Photographs (3), silver gelatin prints, The Rocks Festival, photographs by Kerry Dundas, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 1970-1980
The photographs by Kerry Dundas record aspects of The Rocks' prominent place in the hotel and drinking history of Sydney. As one of the first areas of Sydney to be settled by wharf labourers and other city workers, The Rocks precinct has long been home to a dense concentration of hotels and drinkers. Some of these hotels, including the Ocean Wave and the Hero of Waterloo are memorably depicted in the Tyrrell collection of historic photographs.
Although most Rocks hotels were removed or rebuilt during the Sydney Harbour Trust's redevelopment of the early twentieth century, the precinct has continued to be associated with hotels. Public ownership of the Rocks hotels and housing protected this character throughout the twentieth century.
Kerry Dundas' photographs depict two scenes from the The Rocks Festival during the 1970s, plus a more everyday Rocks drinking scene. With a pub crawl as its main event, the Rocks Festival of the 1970s had a markedly different character to the decorous heritage and music events now organised by the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority. The bacchanalian scenes produced by the pub crawl ensured that it was favourite of documentary and news photographers including as well as Dundas, Roger Scott and John Williams. The scenes depicted in Dundas' photos are comparatively dignified in character, despite the gent in drag atop the Land Rover.
As publicly-endorsed pub crawls are now a thing of the past, it is valuable to have this record of the Rocks Festival and of the pre-tourist precinct character of the Rocks, created by one of Australia's leading documentary photographers.
Charles Pickett, Curator
The photographs were taken by Kerry Dundas (1931 - 2010), son of the artist Douglas Dundas. He was apprenticed to the studio of portrait photographer Monte Luke in 1948. From 1951 he worked for the Max Dupain studio, gaining the opportunity to work in a variety of commercial contexts.
Dundas also began photographing documentary subjects and moved to London in 1958, working successfully as a photo-journalist for some years. His stories and photos were published in The Observer, The Times, Vogue and numerous other high-profile newspapers and magazines. After returning to Sydney in 1967 Dundas worked again with Max Dupain before becoming photographer for the Art Gallery of New South Wales, where he produced portraits and documentary photographs of artists, designers and others.