Saturday, September 20, 2014

Sepia Saturday: Mallee gardens

A delightful theme photo for this week's Sepia Saturday - children in a garden, a tent in the background. I'm choosing the garden as my theme.

Farm house and garden in Victoria's mallee district.
They were tough in those days. My husband's Uncle Jack grew up in the Mallee district in the north of Victoria where his parents and other family had cereal farms. The 1920s and 1930s were tough times in the Mallee. The farmers had not yet learned how to farm in the sand like they do now so the native vegetation was cleared, the ground was ploughed when a layer of old stubble should have been retained, paddocks were left fallow, overgrazed or planted with seed in years that were too dry, the rabbits were in plague proportions, the summers were very hot and the winters cold. The result was frequent dust storms, failed crops, mouse plagues. It was soul destroying.

So it is surprising that communities developed. Schools and churches were established, football and tennis teams formed, railway lines built, small towns grew, families were raised, people supported each other. Now a lot of those towns have disappeared (I mean disappeared without trace - you can't see that they've ever been there) or diminished, small farms have amalgamated into large viable businesses, the population has decreased markedly, sustainable farming practices instigated.

One of the major problems in those days was water, a lack of water, for stock and people because it rarely rains in the Mallee. Every drop of water had to be carefully used.

Which brings me to this week's theme. All of the photos below are from Uncle Jack's album. I've chosen ones that show the homes they lived in and the gardens that are really potplants in old kerosene tins they tried to keep alive with water that had been used for washing or baths and fences that were built to keep the rabbits at bay. I couldn't have done it. I dips me lid.

Kooloonong Hospital

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Sepia Saturday: Joy's pets

What an interesting theme photo for Sepia Saturday this week. The little girl is intriguing - she looks downcast, or maybe she has a cold.

No monkey photos in my collection but I do have quite a few photos of my husband's Auntie Joy when she was a child in the 1930s. She always had pets of various sorts, and still does.

Joy and Sulphur-crested Cockatoo
Joy and Australian Magpie
Joy, Galah and rabbit
Joy and rabbit
Joy, dog and lamb (and mum)

Friday, August 29, 2014

Sepia Saturday: Alone

In the theme photo my eye is drawn to the man walking alone. I found several photos in my collection on the same theme.

Alone on a mountain trail at Hotham Heights, Victoria
Alone on a beach at Airley Beach, Queensland
Margaret Alford alone in a garden.
It is too easy to assume that the people alone are lonely, but I don't think so. The man on the mountain is a friend and we were part of a larger group of field naturalists. The lady in the garden is my husband's great-grandmother, a much loved member of a large family. And the girl on the beach was sitting near a group of friends.

So, I looked to the theme photo for another angle. Aha. A train. I have in my possession some postcards from the early 1900s and one of them is of Central Sydney Railway Station and, joy oh joy, there is a solitary man walking on the road. The image appears to have been altered slightly for some reason.

Central Sydney Railway Station. Postcard posted 1907.
Central Sydney Railway Station now.
[Source: Fabian on]
And finally, my own children only needed a couple of cardboard boxes and some soft toys to create an imaginary train. They weren't alone.

 I suggest you check the Sepia Saturday website to see what other contributors have posted.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Trove Tuesday: Maddingly Park

I've mentioned Phil's Great-uncle James Alford before, and probably will again, but in this post I'm discussing an aspect of his life I discovered in the National Library's digitised newspapers on Trove.

In the 30 years since his arrival in Australia James had moved from South Australia to Brighton, Victoria then to a farm at Parwan near Bacchus Marsh for a few years. In about 1880 he moved with his family to Maddingly, across the river from Bacchus Marsh, and they ran a store and hotel there for about ten years.

He quickly established himself as a useful member of the community as evidenced in a newspaper report published when the faamily left for Ballan in 1890.

Bacchus Marsh Express 1 Nov 1890
There's more to James' story but for now I just want to note two newspaper reports of James and Elizabeth's gifts to the town. Across the road from the Alford's store and hotel there was, and still is, a park called Maddingly Park. In the 1880s the council decided to landscape the park and plant the gardens. James Alford donated the iron fence around the fountain and his wife, Elizabeth, donated a substantial sundial. As far as I know both installations no longer exist. I wonder if they're in storage somewhere.

Bacchus Marsh Express 10 Nov 1888
Bacchus Marsh Express 10 Apr 1889
Maddingly Park c1936
Booklet - Bacchus Marsh Centenary Celebrations, Federation University
 Australia Historical Collection