Journalists, photographers, researchers and sub-editors who have been made redundant, retired or otherwise farewelled from a media outlet can learn how to re-establish themselves at a workshop at Parramatta RSL Club on Friday, August 24.
Through practical exercises, Create Your Post-media Success will help participants understand the fundamentals of business, discover the numerous career options available in a changing landscape and pinpoint their focus.
They will leave with practical tools such as a simple business plan, a required income calculation and a rates card tailored to their needs.
Participants will also learn where to find commercial clients and freelance story leads, how to pitch PR leads and editorial articles to media and where to find further ongoing support, training and resources.
The full-day Create Your Post-media Success workshop will be presented by Deep Hill Media, the Blue Mountains-based communications consultancy and freelance journalism business of photojournalist David and journalist Ellen Hill.
“We know exactly what our colleagues are going through because we’ve been through it ourselves – and we’ll be sharing honest, sometimes excruciating anecdotes of our mistakes and achievements along the way,’’ Mrs Hill said.
After taking voluntary redundancy from a multinational media company in 2009, the couple banked a small fortune; self-published a book; sold fine art prints, books and natural laundry products at market stalls; and mowed lawns while chasing ever-elusive business rainbows.
In the process, they have been hurt, burnt, humiliated, ripped off and faced poverty too many times to count.
“We want to help others leapfrog years of mistakes, heartache and financial ruin,’’ Mrs Hill said.
“We also want to help preserve an industry many have said is dying.
“Journalism and media is not dying.
“It is merely adapting and we want to help shape the future that was – and is – our life.
“Society and culture needs the skills and experience our colleagues have, but to continue working in their field may require a little creative thinking.’’
The Create Your Post-media Success workshop will be held at Parramatta RSL Club from 9am to 5pm on Friday, August 24. Cost: $347 includes lunch, morning/afternoon tea and resources. Bookings essential: Click HERE.
By Ellen Hill for Springwood Art Show Photos: David Hill
The first and longest running art show in the Blue Mountains will once again showcase outstanding talent from established and emerging artists from the area and raise funds for school student resources from August 25 to 27.
Held at Springwood High School and co-ordinated by the Parents & Citizens Association (P&C), Springwood Art Show directly supports students of the school with 25 per cent of all sales plus all proceeds from admission, café, raffle and artworks used to buy educational resources.
The event which helped establish the Blue Mountains as a recognised “city of the arts’’ will be a chance to admire more than 400 artworks from more than 100 local artists, photographers and galleries.
Visitors can snap up an original work to decorate their home or office for reasonable prices, including from featured artist Sue Gasser who has built a career painting the natural beauty of her surrounds.
One lucky art show visitor will take home a Sue Gasser painting worth $850 as a raffle prize. Tickets for your chance to win Gasser’s King Parrots With a View painting will be $2 each or three for $5.
Also on sale will be a range of artisan work such as handcrafted jewellery, woodwork and gifts.
A highlight this year will be the encouragement of young and emerging artists through the `Make your mark’’ theme to celebrate Springwood High School’s 50th anniversary and more than $5000 in prizes across a range of medium and age categories
Springwood Art Show will be officially opened at 7pm on Friday, August 25, by Blue Mountains Cultural Centre exhibitions manager Sabrina Roesner.
“The Springwood Art Show, the first and longest running art show in the Blue Mountains, is a wonderful initiative that provides a platform for our young emerging artists and celebrates the creative and vibrant community that we live in. I very much look forward to seeing the students’ work and opening the show on 25 August,’’ she said.
P&C president Julia Thurling said: “Everything we do as a P&C is for the benefit and wellbeing of students of Springwood High School. The art show not only raises funds for resources which support students of the school, it is a long-recognised event on the wider community calendar and fits nicely with the Blue Mountains community interest in the arts.’’
Springwood Art Show will be held at Springwood High School, Grose Rd, Faulconbridge, from August 25 to 27, with an official opening program on the Friday evening and activities and a café throughout the weekend. Opening hours from 7pm to 10pm Friday, 10am to 6pm Saturday and 10am to 4pm Sunday. Tickets: opening night $20 includes supper and wine; general admission $5 adults, $3 concessions, $10 families Saturday and Sunday. Go to springwoodartshow.org.au for more information.
I always wanted to be a journalist. Never thought of being anything else. And for nearly 20 years I lived my dream, met my photojournalist husband in the newsroom and raised our son as a newshound. News and media was our life.
In those days, journos would climb the editorial ladder, go to the subs desk and become editors. Those who left media would work as press secretaries to politicians, head media teams in government departments and churn out media releases at charities and big companies. They were no longer journalists. They had “gone to the dark side’’.
PRs were dismissed outright while we scribes wrote stories from scratch, interviewed people face-to-face, attended court, police rounds, pollie doorstops, disasters and death knocks and rarely accepted submitted pictures.
So how on earth have we found ourselves on “the dark side’’?
We felt the winds of change in the mid-2000s and took voluntary redundancy in 2009. Among the first wave of the tide of redundancies which has swept through the traditional media, we didn’t realise it at the time but we were actually pioneers.
First, we wrote a coffee table book. Everyone loved it, no one bought it.
We tried our hand as travel writers. I even won an award. While we could definitely write stories and shoot images, we failed dismally at selling ourselves, pitching stories and reaching out to editors. We never had to while working for one media outlet.
We didn’t intend to go into PR. It just happened. A local organisation was restructuring and wanted to refocus their PR to communications driven by a journalist/photographer team. We would sniff out stories, shoot postcard-style images and organise travel itineraries for the occasional visiting journalist. Easy.
For the first six months I was, uncharacteristically, a sobbing, hyperventilating mess at least once a week, lost 10kg and worked until 1am most nights, desperately trying to learn the ropes and battle the shame of becoming a PR chic.
Over time, we did learn the formulae for valuing media outcomes, we built up a huge media contact list and made sure the organisation we contracted to gained media attention every single week for three years solid.
Today, we run a boutique communications consultancy offering writing skills, photography and media services. We’re also branching back into freelance travel stories, character profiles and history articles, and David has begun to explore his creativity and photographic art. We do all of that under the one banner – and we’re not the only ones.
These days, ex-journos prefer to be called communications consultants (me included). Readers, listeners and viewers now provide much of the news content. Bloggers and social influencers have emerged as the new media. Reality TV is the new reality. Media reports on media and new terms like
marcomms’’ andbrand journalism’’ have cropped up. Everyone is supposed to have a blog, social media platforms and be skilled across all mediums from writing, photography and video.
So what does it all mean for the media, for business, for politics and, the group often overlooked in all of this, the reader/consumer?
Through this regular blog, I will explore some of the challenges and pitfalls, advantages and new opportunities and encourage input, new ideas and healthy and robust (yet respectful) discussion.
One thing I know for certain is that “the dark side’’ really is many shades of grey.
By Ellen Hill for Deep Hill Media Photo: David Hill
A photographic exhibition at Woodford Academy, a National Trust property, in September will lay bare the soul of the oldest collection buildings in the Blue Mountains, revealing the colourful history which played out on the property.
The collection of black and white images by Blue Mountains photojournalist David Hill gives a revealing interpretation of the collection of buildings which makes up Woodford Academy in the mid-mountains village.
Based at Springwood, Mr Hill is a former newspaper photojournalist with a unique eye for poignant architectural, human and landscape portraiture.
“I’m always in search of depth and soul and try to make an emotional connection beyond the superficial with every subject, whether it be food on a plate, a person with a story to tell, light on a landscape or an architectural work like Woodford Academy,’’ he said.
“Life is a continuous stream of fleeting nuances and it’s a constant challenge to capture as many as I can.
“The use of black and white photography to capture the essence of Woodford Academy made sense for me because the land and the buildings have a complex past, influenced by so many events and characters and black and white printing tends to show more subtlety and tone without the distraction of colour.
“Hopefully my interpretation of Woodford Academy reflects the many shades of grey between the contrasting black and white tones.’’
Mr Hill also photographed the property at night to capture another dimension of its character.
“The pop of the streetlight and the slick new highway running next to this stoic sandstone old timer is such a juxtaposition yet is so in keeping with how our modern community lives alongside and within such tangible reminders of the past.
“Woodford Academy is not just a few old buildings on the side of the highway – it is a living entity that has a story to tell and a relevance to us today, and the volunteer management committee is doing an excellent job in ensuring that story is told and exploring ways in which to realise that relevance locally and nationally.’’
Woodford Academy Management Committee deputy chair Elizabeth Burgess said: “We were fortunate to have David Hill photograph the Academy a few years ago. The committee was overwhelmed by the beauty of David’s striking, highly detailed black and white photographs.
“We are greatly looking forward to presenting these stunning photographs of the Blue Mountains oldest building for our September open days in conjunction with the annual Hazelbrook/Woodford Garden Festival.’’
Shades of Woodford Academy will be on display at Woodford Academy, 90-92 Great Western Hwy, Woodford (on street parking available on Woodford Ave), from 10am to 4pm Saturday, September 10 and 17, and 12pm to 4pm Sunday, September 11 and 18. Meet photojournalist David Hill from 1pm – 2pm on Saturday, September 10. Photographs included in the exhibition will be for sale each Saturday.
Museum/exhibition entry: $6 adult, $4 concession, $15 family (2 adults, 2 children). Email email@example.com for more information.
By Ellen Hill for Springwood Art Show
Painters, sculptors, photographers, woodworkers and craftspeople have been invited to showcase their work at the first and longest running art show in the Blue Mountains from August 28 to 30.
Springwood Art Show will once again showcase the best established and emerging talent in the area.
Held at Springwood High School and co-ordinated by the Parents & Citizens Association (P&C), the event directly supports students of the school with 25 per cent of all sales including admission, café, raffle and artworks used to buy educational resources.
P&C president Rod Murray said: “The Blue Mountains has long been recognised as a melting pot for artists and Springwood Art Show helped the region become a recognised `city of the arts’.
“The show is a staple on the arts calendar, known as an event where artists can expect to be noticed by some serious collectors.
“I encourage all local artists wanting to come to the attention of the arts world to join our feature artist landscape painter Guenter Barth and submit a work.’’
Principal Dr Mark Howie said: “There has traditionally been a fantastic selection of artworks from students at the art show, which showcases the rich talent at the school and boosts the confidence of emerging young artists who are thrilled to have their work hung alongside established artists.
“I look forward to seeing what creativity has been evident in our classrooms this year.’’
Artists may also enter an impressive array of art prizes including the $1000 Rose Lindsay Art Prize, $500 highly commended prize and landscape, photography, portrait and viewers’ choice awards.
There is also the Youth Art Encouragement Award and Springwood High School student recognition prizes, while the Environmental and Ecology Award will encourage reuse in art.
Springwood Art Show will be held at Springwood High School, Grose Rd, Faulconbridge, from August 28 to 30, with an official opening program on the Friday evening and activities throughout the weekend.
Phone Rod Murray on (02) 4751 8245 or go to www.springwoodartshow.org.au for more information and to download a contribution form.
By Ellen Hill Photos: David Hill
“Bula Mrs Hill. Bula Mr Hill. Bula Master Hill.
“Bula scruffy dog.
“Naughty dog – you should be at home.
It set the tone for the whole seven-day visit to Fiji’s Coral Coast.
From the palm tree-lined beaches, the thatched huts, azure waters dotted with quaint fishing boats, sapphire-coloured skies, and strapping young men in sarongs, all the clichés were there in glorious real life. It was as if we had been engulfed by the pages of a tourist brochure.
After a tough previous few months, it was just what we needed, right down to being handed a coconut on the promenade by the grinning man who scampered up to cut it down.
The Fiji Hideaway Resort was perfect: not too posh so we felt uncomfortable but nice enough to feel like a treat.
Our white bure (villa) was spacious, cool and clean, surrounded by tropical plants and with high ceilings, a queen size bed, an indoor shower (and a pretty spiffy outdoor one) and a front verandah.
Unheard of for us, we embraced the opportunity to “fly and flop’’ and didn’t leave the resort for three days.
With jobs that require us to be positive, polite and almost servile, it was a welcome relief to laze by the pool while resort staff scurried around at our beck and call.
We enjoyed the theatrical nightly kava ceremony, the lighting of the torches, the cultural stage performance each evening and got a buzz from the “personal’’ invitation to attend drinks with the resort general manager the afternoon we arrived.
Our tweenage son preferred our company, although the resort does have a kids club where resort crew look after the children with non-stop activities from treasure hunts to snorkelling and Fijian fishing lessons.
The resort website encourages visitors to meet
the real Fiji’’ by visiting thefriendly locals’’ in nearby villages, although we suspect the many locals who work there feel obliged to welcome tourists into their personal spaces after serving their every need all day.
After three days of soaking in the cloistered embrace of the resort, we tentatively ventured beyond the protective gates and wandered down the narrow potholed road towards town.
Just a few hundred metres down the road we were confronted by a man holding a machete.
He eyed us suspiciously.
We eyed him anxiously.
“Where are you going?’’ he asked.
“Just for a walk,’’ my husband said, aiming for a casual tone but achieving a warbled defence.
Why?’’ the man asked in amazement.Why you leave the resort?’’
Sitting cross-legged on the bare earthen floor of the hut, a tiny naked child peeped around the doorframe as the man told us his hard luck story and asked for money.
The next day it was slightly disconcerting to see him elevated as an elder at the local Methodist church service, where we were amused by the spotlessly dressed children in their Sabbath whites, singing psalms like angels and squabbling like seagulls during the sermon.
We took an organised full-day tour to Robinson Caruso Island (arranged by the resort staff), where tourists can enjoy a bountiful lunch, educational tour and entertainment. There is also a bar, children’s water activities and basic hut accommodation.
The resort shops are stocked with a range of items, from toiletries to clothing along with traditional novelties and snacks – all carrying a generous mark-up price.
The Hideaway has a full gym but we steered clear of physical torture, preferring a massage at the day spa and a lounge by the pool.
Apart from the raw sausage served at the “traditional Aussie BBQ’’, the only real downer was the lack of an ATM (we had to order a taxi and travel to the 5-star hotel down the road).
After building a sandcastle on the beach, going on numerous romantic sunset strolls along the sun-soaked shores of the
majestic ocean lagoon with year-round warm tropical waters’’ andpristine coral beaches’’, collecting shells and sipping rich cocktails by the pool, we truly felt refreshed.
Sometimes you just need a postcard.
Several international airlines have flights into Fij, including Qantas, Air New Zealand, Korean Air, Pacific Blue, and V Australia. Air Pacific is the national carrier and has direct flights from Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney, Auckland, Christchurch, Honolulu, Los Angeles, Vancouver and Japan. The Fiji International Airport is located in Nadi.
The Coral Coast and the Fiji Hideaway Resort & Spa are a 90 minute transfer away. The resort’s reservations staff can organise a transfer at the time of reservation via private car, taxi, or coach (fees apply).
Sightseeing around the Coral Coast is a must, with beautiful beaches and coral lagoons to explore. Taxis are available from the resort to visit Sigatoka for duty free shopping or the tour desk can organise a rental.
We rode the public bus into Sigatoka, which cost only a few dollars.
By Ellen Hill, Blue Mountains Attractions Group
Golden hues, crisp mountain air and exhilarating activities mark the onset of autumn, one of the most visually spectacular seasons for the premier attractions of the Greater Blue Mountains.
Blue Mountains Attractions Group president Dave Robertson said: “Every season here has its charm but autumn is one of the most beautiful.
“The weather is ideal for physical pursuits such as bushwalking, the air is fresh and then there are the colours – from exotic trees and autumn blooms to brilliant sunsets and the soft veil of mists that create a magical dreamy landscape, the Greater Blue Mountains in autumn is glorious.’’
Visitors and locals can surround themselves with some of the most exquisite floral displays at Everglades Historic House & Gardens at Leura.
If arriving in the Blue Mountains by train or if you just want to leave the hassle of driving at your accommodation, hop on a red double-deckerBlue Mountains Explorer Bus or vintage-style Trolley Tours at any of stops around the Katoomba and Leura circuit and hop off at Everglades.
For a different perspective, continue your car drive up the Great Western Hwy, cut across the Darling Causeway at Mt Victoria and turn right down the Bells Line of Rd to The Blue Mountains Botanic Garden at Mt Tomah. From there it is easy to continue through the Hawkesbury on to Sydney or head back to the Central West through Lithgow.
Also on the hop-on/hop-off bus circuit, catch a bird’s eye view of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area from one of the thrilling rides at Scenic World and soak up authentic indigenous culture atWaradah Aboriginal Centre.
Experience the outdoors indoors at the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre interactive World Heritage Exhibition at Katoomba, visit the home of one of Australia’s most loved characters, the Magic Pudding, at Norman Lindsay Gallery & Museum at Faulconbridge and warm up with a delicious Devonshire tea or traditional high tea at Bygone Beautys while browsing the vast number of items on sale.
Grab a bear hug at Australia’s largest and most awarded specialty teddy bear store, Nana’s Teddies & Toys at Blaxland and visit some real life furry friends at Featherdale Wildlife Park at Doonside on your way to or from the Blue Mountains.
The fun and fascination continues over the Great Divide.
Stop in at Talisman Gallery at the Hartley Historic Site and watch metal artist Ron Fitzpatrick create a masterpiece before exploring the underground at the world’s most magnificent cave system, Jenolan Caves (Blue Mountains Trolley Tours runs a daily coach service there and back).
Mr Robertson encouraged visitors to “stay a night or three’’ to fully experience the wonders of the Greater Blue Mountains region.
“Remember too that we reward loyal local tourism ambassadors through our Residents Rewards program simply for showing family and friends around the region and visiting our attractions businesses,’’ he said.
Go to bluemountainsattractions.com.au for more information about what to see and do in the Greater Blue Mountains region, special offers and news and the Residents Rewards program.
* Blue Mountains Attractions Group is a commercial client of Deep Hill Media
THE faint sound of metal tapping rhythmically against metal and the distant shrill ring of a telephone is a fitting background theme song for the towering ramparts of the Lithgow Blast Furnace ruins.
Rising from the hill overlooking the town, the carcass of what was Australia’s first and only inland heavy industrial centre displays an almost superior air despite its decay.
Shrugging off the reason for their abandonment nearly 70 years ago, the ruins stand as a demonstration against progress and time with an insolent attitude of what they represent, not what they have become.
It was here that the first iron and steel in Australia were cast.
FROM THE BEGINNING
The Lithgow Blast Furnace was built by William Sandford in 1906-1907.
However, iron smelting in Lithgow began more than 20 years previously in October 1875 under the direction of Enoch Hughes at a foundry built on Thomas Brown’s Esk Bank property where ore was found just beneath the surface. Hughes also encouraged Cobb and Co principal shareholder and manager James Rutherford of Bathurst, Canadian railway engineer Dan Williams and Public Works Minister John Sutherland to join him in this steel making venture. By the end of 1876 the blast furnace was producing more than 100 tons of pig-iron a week.
However, it soon became clear that the operation would be limited by cheap imports transported to the colony as ship’s ballast. The mill carried on for a while under a co-operative system but eventually failed.
Frustrated at the lack of government support of local industries, Rutherford blew up the blast furnace with two dray loads of blasting powder.
William Sandford, who was associated with the early steel making operations in Mittagong, took over the lease from Rutherford in 1886 (he bought the works in 1892). He revived the business initially by puddling Australia’s first steel in 1900.
A strong lobbyist for Lithgow industry, Sandford urged the State Government to use only locally produced iron and steel. The government complied, and in 1904 sought tenders from America, Europe and Australia to supply it with iron and steel – on the condition that all operations used local ores and all works were located within NSW.
Sandford was awarded the contract in 1907 but then found he could not fulfil it.
In a letter to his son Tom dated June 24, 1907, blast furnace manager William Thornley wrote: “…we have had very great trouble in keeping up with our contract, as a matter of fact our plant is not nearly large enough to carry out the contract satisfactorily’’.
The size of the operation wasn’t Thornley’s only gripe. He was scathing in his opinion of the workforce at the iron works and directed Tom to scour factories for more labourers during his travels throughout England. Thornley even gave Tom the names of men to approach and wrote that if the government did not cover the cost of their fares the company would.
“The men we have, have, no experience, and do not seem willing to be shown, they are more interested in trying to draw money from the firm without giving equivalent value…
“If you come across any men during your travels who would like to come to Australia, and who have had experience on the basic open hearth furnaces, second hands, or even third would do, if the men are intelligent and likely workmen.’’
Thornley was also disappointed in the quality of work produced at the steel works.
The results from the Steel Furnaces are not anything like we could reasonably expect,’’ he wrote.Unfortunately our men are not accustomed to Basic working and we have been much hampered through not having sufficient Dolomite. We have been using the local stuff, but, it does not equal the important in some respects.’’
Thornley recommended an expansion of the Lithgow works.
“If we had the furnaces and one or two spare producers we could keep the work constantly going’’ and turn out an average of 400-500 tons of steel a week, he estimated.
Sandford took Thornley’s advice and built a new blast furnace, paid for with a hefty bank overdraft. Officially opened on May 13, 1907, the new 1000 tons/week capacity furnace was built specifically to smelt iron from ore near the railway about 1km away from the Eskbank Colliery.
However, William Sandford Ltd soon ran into financial strife and, under the threat of bank foreclosure, handed the reigns over to George and Cecile Hoskins at the end of 1907.
There were also clashes within management, with Thornley complaining to his son Tom about the amount of limestone another manager had been adding to the finished iron.
“When you were here, the blame for everything that Mr [blast furnace manager] could find it possible to blame anyone for, fell on you, since you have left he has been trying to fix blame on me, which, of course I quite expected.’’
(Mr Thornley left the blast furnace in 1908 and established his own successful engineering, iron founders, blacksmith and machine tool manufacturing company at Sydenham, W. Thornley & Sons Pty Ltd, which operated until 1990.)
Under the new owners G&C Hoskins Ltd, the ironworks eventually underwent substantial changes. The Hoskins persuaded the government to pay a bounty for Australian-produced steel. They then moved their operations from Rhodes in Sydney to Lithgow.
The brothers also had Sandford’s struggling government contract transferred to them and extended until the end of 1916. They then built 80 coke ovens and a second blast furnace at the eastern end of the site in 1913, followed by 15 more coke ovens.
Lithgow’s monopoly on iron smelting was seriously dented by BHP, which opened its Newcastle plant in 1915.
However, the outbreak of WWI, specifically the opening of a small arms factory in Lithgow, was a boon for the company which continued to expand. A fifth blowing engine was added to the original furnace in 1923. At 400 tons, it was the largest in Australia.
By that stage, Lithgow had long been renowned for its steel production, with thousands of tons of steel produced for the Trans-Australia Railway. In the first year of production, the steel works treated 51,000 tons of ore and employed 632 people. By 1926 the steel furnaces had turned out 178,000 tons of ore, resulting in 105,000 tons of pig iron.
Nevertheless, in the mid-1920s, it was decided to move operations to Port Kembla where the natural resource and transport network were more attractive.
Coke, limestone and iron ore needed for the operation was originally sourced from Lithgow and surrounds but it was not an endless supply. Extra metallurgical coke had to be brought in from the south coast at great cost, exacerbated by the 10 per cent State Government railway freight charge hike in 1919. Together with the western district’s inability to supply enough quality ore resulted in the demise of the Lithgow iron and steel industry.
The Hoskins abandoned the blast furnace in 1928, joined the Australian Iron and Steel Company and set up works at Port Kembla. In 1932 the blast furnaces were removed from the Lithgow site and the last employees dismissed.
With the closure of the Lithgow smelters also came the cessation of a nearby iron ore mine taken over by the Hoskins in 1907 and used for the smelter.
WHAT STATE TODAY?
Lithgow Council bought the wedge-shaped Inch St site in 1988 and opened it to the public as The Lithgow Blast Furnace Park.
Today, visitors can picnic among the remains of the pump house and the furnace foundations.
They can wander freely around the base of the brick chimney stack and walk over great iron bottom plates and the pig bins and even crawl inside the brick material bunker tunnels.
The foundations of No.2 furnace and its four stoves remain, along with the brick base for the chimney stack; the footings for the second Parsons turbo-blower, the rail embankment in the south-west corner, the rail bridge over Inch St and the bolts for the boiler stacks.
Remnants of the third Parsons turbo-blower are still there with the footings for the Thompson engine, other extensions to the engine house, footings of the pig-breaking machinery and footings for its gantries.
And for those who are interested, the faces of Sandford, Thornley and others gaze back at them from the information boards dotted around the site, reminders of Lithgow’s golden age at the forefront of Australia’s industrial revolution.
Sources: Lithgow Public School 1947; Heritage Council of NSW; Draft Economic Development Strategy for Lithgow by Economic and Community Development Class, University of Sydney October 1996; Furnace, Fire & Forge (Light Railway Research Society of Australia Inc); Thornley family archives.