rival the busy wharves that groaned under the weight of wool for export. Several days later, […]

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The PM’s Smoking Plane

In December 1946 Australia’s Prime Minister (PM) the Honorable Ben Chifley launched Butler Air Transport’s six-day-a-week service from Sydney to Bathurst. It was the first service of its kind to link the NSW capital with the regional city. To thank the PM, Butler Air’s founder, Charles Butler, gifted to Chifley a fitting desk ornament. Chifley’s […]

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