Caroline's Story

  photo by

photo by

My grandmother, Bertha, the daughter of Sir John Monash, nagged her father to buy a horse so that she could ride to school (I think at PLC in East Melbourne) from their place in Hawthorn. This would have been in the 1900s. He (unwisely) bought her an ex-racehorse that was very hard to control – but after asking she did not feel that she could complain, and risk losing the horse.

One day she was riding under the railway bridge over Punt Road, at Swan Street, when her horse bolted at the sound of trains going overhead. It became completely uncontrollable and she could have come to grief except a man passing by managed to grab it by the bridle. This man insisted on leading her home despite her protestations, and made it clear to her father that this was no horse for a young lady, so that was the end of that. 

Many years later (in the 1980s) I lived in a shared house on Punt Road. This house belonged to the mother of a very good friend of mine and it so happens that her mother was friends with Bertha Monash, just as the mother of my friend was friends with my mother. Three generations of friendships independently formed – a real Melbourne dynasty of friendships.

The shared house was the house my friend had grown up in. It was a great house, one of those single-fronted single-story terraces not far from the river on the east side of Punt Rd, still there. I had the room at the back so it was not too noisy. Many share house stories could be told a la Helen Garner (but not really Punt Rd stories), but I do remember that peculiar smell – something to do with brewing? – that always pervaded that end of Punt Rd. Whatever industry that caused it has gone now.