Pacific Civilisation: A Hidden History?

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In April 1925, the disabled steam yacht Alert was towed into Sydney Harbour. The sole surviving crewman, Gustaf Johansen, told a fantastic tale of cultic piracy, a risen island, and a monstrous sea beast. A hideous winged idol discovered aboard the ship was delivered to the Australian Museum. A scholarly symposium was called to discuss its mysterious provenance and identity. The advertisement for the symposium was carried in various scientific journals and was much discussed in occult periodicals and other, even less public, circles. And the ships came.

Daz Studio and Photoshop. Click for full size version. Also available as a PDF (6 Meg).

Razorhurst

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Razorhurst

Razorhurst

Razorhurst, Gunhurst, Bottlehurst, Dopehurst – it used to be Darlinghurst, one of the finest quarters of a rich and beautiful city; to-day it is a plague-spot, where the sporn of the gutter grow and fatten on official apathy. By day it shelters in its alleys, in its dens, the Underworld people. At night, it looses them to prey on property, decency & virtue, & to fight one another for division of spoils. Truth, 23 September 1928.

Razorhurst, Sydney, 1926. That wild and haunted city. The Turn of Midnight Waters. Rendered in DAZ Studio and Photoshop. Click for full size image.

The Turn of Midnight Waters

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The idol in the Australian Museum

 

 

The crouching image with its cuttlefish head, dragon body, scaly wings, and hieroglyphed pedestal was preserved in the Museum at Hyde Park; and I studied it long and well, finding it a thing of balefully exquisite workmanship …. I thought … about the primal Great Ones: ‘They had come from the stars, and had brought Their images with Them.’
H.P. Lovecraft, ‘The Call of Cthulhu’.

Sydney, 1926, that wild and haunted city. There are gangsters on the streets of the Big Smoke. There is a mysterious idol in the Australian Museum. There is something nasty in the Harbour. And stone the crows, it’s coming ashore.

Check our our briefing page for The Turn of Midnight Waters, a two session Lovecraftian horror module to be run at Phenomenon, 10-13 June 2015.

(Idol model rendered in DAZ Studio and Photoshop).

Sydney Museum, 1925

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‘The crouching image with its cuttlefish head, dragon body, scaly wings, and hieroglyphed pedestal, was preserved in the Museum at Hyde Park; and I studied it long and well, finding it a thing of balefully exquisite workmanship, and with the same utter mystery, terrible antiquity, and unearthly strangeness of material which I had noted in Legrasse’s smaller specimen. Geologists, the curator told me, had found it a monstrous puzzle; for they vowed that the world held no rock like it. Then I thought… about the primal Great Ones: ‘They had come from the stars, and had brought Their images with Them.’
H.P. Lovecraft, ‘The Call of Cthulhu’.

Draft render for a Lovecraftian roleplaying project, DAZ Studio and Photoshop. (Click for full size image).

A rare old piece of Australian History

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The Sydney Bulletin went under in the Great Depression. That fine old Surry Hills tabloid is little remembered these days, but one of its claims to immortality is that the paper’s reporting of the Alert incident in 1925 provided one of the inspirations for H.P. Lovecraft’s novella, ‘The Call of Cthulhu’.

After some research (‘midst ancient tomes by midnight at the Australian Museum in College Street) I am pleased to be able to share the front page of the Sydney Bulletin of April 18 1925. The now-famous headline reports the arrival of the Alert at Darling Harbour after a terrifying encounter in the South Pacific.

Click for a high quality PDF copy of the Sydney Bulletin front page of April 18, 1925. (PDF 4 Meg)

MYSTERY DERELICT FOUND AT SEA

Vigilant Arrives With Helpless Armed New Zealand Yacht in Tow. One Survivor and Dead Man Found Aboard. Tale of Desperate Battle and Deaths at Sea. Rescued Seaman Refuses Particulars of Strange Experience. Odd Idol Found in His Possession. Inquiry to Follow.

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