Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Trove Tuesday: In which the Alfords holiday at Dromana

Bungalows, Country People's Holiday Camp, Dromana c1940
For three summers in a row the Alford family, from Mologa north of Bendigo, travelled to the Country People's Holiday Camp, Dromana on the Mornington Peninsula for a holiday by the beach. They stayed for a fortnight. There are several photos of the camp in the album.

Dining Room and Lounge, Country People's Holiday Camp, Dromana c1940
Dining Room and Lounge, Country People's Holiday Camp, Dromana c1940
So I had a look in Trove to see what the camp was all about. It seems that in the late 1930s the Country Roads Board established a camp for country people and it was supported by a committee of Melbourne society ladies.

The Argus, 14 Aug 1939
The Age, 30 Dec 1939
The Age, 27 Apr 1944

Postcard, The beach road, Dromana
Postcard, Dromana beach
In 1939, the first year they went, father stayed home to milk the dairy cows and mother went to Dromana with her five daughters. The conditions were very simple that year - they had to supply their own eating utensils and bedding, they slept in a rather a rather cramped old tram and water was in short supply (they only had tank water) because Victoria was in drought at that time. Shirley, one of the daughters, remembers that they were in church one day when they heard the fire bell and several men from the congregation left quickly to join their brigade as they defended the town from the fire that was bearing down. Ralph, the father, heard on the news that 'Dromana was wiped out' by the fire so he must have had an anxious time before he heard that his girls were safe.

The next year the whole family went down to Dromana. As mentioned in one of the newspaper articles, there was a camp cook, but while Ralph wasn't very impressed by the standard of the food I'm sure his wife, Mary, was glad of the break from cooking. That year the sleeping accommodation was much more comfortable and water was piped to the camp.

Shirley remembers that they were very lucky with the weather because it was calm and warm each time they holidayed at Dromana. Probably the drought was a major factor there. She also remembers one time they were walking along the beach, the five girls in their white wide-brimmed hats that mother insisted they wear, when a photographer from one of the Melbourne papers asked to take their photo. She said they had to run down the beach 'about fifty times' before he was satisfied that he had the right shot. It was published apparently but neither The Leader or The Weekly Times (Shirley can't remember which) has been digitised at Trove as yet for those years.

Country People's Holiday Camp, Dromana
Country People's Holiday Camp, Dromana 1939
Country People's Holiday Camp, Dromana Jan1938
Country People's Holiday Camp, Dromana

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