…on the opening night.

“The Screen would light up. they would feel a thrill of satisfaction. But the colours had faded with age, the picture wobbled on the screen, the women were of another age; they would come out they would be sad. It was not the film they had dreamt of. It was not the total film each of them had inside himself, the perfect film they could have enjoyed for ever and ever. The film they would have liked to make. Or, more secretely, no doubt, the film they would have liked to live.”

Georges Perec, Things: A Story of the Sixties. Translated from the French, by David Bellos. Collins Harvill, London,1990, p57. (Originally published 1965)

Dedicated Followers of Fashion

According to Ray Davies’ slyly acerbic lyrics to the Kinks 1966 hit Dedicated Follower of Fashion, “They seek him here, they seek him there”. However, it seems that the modish fashions that Davies assiduously cataloged in the song were not sought or welcomed by the young women of Newcastle. Or, at the very least, the type of young women whose views were aired by The  Newcastle Herald. Under the headline “Way-out fashions slated” on June 11 1968 The Herald published the views of five young women on the new fashion trends for men. With the exception of one lone dissenting  voice, the women were resoundingly negative in their appraisal of the increasingly “feminine” appearance of the fashionable male.  Vacillating  between confusion and hostility the interviewees attempt to articulate their opposition to such fashions and the threat they pose to their essentialist notions of sexuality and difference. As one woman fervently claims: “It is the difference in taste and logic that makes the sexes interesting and appealing to each other. Why spoil it?”

To sample the views of ’68 click on the images above.

The Future That Never Came

The above image, was published in the Newcastle Herald on the 1st of June 1968.  This proposed plan for Newcastle East involved the complete leveling of the city centre and was credited to an unidentified “professional man in the City.”  The plan called for the existing urban environment to be replaced with a utopian dreamscape of high density housing, parks, carparking  and a shopping mall that would “allow housewives to shop at their leisure in quiet surroundings.”

This scorched earth approach to urban planning was pioneered by the architect Le Corbusier who in 1925 put forward his Plan Voisin for Paris. This called for the destruction of large sections of central Paris, replacing the antiquated and disparate architecture with a unified new order of high density housing, parks etc. In Le Corbusier defence there was an element of avant-garde provocation in his proposal. However, this didn’t stop his vision for a new urbanism becoming the default setting for much twentieth century town planning.

While this vision for Newcastle thankfully never came to pass, there is one element to the plan that is today as topical as it is contentious, the abolition of the railway line into Newcastle central . In recent  years this issue has become a planning impasse with the current GPT backed redevelopment of the CBD stalled as the State Government undertakes a transport study for the area. The results of the study are due in June 2010. A virtual tour of the new future Newcastle is viewable here.

The Shadow of Rationality

What is the place of youth in politics? Some Newcastle Young Liberals have their say.

On Tuesday June 25 1968, under the stern sounding headline; EMPHASIS ON YOUTH, the Newcastle Herald published the perfectly rational (if somewhat meaningless) views of the local Young Liberals regarding youth and politics. Meanwhile on the opposite page youth courted irrationality and came off second best. Seven in Court on drug charges the weighty headline proclaimed. The report started: Seven young people appeared in Newcastle Court yesterday on drug charges following police raids on the week-end. Unfortunately there were no images of the convicted “marihuana” smokers published nor their opinions on how they saw their role in the political process.

Click on the thumbnails above to reactivate the empasis on youth.


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?

Youths Speak About Their Adults, 1968

Much has been said and written about the faults of  the younger generation.  We found they have ideas of their own to express, particularly on what’s wrong with the older generation.

To find out what the youth of Newcastle had to say about their elders during the heady days of January 1968 click on the images above.