John Caire arrived in Adelaide with his parents about 1860 and soon after realised his passion for photography. Townsend Duryea was his mentor and John was soon taking good pictures, which was no easy task using the wet plate technology of the time. 1865 saw him criss-crossing Gippsland capturing pictures of Aborigines at Lake Tyers and beautiful landscapes of the Strzelecki Ranges. He moved to Talbot, near Clunes, Victoria, before moving to Melbourne in 1876 and buying T. F. Chuck’s photographic studio in Royal Arcade. John used the new technique of vignetting to great effect and people flocked to his studio when more conventional photographers were still printing family portraits at full length. When dry plate technology revolutionised the art of landscape photography (1885) John gave up his city work and devoted the rest of his life to ‘plein air’ photography, specialising in the bush, the gullies and the mountains of South-Eastern Victoria. Full of vitality and enthusiasm, he wrote articles for Life and Health magazine extolling the virtues of pure mountain air, he also gave lantern lectures urging people to share his delight in the bush and wrote to newspapers on the same theme. His pictures show a sensitive and artistic approach to photography and a deep appreciation of the bush. He insisted on perfect conditions and so usually took only one or two pictures a day, the quality of these images fetched high prices, enabling him to keep himself and his family in some comfort. He spoke fluent French and was very fond of the Australian poets; many of the titles of his pictures coming from Adam Lindsay Gordon, Henry Lawson and Banjo Paterson. One of his best known series, illustrated the rewards and hardships in the daily life of the first settlers; many of his pictures show their huts in romantic settings of tree ferns and giant eucalypts. He photographed isolated men struggling to establish themselves before women came to Gippsland in such studies as ‘The Sick Stockrider’, ‘Down on his Luck’, ‘Sunday at the Splitter’s Camp’, and ‘The Ranger’s Cabin’, all taken on his lone explorations to these areas. John Caire left many albums of prints collected under subjects such as waterfalls, rivers, fern gullies and sea caves along the Victorian coast. Sadly few of his negatives have been kept and most of his glass plates were cleaned off during the shortages of World War 1 by Caire who needed glass for framing his pictures. John Caire an unsung hero of Australian photography died in 1918. By Jack Cato
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FEATURE STORY: MARCUS CLARKEWhen Australians now hear the name Marcus Clarke they might--at a pinch--recall that he wrote For the Term of His Natural Life, the convict saga that became an international bestseller in the nineteenth century. Many who have admired the book’s psychological insights and gothic darkness imagine it to be the work of a worthy older Victorian gentleman. In fact Clarke was in his 20s when he wrote the classic, a young iconoclast whose fast life as a celebrity columnist of Melbourne’s urban comedy came to an abrupt end in 1881 when he was only 35. The book’s provenance was far from reverent, first serialised in a magazine, with Clarke’s editor locking him in an office with a bottle of whisky to force the last chapters out of the wayward author. Marcus Clarke was young, hip and dangerous to know, a self-confessed Goth and a punk in the age of steam, an iconoclast not an icon. With an ironic Wildean wit, he ate, drank, and scandalised his way about Melbourne in the 1860s and 70s, setting up a string of underground literary clubs, outraging respectable society and keeping one step ahead of the creditors. Along the way Clarke invented a new Australian character to challenge the bushman -- the urban bohemian writer. “In this society I was progressing rapidly to destruction, then an event occurred which rudely saved me. My father died suddenly, in London, and, to the astonishment of the world, left—nothing, [...] My friends of the smoking- room and the supper-table philosophised on Monday, cashed my IOU’s on Tuesday, were satirical on Wednesday, and ‘cut’ me on Thursday.” ‘I may tell you that we think a deal more of Marcus Clarke in our country than I am sorry to think you do here.’ - Mark Twain, 1895
FEATURE STORY: THE GREAT WAR“‘Dear auntie, this leaves me in the pink. We are at present wading in blood up to our necks. Send me fags and a life-belt. This war is a bugger. Love and kisses.’”
FEATURE STORY: GREED, THEFT AND BLOODY MURDER!In the context of an attempt to slap our beloved nation in the face with the shame it deserves for its past and present treatment of the Indigenous population of this country we herein will demonstrate the appalling slaughter visited upon a fairly gentle and friendly people. We say ‘fairly gentle’ because it must be noted that some of the social practices of the pre-settlement aborigines was, to say the least, ungentle. Robert Lyon – Speech at a public meeting in Guildford, June 1833. “You are the aggressors…..They did not go to the British isles to make war upon you; but you came from the British isles to make war upon them. You are the invaders of their country – ye destroy the natural productions of the soil on which they live – ye devour their fish and their game – and ye drive them from the abodes of their ancestors… They may stand to be slaughtered; but they must not throw a spear in their own defence, or attempt to bring their enemies to a sense of justice by the only means in their power – that of returning like for like. If they do – if they dare to be guilty of an act which in other nations would be eulogized as the noblest of a patriot’s deeds – they are outlawed; a reward is set upon their heads; and they are ordered to be shot, as if they were so many mad dogs! If ye have any feelings of compunction, before the die be cast, let the Aboriginal inhabitants of Australia live. Ye have taken from them all they had on earth. Be content with this, and do not add to the crime of plundering them that of taking their lives.”
FEATURE STORY: FROM TEHRAN TO AUSTRALIAThe amazing story of the man who calls himself ‘Slash’, and his account of fleeing Iran - a journey that spanned over a decade. Born in Tehran ‘Slash’ resisted the influence of a heavily authoritative culture from an early age. And Iran was/is most certainly a very religious, political and morally strict environment for any headstrong boy to grow up in. Forget about the freedoms we here in Oz take for granted. “I go special place to try and fix my problem with special intelligence people, very scary place, with big men with beards.”
FEATURE STORY: Reginald Robert Etherington‘Star Wars and Australia’s Secret Past’. The revelation that Australia was once at the forefront of the optics industry, and led the world in optical skills which made weapons like the intercontinental ballistic missiles, space satellites, ‘smart’ bombs and the ultimate American dream of a Star Wars style missile shield possible. This little known story has emerged from the dusty papers of Reg Etherington’s study. It is a story of secrecy, Cold War rivalry and the loss of a potentially advanced industry for Australia. What is relatively unknown about Reg Etheringon’s life is his classified involvement in the optical defence arms race - producing the worlds most advance camera lenses of the 50’s and 60’s for the Australian Departments of Supply and Defence.