Friday 30 January 2015

Camden Aesthetic

Fun with Flowers

Azaleas add fun with flowers.

Flowers can be uplifting and provide a bright spot in a dull. The local area is in full bloom with street trees, in private gardens and in other locations.

Flowers offer a sense of the new and bright perspective on a dull place—a sense of a new dawn, a new awakening. Flowers give inspiration when you are feeling down in the dumps. Try walking around the streets of Camden and Elderslie and feel inspired and uplifted.

Spring is Sprung

Flowering Plum in Macarthur Road Elderslie (I Willis)
A casual walk through Elderslie at the moment reveals the wonder of the early spring blooms that you get in the local area. The air has been crystal clear after recent rain with no haze. The light has an intensity that any keen photographer would notice and results in great images. The Sydney Basin is usually enveloped in a haze, and it is pleasant to witness the strength of colour that occasionally happens after rain. The crisp morning air just after dawn is invigorating for the soul when joggers and dog walkers are out in force taking in the fresh air.

Voices Soar on High

The first concert of A Maiden Chorus, the St John’s Camden Ladies Choir, was held at the St John’s Church Hall on Saturday night 24 May 2014. Under the direction of talented conductor Genesa Lane, the women put their hearts into several splendid a cappella arrangements drawing on influences from African, Latin, Gospel, contemporary and traditional. The angelic voice of Anneleise opened the 2nd set with a solo, and later numbers were supported by an all-male band composed of keyboard, bass and drums.

Acapella singing traces its influences to the religious music of  Medieval period drawing on  Christian, Islamic and Jewish traditions. Some sources claim the origins of a capella are found in the absence of instrumentation is founded in early forms of worship that were without musical accompaniment.

The night’s programme was lifted with talented local cellist Jonathan Bekes who performed several pieces. Jonathan will tour Italy and Norway with the Estivo Piano Trio in 2014 and will also perform in Verona. 

The concert by A Maiden Chorus was a fundraiser for the Hooper family who are undertaking mission work teaching in Tanzania later in 2014.

A Maiden Chorus is a community-based women’s only choir whose members are from a variety of backgrounds and ages. The current choir has 27 members and started in September 2013 amongst women from St John’s church.  The choir rehearse on Monday nights at the St John’s church hall at 7.30pm. 

Community singing provides distinct benefits for health and well-being. VicHealth commissioned a report called Benefits of group singing for health and well-being conducted by the Wellness Promotion Unit from Victoria University. The reports state that group singing promotes social capital which has positive impacts on physical and psychological well-being. Benefits for individuals can include increased social connectedness, increased sense of belonging, physical and emotional benefits and reduced personal stress.

The Doings of the Platypus 

Camden Council held a platypus information night on Wednesday 21 May 2014 at Narellan Library for residents of Camden, Wollondilly and Campbelltown areas. 

Camden Council’s Natural Resource Projects Officer Tracey Poulter introduced  Dr David Phalen from the University of Sydney to 45 keen residents who listened attentively to a very informative presentation.

Dr Phalen outlined the life cycle of the platypus, feeding characteristics, its habits, its characteristics, local sightings, risks to its well-being and habitat. He explained the territorial nature of the platypus and described the movement of platypus in river systems and how they can move between catchments. 

Dr Phalen reported that over the past 50 years, there have been a host of sightings in the Georges River, Nepean River, Shoalhaven River, Wollondilly River Catchment areas. Platypus was recently sighted in the Georges River catchment, with one specimen caught in fishing line. He concluded that the platypus is not threatened and is quite adaptable to changes in its environment. 

Members of the audience reported their sightings of platypus in the Georges River and the Werriberri Creek. 

Nepean River at Little Sandy Bridge Camden (I Willis)

A tranquil water view

The Nepean River has provided poetic inspiration to many people.

While the river has provided inspiration for paintings, sketches and storytelling for other folks.

The river has been at the heart of Camden’s identity for over a century. The river is an integral part of the social heritage of the history of the district. 

The Nepean River is one element of the area’s intangible cultural heritage. Unfortunately, Australia is not a signatory to the United Nations Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage. (Paris, 17 October 2003)

The geography of the Nepean River and its floodplain has shaped the landscape of the area.

The river floodplain is the site of many community celebrations, traditions and rituals and some of the most important is the Camden Show and Anzac Day.

Read more on the Camden Show here
Read more on Camden’s charm as a country town.

A moment in Exeter Street, Camden NSW (I Willis)

The essence of a moment

What have you noticed while out and about? Our local community is such a pretty place. We really are privileged to capture it sometimes. Just take a deep breath and soak up the moment. You look around, and there is a glimpse of something special. A moment when the sun catches the branches of a tree. A moment when a shadow crosses your path. 

One such moment occurred in Exeter Street on the Nepean River floodplain next to the Town Farm. Just another moment in one of Camden streetscapes that visitors come to our community to soak up. These visitors add to the tourism of the area and create jobs in the local businesses that serve them. 

Just as day-trippers have done to Camden for nearly 100 years from the Sydney area. The essence of the day-tripper was the experience of the tourists who visited our community in the 1920s and 1930s—the inter-war period when Camden’s Englishness was its attraction.

Read more about Interwar Camden

Attractive flower bed in Oxley Street Camden (I Willis)

Flowers and things

What a wonder a bit of colour does for a drab streetscape. The aesthetic beauty of flowers and green things are a soothing effect on people’s hectic lives. A bright spot in the day. A hit of happiness. A flourish of fun. A corner of quietness.

If you have a moment, have a look in Oxley Street outside Butterflies Florist. The florist, Angela,   has taken time out to plant flowers and different types of greenery in the flower beds opposite her shop. The colour and greenery provide a freshness, a vitality to the otherwise drab urban environment. It generates happiness. Angela said ‘I have planted roses, lavender, sweet william, geraniums, salvia, gazanias, vincas and marigolds’. She has added a burst of sunlight and brightened up a rather dull part of the streetscape in Oxley Street. We need more of it.

This novel and the attractive process has beautified an otherwise colourless streetscape of tarmac and bare brick walls. The flowers make people feel happier, and they smile at you as you walk past them. Butterflies Florist has created a comfortable zone in Oxley Street precinct.

This complements the greenery in other parts of the Camden central business area. The greenery provides a counterpoint to the rush, rush, rush of daily life. Green is a natural colour that has a soothing effect on people’s outlook. By just slowing down a little as you walk past the greenery of a  Camden streetscape, you might lower your stress levels a little.

Other green gems include the shrubbery outside Camden Council’s John Street Entrance which softens an otherwise plain streetscape and heritage office frontage. The greenery provides a pleasant entry to the council chambers adjacent to historic Macaria.

There are also the garden beds along the busy thoroughfare of Argyle Street. The flowers and shrubbery are a touch of authenticity in our ever-increasing artificial environment—a flourish of colour and a bit of nature. A back to basics approaches that there needs to be more of.

Plants are suitable for the soul. They have a calming effect on people. People smile when there are pretty flowers around them. They provide a moment of relief—a moment when people might reflect on other matters. Flowers and greenery can create a tiny therapy space so that they can have a moment of reflection.

There are health and well-being benefits from having plants around people. Plants have a positive effect on people’s outlook and disposition.

The flowers and greenery around the business centre of the town is part of the Camden aesthetic. It is part of the charm and character of the community. It means many things to many people.

Historically it is the desire by some in the community to retain the country town atmosphere based around the ‘country town idyll’ in the face of Sydney’s urban encroachment in and around the town area.

An extension of the ‘country town idyll’ is a desire by some who want to retain the rural atmosphere in the community.

It is reflected in the open space, the urban parks, the rural vistas, the bucolic countryside and the desire of many newcomers to find a spot where ‘the country looks like the country’.

Read more about the ‘country town idyll’.

Read more about the charming town of Camden.

Read about the Camden Dreamtime

Originally posted 30 January 2015. Updated 31 July 2020.

Friday 23 January 2015

Camden Town Farm

Camden Community Garden (image by Steve)

Summer at the Community Gardens

The Camden Community Garden provides benefits to the local Camden community. It is located on the Exeter Street frontage and being close to the local produce markets venue has given the gardens a great connection with the overall site. The alluvial soils of the Nepean River together with many years of dairy cattle grazing have proved a bonus for the establishment of a garden. The unique platypus shape layout reflects the Council logo and community aim for environmental sustainability, as well as the unconfirmed sightings on the Nepean River.

Read more @

Weddings and more at Town Farm

Wedding at Camden Town Farm January 2015
The Camden Town Farm is now available for weddings, functions and other events.

The farm is located on the former dairy farm owned by local identity Llewella Davies. Miss Davies lived opposite the farm in Exeter Street and would be regularly seen around the town area.

The farm is located on the picturesque Nepean River floodplain adjacent to the town centre fronting Exeter Street on the north-western side of the township.

The Camden Produce Markets are held on a regular basis next to the community gardens.

Camden Community Gardens

The Camden Community Gardens are on the Camden Town Farm on the edge of the Camden Town Heritage Precinct. They are located on the Nepean River floodplain with extensive river frontages. The adjacent Town Farm hosts community markets, food festivals, concerts, fishing competitions and a host of other events. The rustic farm shed which dates from the early 20th century has recently been sensitively restored. 

Garden plots with a friend

Community gardening is an ever increasingly popular pastime. The Camden Community Garden at Llewella Davies Town Farm is one of these in our local area.

The Camden Community Garden started in 2009. In 2011 Camden Council employed a project officer to co-ordinate the garden project.

It currently has around 70 active members who tend their own plots.

The Old Dairy
Old Dairy at Community Garden (S Cooper)

Adjacent to the garden  is the old dairy building from Llewella Davies farm. It is a vernacular construction using traditional bush craftsmenship typical of pre-First World War period. The stalls in the dairy were used for hand milking dairy cows on the farm before it was mechanised sometime after the Second World War.

The dairy building was built by one of Camden's bush carpenters who were practical men. They placed their mark on the district and were amongst the first in the Camden area to erect farm buildings. They were also responsible for erecting post & rail fences that were scattered across the farming landscape. One example is to be found in the community garden.

For more information about the Camden Community Garden click here


Wednesday 7 January 2015

Camden Airfield

Macquarie Grove Flying School 1930s (Camden Images)

A small airfield with a big history

Aviation buffs come to Camden to visit a little airfield that has a glorious history from the early 20th century. It still retains much of its original character located on the Nepean River floodplain at Macquarie Grove, including being surrounded by Hassall Cottage (1815) and on the other by Macquarie Grove House (1930s). Camden Airfield has a wonderful wartime history that few know about. Pay a visit to this hidden gem on Sydney's rural-urban fringe.

Camden Airfield Hut No 72 (I Willis)

Camden Airfield Hut No 72

The last remaining hut at Camden Airfield from the Second World War is still standing. It is Hut No 72. It is located adjacent to the current carpark.
Huts were built at the airfield for the arrival of the RAAF Central Flying School in 1940. Other flying schools were built at Bradfield Park in Sydney and Narromine around the same time. In December 1941 the personnel at the school included 45 officers, 422 airmen, with 48 officers and 81 airmen in various training courses. There were around 35 huts on the airfield that were used to accommodate the personnel and a variety of other uses.

Camden Airfield Macquarie Grove flooded in 1942 (Camden Images)

32 Squadron RAAF, Camden Airfield, 1942-1944

Camden has hosted 32 Squadron RAAF since the time of the Second World War. The members of the squadron have developed a special relationship with the local community that has been marked by tragedy and celebrations. 
The members of  32 Squadron arrived in Camden in September 1942 after seven months of hazardous operational duties supporting Allied Forces in New Guinea and the surrounding area, including New Britain. The squadron had been ‘hastily formed in the field’ in February 1942 with personnel drawn from other units.1  Large scale air attacks on Rabaul in January 1942 had resulted in the virtual elimination of the 24 Squadron,  and this was followed by the invasion of New Britain by the Japanese forces (23 January 1942).

  A wartime photo of A6-15, with Central Flying School at Camden. The Collection p6525-0080

 RAAF Central Flying School Camden 1940-1942

Australia’s entry into the Second World War created a demand for trained pilots. In July 1940 the Commonwealth Government acquired 468 acres of land on the Nepean River floodplain at Macquarie Grove `for defence purposes’ for an airfield. The site had been inspected in January 1940 for the RAAF by Wing-commander EC Bates (RAF). He had found it eminently suitable for the establishment of a flying training school. The Air Board had taken control of the airfield in April with the initial expectation for the airfield to house 150 men and 50 aircraft. According to reports the airfield had an ideal location with a long runway (1100 feet), clear approaches, room for expansion and existing hangars. 

Read more here 
For more information on aircraft in image A6-15 click here