The University of Wollongong library has published the region’s earliest known aerial footage, showing a 1930s bird’s eye view of a developing industrial city.
The footage was filmed by Illawarra identity Charles Jackson, who worked for federal Liberal politician William Wentworth.
According to UOW historian Glenn Mitchell – who was given the Kodak footage by Mr Jackson in the mid-80s – Wentworth owned vast tracts of land where Port Kembla, Warrawong and Lake Heights now lie.
He wanted to use the footage as promotional material to attract would-be investors to the region.
‘‘[Jackson] hired a biplane and hung out the side of it with a ... camera – and that’s what you see in the footage,’’ Dr Mitchell said.
The four-minute black and white film opens with the biplane preparing for take-off at Mascot airport and cuts to the view over Thirroul and Sandon Point.
It then pans over the township of Wollongong, with the city’s brand new lighthouse visible on Flagstaff Hill.
As the plane heads towards Port Kembla, Jackson films the expansive Tom Thumb Lagoon, which covered what is now the inner harbour between southern Wollongong and Cringila.
The showground and City Beach surf club are just visible, before Jackson pans over to film Port Kembla’s harbour, steelworks and five islands.
The UOW library, which recently digitised the footage, estimates it was taken in 1938, but Dr Mitchell said it could have been earlier given the relatively small size of the outer harbour and steelworks.
At either age, Dr Mitchell said it was likely to be the earliest aerial footage of the region.
‘‘We have lots of photos of Wollongong from the ground, and a couple from Mount Keira, but this is from far higher,’’ he said.
‘‘So this is a significant piece of historical evidence because it shows Wollongong’s development from a unique perspective ... and why the film was made is also historically significant and goes to how Port Kembla was developed.’’