The shortest distance between two points - Anne's Story


We lived in South Yarra, a flat on the corner of the Righi. My father had lived there for years. His dog, he claimed, understood that a straight line was the shortest distance between two points, since he always crossed to Gordon Grove according to this principle.

You could smell fresh bread from the bakery over the other side of the hill.

In the 1960s we moved down to Richmond, over from Gosch's Paddock. Once the silos caught fire and we children watched a fireman going up a long ladder, then dropping something, a handkerchief we supposed, which floated downwards for a long long time. We used the Nylex clock, in the morning before school I would stand at my mother's bedroom window and plait my hair, keeping a sideways eye on the time.

At ground level, in dark caverns under the silos, men with rakes turned the barley over in long pits, the whole of South Richmond smelling of malt.

We lived opposite the entrance to Punt Rd from the freeway. One night a couple knocked at the door asking for directions. After they left we heard an accident and went out onto the veranda to see what had happened. A car coming fast around that slip road had run over and killed one of our visitors.

Once a heavily loaded ute lost a chair from its load. We were sitting on the veranda and saw it. Before the driver had time to pull over, another driver stopped, picked up the chair and drove off with it.

I used to walk home from school along Punt Rd and, if the lights were against me at Alexandra Ave, I would walk along the west side and cross to our house, lane by lane between the moving cars, something that would have shocked my mother.

My parents had a friend who was a painter, and he came visiting one day, wearing a pink shirt. He knocked on the wrong door and said he just missed being thrown down the steps by our neighbour who was affronted to have a pink-shirted man on his door step.

Punt Road memories - Jim's Stories


My grandmother, Elizabeth Wilson, migrated to Australia from Scotland in 1923. Not long afterwards, she took over a shop, opposite the Punt Road Oval, that she ran with her family.

Two stories she told us...

Carlton and United Breweries used to graze the Clydesdales that pulled their drays in the paddocks between Swan Street and the Yarra (probably the area known as Gosch's Paddock). The massive horses were stabled close to the brewery during the week but, at the weekend, they were turned out on pastures green for two blissful days. She used to tell us of the horses literally stampeding down Punt Road on a Friday evening just like children coming out of school. Monday morning was a different story as they had to be almost pushed up the Punt Road Hill to face the weekly grind.

Gran was known for her excellent home made ice-cream. Her shop sold Peter's ice-cream. As she would tell us, one day she quietly substituted some of her own product. A customer bought a cone, took a couple of licks and asked "Is this Peter's?" Gran nodded. "Hmm," he replied "They've improved!"

And some stories of my own...

As a cadet journalist on The Herald in 1959, I was reporting on, with a photographer, a brewery lorry that had overturned while turning from Albert Street into Hoddle Street. The gutters were awash with the amber fluid. My next assignment was covering a meeting of the Women's Christian Temperence Union and I wondered why I was getting so many disparaging looks. Then I realised my shoes were soaked in the spilt brewery product.

Those of us young petrolheads of the early 1960s well remember making a lefthand turn from Punt Road at the silos and powering up a ramp onto the very first stage of the gleaming new South Eastern freeway and zipping along its total length to the Church Street off-ramp. Well it seemed very exciting at the time!

And there was once a railway station called Punt Road. The Melbourne and Suburban Railway Company opened it on 5 February 1859 on a line that began at Princes Bridge. It was just to the west of Punt Road. By December 1859 the line had been taken across Punt Road to the present site of Richmond Station. I suspect it could have been by a level crossing as high level platforms did not appear at Richmond Station until November 1885. Wow! Imagine a level crossing there today with all the trains using Richmond. The barriers would never be up and  traffic would be banked up Punt Road to Clifton Hill and St Kilda Junction!

And finally...

Some friends were discussing the best advice they had ever received from their fathers.  The winner was "No matter what time of the day or night, son, never go near Punt Road."