Sunday, March 30, 2014

Sepia Saturday: Of droughts and flooding rains

The theme photo for Sepia Saturday this week shows old fences, a flood and a barge or ferry with cars aboard. I was tempted by the ferry idea because I have a few photos in that category but settled on the flood. I hope they're not too ho-hum:)

We Australians all know a verse of a poem published in 1908 called 'My Country' by Dorothea Mackellar, but strangely it's the second verse we know, not the first. And part of it is most appropriate for this week's theme:
I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains.
My husband grew up in northern Victoria where it is very flat and, for the most part, dry. But when it rains a lot the water just spreads out over the land and eventually drains north to the Murray River. It can take weeks to drain and is very inconvenient to residents, especially in past years when roads were just dirt that turned into mud. But of course kids love anything out of the ordinary so they're out to play in the flood waters.

Mologa in flood in the 1950s provides a fun experience for kids.
Mitiamo in flood in the 1950s. The Phelan kids are having fun and at least Neil is there to make sure they're safe.
An aside: One of the first things I do after I download my photos of the camera is straighten the horizons. But actually when I see the two photos above with their sloping horizons I think it adds to rather than detracts, but if I was to photoshop them I would straighten the horizons because they're 'wrong'. And I note that the younger generation taking selfies by the hundred don't worry about horizons at all! Call me old-fashioned but I prefer a straight horizon.

Toolamba Post Office in a flood in the mid-50s.
When he was about seven years old my husband's parents ran the Post Office and Telephone Exchange at Toolamba in central Victoria. It's not far from the Goulburn River that runs north to the Murray. Many, many rivers eventually drain into the Murray River - it has a huge catchment but the river mouth is continually dredged because mostly the flow is so meagre the sand continually blocks it. (Of course, irrigation and water storage complicate the issue now but it has always been a very seasonal river.) But I mustn't get myself side-tracked. In about 1955 the land around Toolamba and the Goulburn River flooded and the house/post office was surrounded by water.

Auntie Lena Larkin, Kooloonong, after it rained.
Auntie Lena lived in the mallee, nearer to the Murray River and in an even drier area. So when it rained after years of dry it was worthy of a photo. Here she is standing on an island in a flooded area that would have been dry and dusty the previous week and years.

Wyllie farm in flood, about 1960.
I grew up on the south coast of Victoria in a much wetter environment, on a farm where my dad had a herd of dairy cows. He didn't need to irrigate like they do in northern Victoria because it rained regularly and he had a permanent creek on the property that provided drinking water for the stock. But even so, a flood was an event that had to be recorded on camera. This is the view from my mother's garden, looking towards the track we used to get to the school bus each day. I remember her making sure we had our gumboots at the bus shelter (that dad had built for us) if it flooded while we were at school, or we would wear them to wade through the water and then change into our school shoes at the bus shelter. In our area the water soon drained away because it was undulating country.

This anecdote is more of a rain event rather than a flood. In the summer of 1969 my two friends and I travelled to Sydney to attend to NCYC, National Christian Youth Convention. I took my car and we camped at Nowra on the New South Wales coast on the way. The first photo below shows our camp set up for the night. The second photo shows the same tent after it rained two inches (about 50 mm) during the night! Everything was wet, wet, wet. Just as well we were in accommodation for NCYC because it took all week to dry everything out.

Camp at Nowra, January 1969
 Joyce Turner and helper, with our tent the next morning.
And finally, one that is interesting but doesn't belong to me. I have been scanning old photos for the Genealogical Society of Victoria's Flickr page and this was one I processed this week. It's a Fiat car bogged to the axles, somewhere in Victoria, in the 1920s. I wonder how he got the car out? I'm guessing he walked to the nearest farm and asked the farmer to bring his horses down to tow him out. But I'm glad he, too, thought to take a photo.

You can see what others have made of the theme photo over on the Sepia Saturday webpage.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Sepia Saturday: The case of the disappearing statue

A 1914 photograph of the Thomas Jefferson statue in Columbia is the theme for Sepia Saturday this week. So my contribution to the theme are these two photos taken in Huonville, Tasmania by family members from Victoria who holidayed on the island of Tasmania off the south coast of the Australian mainland in 1938. They shipped their car over and drove themselves around. I think their car is shown in the second sepia image below.

There are two photos of this bridge and it's a mystery how the first one was taken. The Huon River is fairly wide and I have snipped the Google Maps image from about half way across the bridge so I can't imagine what vantage point was used unless it was taken from the second storey of the old 'Franklin Tavern' that was and is on the south side of the river. I wonder if the family stayed there overnight. [You can click on any images to view larger.] The first bridge across the Huon was built in 1876 and was replaced by a new bridge in 1926. I don't know when the present bridge was built.

Huonville, Tasmania 1938
Image from Google Maps 2014
The red hotel on the corner still exists and externally appears to have changed little.
The red arrow indicates the position of the statue in the photos below and above.
Huonville is about 40 km south of Hobart and used to be a big apple orchard area. (Tasmania is known as the Apple Isle but it is an industry in decline.) There are still apples there but now tourism is important because it's a very beautiful part of the island. Well, actually, all of Tasmania is beautiful.

OK, I'm getting to the theme. This photo is taken from the north side of the bridge and you can see the statue to the right of the car (which I think is Grandpa Phelan's). It's a statue of a soldier holding a gun and is a memorial to the soldiers from the district who served in the Great War of 1914-1918.

Huonville, Tasmania 1938
Google Maps 2014. Arrow indicates the approximate position of the original statue.
But the statue is not there now. Where has it gone? In several newspaper items the memorial is called a cenotaph, and it appears to have still been there in the 1950s. Maybe it was moved or removed when the present bridge was constructed.

Mercury 26 Apr 1938

Mercury 17 Apr 1951
I suggest you wander over to the Sepia Saturday website to see some more sepia photos of statues around the world.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Sepia Saturday: Pop's backyard

Backyards in Sydney, 1900
Inner-city backyards is the theme this week. Well we just don't do inner city in my family or my husband's, although some of the current generation rather like living close to cafes and theatres so things may be changing. We're rural or semi-rural back for generations.

So this week I've chosen a photo of my grandfather's backyard. Pop Smith was a farmer but when my grandmother became ill they sold the farm and moved in to the small rural town of Minyip in Victoria's Wimmera area. The photo below is of Pop's backyard in Minyip. My cousin Rex and I were the only grandchildren at the time.

Duncan Smith in his backyard with his grandchildren, Rex and Lorraine.
This photo makes me laugh. How tidy is Pop? Stuff everywhere, no paths, no vegetable garden and sheds in need of maintenance. I think it says a lot about Pop's character and personality.

You can visit other backyards over at Sepia Saturday's webpage.


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