Storytelling and a Camden history film
On a balmy late spring afternoon in central Camden a group of local people were conducting a photoshoot.
The late afternoon provided a deep even light that was ideal for the whole venture.
None were professional filmmakers. But that did not stop anyone.
The filming dodged pedestrians and was occasionally drowned out by local buses.
Historic John Street precinct
The project centred around the historic John Street precinct.
The film venture involved storytelling, great yarns, interesting characters, old buildings and lots of making do.
The location provided a rich collection of old buildings that speak about the past for those who want to listen. History enthusiasts can immerse themselves in the past in the present by walking the ground – the same streets as local identities and characters have done for decades.
Filmmaker Rachel Perkins (2019) has stated
The past is always with us and it has created the present. The past is all around us within us all the time. The past lives with us in the present.
Storytelling touches something within us. It touches the soul.
Filmmakers and storytellers
The key storyteller was Laura Jane Aulsebrook, who has been described at Camden’s own Miss Honey (for the uninitiated from Matilda) and her happy ways. All dressed up in purple for the occasion.
The key camera operator, director and chief of production was Debbie Roberts, (EO of CRET), ably assisted by her roadie husband Peter.
History material was provided from the Camden Heritage Walking Brochure and chief history boffin UOW historian Dr Ian Willis, ably assisted by his PA Marilyn.
This motley group wandered around a number of Camden’s old buildings – Laura Jane acted as storyteller for the 1-2 minutes historic grabs. LJ was full of passion in her completely ad lib performances. Ian listened for any gaffs – which were few and far between.
Debbie followed Laura Jane around with her handheld – tripod held – iphone camera. If she was lucky a bus didn’t drown LJ’s monologue. The roadies held all the bits and pieces – then reviewed the take and ably provided all sorts of advice – most it wisely ignored by the camera operator and storyteller.
The most challenging story was that of Henry Thompson’s Macaria from the 1870s, the ghosts and Henry’s 16 children. This is next door to the 1840s Sarah Tiffin’s cottage, one of the oldest buildings in the local area and one time lockup.
The Cawdor court house ended up in Camden in 1841 much to chagrin of Picton and Campbelltown which missed out. Next door is the 1878 police barracks which was always a site of plenty of action where miscreants were locked up in the cells to cool off.
The 1916 fire station which was really opened in 1917 was an improvement from the pig-sty in Hill Street. Next door is the modern library once the centre of learning and speeches in the town as the 1866 Camden School of Arts set up by James Macarthur.
Our storyteller and camera operator filmed a street walk outside the 1936 Bank of New South Wales building and its neighbor the 1937 banking chamber for the Rural Bank – interwar masterpieces.
This was followed by a chit-chat about the long running Camden Show out the front of the lovely 1937 architect designed brick frontage to the 1890s Camden Rifles drill hall, now the show pavilion.
This intrepid troupe were making short film clips as a promo for local tourist and a local spring festival – the Camden Jacaranda Festival.
The aim of the 2019 Camden Jacaranda Festival is to
The specific intention in designing and delivering the “Camden Jacaranda Festival” is to showcase both our fabulous town and the people that comprise the fabric of it.
The Jacaranda festival is just one of many that have been held in the local area.
English village sports days
The festival draws on a rich history of community festivals in the local area going back into the 1800s. The heritage of festivals is drawn from the English tradition of the village fair that came with the European settlers.
The origins of these festivals, according to Peter Hampson Ditchfield’s Old English Sports (2007), lies in ancient Saxon customs, particularly in Devonshire and Sussex, associated with ‘wassailing’ (carousing and health-drinking) to ensure the thriving of orchard trees (mainly apples) and exchanging presents.
On New Years Day village youths undertook indoor and outdoor sport to keep out the cold by ‘wholesome exercise and recreative games’. Sports included bat-and-ball, wrestling, skittles, blind-man’s-bluff, hunt the slipper, sword dancing and mumming (play acting).
Festivals, fetes and fairs encourage lots of visitors to the local area as tourists.
Tourism, cultural heritage and history
What is the connection between local history and tourism?
Quite a lot.
Tourism Australia says
In the financial year 2017–18 Australia generated $57.3 billion in direct tourism GDP representing growth of 7 percent over the previous year – three times the national GDP growth of 2.3%. Tourism also directly employed 646,000 Australians (1 in 19) making up 5.2% of Australia’s workforce.
More than this Arts New South Wales says
In Australia and around the world, cultural tourism is growing. In 2015 NSW hosted over 11.4 million ‘cultural and heritage visitors’,1 both international and domestic, who spent an estimated $11.2 billion in the state, an increase of 15.4% on the previous year.
The Australia Council says of arts tourism:
Arts tourist numbers grew by 47% between 2013 and 2017, a higher growth rate than for international tourist numbers overall (37%).
Tourism can create jobs, drive economic growth and encourage local development.
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