Bernard Otto Holtermann with a shooting party camped in the Australian bush, c. 1872 - 1875

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Bernard Otto Holtermann with a shooting party camped in the Australian bush, c. 1872 - 1875, American & Australasian Photographic Company, from vintage glass negative, State Library of New South Wales, ON 4 Box 83 No 46


Owner: State Library of NSW
Source: Flickr Commons
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holtermann shooting camp bush vintage glassnegative statelibraryofnewsouthwales

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    • 19/Feb/2022 17:26:08

    King india cater zenny

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    Blue Mountains Library, Local Studies

    • 21/Feb/2022 10:04:16

    Looks like three wallabies hanging up and a fourth behind the bottles to the the right of the four stacked rifles, two of which appear to have native flowers poking down the barrels, possibly Gymea lily florets (going out on a limb here), which would place the camp in the Sydney basin, I'd even go further and suggest the Illawarra hinterland.

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    JC Merriman

    • 22/Feb/2022 02:47:45

    There was wallaby shooting in the Illawarra in the 1890s - Sad Hunting Fatality. (1898, July 1). National Advocate (Bathurst, NSW : 1889 - 1954), p. 2. Retrieved February 22, 2022, from "If, on the other hand, you are inclined for shooting, take a gun with you and put in a pleasant time hunting rock wallabies or bandicoots." ILLAWARRA WAY. (1897, December 26). Sunday Times (Sydney, NSW : 1895 - 1930), p. 4. Retrieved February 22, 2022, from Not forgetting another name of the Gymea lily, if that is what they are, is Illawarra lily - THESE ARE AUSTRALIAN: (1957, June 19). The Australian Women's Weekly (1933 - 1982), p. 17. Retrieved February 22, 2022, from And there are more flowers on the ground near one of the stacked rifles. I can only think Gymea lilies or waratahs would be that size.

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    Blue Mountains Library, Local Studies

    • 22/Feb/2022 02:58:03

    And what's going on with the black dots for the irises in the eyes of some of the chaps including Bernard Otto himself? The glass negative may have been doctored at some stage to (attempt to) repair the poor quality of the original. And another thing, there appears to be is a pair of horse's front legs between the wheels of the cart on the left, partially obscured by the mounting step, there is a horse standing patiently behind the cart.

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    JC Merriman

    • 22/Feb/2022 03:20:01

    The horse's rear legs may be obscured by the wheel on the left. I'd say that wallaby on the ground is about to be skinned and gutted for dinner, but they'll need the other three as well to feed seventeen hungry men and boys. And how exhausted are the two dogs from chasing all that wildlife. Oh and if it's an overnight camp it's going to be really cosy in just the two tents, one's probably just for the camera gear and the blokes sleep in the open.

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    State Library of NSW

    • 22/Feb/2022 04:13:13

    Yes, the negative has been doctored to make the eyes prominent you can see this particularly on Holtermann's blurred head. You may also have noticed the plate itself is covered in speckles caused by particles on the plate, not uncommon I imagine when developing wet plates negatives in the bush. Also above the left tent you can see fingerprints left on the negative by the photographer while the collodion was still wet.

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    covid convict

    • 22/Feb/2022 11:16:03

    The 1870s are quite an interesting period in gun history. It saw the final years of the transition from muzzle loaders to breech loaders...along with the continued development/refinement of cartridges and firing systems. From about the mid 1870s choke bore shotguns started appearing...and at the very end of the decade the hammerless breech loading shotgun was invented. My guess is that in a group of dedicated shooters such as this you might find a mix of weaponry...from older percussion cap muzzle loaders...thru to the most up to date breech loaders...It might be possible to date this pic by identifying the make/model of some of the yet I haven't managed to. Looks like there's a mix of shotguns and rifles. I suspect quite a few might have been custom made or at least made by smaller scale gun makers. - Illustrated Sydney News, 18th January, 1873...Lassiter's advert (top rhs) lists some of the gun makes then being sold in Sydney. As you can see the new breech loaders feature prominently...but percussion caps, powder and shot etc for muzzle loaders are still being sold... The English gunmaker W.W. Greener whose name appears here is generally credited with having invented/developed/refined the choke bore shotgun (the issue re who invented the choke bore isn't entirely settled...but Greener was without doubt the one who developed and refined it)...his father William Greener was also a gunmaker...Greener Snr was evidently 'old school' and refused to make breech loaders...some of the 'old school' didn't like the choke bore either...they regarded it as unsporting...stacking the odds in favour of the shooter.

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    State Library of NSW

    • 22/Feb/2022 22:55:40[email protected] thanks. We are presuming the date range and the moment is ca. 1873-1876

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    Johnny Bee Goode

    • 24/Feb/2022 06:00:21

    Stack arms was a military practice to ensure quick access in case of attack and to keep the firearms out of the mud/dirt. Almost certainly some former military men here. Note also the ramrod leaning against the arms stack and another held by the stout chap sitting with the muzzle loading, percussion cap shotgun to the right of Holtermann. stack arms.html Note also the large rum jar on the ground to the left of Holtermann, as well as the spirit and beer bottles, some serious drinking happening here.

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    Jock Livre

    • 24/Feb/2022 06:54:09

    The photo probably could not have been taken before November 1873 when Sir James Martin retired from parliament and Holtermann was in a coach from Hill End to Sydney when he heard the news and decided to (unsuccessfully) contest the election (although possibly apocryphal) - And by the way see my post of 'View on the Mountain Road [Mt Keira]' from Our Antipodes by Mundy 1854 as a possible (general) location - And here's one of the guns or their source -