Post Your History

Griffith Pioneer Park Museum is seeking out those who remember the old Post Office in Griffith, as part of their new display

The Post Office was on the site of the current building, but an older style with red brick and grand arched windows. 

Pioneer Park Museum has a recreation of the original Griffith Post Office which was operational from 1925 to 1979 with staff keen to talk to those who have stories to tell about the original building. 

“We’re currently developing new displays with a focus on the Post Office and would love to be able to share memories, stories, experiences and anecdotes to preserve this important part of our local history,” said Jason Richardson, Curator Griffith Pioneer Park Museum. 

“Do you have memories of the Griffith Post Office? Maybe you received an important telegram, or worked behind the counter? We would love for you to share any stories you might have.” 

Postal services at that time included technologies not seen today, like telegraph operators communicating through the percussive messaging of Morse Code. Aside from parcels and letters, the building also housed the switchboards used to link telephones in the region. 

“Those who lived on farms might remember the distinctive ringing of their party line, which indicated when a phone call was for their household rather than another that shared the connection,” said Mr Richardson. 

There are many ways the Post Office connected Griffith and it’s surprising to discover what services were provided in the building. 

“Phyllis Bell recently recalled working as Phonogram Operator for seven years and says her colleagues were the nicest people,” he said.  

“She remembered that as she progressed to being a senior staff member, her role included liaising with the CSIRO to update weather reports placed at the front of the Post Office.” 

Memories like these will help the new display to reflect how important services within the community have changed. 

“It’s details like these memories that help Pioneer Park Museum to share the experiences of the local people who shaped our history,” said Mr. Richardson. 

If you have a recollection of the Griffith Post Office, please contact Pioneer Park Museum.

Leeton Memories bring colour to history

A visually-arresting and innovative approach to local history will debut in Leeton this March

Jo Roberts with her Leeton Memories display
Local artist Jo Roberts has a display in the windows of the Leeton Community Op Shop that is based on the memories of longtime resident Joe Errey.

This is the first of a series of window displays that, over coming months, will interpret observations from elders about their lives in our town and bring into focus changes in the local landscape.

"This project began with a conversation I had with Joe Errey," said Jo Roberts.

"We're both keen observers of birds and I was enthralled by his descriptions of flocks of birds, particularly those that are now rarer to see over our town."

Joe's memories include seeing flocks of budgerigars, as well as identifying a River Red Gum planted in 1913 by his grandfather at their former farm.

This towering giant sits a little way off Vance Road and marks the beginning of the Errey family's connection to Leeton after they settled on the land.

"I was also amazed to learn that Joe's pet corella is more than 50 years old, which seems mind-blowing when you consider how common these birds are in our region," said Ms Roberts.

The bird, named Sam, can often be heard calling out to those passing by Joe's home on Brady Way. 

The Leeton Memories project has collaborated with Kathy Tenison of Storymaster Audio to record interviews that capture local history from the perspectives of older residents, then Red Earth Ecology offered these conversations to local artists for interpretation as visual displays.

"Our aim is to stir discussion about changes in the local landscape by reflecting on what people have seen in their own lifetimes," said project coordinator Jason Richardson.

"It's exciting to see how those memories resonate with our collaborators, such as the artists involved and through listening to the recordings with Leeton writers at Riverina Writing House."

The project brings an intergenerational approach to interpreting recent history of the region in various media.

"We have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know these residents through hearing about their lives and hope that everyone in the community will take the time to listen, while looking over the dynamic displays during the next few months," said Mr Richardson.

A link to hear Joe's memories online will be seen in the form of a QR code in the window display, allowing viewers to hear his observations while looking over Jo's interpretation in the Leeton Community Op Shop windows during March.

(Or click on this link

And, if you listen carefully, you can hear Sam the corella calling in the background.

Red Earth Ecology has been actively fostering connections with the Riverina landscape for around a decade through a range of activities, see for more.

Leeton Memories is supported by Western Riverina Arts and Create NSW through funding from the NSW Government. 

Right at the Museum

Recently I returned to working in a museum

One of my first activities was to create this interpretive panel for their iron lung.

It surprised me as I'd already written about this item when I worked here six years ago, but returning to it I learned this is a Both respirator.

Edward Both was an inventor considered the "Edison of Australia" and he had a remarkable career in medical and military settings, as well as creating a scoreboard for the Melbourne Olympics.

Cut it out & cut it up

This week I shared with a Studio Co!Lab what I've learned using the Cut-Up Technique

To begin my talk I encouraged everyone to print a copy of Picasso's poem about noon, since he's known to have stated that artists steal and it feels right to honour this contemporary of Cut-ups.

My Cut-up experiences have been realised in lyrics, sampling and also a book that invites destruction.

I also mentioned the poetry reading that I gave at a book launch which performed a live remix.

We began cutting Picasso's poem into individual words while I explained how the imagery reminded me of the Riverina and introduced David Bowie's use of the technique.

The singer acknowledged his debt to Brion Gysin and echoed some of the magical attributes he promoted with a process pioneered earlier in the 20th Century by Tristan Tzara.

My recollection is Cut-ups were a significant development in the split between Surrealism and Dada, when Tzara created a "manifesto" using newspaper clippings.

At the time the Surrealists were writing manifestoes and took offence at this brute process for generating words.

However, the cut-ups have been seen to share in common the influence of Freud's ideas of dream analysis as a way of identifying cues from the unconscious.

Cut-up documents interrogate the text in a haphazard manner that reveals as much about the dynamics and relationships of the reader, while allowing anyone to be an author. 

In this way it shows a Dadaist antiestablishment attitude that can be seen as an attack on authorial intention.

Some might view the process as reassembling a document and the process can be viewed through a variety of philosophical positions, such as the magic and art roles.

When you begin creating a cut-up text there are decisions about the process that determine roles for chance or probability.

You might choose to draw a word from a hat, or you might assemble them from a visible pool of possible words.

My partner developed an exhibition that referenced William S. Burroughs' use of the Cut-up Technique in 2014 and that year introduced me to an alternate approach proposed by the Disquiet Junto.

While the process of preparing the pieces and then pasting them together has a meditative quality that suits gallery spaces that are open for more of a performance art aesthetic, the simplicity of the idea is ripe for technology.

It is interesting to see David Bowie returned to the idea as personal computing developed with the Verbasizer, which has been beautifully realised at this website.

The idea of cutting seems simple and it's worth remembering that many ideas about editing have developed since Tzara.

When you cut up a text the words are never entirely anonymous, even if the document become a palette for beige language.

Each discrete piece becomes a springboard for a chain of connotations, which is a process that has been called "unlimited semiosis" in semiotic theory.

These become potent symbols and through the popularisation by Gysin the cut-up practice came to be infused with ideas of magic that were researched by Genesis P-Orridge.

Burroughs undertook audio and film-based cut-ups that extended the ideas he identified in literary practice.

I explained an audio-based curse that P-Orridge detailed and how sampling harnesses a similar energy when it takes a small example from a larger whole.

Working with the landscape as a document to sample you find inspiration in selecting small symbolic examples to trigger memories of entire ecosystems.

Which l led into my discussion of my Soundscaping videos and exhibitions.

Using video as a medium for cut-ups led to the role of Arthur Lipsett's 21-87 in the development of Star Wars.

I pondered religious implications as well as broader philosophical questions of free will and determinism.

There were some questions towards the end, including some discussion of AI and machine-learning tools.

I talked about my collaborative poetry, where I fed lines about the environment into a website.

It offered results that were surprising in a way similar to cut-ups but overcame a key constraint.

The responses from AI saw angels, which was delightful and language that I never use.

So the AI experiment gave a nice counterpoint to the Cut-up Technique and Andrew, the moderator, decided that was the moment to end.

Modern torture

Along with the children I knew at one primary school, we all specialised in various forms of torture

One of the most common forms was vividly describing pain and letting the victim stew in their own tense juices.

At the time it was popular to give exotic names to the different styles of torture.

Jungle Torture, for example, involved inflicting a sequences of techniques that would ascend in their intensity.

This would begin with a series of tickling finger-flicks across the chest while describing ants, then progress to pummelling as elephants negotiate the terrain of the victims torso.

Some of the most severe actions came from Asian countries, such as the wrist burn attributed to the Japanese.

It would involve the torturer grabbing a wrist with both hands, then twisting in opposing directions.

My skin was supple back then and I don't recall it caused more than a brief rash, but now I wonder if my dry wrist might catch and rip open on that bony bit that protrudes.

However, there's something about anticipating the touch of my torturer that also feels different now.

I hold hands so rarely with anyone now my kids have grown up -- and not because I scared them away with wrist burns!

My body feels a bit tingly just thinking about someone grabbing me.

Another approach might be Chinese Water Torture, which uses dripping water to slowly frustrate then irritate then madden a victim.

Thinking about this while I lay in the bath recently hearing the shower head drip, I realised it seems underwhelming.

I expect the sound of dripping would barely register among the hum of daily life or even my tinnitus.

The tortures I knew as a child all seem out of date.

Now there's something appealing about the idea of being touched or having enough silence to find dripping water sound loud.

And, of course, the real tortures of waterboarding, electro-shocks or locking-up refugees on remote islands has been well-documented.

Emotional Avalanches

There seems to be a lot of backward-looking music these days

Triple J, Australia's youth radio station, had their Hottest One Hundred on the weekend and, while we were listening my brother observed how many more tracks this year were covers or remixes.

I told him how my new favourite critic had a similar observation of Tiktok's trend for earworms made from snippets of nostalgic tunes. 

Ted Gioia has written that younger audiences find it comforting to hear the same songs, as well as bemoaning the limit this places on music discovery.

It prompted me to reflect on those pop songs that I'd hated hearing until, after memorable moments on dancefloors, they became triggers that allowed me to re-experience ecstasies.

So I'm now experimenting with making memories.

On the weekend I tested the role of music in becoming a soundtrack for moments (or making moments from soundtracks?) when I drove my son from home.

He's moved to the city to start uni and we packed stuff into his car and drove for hours to a much larger town.

As we were leaving I thought to grab a CD for the drive and reached for my favourite purchase of 2022, The Avalanches' latest album.

While I've been a longtime fan of the group, I didn't immediately jumped on their last couple of albums.

It wasn't until 'Red Lights' popped up in the credits of a TV show that I remembered I was going to give them a listen, then it was a pleasure to hear their return to form.

Given the gap between albums for The Avalanches (and the diversity they like to show while playing live), I'd had doubts whether they would still meet my expectations.

It's great to find things where you left them!

So, anyway, my son and I were driving from home and the mood was tender.

Rather than listening to the radio, where you run the risk of news headlines, I thought music would be better for reflection.

The album "We Will Always Love You" is kind of a twist on the theme of The Avalanches first album, "Since I Left You" in being about distances.

Where the original trumpeted the joys of travel, this return-to-form is about missing people.

While we listened to it, I think we got to the third song, when my son asked "Did you have to pick an album about leaving?"

I told him that this is how memories are made and that I wanted to remember this trip with one of my newest favourite albums.

I recounted the ripple-down-my-spine that would accompany listening to The Bird after I saw them live, or how the songs I thought were drivel would weirdly become irresistable gems on certain dancefloors.

Then, as we passed a harvested field of stalks with red dirt showing through, a dust devil spun toward the road and I remembered how my Wiradjuri friends would say those show when spirits are visiting.

I'd heard that at a farewell for a friend and now began to wonder if she weren't giving us a wave on our journey, then the tears sprouted from the corners of my eyes.

We listened to the beautiful music.

Anyway, when it came time for me to leave my son and return home, I left the CD with him.

I hope he'll put it on while watching a sunset and know that we're seeing the same sight.

In the meantime, I can tweak the raw nerve of his absence by listening too. 


One more bit of The Avalanches theme of our weekend, while my son and I were indulging in our shared love of shopping at secondhand stores, we found a copy of Koichi Oki's "Yamaha Superstar" for six dollars.

My son bought it and we listened to it on my mother's old gramophone.

He enjoyed it, but that shouldn't be a surprise since it's all covers!


Updating dad jokes

My daughter likes Christian Bale in American Psycho and Mads Mikkelsen in Hannibal

Dad joke about eating another actor
Being a doting father, I couldn't help but to make memes to amuse her from afar while I'm away.

On a related subject, I recently caught up with a friend from high school who had lent me his book of American Psycho when it was published with an R rating.

(His girlfriend had just turned 18, but I think we were both 17.)

Of all the possible things that I couldn't have predicted would happen in 30 years, that I'd be watching a film adaptation with my family and seeing my daughter dress as Patrick Bateman for halloween really shows how little time travel I've taken.