THE TIMEBALL QUEST. Kimberley Dunstan, and one man’s search to find out where this HMAS SYDNEY [I] photo was taken.
THE TIMEBALL QUEST. Kimberley Dunstan, and oneman’s search to find out where this HMAS SYDNEY [I]photo was taken.Check out these Holiday Inn South Africa Contact images:THE TIMEBALL PURSUIT. Kimberley Dunstan, and one man’s search to learn where thisHMAS SYDNEY [I] photo was taken.3969 When we recreated this image from the formal Royal Australian Navy photo site right hereon Flickr last year, we made the point that it was both a remarkable portraiture of the ship, andadditionally the waterfront scene beside it.The latter was just filled with character: family members groups, a tethered horse and largeritualistic flagpole; the wonderful old vernacular hotel, and, behind that, a Florentine dome with atimeball on top of it. Wonderful – however where was it?Fixations are our game right here, on the Unofficial RAN 1911-2011 Protstream. However notfor one moment did we presume that posing that straightforward concern would certainly setContributor Kim Dunstan off on a 6-months globe-reaching tour to discover a response throughthe timeball. We’re going to give the response shortly, but, a little bemused, we have actuallyfirst asked Kim to tell us just how he located it.THE TIMEBALL QUEST: Kim’s tale:‘Well, at first I thought the area was Newcastle NSW and contacted the historical researchlibrarian at the University of Newcastle. She was not able to assist however referred me to theNewcastle Maritime Gallery which has a group of historic specialists. Sadly the secretary was ill,so there was a delay of a few months in receiving a reply. A check of the historical pictures ofNewcastle waterfront revealed little except a charming chance of their Timeball structure, now adeluxe hotel. Finally the Maritime Museum’s answer came: ‘Sorry, no, it’s not Newcastle.’ 1/4
In the meantime I had talked to the Victorian branch of the World Shipping Society, asking themto circulate the picture to Timeball professionals on their mailing list, which consisted ofnumerous long-time sea captains. They were unable to make a definite identification – howeverone suggested that it could possibly be Port Adelaide.With this lead I took to the net and examined all the historic photos of Port Adelaide andTimeball devices in the location. This consisted of the Semaphore Timeball and the PortAuthority structure Timeball. The photo I saw of the Port Authority building, though, didn’t jellwith the Timeball in the HMAS SYDNEY photo at all. Besides that, a modern photo of aTimeball on a small tower on the dock left me with the impression the Port Authority Structurewas irrelevant. The docks had been redeveloped, and a more Timeball further downstreamperplexed the concern. In spite of that, the look of the water [placid and milky] and the facet ofthe late afternoon sunlight, and the warm garments, provided me pause for idea. This lookedtoo cool for Adelaide. I chose to look in other places.A search of the hundreds of photos on the web of the Brisbane waterfront produced nothing –and of course the old windmill was the formal Timeball in Brisbane, so this was a fruitless time.Further searches of ports on the Queensland and NSW coasts drew blanks. By comparableprocedures I was also able to eliminate other ports around Tasmania and mainland Australia.As the concern of place was open I chose to check Timeball devices in New Zealand by meansof historic photographs, all on the net, and finally sought the support of the Lylttelton TimeballStation workplace. Regrettably the Christchurch earthquake, which damaged the Timeballbuilding, indicated my request got lost. I did nevertheless, get a recommendation to a ‘Timeballbuff’ and maritime expert in New Zealand, however he was not able to assist.I then turned my mind to South Africa as a distant yet feasible area as they had a surprisingnumber of Timeball equipments in operation around their substantial shoreline – and SYDNEYcould have called there on return to Australia. It was a bustling time looking at all of those SAlocations on ‘the internet,’ trying to picture what redeveloped ports may have appeared likepreviously, where their Timeballs could have been, and other tell-tale aspects. The result was toenhance my expertise of South Africa, however I was no nearer to an option.By this time I had come to be used to practically every Timeball website on the internet – andthe world – of which there are numerous. Trawling these sites I stumbled upon the name of DrRoger Kinns. This gentleman, who stays in Scotland, has substantial knowledge of Timeballdevices all over the world, and is additionally the author of numerous authoritative, academicpapers on Timeball devices in Australia. Dr Kinns was most helpful with my enquiry, howeverdid not have the answer. In an exchange of e-mails he revealed a genuine interest in findingmore about the place – highlighting the unusually reduced [if not one-of-a-kind] elevation of theTimeball in the picture, and its classy octagonal building. One of the papers Dr Kinns had donewas on Adelaide’s Semaphore Timeball – a great read for anybody interested in the topic.Regrettably his research and visit to Adelaide did not include Port Adelaide – he now preparesto visit in the future.In the meantime, as I was mindful the image of HMAS SYDNEY [I] was from the official RAN 2/4
historic website, I made contact with them and got an extremely polite reply, saying they werenot able to provide any type of information, however that they would pass the request to theformal RAN historian for insight. The Historian was away, but eventually a reply came that noinfo was offered and since the original picture was not offered the request was to be referred tothe Catalogue & Legacy Drawings Royal Australian Navy Heritage Collection, Sight Tropicalisle. Once more holidays and leave postponed a response, however this part did respond andwere keen to help, conscious that their collection often did not provide details owing tocensorship problems and sources such as personal photos or papers which did not constantlyfeature dates, realities or locations.Anyhow, following a Kookaburra suggestion to contact Graeme Andrews I emailed him.Graeme’s recommendation was Port Adelaide. As it took place, I would certainly been to PortAdelaide on HMAS MELBOURNE, however I had sticking around doubts – mainly because Iwasunaware of the redevelopment of the wharf location, and my scepticism about the PortAuthority Building. Well, why not go to the specialists I thought! Simply email the Port AdelaideHistoric Society [I cant comprehend why I had not done that long ago - but then I d have missedall the fun]. Well – bingo – by return email I had the answer from Lawrie Shields, which you caneasily now see below.THE ANSWERKim,This picture was taken at Port Adelaide when HMAS SYDNEY was moored at Queen’s Wharf.The determining functions are the Flagstaff that stood near the Harbors Division Building [fromthe picture to the right] which was eliminated on August 5, 1932; the big structure behind theflagmast was the Exchange Hotel, 1 Commercial Road [licensed 1857 later on the LighthouseInn now Ales And Sails] demolished in 1933 and moved further east to accommodate wharfexpansion. The dome behind the hotel was on the Harbor’s Board structure on the corner ofLipson Road and carried a time ball from 1920 until 1932 when the practice was ceased [thestructure frontage was later on demolished and refaced when wharf improvements wereembarked on]. Obviously taken prior to 1928 when the ship was paid. There were two time balltowers in the Port Adelaide district, the other being at Semaphore which was developed in 1875and terminated on February 1, 1932. That stone tower still stands and was restored andreturned to operation at the turn of the century but has actually not operated for some time. Asregards dress, it can easily be really cool in Adelaide specifically standing on the wharf at thePort!Hopefully this responds to many of the inquiries and our volunteer Society is glad to be ofassistance. As this image is not in our collection we would certainly value a good copy togetherwith any others that might be of Port Adelaide. We could supply copies of photos of both timeball towers, the flagstaff and the initial Exchange Hotel.Lawrie ShieldsSecretary, Port Adelaide Historical Culture.HIGHLY SATISFACTORY OUTCOME – THE MORAL OF THE TIMEBALL. 3/4