I have lived on the Tasman Peninsula for most of my life. In February 2018 I’ll celebrate my 93rd birthday. My hobbies are photography, painting and gardening, and I am also very interested in history, writing occasionally for the Tasman Peninsula Gazette and Chronicle.
I live alone and look after myself with one hour of home help each week. My 2 sons and their families live nearby and watch over me.
I was the first female “stringer” cinematographer appointed to film for the ABC News in Australia. From 1961 until 1983 I had 176 films on TV. Some of them were on “newsreel” and set to music and many were broadcast on National TV. Being a “stringer” cinematographer meant that I had to operate my 16mm Bolex camera, observe the basic rules for filming, and think like a director by visualising a well-shot film with a variety of shots. I also kept my eye out for local events in our community that may be worthy of television time on the ABC news and had a few “spotters” around the peninsula who also suggested stories.
My most challenging assignment was filming a story on the Tasman Island about the lighthouse children receiving their correspondence lessons. I had to jump from a dinghy as it peaked on top of a wave into the dangling flying fox, which was suspended from a cable between the island and a rock jutting from the sea. The ‘fox’ was then propelled over rough water to “The Landing” on the side of Tasman Island which was 100 feet above sea level. From here, groceries and mail was loaded onto a flat haulage trolley with no safety sides. There was only a footboard on the lower end of the trolley and as it was winched 900 feet to the top I was in an almost vertical standing position! It was a 10-minute ascent to the top of the island, where spectacular views greeted us and excited children received their lessons.
If I had a camera in my hand I could do almost anything. I felt no fear while travelling up the cliff face on Tasman Island and I filmed all the way to the top with no safety rails to hold on to. I was driven to do it because photography was my hobby since I was 8 years old and circumstances delivered me the opportunity to become a “stringer”. I embraced it with all my enthusiasm.
Life on the Tasman Peninsula has changed a great deal in my life time. Before and just after the 1920’s, families on the Peninsula took advantage of a barter system. They sent fruit, vegetables, eggs etc. to Jarvis-Cash Grocer in Hobart and in turn received flour, sugar, coffee, tea etc. Circa 1920’s transport to and from the Peninsula was usually by sea on the “Cartela.” Road transport was very slow on gravelled roads, but they’re all sealed now. During the 1950’s and 60’s there were approx. 32 apple and pear orchards on the Peninsula and now there is only one! Many small mixed farming enterprises have disappeared with the tourist industry dramatically increasing. Electricity was connected to the peninsula in the 1950’s.
The most important thing in life is just being here! And my three most precious and memorable parts of my life are my parent’s guidance, influence and advice in my early years, my marriage to Maurice Hallam, the births of my 3 children, 9 grand-children and 3 great-grand-children. The thing I am most proud of is owning and living in my own house.
The thing that gives me happiness is having family and friends visit me. I enjoy good health and feel well supported by local doctors, family and friends. I’m thrilled just being here!
Photography by Rebecca Thomson and Ninna Millikin.