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A Canvas Seachange: camping on the beach in mid twentieth century Sydney

 Maroubra Beach

The inaugural winner of the NSW Archival Research Fellowship , Caroline Ford, is giving a talk  about the project she undertook as part of the Professional Historians Association (NSW ) continuing development program. The fellowship requires the recipient to undertake research making substantial use of the collection of State Records NSW.

In the period between the two World Wars, Sydney’s beaches were the city’s playground. Together, Bondi, Coogee and Manly attracted close to 100,000 people on scorching summer days. MaxDupain’s enduring images of bronzed surf lifesavers protecting bronzed surf bathers capture the popular mood of the period.

This paper escapes the crowds and heads to the ocean beaches north of Manly and south of Coogee, to try and better understand the diversity and complexity of Sydney’s interwar beach cultures. It pays particular attention to the cultures of beach camping, looking at who was camping on the beach during this period – from working and middle-class weekenders to soldiers’ wives, unemployed people and fishermen – and what they got up to away from the prying eyes of Sydney society. As residential development spread along the coast, so too did competition for the coastal spaces occupied by campers, leading to conflict between local councils, new residents and these Sydneysiders keen for their own piece of sun, sand and surf.

Date: 18 August 2011

Venue: History House, 133 Macquarie Street, Sydney 

Cost: Free for members; $5 non-Members

Time: 10.30am – 12pm

Enquiries and bookings: Please contact the PHA NSW Secretary email secretary@phansw.org.au or phone the message service on 9252 9437.

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