The Mornington Peninsular's historical societies in Balnarring, Dromana, Flinders, Hastings, Mornington, Rye, Somerville and Sorrento have produced a travelling exhibition highlighting what is unique about each town.
Pamela Marshall who is the Secretary of the Flinders District Historical Society spoke about the project and showed a DVD called "Postcards: Stories from the Mornington Peninsular."
She also brought with her the portable 'suitcase' for Flinders. Made of timber the suitcase holds items relevant to the theme of 'Guest Houses.' In the lid were photos of 'St. Andrew's Guest House,' 'Katoomba,' 'Oaklands' and 'Flinders House.' In the base of the suitcase were pieces of china and items such as wooden butter pats, a silver toast rack and a dinner gong. These items were arranged so that they would not break when transported. In the preparation of the various suitcases a professional curator was appointed.
Educational kits help teachers demonstrate the displays and also provide them with historical information about the areas.
The DVD shows photos of each area and interviews with local people. Each town is quite different with unique stories and the postcards are a wonderful reminder of times past.
Some towns have surprising backgrounds: Balnarring was the rendezvous for the Harley Davidson Motor Cycle Club. This group chose Tulum for its club house in 1924. The 'Cheero Tea Rooms' had become a popular meeting place and the club's insignia wings were hung above the doorway. There were races along the beach and photos show handsome bikes with the occupants of the side cars well rugged up. One picture shows a motor cycle with a cane seat for the side car. Motorcars eventually took over from the bikes and the club house became a private home called 'Harley House.'
Above Dromana beach and the home of the McCrae family, Arthur's Seat named by Acting Lieutenant John Murray in 1802, dominates the landscape. The area provided a good means of support to the original aborigines with bark, fresh water and food. A wooden trig point used as a lookout was replaced by a concrete structure demolished in the 1970s. Postcards show views of the 'Hollywood Complex' built in the 1930s complete with camera obscura, wishing well and ballroom. A sign for Sennett's ice cream brings back memories. The 'Hollywood Complex' has been rebuilt; the concrete tower and chair lift have been removed but the view from the top remains breathtaking.
Hastings has always been a fishing village. Postcards and interviews on the DVD illustrate the different methods of fishing used in the past such as gill and long line fishing. Some of the lines held a thousand hooks. Shipping vessels used were sailing boats, rowing boats and much later motor boats. As there was no refrigeration on boats, fishing times were limited to a couple of days.
Rye also was known for its fishing especially crayfish. Photos show people on the beach cooking their catch in a simple tin held over a fire. The settlement was started by lime burners and timber cutters but later cattle were introduced at nearby Tootgarook and with its crops and prosperous dairy industry postcards depict a 'peaceful and soothing retreat.' Soon there were holiday flats and stores supplying all the needs required by holiday makers.
The railways opened up many opportunities in Mornington as a line had been built for defence purposes to Stony Point in 1889 with a spur line to Mornington. Hotels such as Kirkpatrick's were established and the Mornington Park was popular for picnics with brass bands and other entertainments. Timber yards, gas works, and orchardists transporting trees or fruit, made use of the line. In 1917 in an unsuccessful venture a mob of ostriches was brought to Mornington. Their feathers were to be used in the hats worn by the World War I soldiers, whilst in World War II the Balcombe Army Camp used the railway to transport troops. Here also the United States Marine Corps recuperated from their battles in the Pacific. The nearby Mornington Racecourse used the line for transport of both horses and spectators.
Today only one orchard remains in the Tyabb-Somerville area but in the past fruit growing was a thriving industry. The DVD shows packing sheds where fruit was sorted, wrapped in paper, and packed in boxes. Also we see a demonstration of grafting and the distinctive orchardists' boots which every day were coated with castor oil to keep out water. An increase in population in the 1970s saw housing estates take the place of the orchards.
Sorrento, renowned for its beautiful limestone buildings built in the 1860s and 1870s was a popular resort for Melbourne people and from 1874 they could come by paddle steamers for the day. On arrival passengers were picked up by horse and carriage or later by steam pulled tram cars and taken to the Back Beach. At the end of a lovely day they were returned to the ship and as the boat pulled away from the pier there were three blasts from the siren and the singing of 'Auld Lang Syne.'
It is not surprising that the presentation won the Judges' Special Prize in the Victorian Community History Awards 2014.
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