Throsby Creek pollution depicted in a 1981 Birgitte Hansen painting

A wasteland from Newcastle’s past | PHOTOS Filthy: A painting of the Throbsy Creek shore at Carrington. Artist: Birgitte Hansen

A Birgitte Hansen painting of Carrington.

Birgitte Hansen with her Throsby Creek painting in 1982. She said this at the time: “My paintings clearly demonstrate the love-hate relationship which exists between man’s needs and industry in Newcastle. I am merely painting my environment as I see it – the things I see every day.”

Birgitte Hansen, in 2005, restoring a mural in a tunnel to Newcastle Beach that she painted years ago.

TweetFacebookHerald on Saturday, which described how much the creek had improved.

Her painting is a stark reminder ofjust how pollutedthe area once was.

The site of the painting was thecreek shore, near the Cowper Street bridge. BHP is in the background.

“The locals used to call it Carrington beach. The kids still swam in the filthy old Throsby Creek. It was crazy,” she said.

Birgitte washappy that the creek had recovered.

“But I do miss the old Newcastle. I miss the working-class characters,” she said.

Birgitte lived in Carrington from 1976 to 1998.

“It was a completely different world to today,” she said of Carrington, when she first arrived with her son and ex-husband.

“We nearly got bashed up by the locals on the first day becausewe were different. We were the first sort of trendy people to go to Carrington.”

Birgitte becameone of the Hunter Region’s most prominent visual artists, known for her murals andtrade union banners.

She moved to the Blue Mountains, but returned to Newcastle 13 months ago.

She couldn’t help but noticethe gentrification of Newcastle, but said this was bound to happen afterBHP’s closure.

Another striking painting from her past captured asuburban setting in Carrington, with an apocalyptic-looking pink sky.

This1979 painting captured a view from the verandaof the house she once lived in.

The women in the painting were locals, “getting ready to play housie [bingo]”.

The pink sky depicts a sunset, mixed with pollution.

“It was disgusting,” Birgitte said, of the environment from that era.

“You’d go out in the morning and see how much pollution was around before you hung your clothes out.

“People would talk about shovelling the coal dust off their back step. It was bad.

“I remember everything was black at my place. You never could dust anything.”

When she moved, she had the coal dust cleaned from her roof cavity.

“It was shovelled out, bag after bag,” she said.

Murdering GullyTopics wrote on Monday about themystery of how Murdering Gully gotits name.

The gully is between Glenrock Lagoon and Merewetherin the Burwood beach area.

Graham Parsons posted a couple of old articles on the Herald’s Facebook page, in which Murdering Gully was mentioned.

One was from the Newcastle Morning Heraldon January 14,1926.

Its headline referred to: “An unidentified body in Murdering Gully” and the sub-headline of “Was he poisoned?”.

The story said police were investigating how the body of a man was buried in sand below the high-water mark “on a lonely beach south of Merewether”.

“The body, which was badly decomposed and unrecognisable, was found last night by a party of fishermen.

“Only the elbow was protruding from the sand.”

The article continued: “The beach has a sinister reputation and is known as Murdering Gully”.

“Many years ago, the decomposing body of a man was found there, and the manner by which he came by his death was never satisfactorily cleared up.”

We also received a message on Twitter of aNewcastle Morning Herald story fromAugust 30, 1882,which referenced Murdering Gully.

The article was about a brown snake being killed “in a glen near Charleston [we assume thismeans Charlestown]bearing the suggestive name of Murdering Gully”.

“While gathering ferns with one of his sons, Mr Hannell all but stepped on a four-foot brown snake basking in the sun on a bandicoot track. Having a spade in his hand, he managed to cut it in twain before it escaped,” the article said.

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