Our theme this week for Sepia Saturday is back yards and hence this small and indistinct photo of my mother (1899-1990) in the back yard of her home at 96 Ryrie St, Geelong A little girl of three or four posed with a man’s bike in a backyard which matches our theme photo with its outside wash-house and rope clothes lines.
From this back yard we can radiate outwards to some of the distinctive sights seen by this girl from 1899 to 1908
There wasn’t much room to play in the back yard so their mother would sometimes sit Vera Tansey and her younger sister on the front step The other side of the street was much more impressive. to look at.
As seen in 1900 opposite them in Ryrie St, to the right was the Post Office with its prominent clock tower. To the left of the Post Office was the Telegraph Station - see the Time Ball resting on the roof. Just before 1pm each day the ball was raised to alert citizens and ships on the bay that 1 pm was imminent. On an electric signal from Melbourne the ball was dropped to indicate 1 pm. I don’t know when it last operated but i wasn’t operating in 1900.
The vehicle is possibly a Walker’s Omnibus which serviced the suburbs of Geelong.
Then came the solidly built Mechanics’ Institute where the family used to attend concerts. Originally it was this single storey structure but by 1900 was two storeys high. You can just get a glimpse of the :Presbyterian Steeple Church beside it.
Both the Mechanics’ Institute and the Steeple Church were later incorporated into our Geelong Performing Arts Centre where a couple of weeks ago I saw a brilliant local performance of My Fair Lady. The body of the Steeple Church is still there housing a Dance Studio with a stage, sprung floor and mirrors,.Theoretically the facade of the Mechanics’ Insiitute was preserved but apart from the name for me it bears little resemblance to the beautifully ornate original. But upstairs the facade now hides a dance studio
As the girls grew so their freedom increased.. They attended the nearly Flinders State School
As Vera said “When I was big enough to be trusted to look after Hilda, Mum would let me go to Kardinia Park to feed the numerous animals. She kept two brown paper bags on the copper wall and bread scraps went into them for us to take on a Saturday for the monkeys etc. We would call at Podbury’s coming home for a loaf of bread and Mrs Podbury would give us a bun each. One Saturday we called in and she gave me one look and said “Go home and tell your mother you have measles”. The warm sun had brought spots out all over me.”
This is the Kardinia Park Zoo in 1910, a modest zoo with monkeys, ducks, swans, guinea fowls, an emu, kangaroos, wallabies and deer. Bur everyone was upset when the emu died in 1907 and even the newspapers in New Zealand reported the fact. The Zoo gradually suffered from lack of proper upkeep and was closed.
In 1908 the family left Geelong and shifted to Murtoa,