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Monday, 30 December 2013

Happy Holidays, Safe Home!

This week the topic photograph is of an old vehicle, possibly known as a charabanc, which looks to be awaiting its passengers, who have alighted to visit the Cordeaux Dam, south of Sydney in New South Wales, the structure which can be seen in the background. This dam was completed in 1926, and more information about it can be found here.  What is intriguing is that the Cordeaux Dam is hardly in the same direction from Sydney as the Jenolan Caves,which is the destination of the bus according to its sign, but perhaps the passengers were being taken on a roundabout tour of the wider Sydney region. There's a similar vehicle in a photograph on the web site of the Library of New South Wales, the caption for which is "Visitors walking from charabanc to the entrance of Jenolan Caves for the unveiling of a plaque to commemorate the discoveries of various caves, 23 February 1929". Click here to see it. 

Parts of the Jenolan Caves were initially discovered in the early 1840s by members of the Whalan family, and form part of the Blue Mountains, an elevated and very scenic rock formation to the west of Sydney. A very informative site about their history and attractions is located here. There are lots of articles in Trove about the Caves and various events that have occurred there over the years. For example, additional spectacular caves in an extensive underground network of caves were discovered in the 1890s by the Caves keeper Mr Jeremiah Wilson:

Goulburn Evening Penny Post, 23 February 1893,  from the Trove web site

The Caves became a popular tourist attraction for Sydney visitors, and many overseas dignitaries have been taken there on official visits. Of course it was some years before the Caves were able to be illuminated sufficiently so that their beauty could be safely appreciated, and the accommodation provided in the nearby Caves House was originally very basic, as this correspondent who called herself Mother Hubbard complained in a letter she penned to a major Sydney newspaper in June 1886:

Letter to Sydney Morning Herald, 9 June 1886, per Trove web site

The present day grand hotel, Caves House, isnow  on the State Heritage Register.It  was constructed in 1896, and was designed in the Federation Arts and Crafts Style as a retreat for the wealthy, and became a popular destination for honeymooning couples and other sightseeing tourists. Here's a lovely detailed report of the wedding of one such couple in 1904:

Catholic Press, 28 April 1904, from Trove web site
 Here's another report, this one of a wedding that took place in Sydney precisely 101 years ago, on 4 January 1913:

Sydney Morning Herald, 11 January 1913, per Trove web site

The road up the Blue Mountains and over to the Caves was winding and treacherous and visitors travelling there for fun, adventure and relaxation did not always arrive or return home safely.  There have been a number of serious accidents over the years, for example this one which occurred at Lawson in 1929:
Toll of the Motor, Braidwood Review and District Advocate, 8 January 1929, from Trove web site

Here are a couple of dramatic reports of accidents, in which amazingly no one was killed:
Northern Star Lismore, 5 August 1927, from Trove web site
Illawarra Daily Mercury, 20 April 1954, from Trove web site

An accident with a more serious outcome occurred on 5 January 1962:
Canberra Times, 6 January 1962, from Trove web site. One of the injured passengers subsequently died, bringing the death toll to four.
        There have also been unfortunate fatalities within the Caves themselves, for example this one in 1937: 
Canberra Times 8 February 1937, per Trove web site
A fatality also resulted when another woman fell from the same location in 1940.

Several of the above reports relate to events that took place on or about this coming weekend, on or about 5 January. Actually it's a personally significant date, as Sunday 5 January 2014 will be our 40th wedding anniversary. We went to New Zealand, not the Jenolan Caves, for our honeymoon, but here's a photo of my grandfather Oliver Cruickshank and his second wife Maisie, who came over from NZ for our wedding and afterwards visited the Blue Mountains. The photo is taken at Echo Point, overlooking the Three Sisters. It's likely that my parents also took them on to visit the Caves.

Granddad and Maisie at Echo Point, January 1974

 We went to Jenolan the following year in 1975, and here are a couple of photos from that trip.
At the entrance to the Caves
View of Caves House, from Carlotta's Arch

So that's my brief history and reminiscence about the Jenolan Caves, sparked by the bus destination in the photo prompt. Happy New Year to everyone, happy holidays and most importantly, stay safe travelling  home!
Now I'm off to Hobart, Tasmania for a few days, where we'll celebrate by having dinner with one of my bridesmaids and her husband, who got married a month after we did, and have lived down there for most of the ensuing 40 years. My other bridesmaid was my sister, who is now a jeweller and she has made me a ruby ring to mark the occasion.

In the grounds of St Ninian's, Lyneham A.C.T., 5 January 1974.


 Link to the prompt photo? Well I am wearing white, like the waiting attendants in white coats :-) That old oak tree beside us is no longer standing, but thankfully we still are! For more takes on this week's theme, just drive on over to Sepia Saturday 209

ps.Hope you enjoy this traditional rendition of Auld Lang Syne, as sung by the lovely Scottish singer Dougie McLean, whom we coincidentally saw in concert at the Clarendon Hotel, Katoomba in the Blue Mountains a couple of years ago.


Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Christmas afloat, 1954

In December 1954 my parents and I were on our way from England to New Zealand, aboard the good ship RMS Rangitiki. We steamed home via the Panama Canal, arriving back in Auckland on 1 January 1955.

Rangitiki Postcard, courtesy of the web site

Christmas aboard the Rangitiki looks like it must have been fun and relaxing for the passengers. I went to the children's  fancy dress party in a crepe paper Christmas tree costume my mother had created for me, and won a prize. (I've posted this photo in a previous blog but I think it bears repeating). The next photo is of a fragment from my outfit that Mum stuck into a scrapbook of the trip. It's quite well-preserved really, so you can imagine what the photo looked like in colour.

My mother's scrapbook also includes both the children's and adults' menus for the various Christmas events.

Children's Fancy Dress Party Menu

For Tea on Christmas Day the children enjoyed Fillet of Cod au Gratin, Cheese Salad, Roast Chicken and New Zealand Ham, with Peach Creams, Neapolitan Ices and fruit for dessert. Fried Lambs Sweetbreads and Sheeps Tongue were included in the menu at the Children's Xmas Party on December 24 - not my idea of party food, but I think in those days they were believed to be good for children. They were also served coffee ices, which seems a bit strange too.

Boxing Day Children's Menu Cover

The adults dined pretty well on Christmas Day, once the children had been fed and safely put to bed, not that I was always safe - apparently one night during the voyage I somehow escaped from the cabin, and if a purser hadn't discovered me wandering about on deck, I might not be here to tell the tale!

 The adults' Christmas Day Menu cover appropriately featured the New Zealand Kowhai Ngutu, also known as the kaka beak flower, 

A Sumptuous Xmas Feast: Rangitiki Menu, Dec.25, 1954
Scotch Woodcock is apparently a dish of soft scrambled eggs on toast with anchovy paste, which seems an odd thing to serve for Christmas, but perhaps it was included for the vegetarians, as there was not very much else offered for them.

And yes, Santa did manage to find the RMS Rangitiki on the high seas, somehow or other!

Best wishes to everyone for the festive season, wherever you may be, from Merry Melbourne, where it's presently around 40 degrees in the shade. Thankfully Xmas Day is not predicted to be quite so hot!  I hope you all have a very happy and relaxing time with family and friends. To close, here are some Melbourne icons for you, with a little added Christmas flavour - they're neither old nor sepian, but I hope you enjoy them, regardless!

Gingerbread model of the Melbourne Cricket Ground., which also plays host to Aussie Rules in winter.
Melbourne Town Hall lights up with a festive light show each night before Xmas

No one's watching the football, they're all queueing up for some fun at that other Melbourne icon depicted here in gingerbread, Luna Park at St Kilda Beach.

For more festive season memories,thoughts and wishes, just lie back, relax and head for  Sepia Saturday 208

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Leaning on a lamp post at Dee Why?

 I was thinking I didn't have anything for this week's topic, but have realised  that a photo I took last week may be quite appropriate. We were up in Sydney and visited Dee Why Beach, primarily to have lunch at a cafe there. We didn't plan to swim, which was just as well, because the surf was too rough and the beach was closed, as were many others along the coastline around Sydney, much to the disappointment of many beach-going Sydneysiders and visitors alike. It was a pleasant day with temperatures hovering in the high twenties (Celsius) and they really wanted to cool off in the surf, but instead could only gaze out longingly at the wild white water and watch the whirling bomboras further out to sea. Although not visible in this shot, fearless board riders were certainly enjoying the big waves!

Difficult to capture the size and ferocity of the waves in a photo, but I do have the requisite pole here, being held up by a spectator, plus a cyclist in the centre of the photo, and the step railing looks a bit like something attached to the bike, such as a fishing rod perhaps. The sign says 'Beach Closed', and dedicated lifesavers were patrolling it aggressively. The tree on the right is part of an impressive avenue of Norfolk Pines planted along the promenade in about 1914, when the Dee Why Surf Club was established. Up until that time, the Salvation Army had owned property including the beach strip, and did not permit public bathing. The meaning of the name Dee Why is not certain, but it was called Dy Beach by surveyer James Meehan in a note he made in 1815, although at the time he was apparently standing on Freshwater Beach, a couple of beaches south of Dee Why.

No family history connections to Dee Why, but here are a few older photographs I found online:

National Library of Australia vn6301382

National Library of Australia ,vn6301383

The two photographs above are of a whale being hauled in from Dee Why beach, watched by an engrossed crowd of spectators, and then being viewed by a group of men and a small boy and his mother, c 1930. If the poor whale was alive as the sign seems to say, this can hardly have been the case for very long. These days it would receive much more care and attention,in the hope that it could be saved, rather than simply being treated as a curiosity.

The Strand, Dee Why, from Warringah Council Library collection, in Picture Australia
The above photograph of the Strand, Dee Why, c.1948, shows council workers mending potholes with hot tar from the tar truck. No doubt it was hot work, and they would much rather have been lounging on the beach rather than working beside it! Some of the majestic Norfolk Pines mentioned above can be seen in the background, and there seems to be a small pole of some kind in front of the truck.

 Dee Why Australia and Smithers BC may be poles apart geographically speaking, but here's a photograph from Wikipedia, of the small town of Smithers British Columbia, which also quite accords with our theme photograph for this week. My niece lives in Smithers, and I'd like to visit her there one day, meet her new little daughter and view the spectacular mountain scenery that can be incidentally spotted in the far distance here. I'll try to avoid those pesky power poles however! Right now it's around 2 degrees C there, and the Smithers main street is heavily blanketed and beautified by snow.

For more Sepian images on poles, bicycles, trucks and whatever, just click here.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Pretty in pinafores

I can only find two photos of people in aprons of any sort in my collection. The first one is of two little girls in their lacey pinafores, probably to protect their good dresses while they played. They do look very sweet and innocent, and their pinafores look so pretty, perhaps they wore something else over them when they were really up to mischief! These two sisters, christened Bessie Irene and Flora Euphemia Forbes, were born in 1888 and 1889 in Canterbury NZ and became seamstresses in their adult lives. They were very close and seem to have always lived together.  Like so many women of their generation, their opportunities to marry would have been greatly reduced, due to the sacrifice of so many of their male contemporaries in World War 1. To me they were my maiden great aunts Bess and Flo, who've featured in previous posts of mine, for example Sepia Saturday 191.

The photo below shows my mother Jean and her friend Colleen, doing a spot of housework in their aprons. Jean is cleaning a shoe and Colleen appears to be hanging something on the tree. Perhaps they had also been doing some cooking in their aprons. Both these ladies now reside in aged care homes and are in rather poor health, but back in 1946 they were young, vivacious and having fun on holiday in Dunedin. I believe they met as students at teachers training college in the 1940s and have kept in touch ever since, despite Jean moving from NZ to Australia in 1956. The large brick building that can be partially glimpsed in the distance is Knox College at the University of Otago in Dunedin.

For  posts on perhaps rather more dedicated workers in aprons and other takes on this week's theme photo above, just head to Sepia Saturday 206. You may or may not find some there!

7 February 2014  - More apron photos spotted, perhaps in more ways than one!

A few years later, my mother and Jocelyn Ward, another old speech therapist friend of hers, are at Waikuku Beach, Canterbury NZ on the Labour day holiday weekend and rather strangely appear to be wearing aprons back to front! Maybe because they were sitting down on a dirty floor to do a spot more cleaning?

Jean and Jocelyn wearing their aprons back to front for some unknown reason
 A few years later, Miss Mischief in Cambridge was carrying on the apron wearing tradition, although  probably not doing any cleaning, in fact probably the opposite was true.

 And finally, here's one of father Ian, manning the garden BBQ in Canberra, in the early 1970s, stylishly attired in his cap and apron. 

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Swimmers with arms folded

 I know its still Movember, but this week I've decided to concentrate instead on the fact that the man in the prompt photo has his arms folded, because I really like the following shot of my late father-in-law Bob Featherston, left, and his brother-in-law Win Vail with his arms folded, taken when they were in relaxed mode, on the promenade surrounding the Eastern Beach Swimming Enclosure in Corio Bay, Victoria. 

Eastern Beach has been a popular area for swimming and family picnics since its establishment in the 1930's. According to the article below, the shark-proof enclosure was opened by the acting Mayoress of Geelong on Tuesday 28 March 1939. It includes a diving platform, a promenade level and a lower level for swimmers, with a children's playground and paddling pool nearby. Surrounding terraces, kiosk and dressing sheds, were designed in the Art Deco style that was popular around that period.

Robert Leslie Featherston and  Henry Winton Vail at Eastern Beach, c. 1946

Item from the Argus newspaper, 29 March 1939, found in Trove
These two photographs from the State Library of Victoria show Eastern Beach thronged with crowds, c. 1939

I'm not sure exactly when the photograph of Bob and Win was taken, but I think it's likely to have been around 1946 or 47, when both men were aged around thirty. The smiles and casual poise of these two young men in their bathers belie a considerable amount of courage, bravery and life experience, with both men having not long returned from service in World War 2.

Winton Vail was a Melbourne boy who married Bob's sister Jean in May 1946, after serving with the Australian Army in Europe during World War 2. Bob Featherston was born and educated in Geelong. He was a young teacher at a small country school when the war began, and was one of the first to volunteer for aircrew. He obtained his wings with the Royal Australian Air Force, and was serving in Squadron 12,  RAF Bomber Command, when his Lancaster was shot down over the Baltic Coast on 17 January 1943. Bob was captured and held as a prisoner of war for over two years in Stalag V111B at Lamsdorf and Stalag Luft 111 in Sagan, Poland. When finally liberated by the Americans after surviving the Long March from January to April 1945,  Bob found his way to to England, where he met his English bride Mary. They were subsequently married in  January 1947, back home in Geelong Australia. Bob was always loathe to speak about his experience as a POW.

Just a year or so before enlisting, Bob had also shown considerable bravery when he had been involved in a beach rescue at Ocean Grove, a surfing beach on the Bellarine Peninsula near Geelong.  Here is a report of what took place on Saturday 6 January 1940.

Report published in The Riverine Herald, Echuca and Moama, 9 January 1940, found on Trove.

Sadly the body of young James Wilksch was never found. At the inquest the coroner complimented both Bob and Mr Hames for their prompt action in going to the aid of the boys, saying that if they had not done so, many more lives would have been lost.

Over the years the boardwalk around the Eastern Beach swimming area deteriorated and was in need of repair, so in the early 1990s  members of the public were invited to participate in funding its refurbishment, by sponsoring plaques to be placed on replacement planks for the boardwalk on which Bob and Win were standing. Bob's other sister Dawn Featherston thought this was a good idea, no doubt having happy memories of family visits to the beach, and she paid for plaques for her parents Joseph and Grace, and for herself and her siblings Bob and Jean. Dawn passed away in 1995, and neither she nor her parents have any other physical memorial.

Plaque at the beginning of the Promenade

The Featherston family plaques

Here is a relatively recent photo taken at Eastern Beach, showing some of the painted bollard figures that are to be found scattered all around the bay. There are 111 of them in total, all sculpted by artist Jan Mitchell and installed around 1999. Ms Mitchell did extensive research before creating them, and they represent various famous figures and local characters in period costume who feature in the history of the Geelong district. The group pictured is entitled the Town Baths Swimmers Club, and shows how men's swimming costumes developed. Originally when the beach inspectors weren't looking, the men would slip their arms out of their singlet tops and roll them down to the waist, as reported in this item found on Trove from the Argus newspaper dated 15 December 1937.


Neither Bob nor Win nor Dawn was around to see the bollards, but one of Bob's granddaughters can be seen posing with the figures above, and the boardwalk comprising hundreds of sponsored planks can be seen in the distance.  Jan Mitchell passed away in 2008, and appropriately a bollard depicting her has subsequently been created and added as the final bollard in the collection.

If you are interested, a large number of photographs of many more bollards seen around Corio Bay can be found on Flickr, and by the way, quite a few of them have moustaches!

Now click here for many and varied takes on the photographic theme for Sepia Saturday 205.