A Bush Picnic

The time is the mid 1920s and the place is Barker’s Creek on the outskirts of Castlemaine in Central Victoria.  That’s in Australia.  And the occasion is the time honoured ceremony of Afternoon Tea, also known as Arvo Tea. teatime

This particular bush afternoon tea is connected with playing tennis.  It has been suggested that the tennis court was at a house called The Hermitage. Looking at the big teapot on the table it has probably been brought down from a nearby house ,with the cups and saucers and food in the suitcase, and probably organized by “Mother” who is blending into the background beside the tree in  her matronly black.

Thought has gone into the picnic  table, made from logs of different sizes overlaid with wire netting.  Wire netting – it’s chicken wire  and hence my SepSat chicken link  .And who could possibly have afternoon tea without a special afternoon tea cloth ?

So who are these  ladies.  They come from the Robertson, Webber and Petherbridge families with Vera Tansey,sitting centre front, artfully displaying her engagement ring. She has come to know the group as she works with one of the Webber girls at the Ball and Welch store

tennis ladies

From left, Marj Robertson, ….Petherbridge. Jessie Webber, Vera Tansey, Marion Webber, Dorrie Robertson., Mary Webber

These are the young ladies in their stockings ,and  some wearing pearls ,who played that day.  Presumably one of them took the tea time photo.  But, look at the “net”.   It’s hard to see but It is there, made from some more of the ever useful chicken wire. It is then topped with twists of some kind of material.  Even the support at the end of the net  looks like a bush makeshift arrangement. I bet they had fun.

Some of the players are wearing what were called closed toe sandals, a canvas sandal styled with a strap across the foot, while the others appear to be wearing the traditional laced-up shoes.  One of the girls having tea is still wearing  her strap sandshoes.  The clothes are the same in the two photos so presumably they were taken on the same day.

And the link between the players ?  Apart from two groups of sisters there is also the “work” link.   Vera Tansey and  Jessie Webber worked at Ball and Welch which  was a draper’s shop which had been established in the Castlemaine area in the 1850s. They later opened an Emporium in Flinders St. Melbourne.

 Two B and W photos

These two photos  are of staff at the Castlemaine Ball and Welch in the 1920s.  There is another  lady in these two photos , a friend of our family, who was connected to  the group of tennis ladies. But  she hadn’t been playing on that special day in Barker’s Creek. Billie  (Wilhemina) Webber  is sitting front right in the left hand photo,  and front centre in the casual dress photo.  She is a cousin of the Webber girls playing tennis.  And guess what .  Last month she celebrated her 107th birthday, well and happy and living in Narranderra, NSW.

 Billie 106 2012

Here is a newspaper photo of Billie, turning 106 in 2012.

And you can join more picnic parties  in the links on Sepia Saturday.



27 thoughts on “A Bush Picnic

  1. Jackie van Bergen

    Well Happy Birthday to Billie – doesn’t she look great!
    I have photos of a similar tennis party but in the western district of Vic around Beeac with my Nanna and her family. I must go and look them up.


  2. Wendy

    Wow — Billie looks great! I wonder if her secret is tennis and tea. Afternoon tea seems like such a nice idea — too bad it didn’t catch on in the USA.


    1. boundforoz Post author

      Afternoon tea seems to have been replaced with Where shall we meet for a latte these days. Full time housewives used to have time for entertaining and the rituals surrounding afternoon tea but now with most women working full or part time they just don’t have the time or the inclination.


  3. Alan BURNETT

    That first photograph looks so full of life. And talking of being full of life – Billie at 107. We get so used to seeing these old photos from the 1920s and 30s and seeing them as history, it is wonderful to remember that in some cases it is living history.


    1. boundforoz Post author

      That’s so right. It is living history. She was a family friend back in those days but paths diverge so I was amazed when I heard that she was still alive. It’s funny the memories she brings back. I remember she had the height of luxury, a kerosene refrigerator while my family was still using an icebox.


  4. Joan

    One of the things that I have noticed in this weeks’ selection is that there are such wonderful pictures of friends that span decades. Those friends of youth seem to stay with us. That’s a good thing in this fast moving world.


  5. ScotSue

    Australia seems to be the place for picnics with great old photographs of people enjoying themselves. I had trouble coming up with two family picnic photos for this week’s theme. ./


  6. Sharon

    107! Fantastic. She looks great.

    The chicken wire roll in the background and on the table? I have never seen this before. It makes me wonder if it was deliberate or they interrupted fencing? Interesting.


  7. Karen S.

    Oh my lovely post, but Billie, isn’t she marvelous, happy and bright and just turned 107 she certainly knows how to live right!


  8. Margaret

    You are a master of details! Wow – I enjoyed looking back and seeing what I missed. How fascinating! She is 107? WOW. She looks fantastic… perhaps her smile is part of her secret.


  9. Pingback: Tennis in the Bush | Bound for Australia

  10. Pingback: Tennis at Barkers Creek in 1926 | Bound for Australia

  11. Pingback: Tennis at Barkers Creek in 1926 | Bound for Australia

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