Over 400 Photographs taken over Three Years ([ 1926 - 1929 ])

1926 - Photograph Albums of NSW - Australia

Rare Views of Palm Island Penal Settlement

Date: [ 1926 - 1929 ]

New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, circa 1926-1929. Set of three photograph albums taken and compiled by an English couple who were evidently residents of Australia for at least three years, and possibly connected to the livestock raising industry. Contains 427 gelatin silver print photographs, both snapshot images and professional works, mounted onto cardstock leaves, most with either manuscript captions or embedded typescript captions. Photographs vary in size, the smallest measuring approximately 8 x 6 cm, and the largest 12 x 7 cm. Three oblong 8vo. string-tied brown paper board albums, the first measuring approximately 31 x 25 cm, the other two measuring approximately 29 x 21 cm. All pleasing and nostalgic. Captions reveal that the travellers are from the Saunders family. Images of "F.B. Saunders" or "F.B.S." have been removed, though further research may lead to his profession or contribution whilst in Australia, possibly as a pastoralist or grazier. It would be most interesting if a connection could be made to London-born Henry John Saunders (1855-1919) who emigrated to Australia as a civil engineer and mining agent, and who rose to be senator of Western Australia in 1903. Largely centered in New South Wales, this abundant set of photographs captures a nation in transformation, with images of old town streets and colonial buildings, abandoned gold mines, and family-operated cattle or sheep stations, as well as new developments in communications, trade and technology. Rare firsthand views of the Palm Island Penal settlement illustrate the regretful continued oppression of the Aboriginal community. The first album, largest in dimension and containing 73 photographs, begins with the departure for an adventure and extended residence in Australia. Onboard a ship named Herminius, the voyage begins at the Port of Tilbury located on the River Thames at Tilbury in Essex. Here the travellers include photographs of Cape Town, then Melbourne, Sydney, Townsville in Queensland, St. Kilda (city in Victoria, Australia), Griffith, Lismore, and Gloucester in New South Wales. One of the photographs taken after arriving in Australia is captioned "The Hash House" and reveals that the voyage to Australia was made in 1926. The second album is centered in New South Wales, with views providing a glimpse into several towns with at least one main-street view illustrating a quieter era of family shops and dirt roads. Some places represented are Tanworth, Kyogle, Barraba, the Cessnock Mining District, Kurri Kurri, Newcastle, Sydney, Canberra, an irrigation area near Yenda, the Hunter River region, the Quirindi Plains, Coonamble, Griffith, Murrumburra, and even more. The photographer/traveller identifies numerous stations and station homesteads, suggesting that he [Saunders] was knowledgeable about the trade in the region, and may have been involved in ranching himself. Quite contemporary to their inception, we find early views of the Cairns War Memorial which had just been built in 1925, and the War Memorial Clock Tower in Barraba which was unveiled on Armistice Day 1924. Views of Brisbane, Whitsunday Passage, and Melbourne are also included. With 154 photographs, this album spans from as early as May 1927, with snapshot images of the arrival of the Duke of York at Sydney for his Royal Visit, to 13 July 1929, when, according to a caption, a ship named "Canberra" departed from King's Street Wharf in Sydney. The flooding of the Richmond river in March 1929 is documented in photographs of Kyogle and Molong. The third album contains 200 photographs and spans the same time period as the last, with dated captions ranging from 23 September 1928 to 5 December 1929. A highlight in this album is a tour of Palm Island which at the time was a penal settlement. A group of convicts are photographed as they are transported to the island. We also find a lovely panorama of Bathurst, and an early photograph of the old courthouse in Bourke which retains its unique purpose today [The Bourke court house is unique for inland Australia as it was originally a maritime court, and to this day maintains that distinction.] New bridges, irrigation, rail lines, coal and gold mining, urban construction - these views illustrate a rapidly developing society. At Tumut we see the original equestrian race course, at Proserpine a sugar mill, at Grafton a timber mill, and at Sydney the Harbour Bridge being constructed. Frigidaire foreman A. Prestland is photographed standing in front of a company motorcar, and evidently a new homestead being built at Coolah Creek Station for Colonel John McClean Arnott (1869-1945) who was at time owner of Coolah Creek Station. [Palm Island is an Aboriginal community located on Great Palm Island, also called by the Aboriginal name "Bwgcolman", an island on the Great Barrier Reef in North Queensland. By the early 1920s, Palm Island had become the largest of the Government Aboriginal settlements. Administrators found its location attractive as Aboriginal people could be isolated, but Palm Island quickly gained a reputation amongst Aborigines as a penal settlement, as they were frequently removed from across Queensland as punishment; being "disruptive", "falling pregnant to a white man" or "being born with mixed blood." Any of these so-called infringements could lead to exile on Palm Island by court sentencing. Others were exiled after being released from prison, or were sent by missions administrators who deemed them to be ill-mannered or disruptive Aboriginals. Removals to Palm Island continued until the late 1960s.] In Australia, a station is a large landholding used for producing livestock, predominantly cattle or sheep, that need an extensive range of grazing land. It corresponds to American ranches that operate under the Taylor Grazing Act of 1934 on public lands. The owner of a station is called a pastoralist or a grazier (which correspond to the North American term rancher).

Some creasing to boards, age-toning to a scant few images, otherwise in Very Good Condition.


Offered by Voyager Press Rare Books & Manuscripts