Thursday, November 13, 2003

our drowned town

Recently things featured some haunting photos of the Welsh village of Capel Celyn (Tryweryn), 1957 -65 - before it was drowned. Stark b/w images of stone cottages and old trees, marks of centuries caught in that condemned eerie emptiness, a temporary ghost town where even ghosts are soon be submerged.

Years ago on a school camp I remember our teacher (once a local) bitterly lamenting the fate of old Tallangatta - in North Eastern Victoria, which was moved before the site was drowned for the Hume Reservoir. I searched for some similar photos but could could only find the tourist info sites. Then by chance looking for old cafes, I found this Interior, Hume Cafe, Ogarivitch, Tallangatta a condemned cafe known by many names including Riverina In fact the State Library Picture Collection includes over 150 images of a photographic survey by the State Rivers and water Supply Commission mostly in 1954.

Business premises
Hairdressing salon

These Commission photos survey the exterior and interior details of buildings leaving the sadness as subtext, in abandoned tennis courts or the last stand of mature Palm trees before their watery fate, last chapter in a strange exotic journey

Perhaps this graffiti is one record of dissent - and some of the suits at the official celebrations might have had a bit of the old soviet style about them.

Something of a town is always hidden within the survey of premises and hardware and inventory of goods.

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