Growing up at Wesley - Mandy's Story


I was born in 1954. Between the years of 1963 and 1969 my bedroom was on Punt Road. At the time my family lived at Wesley College in the building beside the chapel. We had a flat upstairs as Dad was the boarding house master and we needed to live on site.

I shared my bedroom with my sister Pippa and we had a large casement window that looked out onto Punt Rd. In those days the traffic stopped between about 1 and 4 am so there was this eerie quiet while everyone slept. Then the traffic would start up and I would know morning was coming. I could tell the time of night by the amount of traffic there was. There was a different feel to the morning traffic which was more purposeful and less chaotic than the night traffic.

In my adolescent years, a retreat for me was to sit in that window and hang my feet over the edge watching the world go by and wonder what part I was going to play in it. There was a boarding house across the road and I would watch the comings and goings, not understanding what was really going on.

There were always shrouded women in black heading home with their carts carrying goods from the Prahran market. I vaguely remember a house with a large grapevine and vegetable garden in the front. There were many Greek migrants renting in that area at the time and they seemed exotic and different to those of us born in Australia.

My bed was alongside this window and I could see the lights from Punt Rd shining through cracks in the corners of the ceiling. I would imagine the roof falling in when the trucks started up in the early morning, as well as seeing imagined spiders and other creepy crawlies creeping into the room.

Needless to say it was a dirty place to sit!! There was always grime everywhere.

Down below the window was a garden bed with marigolds. And on the other side of the road was a good friend who was the chaplain's daughter. I could see whether they were at home then go and find her for a play. This meant traversing the traffic because whoever used a traffic light?! Always a life threatening event but again adding to the fun.

One of our favorite things to do was to play in the chapel tower which was out of bounds to the boarders. It was a dirty disgusting place filled with old cigarette butts from bad boys who went there to sneak a smoke. To us it was an exciting and interesting place – slightly naughty, dark and dank.

I started having nightmares in that bedroom which carried on for years. I can't blame Punt Rd for that, though at night for a child it was scary. The boarders had movies on Saturday nights and some of them were third-class monster or vampire movies. My brother would hide from his sisters as we returned home through the dark school. He would jump out and I would just about die of fright. Then I would have to walk through the buildings and along the oval on Punt Rd. All the shadows would loom large and the lights on Punt would cast eerie shadows. There was no other lighting as, in those days, schools weren't lit at night. The worst movie was something like The Monster from the Deep. Scared me shockingly.

Sometimes we would drive the length of Punt Rd to see our cousins who lived in Macleod. The drive took forever. We drove over the Punt Hill, past the silos, under the bridge and all the way to the Heidelberg overpass. In those days Hoddle Street was Punt Rd to me; for years I didn't realise that it changed its name.

I spent years walking along that stretch of Punt Rd, down to High St and along to Prahran state school. Later I would stand on the corner of Punt and High to catch the tram to school. Usually running, come to think of it! And that dreadful feeling when the tram sailed past, knowing you would now be late for school.

We left Wesley College and Punt Road when I was 15, to start a new life in the suburbs.