Sunday, September 28, 2014

Sepia Saturday: Neil's tent



Neil Phelan

Sepia Saturday's theme photo this week gives us a number of choices but last week I ignored the tent in the theme photo so I decided that this week I would take notice.

In April 1942 Neil Phelan enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) and worked as an aircraft mechanic in 100 Squadron. After training in Victoria and Townsville in northern Queensland he served Milne Bay in New Guinea and Goodenough in New Britain and Sale in Victoria.

I think this photo may have been taken at Bohle River near Townsville in northern Queensland (judging by the vegetation) because their tents at Milne Bay were pitched among coconut palms. Neil has his gas mask and rifle at the ready. I've heard a lot of his stories over the years and even now, at the age of 91, he visits his local schools occasionally to talk to the children about being in the air force and fighting off the Japanese invasion, and they always have lots of questions for him.

The red arrow marks the position of Milne Bay.

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)