Open State festival has a packed program which kicks off on Thursday 28 September and runs through to Sunday 8 October. Publisher Michael Bollen brings you the Wakefield Press Reader’s Guide to Open State.
My, my. It’s an eye-opener and source of pride, browsing the Open State program, reminding us how books and reading interweave past, present and future. Picking through the goodies on offer, the mind thinks inevitably, Hmm, could be a book in that. And thinks too: Now, which of our existing books best fits that theme?
One session, Blast From the Past, is about getting our stories on screen. We have a host of possibles. Maybe a soapie set in Adelaide’s first gaol, feeding off Rhonnda Harris’s Ashton’s Hotel with its cast of intriguing characters. Or tales from underground, using Carol Lefevre’s beautiful book of true stories, Quiet City: Walking in West Terrace Cemetery.
Then again, perhaps Simon Butters’s YA novel, The Hounded, about alienation in Adelaide’s hinterland, is the best screen fit. Though it works also with the question that obsesses our town – Adelaide is one of the world’s most liveable cities: fact or fiction?
You can take a stroll to decide in the Future Adelaide Walking Tour. Have a browse along the way in Lance Campbell’s and Mick Bradley’s deluxe book, City Streets, which showcases the CBD in 1936 and 2011. Whither now?
Dickson Platten have helped shape the Adelaide landscape through people-centric place-making since the 1960s, and you can celebrate that 50 years of achievement at the opening of their exhibition, On Show. We have books from both Dickson and Platten: Addicted to Architecture, Hybrid Beauty and the lovely Lure of the Japanese Garden.
From one design icon to another: the beloved Jam Factory present Drink. Dine. Design. featuring finely crafted objects, ideas and applications that enhance the joy of eating and drinking. Learn more about the Jam Factory in its fortieth-anniversary book, Designing Craft / Crafting Design.
Nick Jose has written both fiction (Avenue of Eternal Peace) and non-fiction (Chinese Whispers) about China, so its no surprise to see him as one of the co-curators of Writing China, a day-long series of transcultural, transmedia events. Brian Castro is a prominent participant, likely mentioning his novel On China (and why not also add Drift and Double-Wolf to your bedside reading pile).
Among the many events that make up Writing China is Reimagining: Panel and Readings. This panel considers how fiction can take the world you know – your city – and make it new. A full-on accompaniment might be Stephen Orr and his latest book of short stories, Datsunland. In the words of Kerryn Goldsworthy in the Sydney Morning Herald, ‘[Orr’s] work continues to have a prominent place in the literary mapping and recording of South Australia and Adelaide’.
For the last weekend of the festival, we’ll be selling our wares at the annual State History Conference. This year’s beguiling theme is Hearts and Minds: revaluing the past. There’s much of that in our new Colonialism and its Aftermath – the first comprehensive history of Aboriginal South Australia since Native Title.
We at Wakefield look forward to seeing you round this Open State as we venture from our normal habitat: gladly chained to the wheel, churning out South Australia’s tales to the world.
Last Thursday marked the celebration and re-launch of City Streets, a chronicled answer to the past 75 years of Adelaide’s architecture. As author Lance Campbell says, it’s a great big book about a great small city.
We were hosted at the beautiful Living Choice Fullarton and joined by many of our Wakefield Press authors and friends, including the event’s emcee, Keith Conlon. And to top it all off, we had some fantastic Coriole sparkling!
The new edition includes a foreword and by the SA Premier, Jay Weatherill – here we present some highlights of the Premier’s kind words and insights from his launch address.
This is not merely a beautiful book. In its detail and its scale, it’s also an invaluable record of the growth and evolution of our city’s “square mile”.
City Streets is the work of two gifted people. The photographs, by the late Mick Bradley, are superb – precise and expansive, capturing Adelaide’s special quality of light. Though they’re ostensibly of buildings, the images are rich with people and movement and energy – just like those taken by Baring back in the 1930s. As for the writing, who better to sneak behind the facades and tell the stories of our town than Lance Campbell. Lance is an outstanding reporter and writer. Whether the topic is sport or the arts or, from time to time, politics, his prose is elegant and insightful – revealing and describing things many of us would otherwise not have noticed
As I suggest in the foreword to the new edition, City Streets is likely to generate mixed feelings in some readers. More than most comparable cities, Adelaide has managed to retain a large number of attractive buildings from the 19th and early 20th centuries. But – along the way – we’ve probably allowed some special ones to slip through our fingers.
One of those was the gracious Grand Central Hotel – which later housed Foy’s department store – and used to sit on what we now call “Hungry Jack’s corner”. For some reason, it was decided to demolish that lovely pile in 1976. To paraphrase Joni Mitchell, we pulled down “paradise” and put up a parking lot!
As I’ve said publicly before, I think we should see cities as – first and foremost – communities, rather than just collections of buildings and houses and roads. In line with the fact, one of the prevailing and very welcome things about our current city centre that can’t be fully captured in words or pictures is its vibrancy.
The tale of this city will go on and on. And the buildings we love today and are part of our collective consciousness will – in time – go the way of the old ones featured in City Streets. I hope and suspect that, one day, others will follow in the footsteps of Mick Bradley and Lance Campbell. And the Adelaideans of, say, the 2080s or 2090s will reminisce about – who knows? – the Adelaide Convention Centre or the Federal Courts building in Victoria Square. For now, however, we have this new edition of City Streets – and we’re very happy and appreciative, indeed.
On behalf of the State Government, I commend Wakefield Press for its initiative, for continuing to tell great stories and – through this book – for helping to chart the history of our built environment.
Photographs by Brad Griffin.
Learn more about City Streets .
‘What I say is, a town isn’t a town without a bookstore. It may call itself a town, but unless it’s got a bookstore, it knows it’s not foolin’ a soul.’
― Neil Gaiman
In an age of Internet sales a humble bookshop could seem archaic. In a march to digitise and automate, something so small as a bookshop could be considered an afterthought. Yet, those of us who frequent shelves and bookstalls, who know of other lives and worlds and realms within pages, we know a bookshop is more. It is the soul of a place, wherever that place may be, and the heart of a community.
This Saturday 12 August marks Love your Bookshop Day, an occasion that invites anyone to celebrate his or her local bookshop, with events and programs throughout Australia. Drop into your local this Saturday to support and celebrate what makes your bookshop special.
A taste of the events happening around Adelaide:
- Booked at North Adelaide has a giant book raffle (drawn at 4 pm)
- Dillons Norwood Bookshop has book readings (2 pm), face-painting and giveaways
- Imprints Booksellers on Hindley Street has countless of activities and prizes
- Matilda Bookshop in Stirling has book-buying advice from authors, an illustrator in residence and a competition for a stack of books
- Mostly Books in Mitcham will be championing a young writers group along with raffles and more
And of course we are open with our Mile End store, 1 – 5 pm. All books are 3 for 2 (cheapest book free) with a free cat or dog book bag if you spend over $75. We have an I Love My Dog and My Dog Loves Me book giveaway as well.
Rhondda Harris came across something fascinating when researching in the State Records of South Australia at Gepps Cross for an archaeological dig at the old Adelaide Gaol: a long-lost journal written by the gaol’s first governor, William Baker Ashton. But we’ll let Rhondda introduce the journal herself through this short preamble from her book, Ashton’s Hotel. This includes an excerpt from the journal itself which, yes, may contain some ‘mistakes’. As Rhondda says in the book, ‘I have turned off the autocorrect and transcribed it just as it is in the original. It is an editor’s nightmare but an authentic read.’
June 11 Wednesday: A Poor Woman Named Wilkinson Supposed to be Insane was found at 71/2 this Morning with 2 Small Children Nearly Dead from wet and Cold at the end of the ditch Near the Gaol the Poor Children were in a Dreadful State their Arms and legs being quite Stiff from the Wet & Cold I had the Woman & Children brot into the TurnKeys lodge by a good fire and Mrs. Ashton and Mr Perry took their Wet Clothes off and put warm Blankets on them and they Soon got better . . .
– Sheriff Visited the Gaol Saw the Prisoners and Saw the poor woman & children found in the Water this Morning, wished her to Remain in the Gaol and he would Report the Circumstances to the Government her Husband was for some years in the Government Employ at the port but have left the Colony Since and this Poor woman has no home for herself or Children.
June 12 Thursday: Mrs Wilkinson Still in Gaol and her children Supplied from the Gaol Rations by order of the Sheriff.
This story is from an old journal, written in Adelaide, South Australia. The date was 1845, in the sixth year of this extraordinary journal and in the ninth year of the South Australian colony. This incident, so briefly recorded, is in itself an ordinary story, yet it hints at the far-from-ordinary character of the writer, William Baker Ashton, first governor of the Adelaide Gaol.
There are many such stories in his journal. They provide entry into the little-known underclass of early Adelaide, a world where many of the poor, the inebriates, the prostitutes, the debtors, as well as many Aboriginal people, mentally ill people, children who stole or absconded from their masters, sailors, runaway convicts, petty criminals and serious criminals, including bushrangers and murderers, were collected in the confines of the first Adelaide gaols. Some of these people escaped and were recaptured. Some were hanged. Many were transported by sea to be punished in the penal colonies of Sydney and Van Diemen’s Land, out of Adelaide’s sight. They were all looked after for a time by the governor of the gaol, William Ashton; his wife Charlotte; the guards and turnkeys and sometimes their wives; and by visiting officials – doctors, nurses, the protector for the Aboriginal people, the sheriff, religious ministers, and the colonial governor. It is a fascinating journal, a real treasure, and now that it is known, it is a fabulous addition to the story of early Adelaide.
Find out more about Ashton’s Hotel here.
Christine V. Courtney’s Venetian Voices takes you on a stroll over bridges and under cloisters, following Venetian locals and visitors as they pass through centuries.
On Saturday 24 June, Wakefield Press is joining with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra to launch Venetian Voices with a unique afternoon of music and poetry. Graham Abbott (ABC Classic FM) will be conducting members of the orchestra in a Venetian-inspired program, interspersed with readings from Christine.
The program includes Richard Wagner’s Siegfried Idyll, which we recommend listening to while you enjoy a taste of Christine’s poetry.
Late in 1882, an odd-looking couple
on their daily pilgrimage
stroll through St Mark’s Square.
Liszt’s daughter Cosima
and the master Richard Wagner pause;
listening to a haunting refrain
from his masterpiece:
the Liebestod from Tristan and Isolde.
Music of wondrous beauty drifts aloft,
heard with rapture by the locals
and played in tribute
by humble musicians of the Café Florian.
He dips his head in acknowledgment.
An imperceptible down beat, and pause
from the sick master quavering,
crotchety on his final walk.
A lifetime subject of notoriety,
and gossip, he senses
an unknown conductor
hovering in the wings, waiting
to conduct his Liebestod.
In the Palazzo early in 1883,
the stranger calls in the dying day
to dim the rays, to snuff his light.
Wagner’s lifetime of creativity
paid the ferryman in full.
As Charon led the funeral cortege,
the gondoliers raised oars in a ‘Piscopian’ salute,
when the procession
passed Palazzo Vendramin Calergi,
where the masterpiece was completed.
It moved slowly, respectfully
pianissimo along the Grand Canal,
towards his final resting place,
the Pantheon of Bayreuth.
May marks the annual South Australia’s History Festival. South Australia on the Eve of War was launched on Tuesday as part of the festival. Here we have an excerpt from book’s introduction, written by Melanie Oppenheimer and Margrette Kleinig.
Three individuals – David Unaipon, Catherine Helen Spence and Douglas Mawson – encapsulate the spirit of South Australia in the years between Federation in 1901 and the eve of war. All, too, have graced our paper currency at one point or another, an indication of their national importance. Catherine Helen Spence, who died in Adelaide in 1910, was described as ‘the leading woman in public affairs at the turn of the century in Australia’: South Australia’s Chief Justice further described her as ‘the most distinguished woman they had had in Australia’. At the forefront of the first-wave feminist movement, which included ensuring South Australia was the first Australian state to secure voting rights for women in 1894, Spence became Australia’s first female political candidate, standing unsuccessfully for election as a delegate to the 1897 Australasian Federal Convention.
‘Preacher, author and inventor’ David Unaipon was once described as the ‘best-known Aborigine in the Commonwealth’ in the early twentieth century. Born in 1872 at the Point McLeay Mission (now Raukkan) on the edge of the River Murray Lower Lakes, Unaipon was, on the eve of war, in his early forties. Interested in ‘philosophy, science and music’ and in recording his people’s oral stories and traditions, Unaipon had ‘led a deputation urging government control of Point McLeay Mission’ in 1912, and the following year gave evidence to a state government Royal Commission into Aboriginal matters.
In early 1914 Douglas Mawson triumphantly returned from the Antarctic, where he had led Australia’s ‘first scientific exploring endeavour beyond the Australian continent’. Lecturer in mineralogy and petrology at the University of Adelaide, Mawson was physicist on the Shackleton expedition (1907–1909) that aimed to reach the South Geographic Pole. While leading the Australasian Antarctic Expedition of 1911–1914, he made scientific advances in ‘cartography, geology, meteorology, aurora, geomagnetism, biology and marine science’.
These three remarkable people, who pushed the boundaries in their own particular spheres in unexpected and very different ways, point to important social, political and cultural developments in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century South Australia that had an impact both nationally and internationally.
Find out more about South Australia on the Eve of War here.
Hopefully the Easter Bilby will be bringing you plenty of Haigh’s chocolates this weekend. Here is the story of the Haigh’s bilby, which has indeed been Enjoyed for Generations – if only they were still life-size!
Wrapping moulded chocolate and eggs ready for Easter. Circa 1965.
The idea came from Erwin Shulten, a ranger at Bundaleer Forest Reserve at Jamestown, who asked Haigh’s and a couple of other manufacturers to create a chocolate bilby to replace the traditional Easter rabbit in support of the goals of the Foundation for Rabbit- Free Australia (RFA). Not only would an Easter bilby draw attention to the endangered status of this shy, long-eared Australian native marsupial but it would also promote a more realistic image of rabbits as destroyers of the environment rather than cute and cuddly pets. Alister had no hesitation in supporting the project, and Haigh’s supplied chocolate bilbies for the Bundaleer Forest Easter Egg Hunt for several years.
The first bilbies in 1993, almost life-size, were an instant success; stores ran out of stocks, and people even followed Haigh’s delivery van in their desperate bilby quest. Two years later Haigh’s produced a series of smaller bilbies, using a simpler, stylised design that made the chocolates easier to unmould. With demand for the miniature bilbies even greater, the chocolate bunny was abandoned in 1995 and Haigh’s made the chocolate bilby a permanent feature of its Easter range. Since 1993 Haigh’s has donated part of the proceeds of bilby sales to promote awareness of the threat to the environment posed by rabbits and to help fund research into the development of biological controls, and continues to support RFA. Twenty years after the beginning of the partnership, in 2013, Haigh’s had produced more than half a million Easter Bilbies.
Some years ago, two weeks before Easter, I was putting the sale of seven bilbies through for a lady. She told me it was her second purchase of seven bilbies in the same week. They were for her grandchildren but she had eaten the first lot. Jokingly I said I hoped she would not be back for another seven. Lo and behold, a few days before Easter she was back again. ‘The final seven,’ she told me, both of us laughing. Beverley Tripodi, Haigh’s employee
Find out more about Enjoyed for Generations here.
While most of Adelaide has settled down for a well-deserved nap following the end of festival season, one favourite festival venue has no time to rest. Her Majesty’s Theatre is continuing its campaign to raise funds for its major upgrade, due to be completed in 2019. In 2013 Her Majesty’s Theatre celebrated its centenary with a beautiful book, Her Majesty’s Pleasure. What better time to look back on Adelaide’s beginnings as a ‘theatre town’ and the birth of what was originally to be called the Princess Theatre?
In 1913 Adelaide was home to around 200,000 people; another 210,000 lived elsewhere in the state. Electricity had lit the city’s streets since 1900 and, from 1909, powered the city’s tram network. In show business jargon, Adelaide was ‘a theatre town’. The city’s long theatrical history had begun in 1838 when the ballroom of the Adelaide Tavern in Franklin Street was transformed into a cramped but convivial playhouse. Many other theatres came and went until the city’s first major theatre, the opulent Royal in Hindley Street, opened in 1878, replacing two earlier, smaller theatres on that site. It established Hindley Street as the city’s main entertainment hub.
The Royal catered for the city’s thirst for ‘legitimate’ fare, hosting touring productions of drama, light opera, grand opera and pantomime. Meanwhile, minstrel shows and vaudeville found a home in what had originally been White’s Rooms in King William Street. In 1900 the Sydney-based vaudeville entrepreneur Harry Rickards transformed the 44-year-old venue into Adelaide’s first Tivoli Theatre, presenting there the same parade of international stars and upand- coming locals that were a staple of the other theatres on his busy Australia-wide circuit.
At the same time, Adelaide was quickly falling in love with the movies. Soon flickering films – silent, of course – were unreeling in any available hall, in tents, skating rinks or, in the warmer months, in the open air. One of the first al fresco venues was the Hippodrome in Grote Street, where movies were supplemented with vaudeville acts. Situated next to the markets, it was operated by entrepreneurs Lennon, Hyman and Lennon. In 1908 the American showman T.J. West leased the Cyclorama and transformed it into West’s Olympia, with seating for 2248 patrons. It was reborn in 1913 as the Wondergraph, the first of Adelaide’s grand picture palaces. It dominated Hindley Street, providing a provocative challenge to the Theatre Royal across the road.
There were new live theatres, too. In 1909 Lennon, Hyman and Lennon replaced their open air Hippodrome with a vaudeville theatre, the Empire, though it soon concentrated on films. Another vaudeville venture, the King’s in King William Street, opened in 1911, but it was an uncongenial venue, plagued by poor sightlines and inadequate ventilation. Meanwhile, the venerable Theatre Royal was looking decidedly shabby.
Clearly the entertainment business was booming – a fact not lost on Edwin Daw, a local identity best known as the man behind the city’s fish market and the associated ice-works. Mr Daw was the lucky owner of a large vacant site on the corner of Grote and Pitt Streets, directly opposite the markets and the Empire Theatre. A small stream meandered through the property, which became a favourite place for market stallholders to tether their horses and park their carts. In even earlier times a certain Richard George (better known rather unfortunately as ‘Flash Dick’) lived in a two-storey house on the site, and had stables there.
In those days the market didn’t just sell produce. There were amusements such as shooting galleries, hoop-la stalls and dart competitions, and a handsome first floor assembly room for weddings, balls and community gatherings. The market not only drew large crowds, it also attracted more shops, hotels and cinemas to the area. Canny Mr Daw realised that his empty block was an ideal site for a grand picture palace.
Daw discussed the idea with Albert (‘Bert’) Lennon, one of the trio running the Empire. Business there was booming, and the ‘House Full’ sign was out front most Friday and Saturday nights. A couple of years before, Lennon had gone into a new partnership with another showman, Bert Sayers. Sayers and Lennon Ltd were running successful shows in Broken Hill and were keen to expand to Adelaide. Daw offered the partnership a 30-year lease of the Grote Street site for the development of what was to be Adelaide’s finest cinema. The deal was signed in May 1912.
Three months later there was a change of plans. In August Adelaidians learned that the site was not to be used for a 2500-seat cinema, but for a 3000-seat live theatre to be built, they were assured, ‘on an elaborate scale’.
After that, things moved rapidly. By early October the partnership had commissioned designs from the prominent Adelaide architects David Williams and his brother-in-law Charles Thomas Good. Both South Australian born and trained, they designed everything from private homes to offices and warehouses – and the Majestic and King’s Theatres. Their other notable commissions included part of the Queen Adelaide Club in North Terrace, and St Stephen’s Lutheran Church in Wakefield Street. William Essery and John Hennessy were appointed contractors.
On 14 October 1912 Mrs Bert Sayers laid the foundation stone for Adelaide’s grand new theatre. She proudly announced that it was to cost £31,000, and that it was to be christened the Princess.
Think you know all there is to know about the Adelaide Park Lands? Think again! Here are five fun facts from The Adelaide Park Lands by Patricia Sumerling.
- The Elder Rotunda comes from Scotland – Patricia says: While the Torrens Lake was fringed with promenades and walkways, there were few grassy places to have picnics, listen to bands or linger and chat. Sir Thomas Elder, sojourning in Scotland, read about the forthcoming opening of the lake in his most recent batch of Adelaide newspapers and noted that the corporation intended to beautify the banks of the river by laying out several acres of ground for a place of recreation and a promenade. He saw it as an opportunity to donate something worthy for the site and informed them of a ‘trifling gift’ of a rotunda bandstand, which he had shipped to Adelaide. The rotunda duly arrived from MacFarlane’s Saracen Foundry in Glasgow and was erected; its columns were painted in bronze, with the remainder picked out in grey and blue. The rotunda was officially opened on 28 November 1882, more than a year after the lake. A piece of music, the ‘Rotunda March’, composed for the event, was played by the Adelaide City Council Brass Band.
- Botanic Park had its own Speakers’ Corner – Patricia says: Speakers’ Corner in Botanic Park became one of Adelaide’s most popular attractions, particularly for the ‘sensation loving public’ on Sunday afternoons. The only rule was to abstain from making personal attacks. In February 1895 a variety of speakers were on offer. Three or four individuals who had ‘the call’ took it in turns to promote the scriptures, while regulars were ‘for the most part gathered around the soldiers of the Salvation Army, who worked with unflagging energy despite the heat’. The Army was conspicuous for ‘blaring trumpets and the thumping of the drum’. Nearby speakers Stewart and Osborn ‘fired off’ slanderous statements about employers and capitalists. By 1912, Barney, a celebrated veteran preacher, had braved winter rain and summer heat for nearly 30 years to convert in a ‘divine sense’, mostly ‘young men and maidens’. Sometimes he was dressed in a long sheet decorated with antediluvian drawings.
- The Park Lands had their own morality police (well, in a sense) –Patricia says: During the First World War the police force appointed its first two policewomen, Kate Cocks and Annie Ross, who began work on 1 December 1915 in time for the forthcoming summer. Kate Cocks was famous for her vigilance on the Park Lands, using her cane to separate lovers, who were often unaware of her approach. Finding lovers locked together she used her catchphrase ‘Three feet apart!’ In March 1916 courting couples came under the spotlight of the Advertiser again: ‘During the last few years it has become the fashion among people to do their courting lying down. It is now the practice for them to lie down so closely together as to appear immodest but many of them are respectable.’ Kate Cocks was not amused, commenting that the ‘police were powerless to advise couples to sit up’.
- The Park Lands had their own air raid shelters during World War II – Patricia says: It is not generally known that several miles of pipe were laid and trench air raid shelters built in the city’s squares, in children’s playgrounds and on the fringes of the Park Lands and along North Terrace during the Second World War. Generally not used for the purposes for which they were intended, they existed from January 1942 to around August 1944, when they were filled in by a bulldozer from the Highways Department. The Hume cement pipes, which had been used for shelters, had a second life in drainage works and in the children’s playgrounds.
- Large sections of the Park Lands were for many years ‘Cows Only’! – Patricia says: One of the most enduring images of the Park Lands until the end of the 1960s was that of the signs dotted around bearing the words ‘Cows Only’. In 1963 there were well over a thousand livestock grazing on the Park Lands. However, in 1972 the last two dozen cows in Park 27B, next to the North Adelaide Railway Station, were banished, while 60 odd horses still grazing in several parks were brought together in Park 6 off Lefevre Terrace in North Adelaide. Today the long tradition of horse agistment, begun in the 1850s, continues, creating a delightful rural character in a capital city.
To learn more about the Park Lands, click here and take a look at Patricia’s well-loved history of this area.