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.


  1. A fascinating sideline on the theme. especially your comment that you could wander around the site without any thought to the health and safety risks that predominate today.

    Susan at Family History Fun .

  2. That must have given Portland a real boost. But I just love the freedom kids had to move around. Perhaps danger was less dangerous in those days, if that is possible. I like your Gran's fence.

  3. Great colour in that first shot. Health and safety wasn't then what it is now.

  4. Oh my -- that does seem to be a dangerous place to just wander around.


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