While I have been in Newcastle I have spent some time researching in the Local Studies Section of the Newcastle Region Library. In undertaking this research I was specifically interested in gaining an impression of the city in the not too distant past, and in this process, uncovering some of the subsumed history of the place. To this end, I have searched through back issues of the Newcastle Herald (and Miner’s Advocate) looking for small snippets of information that will act as windows into the past and narrative prompts for my project. Unsurprisingly, this form of investigation is a potentially overwhelming task without some historical point of entry or focus. I spent some time deliberating on how to define this “point” and finally decided that I wasn’t particularly interested in retracing an acknowledged defining moment in Newcastle’s recent history (The closure of BHP, the earthquake etc). Rather, I decided that I would choose a point in time that was more famous for what was happening outside of Newcastle, May 1968.
While the eyes of the world were firmly planted on Hanoi, Prague and Paris what was happening in this corner of the world? If May 1968 can be read as a type of cultural degree zero, a point of crisis and questioning, how were the reverberations being felt throughout Australia? Indeed, there is a certain level of willfulness in choosing this point in time to examine the social landscape of Newcastle. But at the same time there is also an inverted logic that appeals to me, what other time could I choose?