Monday, May 18, 2015

Sepia Saturday: The opening of a wharf

One of a number of activities held over a week to celebrate the opening of a wharf in Portland harbour in 1960.
Children from various schools performed a choreographed spectacle.
My younger sister, Kaye, is somewhere in the middle of the arena.
We don't have a photo of the 'dance' we older girls performed.
It was 18 November 1960. I remember the date well because it was the day my grandmother, Myrtle Smith, died and it was the day the children from schools in the Portland district were involved in a series of choreographed routines to celebrate the opening of the KS Anderson Wharf in Portland's harbour.

It must have been a difficult day for Gran's two daughters. Betty (and Doug) and her son Rex were living with Gran in Portland at the time, and Mavis (and Angus) was living half an hour away with me and my four siblings. Rex, John, Kaye and I were all involved in the events and we had been practicing for weeks so, as they say, 'the show must go on'. We had special costumes to wear as well. Here we are outside Gran's house all dressed up ready to go. My young sister Kaye is in the photo above.

Portland has one of the few natural deep harbours in Victoria but the advantage of that was lost because they didn't have a big enough wharf or storage sheds. So Mr KS Anderson et al lobbied and lobbied and finally the wharf was built. The opening of the wharf was a big deal in the town and the celebrations were spread over a whole week. Here's one photo I found on the local library's website. It shows the official opening of the wharf.

But the construction of the wharf in the 1950s and into 1960 was a danger to life and limb! On the library's website there is reference to a film that was made in 2010, in which some of the workers on the project were interviewed. This is a quote:

In January 1961 a ship tied up at the KS Anderson wharf and the loading of bulk oats commenced. The Victorian Oatgrowers and Marketing Co Ltd had been granted exclusive use of the transit shed on the wharf to store the oats. It was the first bulk shipment from a Victorian port.
Source: Final Report of the State Development Committee on the Bulk Handling of Oats and Barley in Victoria, 1963.

First bulk oats shipment from Portland.
What amazes me about this photo from my family's album is that we were allowed on to the wharf, we were allowed to wander around the industrial equipment and into the shed. And presumably we were allowed on to the ship as well because that is where one of my parents must have been standing to take the photo. It all seems fraught with danger to me. [As an aside, I see that two nuns were interested to have a look as well.]

If you want to see more dangerous situations you could wander over and have a look at other Sepia Saturday blogs posted in response to this Sepia Saturday theme photo.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Sepia Saturday: Hello

Ghan workers tapping in to the telephone line in central Australia 1942. [Photo: D Kendall]
This photo needs some explanation.

The place is central Australia near Alice Springs. The year is 1942 - it's the middle of the war. Our friend Don was an Australian soldier stationed at Darwin when he and a mate were told to find their own way south to Melbourne and report for duty at the Air Force base at Point Cook because their applications to transfer to the RAAF had been accepted.

Sounds simple, doesn't it? The problem was that Darwin is a long way from Melbourne, especially in war time. It's 3,800 kms and the population is very sparce for most of the way. The road was really just a track for most of the way. They had very little money and the army provided them with a few food vouchers and travel passes but they had to organise their own route.

So, they hitched rides to Alice Springs on various army transport vehicles, then they went by train to Adelaide, and then by another train to Melbourne. It was all a bit of an adventure for two young lads.

The Ghan railway route today.
 In 1942 the old Ghan route (brown dotted line) from near Adelaide terminated at Alice Springs.
In 1872 a major engineering feat was completed. It was called the Overland Telegraph Line and it connected Darwin to Port Augusta in South Australia. It allowed much faster communication between Australia and the rest of the world. The building of the Overland Telegraph was fraught with difficulties but that's a whole other story.

The famous old Ghan was a narrow-gauge railway that opened in 1927 as 'Central Australian Railway'. It ran north to Oodnadatta in 1891 and then to Alice Springs in 1927. Its nickname derives from the Afghan cameleers who were so important in the the early days. (That's another big story, and so is the story of the difficulties encountered in the building of the Ghan railway.) The new Ghan is one of the great railway journeys of the world - all the way from Darwin to Adelaide in comfort. The old Ghan was a different story as weather and the environment played havoc with the infrastructure so travellers never quite knew when they would arrive at their destination.

For the purpose of this blog suffice to say that the telegraph line was extremely important and so was the Ghan, and that they followed the same route for much of their journey through the tough Australian landscape.

In 1942 Don and his mate travelled south from Alice Springs on the old Ghan and in Don's photo we can see that some of the workers on the Ghan are in the middle of nowhere tapping in to the telegraph line to set up some sort of temporary communication.

This post is in response to Sepia Saturday's theme photo of electrical linesmen in Tasmania.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Sepia Saturday: Working horses

Women's Land Army, England, WW2
My photo this week is one I purchased several years ago. It was in an album of family snapshots taken in England in the 1940s and some of a family living near Perth in Western Australia. As there were no surnames in the album I have no idea who the people were but I have uploaded them to my Flickr page so maybe someone one day will recognise a friend or relative.

There were about ten interesting photos of Women's Land Army activities in the album, including this one. The women appear to be wearing the land army uniform and would have been employed in using the horses to prepare the fields. As the same women are in several of the photos I assume the land army was organised so that the same women worked together over time. 

The smiles seem to indicate genuine enjoyment, the women having fun together on a summer's day and enjoying each other's company as well as the hard work. Hopefully the horses were happy on their food break as well.

To see more working horses I suggest you trot on over to Sepia Saturday's webpage and follow the blog links.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Sepia Saturday: Cycling

Joyce Barry, all-round cycling champion of  NSW, 1936
This little advertising card was with some 'found' photos that turned up at the Genealogical Society of Victoria. (I've been gradually scanning the photos and uploading them to Flickr.)

Joyce Barry, from Australia, must have been a natural all-round athlete as well as a champion cyclist in 1936. I really like the text on the reverse side: "Cycling on my 'Malvern Star' in the fresh open air keeps me slim and ensures that delightful bloom which no cosmetic could impart." Apparently her well-proportioned weight of 11 stone was admirably distributed over an athletic yet essentially feminine frame.

We have quite a few cyclists in our family. They enjoy riding long trails, riding to work, mountain biking and riding just for fun at a more liesurely pace. We have one family member who is blind and competed in cycling events at the paralympics.  And we even young grandchildren who enjoy riding to school and at the local playground. But I'm not posting photos of any of them.

I've chosen instead some photos taken in one back yard at Kerang over several decades, posed photos of family members. And in the background the bicycles are leaning on various garden constructions, unnoticed by the photographers.

Shirley Phelan with Phil, Alan, Shelley and Kay.
Kay Phelan on the scooter, Phil and Alan in the background.
Shelley Phelan
Renee McCasker with Jane, Lorraine Phelan with Kerrie.
Kay Phelan
And finally, Shelley and Fiona on a tandem made by Alan.
I suggest you take a trip over to Sepia Saturday to see some more cyclists.