Google+ Followers

Saturday, 24 June 2017

"I live in a taraban"



Each year in the 1960s over the Christmas summer holidays my parents packed the family tent and set off to drive from Canberra down to the South Coast of New South Wales, trying out at a different beach each year. In 1970 however their camping style changed when they bought a caravan, which became Dad's pride and joy for the next few years.  Below are a number of photographs from Mum's 1969-1973 album.


I think this must have been a caravan they hired to find out whether or not they would enjoy driving the Ford Fairmont with with a van in tow.


Here's my mother Jean showing off the interior of the van they subsequently purchased


1970 and this was probably the first trip with the van, and the only one I was part of, since I left school that year and found summer jobs, and in any event at 17 or 18 family camping wasn't really something I fancied all that much. I must have taken this photo however, as my boyfriend of the time with his tousled locks can be seen crouching here behind my parents and sister Louisa in the caravan park at Mollymook beach.


Said boyfriend had to camp nearby on his own and I was under strict instructions not to join him in his tent, but I confess, I may have sneaked in once or twice. Hello Chris Curtis, how are you? We haven't been in touch since 1971, the year after that photograph was taken. 



More caravan photos above and below from subsequent trips to the beach and elsewhere. Collapsible beach chairs to relax on outside the van were an essential camping accessory.



My sister Louisa poses with the ever present van in the background


Mum's caption on this photo of my brother at the door of the van reads 'Wilson's Point. Temperature at least 107 degrees '. Australia adopted the Metric Act in 1970  but it was almost 10 years before forecasts were given exclusively in Celsius degrees, and in the early 1970s we were still talking Fahrenheit temperatures. No air conditioning in the van of course, but then there was none in the house either, just the occasional fan and open windows at night to let in cooler air and any breezes that might help move the air around.


Here's Jean at home with the van in its resting place beside the house, where it doubled as an extra bedroom for visitors when needed. We could have done with a caravan for extra space last weekend when we had 10 people sleeping here but we managed!
One of my mother's enduring camping memories was of a little girl standing on the step of her van across the way from Mum and Dad and calling out "I live in a taraban'.  Our younger daughter and her husband have recently bought themselves a small van, and perhaps their little daughter will one day stand on the step and call out something similar to her camping neighbours.
 When my parents no longer felt up to the strain of driving with the van and decided instead to move to a house near the beach on the Central Coast north of Sydney, my brother took over the van and he and his family used it for a few more years up in Queensland.

For other blogs prompted by the old image from the National Library of Ireland and posted in Sepia Saturday #373 of an Irish couple and their dog camping at Tramore in 1918, click here.

Postscript:
It looks like a gypsy caravan in the prompt picture, but if Mr and Mrs Foley were indeed gypsies, I hope they were not treated badly in the way that very many of their people were, as documented in the lyrics of this song written by Ewan McColl and sung by the great Christy Moore.





Thursday, 8 June 2017

Not just playing

This week's Sepia Saturday image features a man with a box. It looks like he took his work seriously, whatever it was. Or perhaps that is just the impression we get from his downturned moustache.


My mother Jean was a speech therapist and in her student days in Auckland NZ she worked in a clinic with children who needed help with their speech for various reasons. This photograph from 1945 is captioned 'shopping time' and shows a group of Jean's students using what looks like an old packing case as a shop counter top while they pretend to buy and sell goods from the shopkeeper. While having fun playing shops, they would at the same time have been unselfconsciously practicing their speech skills, while Jean observed and prompted when needed. Like the man in the prompt above, they don't look too happy at having to stop for a photograph. 



Of course in these days of supermarkets and self serve checkouts, you can go shopping without needing to say boo to a goose, as my father would have said. You only need to call for assistance if you make a mistake using the machine, although that happens quite often, in my case at least!


Jean with fellow staff members celebrating her retirement in 1987, after 30 years of working with children in a special school in Canberra, and a lifetime spent helping children communicate, ever since those early days in the clinic pictured above.

For more posts prompted by the man and his packing box, moustache, bowler hat and sorrowful expression, pack up and go to Sepia Saturday #371

Friday, 2 June 2017

Out on a limb


GeneabloggersTRIBE logo


The prompt photo for Sepia Saturday this week, #370, is of an oak tree that marks the centre of England. I don't have photographs of trees that have any particular claim to fame, or at least none that I can easily locate, so instead I've selected a few of my favourite tree photographs from family albums and written a few random thoughts about each of them.
This first photograph, circa 1960, is of my grandparents John and Mona Morrison's  home in Aylmer St Christchurch NZ, peacefully secluded behind this lovely tree at the edge of the garden.  My mother Jean was born in this house, as were three of her younger brothers, and in her Life book she wrote about the silver birch tree that her father John had planted when the house was first built and how when it grew strong and big enough he put a swing on it for the children to enjoy. John passed away in 1977 and the house got new owners, but when Jean went to visit in 1998 the swing was still there. I'm not sure that the photo is of that same tree, as it doesn't look like a silver birch to me, but it still looks lovely.



These days you don't see many swings on trees, probably due to safety concerns, but here I am above and below, enjoying another simple tree swing with my father and my doll respectively. I think this swing was located outside the flat that my parents rented in 1954, only a few blocks away from the Morrison family home, and at only 3 I was permitted to ride my trike there on my own, to be met by my waiting grandmother. Those were the days!



Trees are great for standing under and for framing photographs, unless of course there's a storm approaching, in which case it is not a very good idea. On the afternoon of our wedding at St Ninian's church in the Canberra suburb of Lyneham in early January 1974 a summer storm had threatened, but by the appointed time in the late afternoon it had passed and thankfully was clear, bright and warm. My new husband is clutching our ceremonial wedding certificate and we are standing beside what I believe was one of two very large elm trees in the church garden,  Sadly both trees have since been removed, apparently due to their deteriorating condition. We haven't lived nearby for almost 40 years now, but we do occasionally drive by when visiting family. The very simple little church in which we were married has since been extended and just doesn't look the same, especially without those big welcoming trees.




Below are our four children aged between 3 and 10 in 1990, posing for a family photo on a tree in the town of Ballarat. If the tree wasn't exactly over the water, it was not far off and it wouldn't have been much fun if anyone had fallen in, but it did make for a good shot. We were visiting an open air museum in Ballarat called Sovereign Hill, which recreates life in the 1850s gold fields town, and where you can get involved in activities such as riding a stage coach, going down a mine and panning for gold. I was not into family history back then and did not realise that in fact the children's ancestor, 3 times great grandfather Davis Calwell, had worked there in 1854, together with his brother Dan. I mentioned them in last week's blog in relation to the introduction of baseball to Australia. Although Davis and Dan did not get directly involved in the miners' rebellion known as the Eureka Stockade, Davis wrote a number of letters home to his mother, stepfather and sisters back in Pennsylvania, giving them a detailed account of the miners' grievances and what took place as a result. In one of his letters Davis even enclosed a few grains of gold dust. His American relatives saved his letters and they are now available to be read at the National Library of Australia. I am lucky to have been given a CD containing copies of all the family correspondence.




That's all from Turner Street, an avenue of plane trees whose leaves have almost all fallen now. They provide us with a cooling canopy of shade in the summer (click here and scroll down for a summertime Christmas collage) but also plenty of exercise sweeping up in Autumn.







To see that tree in the centre of England and read more tree tales, go to Sepia Saturday #370


  Post script:

On second thoughts, I think a blog post prompted by a famous tree really should include a couple of photos of an ancient tree in the Southern hemisphere, namely Tane Mahuta, "Lord of the Forest", a giant Kauri tree that has stood proudly in the Waipoua Forest on the North Island of New Zealand for somewhere between 1250 and 2500 years. So I searched my trip albums and found these two photos from our visits to pay our respects to Tane Mahuta in 2002 and again in 2013.

Tane Mahuta, April 2002

My mother Jean and I visiting Tane Mahuta in 2013. Not a lot had changed in the intervening 11 years, which after all was only a fraction of  time in the life of this magnificent tree.

You can find details about the tree's size etc here for example.  If you are ever in the area, don't miss it!