A Cuppa on the Great Ocean Road

Food, food, always glorious food, whether it be standing up at a buffet as in this week’s Sepia Saturday theme image or sitting at a rough-hewn  table to have a cuppa and a sandwich.

The occasion was a visit by the Fricke family and a couple of others from Apollo Bay to see how the building of the Great Ocean Road was progressing and the time was about 1928.  As  yet I am not sure of the location.

So, the home grown milk  was brought in a bottle – I wouldn’t have liked the task of getting the milk into that narrow opening.  I wonder if she used a funnel.   I think it was sandwiches they were eating made from home made bread and home made butter and an unknown filling.  It could be jam. And they were wrapped in a napkin, not paper.  At first I wasn’t sure what the gentleman standing was doing but now I see he is adding sugar to his tea.  I wonder what the original purpose was of the sugar tin.


Great Ocean Road Sugar

They met a couple of the camp cooks and saw the tents where the workmen lived.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAThe Great Ocean Road project was started after World War 1 to provide work for some of the returning servicemen, a road from Barwon Heads to Warrnambool,  mostly  winding around the south west coast of Victoria. They had to carve it out  out of rock as it went around the cliffs and build bridges over the mouths of creeks and rivers.

It started with a group in Geelong who began lobbying the Government.  I found a list showing that Charles Fricke donated £20 to the Trust so by rights of inheritance you could possibly say that I own a few pebbles in that road.

The men worked with picks, shovels and crowbars to make a “road for motorists”.  Getting to Lorne was the first step and it was opened in 1922 with a party of 60 cars.  They left Geelong at 9 a.m. and arrived at 5.30 p.m, a distance of 40 miles and it is well reported in the newspapers. “It may be stated here that the only persons who arrived at Lorne with clean faces and clothes were the members of the vice-regal party.  That was only because they headed the line.”

The Trust then built the section from Lorne to Cape Patton while the Country Roads Board built the section from Apollo Bay to Cape Patton so my images from c1928 would be somewhere in that area. The opening of these sections was celebrated in 1932.  Remember it was really just a dirt track, not the beautiful road that it is today.  Ten years later I can remember when travelling by bus to Apollo Bay and at Mt Defiance, one of the high points of the road with rocks and sea directly below, the bus always had to do a three point turn to get around the corner on that narrow road.  I was always bus sick on that trip.

The following video gives an excellent account, once you get past the tributes.

For more examples of things connected with wining and dining, cookpots and nametags, events and non-events, go to this week’s Sepia Saturday.


12 thoughts on “A Cuppa on the Great Ocean Road

  1. Lorraine

    Real crockery and a hinged case for the picnic, as well as milk in a bottle etc.
    The photo of the tents is interesting. It looks very organised but the men must have been exhausted by the time they returned for their meal and a sleep.


  2. Alan Burnett

    I do love this type of post where it starts with almost a random photograph and then launches off into history – and social history at its very best.


  3. jofeath

    That road is still fairly hazardous, especially for overseas tourists it seems. An excellent account of your family connection to its construction, thanks.


  4. cassmob

    What an achievement that road was…and brings such pleasure, and a few nervous moments, to people even today. they were very formally dressed for the outing…perhaps because of the meeting at the camp?


  5. Sharon

    How wonderful! It reminded me of a letter that my grandmother wrote me. I had apologised that I hadn’t written sooner as I was so busy and she replied telling me that at the same age she made all the nips clothes, fed and milked the cows, churned the butter, picked fruit, preserved it and made jam, collected the eggs, washed by hand, made the bread, cakes etc. etc. etc. and no modern conveniences!


  6. La Nightingail

    Picnics – no matter when or where – are always fun. Building that road, from the sound of it, must have been somewhat akin to the building, in 1915, of New Priest Grade in our neck of the woods – on the backs of men with picks & shovels & the occasional stick of dynamite! Also, in the case of New Priest Grade, some rather fancy rockwork shoring up the underside of the roadbed here & there on the edge of a precipice.


  7. Mike Brubaker

    Where I live in North Carolina we have the dramatic Blue Ridge Parkway that runs 469 miles from Georgia to Virginia along the high points of the Appalachian mountains. It was started in 1935 and took 52 years to finish. It’s got fabulous views but alas you can’t see the ocean. I just spent a few minutes on a Google maps virtual drive along your beautiful Great Ocean Road and will have to drive it for real one day.


  8. Little Nell

    A very clever leap into a fascinating piece of history and a fine tribute to the men who built the road using limited tools. I love the spontaneity in the opening picture; sucha refreshing change form the more formal images we often share.



Your comments are most welcome. It's nice meeting you.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s