Updated April 2018
THE PICTURE ON FRONT PAGE
The picture you have just seen on the front page of my website relates to an incident in the early 1980's that happened in Exeter in ( New South Wales - Australia ) Just before I moved to Exeter in 1986 my next door neighbour told me about it. On the road opposite the Rail line from Ringwood Road where we were is Bundanoon Road. In the (then) Invergowrie estate close to Wilsons lane early one morning at about 4-5AM there was a thunderstorm. And a lightning bolt that came down and directly on top hit a massive 80 year old Pine Tree. The tree exploded into a million pieces. It had been drenched with Rain and was a prime conductor. - It blacked out the district (as the high tension power lines travelled past the tree) and left bits of pine tree in a lot of peoples yards ! Not to mention that it woke everyone up !
My neighbour had got his camera out as there were Lightning Strikes happening all over the place ( at the time ) He figured that he would get a camera shot of a lightning strike. He could not sleep as the Thunderstorm had woken everyone up. It was massive. Exeter is the highest point on the Sydney - Melbourne rail line and as such has had a history of lightning strikes. Lucky for him there was one that hit the tree opposite his house on the other side of the railway line. Probably about 150-250 metres away. He told me he felt the (power-impact) of the strike as it hit him. He said it was something you would never forget.
We are talking of millions of volts and the power of nature. It left him with a lifelong impression of nature at it's most finest.
Mind you Exeter is the Highest Elevation on the Sydney-Melbourne Railway line . There are a lot of Lightning strikes there.
Hi. I'm Phil and I specialise in Lighting.
I started out in 1966 lighting my school social dance with lighting I had made myself from improvised lighting effects that I had built from mechano sets - electric radiators - display shop rotating motors - coloured paper and Ultra Violet Fluorescent tubes. As well I had secured some Neon 15,000 Volt Transformers and Neon Tubing - Very Dangerous ! but at the time ( for me ) very interesting. My teachers at school were very alarmed !
Safety was not a very big issue with me. ( at the time ) It has become a big issue with me.
I was mainly involved in the big picture of getting the visuals out. Regardless of the "cost"
(picture above) very early 1950's Eastwood (NSW) Lighting crew about to leave for a show.
As I went to school at Chatswood in Sydney my very first show was at the U.F.S. Dispensary hall in Victoria Ave Chatswood in December of 1966. The site is now the entrance to the Chatswood Chase shopping centre.
U.F.S. Dispensary Hall Band in 1966 on Stage.
History Mid 1960's picture (above) of the U.F.S. Dispensary Hall in Victoria Ave. Chatswood.
By 1960 the hall had closed it's shopfront ( see below ) and was hired by various groups. Throughout the
1960's until it's demolition in the 1969.
This hall has since been demolished ( in 1969 ) and is now the entrance to the Chatswood Chase Shopping Mall.
Picture Above is the UFS Shopfront in the 1940's, and 50's until it closed by 1960.
Max (Michael) Dixon ( picture above ) was the original manager of the U.F.S. Dispensary Hall in Victoria Ave. Chatswood. Max was a very quiet person who spoke softly and was always very careful to make sure he did not intrude on any function in the hall. He would always announce himself on arrival and ask if the client ( hall hirer ) had any questions and if not he would return to his quarters next door, located at the rear of the hall. Always very well dressed and extremely polite he was a fantastic person to work with. He would always be very well spoken and was a highly educated person. Sometimes if required he would offer advise or assist if asked to help for a particular problem that may arise in the hall. You could ask Max any question and he would be able to answer it or would offer assistance. In his later years ( he sadly passed away in 1970 ) Max would sometimes arrive suddenly in the middle of the function and ask if he could be of assistance. Usually the function organisers would say "yes" and ask him to assist them even though they knew no assistance was needed.
Picture above shows you what a UFS Dispensary Hall function looked like in it's heyday with Max as caretaker.
This picture is an (about) 1920's function ( band on stage in background ). White room lights hang from the ceiling.
The photo was taken from just inside the front doors of the main room ( after leaving the foyer area ).
Picture above is an amazing history photo provided to me by an old friend. It shows the original founding members of the Ladies Committee of the Chatswood UFS Society outside the original UFS hall site in Victoria Ave. Chatswood. Very Early 1900's. Mrs Betty Wilson is third from the left in the photo and carries the title deeds ( shown in her hands ) to the property. Her Husband Ron ( "rex" ) Wilson was a local shopkeeper.
Picture above is from the same source and shows ( outside the UFS hall in Victoria Ave Chatswood ) from left to right Rex Wilson, Ronald Smith and Sean Peters. The two other people ( one facing forwards and the other's face obscured ) are believed to be Peter Douglas and Harold Jackson. Picture taken very early 1900's
(ABOVE) picture is Victoria Ave Chatswood in 1940's
Picture above is a band performing (around) November 1966.
I then lit halls in Chatswood such as the legendary Purple Hall ( now demolished ) at the rear of the Catholic Church next to the rear playground for the Christian Brothers School. ( which was directly next door ) Beside Our Lady Of Dolars Girls School. You have to understand that the colour Purple was very big in the late 1960's and early 1970's. I mean the Willoughby council painted signs and posts purple during this time period. The hall had a wall painted in purple. Purple was the "big thing" at the time and if you were "in tune with the times" you painted things purple. People painted their Garage doors and front doors and fence posts ( but not the actual fence ) purple to show that they were "in tune" with the times. It's funny as by the late 1970's anyone who had any purple around their place were considered "past it" and "out of touch". Worse they were labelled "hippies". Paint shops reported a BIG drop in purple paint sales. I don't ever think it came back into fashion apart from the clothing sales in the late 2000's when for a brief time purple became a favourite colour for clothing tops.
Above picture is a band at the stage at Chatswood Purple Hall c1967
AND the old wooden Willoughby Town Hall on Victoria Ave
( built in 1903 and Demolished in 1972 )
Picture ABOVE shows it in it's very early days.
(Picture above is the old hall decorated for the 1954 Visit by the Queen.)
Picture ABOVE is the new 1967 Council Offices that were built 5 years before the 1972
New Civic Centre building that was built next door. The above picture gives you an idea of the style.
Front view of the 1972 Willoughby Civic Centre ( Town Hall )
Side view of the 1972 Willoughby Civic Centre.
And the Garden view of the 1972 Willoughby Civic Centre.
( and again demolished in 2009 to make way for a yet another new Town Hall ! )
Now the New Concourse Centre !
(ABOVE) Pat Reilly - Mayor of Willoughby - for the past 17 years,
Almost a record for longest serving Mayor in Australian History.
At the new Concourse Centre - He was the instigator for this massive
development - The Biggest Public Works Project of any Local Govt.
ever undertaken in Australia - Sadly passed away January 2014.
A Visionary. A Leader.
Sadly Missed by all the residents of the City of Willoughby.
His Legacy to Willoughby is the Concourse.
ABOVE is the 2011 Opening of the Concourse. 3 years before Pat Reilly passed away.
Picture above shows a band in the mid 1960's.
1970's band on stage (above picture)
Here we are in the 1960's
in Victoria Ave. Chatswood, a suburb of Sydney,
In the annual celebration of local business awards street parade.
Whisky a go go Nightclub - Picture taken 1969 - a venue I supplied the nightclub lighting for.
I did the whole lighting design - supply - installation - operation - for the ( Legendary ) Fairlight Music Festival at Easter in 1971 at Mittagong.
I lit over 200 Hectares with generators after the local power supply company at the time ( Berrima County Council ) took out the high tension power supply to the whole site and left our Festival in the dark so to speak. I managed to salvage the festival despite the Police and the Power Supply authorities who tried to sink the festival - Amazing as it may seem the old DMR ( now the RMS ) placed road signs on the Hume Highway ( the expressway was not not built or even planned then ) to warn drivers of the event " SLOW DOWN FESTIVAL AHEAD " were the small warning signs placed on the highway - The Hume Highway was single lane winding road each way in those days. The police tried to enforce the event but were basically right out of their depth ( for the time ) and the Festival went ahead with all sorts of "unusual" things and as you would expect for 1971 there were a lot of strange things happening.
Picture above is typical of the bushland at the Mittagong Festival Site.
There were no noise laws in place and people in Bowral were hopping mad about the noise. Betts P.A. from Wollongong did the sound and it was for it's day a big sound. Peter Betts was way ahead of his time and had an amazing PA system for 1971. It was very loud. We hired lighting equipment from Strand Electric and Me and Phil Salmon and John Gunton put the lighting system in place. Afterwards Me and Phil and John had to pay the $200.00 dollar lighting hire fee to Strand after the promoters were ripped off and could not pay us . $200.00 dollars in 1971 was a fortune and we were lost for words. The Hendersons who ran the festival were ripped off badly by "bad people" who saw them coming a mile away. Like us. We had stars in our eyes and were young and well.. we got ripped off. Not much more to say ! Those were the days !
BELOW - On Stage.
BELOW is my advertisement in the pop mag "Go Set" from April 1971. I used the name Mac after my art teacher at my school Col McDonald or "mac" as he was called. He was my hero when I was at school.
I have continued to do Outdoor Lighting in the Highlands to this day - I did the lighting for many events - concerts at Bowral Memorial Hall - ( run by John Stafford ) and in Mittagong and Moss Vale Halls - up to the present day.
I have been doing Lighting since 1966 - While I was still at school. PICTURE BELOW is a typical shot of a small band in action at a community hall / school of Arts / church hall - the Pic. below is a band "Green and Yellow" - 1966 - notice the light bulbs above the band. In those days the room was lit with coloured lights and the band was (usually) ignored. The sound system was a small self powered unit along with the stage equipment. All the lighting was powered by one standard power point. In this room coloured paper was put over the ceiling lights - and the addition of ultra-violet fluorescent tubes and flashing coloured bulbs completed the lightshow. We usually had to convince the hall caretaker that the white room lights had to be turned OFF - This sometimes caused problems as most halls had caretakers and they had NEVER turned off the white room lights before ! We had to reassure them that the coloured lighting would be enough to light the room.
I have been involved in lighting from an early age. I was born in 1952 so in the 1960's I was in High School. The picture BELOW is what a band looked like in the very early 60's
The Elvis Presley Era had begun - followed by the Beatles Era. In those days lighting for the bands was not thought of. White lights over the band were the Norm. We were the trendsetters for the times and we had to convince artists that Coloured Lighting was the way to go. It was difficult. The performers had never been lit in coloured lighting and many of them thought it was "strange" to light the performers in colours other than white. So we lit the room with the dancers in coloured lights and left the band on stage lit in white light.
As the 50's changed into the 60's some bands began to appreciate coloured lighting shone on them. Mind you it was a real big thing to put coloured lights onto bands. Most bands would object to this - but the "pacesetting" bands of the era liked it.
BELOW - Waiting backstage for the gig to start.
As the 60's moved into the 70's it became more and more that bands wanted - and even expected coloured lighting - by the mid 1970's many up and coming rock bands wanted and expected this.
By the late 1970's MOST bands demanded special lighting effects.
The above picture is from a flyer for the Spinning Wheel Disco at Narrabeen in Sydney NSW and was very early 1970's. This is a venue I lit with Psychedelic Lighting.
The above picture is a flyer from the 1971 Fairlight Music Festival.
I have been involved in many many projects like the Sydney Olympics - Lighting of the Opera house - Many five star hotels - Countless other projects. I love to light up the night with colour. The night time is a magic time - and so much can be done to paint a magic picture with lighting on Trees - Buildings - Objects - Open fields.
If your project looks bad SO DO WE.
I'm a Lisc. Elect. Contractor Lisc. NSW EC 25776.
Exeter - Phone 4883 4111
Office (02) 8231 6658
For my GMAIL email address please phone me. Thanks.
Mail to P.O. Box 3126 EXETER NSW Australia 2579