Coalcliff House

Coalcliff House
Ken Bolton & Sal Brereton standing beside house. Photo by Kurt Brereton (1980)

Saturday, February 27, 2010

journal entries

I'm going to feed some journal entries into this conversation. I wish I had some visuals to add but the years 1979-1982 saw me without a camera. Here's a note from the Wollongong Poetry Festival of 1979:

2nd October 1979 Train down early Sunday morning to Coalcliff & a walk by myself down to the beach while Ken & Sal put together posters & magazines for the evening. I have a calm & generally gregarious weekend. By 2 p.m. a lot of people have arrived at Coalcliff - the Hammials, Denis Gallagher, ΠO, Nigel, Phil Roberts & others. We head in to the Gong but the Al Monte reception room isn't open. Check out the station & streets then back to Al Monte's to shift tables & chairs & wait over a beer or two.

Phil Roberts delivers a paper called ‘Death of the poet’ (rather melodramatically) then there's a break & the W'Gong writers read. Ken & Sal first, then some unbelievable local writers [probably including Leigh Stokes], then another break & the Sydney contingent read. Phil R. is interrupted by the response of some Pyrmont anarchist whose kid is playing with a soccer ball during the proceedings. There's a shouting match with quite a few having a say till Claire gets the reading going again. Others read - Denis, ΠO (Mayakovsky & Nelson Algren & the fuck poems shouted from a tabletop), Tranter finally (performing the ‘Foucault at the Forest Lodge’ series of pieces in a totally unsuitable dramatic manner). Then another break & a band play lounge lizard music (Girl from Ipanema) while everyone drinks on & eats lukewarm lasagne &c. Three carloads of us go to a coffee house & ruminate over the proceedings.

I sleep in the pantry & wake early, the sun up over the ocean. A morning long breakfast turns into a picnic lunch in the back yard, then in the afternoon with Kurt & Anna we go back into Wollongong to look at the Art Gallery (2 coloured photos of Micky's on display) & walk down to the beach - barbed wire & factories - tankers out on the Pacific - ought to be mines buried there. It's grey & there are only a handful of people down that end of town.

More snapshots from the Al Monte reading:
- best readings from Nigel, ΠO, Ken & Denis.
- Lyn Tranter (to the Pyrmont anarchists): ‘What are you doing with that child!?’
- Nick turning up & catching a late train home
- Les Wicks reading in the open section - very drunk (& very broke)
- a local W'Gong hippy woman reading with the ‘jazz’ band

- Donna Maegraith prefacing each poem with ‘O'-kay then . . .’


  1. Those were the days, Laurie. PiO's reading was the most spectacular I've ever seen esp his 'Horses' poem. I recorded the entire reading on cassette. Sadly, most of it has deteriorated to a barely audible rumble; none of the poetry has survived. There's about 30 minutes intact, fresh as the day it was recorded, comprising some dire acappela pop followed by background chat and near-mic conversations between some of the participants, including yourself and Joanne I think.There are others, too, who may be identified in time. Perhaps these disembodied voices may find their way into the Coalcliff Days Exhibition. All the best from Denis

  2. Well it'll be great to see what survives. I have very little in the diaries (about three posts worth) but I guess what I mostly have are the relevant Blue Hills poems.

  3. Yes the 2nd of October was my 24th birthday and there was a cake shaped like a Super 8 camera in there somewhere between the smoke stack candles and the barbed wire sugar frosting. Kurt