A photo snapped at the weekend of a thrill-seeker walking the tightrope across the sea has stirred memories of the NSW Illawarra's own eccentric dare-devil, Charles Jackson.
Last weekend, a tightrope walker too a sky-high stroll above the sea at Bombo Quarry, on NSW's South Coast.
His antics were captured by Kiama photographer Rowan Hollingworth, who had not long started snapping photos of the stunt when the tightrope walker lost balance and fell from the wire.
"It came as quite a shock," Mr Hollingworth posted on the Kiama Community Facebook page, "but he did have on a safety rope and didn't fall into the sea."
The walker managed to swing back into position and went "back and forth several times".
But the walker isn't the first person to dazzle crowds on the NSW South Coast.
Port Kembla's Lorrelle Lee is the great-granddaughter of Jackson, who stunned spectators when he walked across the Kiama Blowhole on a tightrope in 1889.
Jackson deserted Lorrelle's great-grandmother and his first crop of children when they were living at Shellharbour, and went on to pursue a life as a travelling inventor, showman and, it seems, master con artist.
Besides tightrope walking, Jackson would parachute out of hot air balloons or stage public fasting sessions for money. He went to New Zealand where he worked as a deep sea diver, before building an Ark, after enticing donations from investors. The Ark sank on its maiden voyage.
Jackson's greatest desire was to be known as the "Australian Blondin," modelling himself on French tightrope walker and acrobat Charles Blondin who made his name by walking on a tightrope across Niagra Falls.
It was Blondin's world famous hijinks he sought to recreate at the Blowhole.
The Kiama Independent reported on Tuesday, January 8, 1889: "Charles Jackson, the Australian Blondin, made several successful performances on a one inch diameter wire rope over the Blowhole on Saturday evening last, crossing in one instance blindfolded. The rope had a 30 feet span from east to west, and was stretched 70 feet above the sea. There was a large number of spectators to witness his feats."
Lorrelle remembers being told that Jackson piggybacked his small son, her grandfather, on one of his crossings.
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Charles, who Lorrelle believes grew up in a boys' home, seemed destined to live his life from his wits, charisma and bizarre entrepreneurial skills.
"He was really a showman, if you want to be polite, or a conman if you don't," Lorrelle said.
"He had the gift of the gab and women fell for him in droves. He used to blow into town, set up his posters, get sponsors, do his fasting or tightrope walking and collect the purse."
Charles, who variously went by the names of Felix Tanner, Henri le Strange and Professor Jackson, went on to marry multiple times and father many more children. However, he continued the pattern of deserting his families for new adventures.
He finally returned to the Illawarra later in life where he eventually settled down in Bulli, marrying for a final time.
"By the time he came back after ratbagging around all over the place, my great-grandmother had opened a guest house in Port Kembla," Lorrelle says.
"They didn't get back together, but apparently he was always welcome for dinner."
Lorrelle looks back on her colourful ancestor with mixed feelings.
"We were always brought up with how he was a great inventor and entrepreneur, but when we began to research it we thought, hang on, this guy's a shyster!"
Do you know more about Charles and his antics? email firstname.lastname@example.org
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