I remember family beach trips down Punt Road to Elwood. I also travelled that road daily to get to Collingwood Girls High School in Vere Street, Collingwood. My sister and I both attended Collingwood Girls, often saving our train fare to buy fish and chips and walking to school. Very few cars in those days and fond memories.
Originally our house on Punt Road, Richmond, had a privet hedge. Once I remember a man having a quiet and private piss into it.
Then my mother scavenged a lot of stone and built a big wall. It barely got through council: my father said it was probably because it reminded them of their days inside! It must have made my mother feel very safe because she always used to walk naked from the veranda down the steps to the front gate to get the milk and the paper in the morning.
In those days, the 1960s, the paper boy ('Buggerlugs') and the milko who delivered from a cart pulled by a slow and patient horse, got a present at Christmas time, maybe ten shillings? I don't know, it was my father who kept the custom going.
My family have been in South Yarra since 1860. And here we are in 2014. Continuous occupation. All my working life I’ve been here. We came back to Australian in 1954, when I was five. My father was an Australian in the British Army. And we were stationed in Malaya and Singapore, and then came back to our family home that’s been in the family since 1880, where my dear old mum still lives, on the home straight to 90. Fighting fit, so I think she’ll be there for a long time to come. So Punt Rd has been a big part of my life.
Early memories of it were: we used to play on the banks of the Yarra. That was our total playground. And we’d range up and down, we’d frighten the old homeless men who used to camp out near the Anderson St Bridge. We were the cowboys, they were the Indians. So we would stalk them and creep through the bushes until they saw us. Then we’d scream off on our bikes and find someone else to annoy.
We used to ride to the old Olympic Pool, which is long gone now. That was before the new Olympic Pool built for the 1956 Olympics came in. But all that area was our playground. One of our great desires, as little boys, was to be able to ride our bikes non-stop from Alexander Ave to Domain Road. That was a sign of manhood, if you could do that. Up the hill. But in that era, there were no gears, so you were standing on the pedals to get them to go. So it really was a big effort.
I made it up eventually but there were a lot of dry runs. If our parents knew... but traffic was nothing like now. My old pal Mike, he and I say so many times that you could walk across Punt Rd with your eyes shut and you weren’t in any danger. There was just the odd car that came up and down. You would never see 10 cars at once on the hill, or anything like that. It really is very different.
But that whole run of Punt Rd was great. If you go over the hill, over Domain Rd, and down on the left, Shipley St was on the left, and the Stockdale Bakery was there. And that was an old-fashioned bakery, the horse and carts used to come around South Yarra with Stockdale’s Bakery on it, I’ve got images of that. We’d go and buy our bread. We’d also call in there after school and they’d give us a roll or something like that. Or if our parents sent us round to buy it, we’d develop the technique of making a hole in the corner of the bread, and then you’d peel out all the bread, and my mother would then put the knife on to cut it and it would go crunch because there was no substance inside.
And then when we were late teens, if we were coming home from a party or a ball, we would call into Stockdale’s – because that’s when they were baking – and the smell of it was magnificent, and we’d buy some fresh bread to take home for breakfast. That was lovely. That was pulled down late ‘60s, 1970s, something like that. And it’s now a group of townhouses.
Many of the huge old mansions were still there when I was a little boy. A lot of those have now been demolished and there are blocks of flats in their place. But those mansions weren’t being used as mansions – they were divided into flats or they were boarding houses. In the old days, there weren’t as many blocks of flats around so people lived in the old mansions – usually a widow would run it. That was quite a respectable way to live. With a communal bathroom and kitchen.
There were rooming houses and there were boarding houses. Rooming houses were the lesser, and they normally had returned men from the war in gaberdine coats and hats, and carrying a gladstone bag, usually with about 4-5 bottles of beer to see them through the night. You’d hear them going past going clunk clunk clunk with the bottles. Whereas a boarding house was more upmarket, and that meant that you were fed. You would sit at a communal table for breakfast and dinner. And those places flied or died on their tables. So if Mrs Bloggs was known as a good cook, she had good customers. So that was the way a lot of it was done.
There used to be a pub on the corner of Shipley St and Punt Rd, way before my time. I think it was the Clarendon Hotel. I’ve got a photo of it but later on it became the outlet for the bakery. There are fabulous buildings such as Airlie, the police academy, I’ve got extensive history on that. And directly opposite was the German Embassy, which was recently sold, and there’s a tunnel, which I’ve seen, which stretches under Punt Rd and, reputedly during the war, Airlie was taken over by the military and they would go through to the German Embassy, I suppose to negotiate peace or something. I’ve seen it, I’ve got a photo of it, I think. The police have been there for many years. That was a big fancy mansion.
Opposite is Pulman House on the south-west corner. And that was a Church of England home for elderly women. And that was sold off in the late ‘70s and renovated into a private house. Originally the Pulman family, who were very wealthy early Melbourne people, they owned it.
I went to a school called Yarra Bank, which is now defunct. I went there between 1954 and 1956. And it was a ‘dame school’. A dame school is where unmarried daughters would earn their living by running schools for young people. Some developed into senior schools but most were prep or junior schools. Only a small number of students. That ran, I think my sister, who’s two years younger than me, I think she was about the end of it. I’m 65 in August, so I left at the end of ’55. I was there two years. I think my sister was there another two years. Miss Mary and Miss Quinlan ran that. That was in Major Davidson’s old house dating back to the 1840s, now demolished, now a scungey block of flats. But I’ve got a lot of history on that. I used to walk there from my parents’ house on Murphy St, with my mum, not by myself, I was only a little tacker. And walk down to Davidson St. I always remember we had afternoon sleeps. And here I am at nearly 65, on a Monday, what do I do? I fall asleep on the couch. So the wheel turns.
There was a racecourse at the bottom of Darling St. On what the council insist on calling Darling Gardens. It’s official name was always Polly’s Park. Polly was a dog. It was Mrs Goolay’s dog. And all the locals called it Polly’s Park. The racecourse was there in the 1800s. It was wasteland, thistles, all sorts of stuff. Sidney Myer created Como Park and created Alexander Ave, and he did that in the 1929 Depression to create employment. He financed all of that. When Alexander Ave came through, two developers – Reg Biffen and Howard Lawson – bought all the land from the railway bridge down near Darling St up to Punt Rd. They basically developed all the flats, all the Beverly Hills. I can talk to you for hours about those two. Amazing guys. And they were very young when they did it.
Most of the building materials came from demolished commercial buildings and mansions. Lawson was the world champion bricklayer in 1911. That was laying bricks for the Britania or Britanica Hotel. They fell foul of the labour laws of the time. As a result, Lawson went to jail. His family were horrified and they won’t talk about him. The daughter lives at Tweed Heads, I’ve known her for 40 years, and she won’t talk. I was told they burnt everything. All the records. Because of the shame.
And there were vineyards on both sides of Punt Rd. Ogilvie had the vineyard on the western side, and that ran from Domain Rd down to Alexander Ave. Colonel Davidson had the vineyard on the eastern side. The eastern side was okay; the western side the grapes were not much good.
I’ve got a lot of great history on the houses around there. Sadly a few of them are gone. I’ve got a photo of the punt, of the pedestrian zigzag bridge that came next, and of the new bridge, which I think was 1939.
Of course the other great feature there is the magnificent golden elm tree. On the corner of Alexander. But that’s only been there since the war. It’s probably 70-years-old.
There were the Pleasure Gardens in Cremorne and there were some others further up, to the upstream side of the Chapel Bridge. That’s wrong – where they were is now a park in Richmond, behind the wall of the freeway, and the old bluestone quarry is there. That’s where the first hot air balloon went up.
There was a famous murder, down past Wesley, between High St and the Junction. I don’t think he was a gangster but he was shot on a vacant block and he lived in Walsh St. And about 25-years-ago there was a neo-Nazi bloke shot with double-barreled shotgun, just behind a house on Punt Rd, which became a massage parlour.
My brother-in-law is John Wren's grandson. They’re all entrenched Collingwood supporters. He’s a QC so about as far from a criminal as you can get. He’s very nervous about his grandfather but I keep saying, 'In the modern world he’d be a successful businessman.' It was only in that time.
There used to be a fake Elizabethan Hotel, on the Yarra, by Punt Rd bridge in Richmond. It was demolished when that slipway to the freeway came through. There was a famous murder of a sailor there. It would’ve been in the ‘50s. You’d need to look at Truth or something. When I was a kid we were always told never go near that place because of the crowd. The rough crowd that were there.
I work in real estate and, on a Saturday, we’ve got to get from A to B very quickly. And you would never in your wildest use Punt Rd. After a while you get to know all the shortcuts. Punt Rd is never a shortcut. As for a strategy: only avoidance. There’s nothing else. I always laugh, whenever we’re selling a property on Punt Rd, and people complain that it’s noisy, I always say, 'No no no, it’s a cul de sac when the lights are red.'
Between High St and the Junction, there used to be the Taiping Chinese Restaurant. My grandparents would never let me go there – they said they used to kill cats. Not real of course – that was the story. So all my life I could never walk into that restaurant. A couple of times when I was in my 20s or 30s people would say, 'We’re going to the Taiping for dinner', and I’d say, 'No, thanks, can’t do that.' It’s not a Chinese restaurant anymore.
I went to Christchurch, the school up here on the corner of Toorak Road. I was there from ’56 till the end of ’60. The traffic wasn’t an issue. My grandparents wouldn’t let me walk on the south side of Toorak Road, because that’s where all the bad people lived. Toorak Rd was very much northside, southside. They weren’t bad, they were mainly Greek immigrants. And my grandmother was French so why she had that set, who knows? But as a kid all those Fawkner and Argo Streets were great, but in earlier times streets like Argo St were quite dangerous. They had all the sly grogs, the SP bookies, there were murders. It was all in that Argo Hotel, that later on became very civilised but used to be a real bloodhouse.
The bookies in the laneways always had a cockatoo, a man who was on watch. So if the police came anywhere near he’d give a shrill whistle and they’d all bolt. I’d never heard the term until 20 years ago. We sold a property on Oxford St in South Yarra down by Chapel St, and there was an SP bookie that used to work the lane there. And dear old Sol was filling me in on that.
Very different now. I used to get a shilling for a hessian bag of horse manure. Sixpence a bag for oak leaves, when I was a kid. So every time the horse and cart went past – because you’ve got your ice, meat, fruit, bread, milk – all delivered by horse. This was in the ‘50s, early ‘60s. You’d go scurrying out and chase with the old pan you clean the hearth with, and you’d have the broom and the thing, and your mother would go nuts, sweeping up horse poo with her indoor brush.
I'd sell the manure to Mrs Goolay who lived on the corner. For her garden. My other claim to fame with her, she lived at 67 Murphy St, she had a kitchen with slate paving, in the early ‘60s. One day I walked into the kitchen with her son Russ and she said, 'I’m so proud, I’ve bought these unbreakable glasses. Would you like to have a drink in the unbreakable glasses?' I held up the glass and dropped it. Of course it hit the slate and shattered into a million pieces. She went nuts. And I said, 'Mrs Goolay, you told me it was an unbreakable glass.' She said, 'Not on bloody slate!'
Courtesy of the State Library Victoria: www.slv.vic.gov.au
Photograph of the punt on the Yarra River, Melbourne.
Copyright status: This work is out of copyright.
I was born across the road in Easey Street, 83 years ago, lived here all my life. Collingwood used to be a working class suburb. I'm retired now. And I’m the caretaker at Victoria Park (the home of Collingwood Football Club).
Started working here around 1950. Used to be that someone had to die before you could get a seat in that stand. If you came to the football and I came to the football and I miss one Saturday, half the crowd would stand up and say, 'Where’s Bobby?' Because everyone knew everyone. Judges, lawyers, senior heart surgeons, once they walked through the gate, with their scarves and beanies on, everyone’s treated equal.
People said, 'I used to barrack for Collingwood.' No, you never. Once you’ve started barracking you never followed anyone else.
But the suburb’s changed, with all the trendies and people moving in. It’s an established area. I met some people in Easey Street, there was a fellow there, Hungarian he was. He bought a little place up the road, then he bought another little place next to it. Now he owns half of Easey Street. Nobody can imagine what he’s worth now.
Five hotels disappeared from Hoddle Street when the road was widened. There was one on the corner of our street, the Railway Hotel, it closed its doors on Christmas Eve 1972. The day my daughter was engaged. The Railway across the road, that closed up. The Town Hall Hotel further down. Sir Henry Locke was a pub on the corner there. They used to have Ladies Lounges. Women weren’t allowed to drink in the bar.
There used to be 33 hotels in Collingwood. One on nearly every corner. You couldn’t walk two blocks without a pub. Where all those new buildings are, used to be Yarra Falls. Knitting mills. Made suit material and stuff. The whole block they had. From near the river, around to Johnston Street, then down to the bridge, was Yarra Falls. So there was about two or three thousand people would storm out every night time and out into the pubs.
There used to be a blacksmith on the corner of Sackville Street here. And a Klein's chemist. The other corner was Sir Henry Locke Hotel.
As kids, we used to go and play under the Riley Street drain before the freeway. We used to walk up to Clifton Hill, up towards Carlton. A big open drain it was. We used to come home from school and play in the street. Till its time to come inside and have your tea at night. We used to go round to the local picture theatre and leave your front doors open at night, to let a cool breeze come through. Now you go inside and lock yourself in your own house. But it’s still the same suburb, just different people in it now.
I know a lot of people, they’d go home, if Collingwood got beat they wouldn’t eat.
Courtesy of the State Library Victoria: www.slv.vic.gov.au
Victoria Park, Collingwood.
Date(s): [ca. 1906]
Copyright status: This work is out of copyright.
I’ve gone from Clifton Hill all the way to St Kilda. The longest trip, I reckon an hour and a half, thank you very much. Traffic, bumper to bumper. I have a girlfriend who lives in St Kilda and Punt Rd, I live in Balwyn, so it’s straight down the freeway, get off and just go straight down. But, too busy. Especially around Richmond way – Swan St, Bridge Rd – it just drags a bit. So it takes a long time. And it’s the traffic. However, let me tell you, it’s still a lovely drive down. Because you’re driving along and you look at Richmond Oval and the gentlemen’s, you know, buildings that are there for gentlemen’s pleasure. You go past the train station. And it changes geographically all the way.
Which is my favourite part of Hoddle/Punt? I think I like it from Queens Pde to just past Richmond. And then it becomes a bit sparse, a bit quieter, it turns a little bit. It’s a strange street, isn’t it?
The road represents a lot. We lived in the area. I was born there in 1958. I went to George Street Primary School. And we used to go to Smith St – it was such a big thing, Smith St in those days. Which is great to see that it’s got the same sort of life now. It’s really buzzing. Hoddle St was always one of the major thoroughfares, always has been. It is a lot busier now though, more cars on the road, but it’s still a good street. And it’s an interesting street: you have little trees, the houses, and there are some shops that don’t seem to be utilised, they’re closed as shopfronts.
I've always driven down Hoddle St. Because for me to go to the city – in 1965 we moved to Balwyn so that’s always been the route that we used. Johnston St/Hoddle St or Freeway/Hoddle St. Because you go straight up to Victoria Pde and then turn to go into the city. And even now when I’m coming back from the city, from the football, from a city thing, I don’t mind Hoddle St. I know it’s busy, but you don’t mind it because you know there are petrol stations if you need. It’s familiar territory.
When I travel down Johnston St every day, it’s interesting the different pockets. When I go past Kew Junction, then up to Raheen, I always look at it and drool and think, 'When can I ever go in there?' And then when you go over the bridge, then it changes, then you see all the shops that are closed and not closed, and it’s busy and it’s older, much older. I always get into the turning lane just before Hoddle St and there’s a Persian rug place, a cafe… Even the pub on Johnston St, there’s nowhere to park. Then you turn into Hoddle and I always think, ‘Now I’m looking at the other side of the city.' It’s almost like, this is now really inner city. It sort of changes it a bit. And that’s why it surprises me sometimes when students from Collingwood College, or this area, are accepted by Kew High School. Because I think how far is Kew High School? We miss out on a lot of students here because Kew wants to keep their numbers up and take them out of their zone. Where we should be having kids in this area, they’re getting on a bus and going out. I think that’s really interesting because this is where they should be. Which is a beautiful old building and a big school.
I'm not exactly sure how old Collingwood College is but I’m sure it’s over 50 years old. It’s an enigma. An amazing school with two ovals and two gymnasiums. Someone said to me there was a Labor minister in the ‘70s who said, 'And why shouldn’t public schools have these kinds of facilities? We don’t leave them just for the private schools.' And so they’ve done that. It’s a huge school. And we can actually have 1200 students here. We don’t, we have nearly 700, but we should have more students, but they are being taken to other schools, to fill their classrooms.
The one thing I grew up with, always on Hoddle St, is the familiar sight of the housing estates. Because that’s part of it. That does something to the area. Sometimes people don’t choose the school because we have the housing estate next door and they seem to have an attitude, or a misconception of what our students would be like. Everyone deserves an education is what I say to the kids and, in fact, when I left Balwyn, teachers where I was teaching in a very elite school were really shocked that I was going to Collingwood College. And students said to me, 'You’ll be stabbed and killed.'
And when I came here, some of the students said, 'Why would you leave that sort of school to come here to us?' And I said, 'What’s wrong with you? You guys are great.' So I’ve actually gone into some of the kids’ homes and had afternoon tea or whatever when I get invited. It does attract some people who do have issues, but there are lovely families there and they’ve renovated some of the rooms and they’re great. And some of the kids are really happy. Happy to be in this school, happy to be there. It’s not a stigma. It’s just public perception.
I think developers think, god, prime real estate. When they were erected years ago… Dad came in 1949, he bought straight in Fitzroy. He left Albania when the Iron Curtain came down. He lived two years in Italy, learned to speak beautiful Italian, lived two years in Greece, learned to speak Greek. And came to Australia in 1949. So he worked on the Snowy River Project and worked in QLD on the sugarcane fields.
We all have a real love of this area, but we left when we were 5 or 6. He wanted to go out a bit. But if I had my choice of where to live, I would have said Gore St, Fitzroy. One of those beautiful terrace houses. Absolutely lovely. And even though Hoddle St is busy, well, the freeway is busy, everywhere’s busy. Try going down Swan St or Bridge Rd. So for us, when we come out of the city, it’s just quick. Go down Grey St, cut through East Melbourne and just come straight onto Hoddle St. It’s the main thoroughfare, isn’t it?
I’m an ex-student of Yarra Park State School, SS1406. It was really a tremendous school. I can still remember lots of my teachers' names. Grade 6 was Miss Simmons who put the fear of god into you.
From there when you graduated you went to either Hawthorn West or Richmond Girls School. I managed to find a job after school running errands for Mr Burns the chemist, at 36 Bridge Rd, Richmond. And when I left school at 14 I went to work there full-time. It was a fantastic place.
I can remember the pub on the corner and there was a confectionary shop and tailor next door. We lived in Rowena Pde, Richmond, and that was opposite the park, near where the Richmond footy ground was. My brother and I knew a way, through the caretaker’s cottage at the back, to get into the footy for nothing. We used to crawl through the fence. My brother, who was a bit of a devil, used to climb up onto the grandstand and sit up on top.
I was born in Highett St, which runs into Hoddle, back in the ’30s. There used to be a market in Highett St called Curb Market. It was right beside the reserve there. In later years, they shifted it around the corner into Gleadall St. I was born in Highett St and, in those days, some of the houses up towards the station were absolutely beautiful. We rented a two-storey house. They’ve now demolished that and that’s where the flats are, but it grieves my heart when I go past there. We spent so many happy years there.
When I was in my teens I lived in Thornbury. On a Saturday afternoon, my friends and I would catch the tram down to the beginning of Queen’s Pde. And there’d be a bus there and you could hop onto that and it’d take you along Hoddle St, Punt Rd, right down to St Kilda Junction, down to Ormond Beach. I don’t know how long it took.
The memories, gee, I got terribly burnt a few times. Then we’d go to the pictures on Saturday night and I couldn’t stand up – I’d be that burnt on the backs of me legs, murder!
When I was 7-months-old my parents moved to Simpson St, East Melbourne. It runs off Victoria Pde, parallel to Punt Rd. We lived near a park. On the far side of the park was my kindergarten. I loved that park. When I was a bit older, we used to go there and let off our crackers. Legitimate crackers that you used to buy at the milk bar on the corner of Victoria Pde and Punt Rd.
My school was next door to St John’s Catholic Church. I think it’s undergone renovations and is becoming something else now, something to do with the church. The church is beautiful. Because we were at the school we used to go next door to the church and walk around and cross the Station of the Cross and all that.
Then there was the fire brigade. We went to the fire station in kinder so I’ve got a photo of me sitting on a big fire truck with one of those heavy helmets on. I’m talking ’54 or ’55.
The other thing was coming down Punt Rd – we used to go swimming at Elwood. We would catch the bus along Hoddle/Punt. At one intersection, could be Toorak Rd, there was a hotel that had a neon sign with a bottle that used to tip and fill the glass. My father used to always tease me and try to close my eyes so I wouldn’t see this dreadful thing of this liquid going into the glass. It was just a joke. I was only about 5 or 6.
We didn’t often go down as far as St Kilda at night time. At the corner of Albert and Simpson Streets, where our house used to be, that’s now an apartment building. But opposite that, the little miner’s cottages are still there.
Beautiful places along there. If you go along Victoria Pde, you come to Smith St, where Mum used to do her shopping. There was a very good little shopping centre just near Victoria Pde. And also, after you cross Punt Rd going away from the city, there was a lovely shopping centre there. They had a secondhand bookshop, a huge hardware store that also sold wool by the ball, and things like that. That’s all gone, of course.
My dad used to work on the Victoria Railways. He used to make those railway gates on Hoddle Street in Clifton Hill and repair them when cars crashed through them. It was in the early '50s – they didn’t have power tools in those days, it was all done by hand. And I remember as a kid going to work with Dad when cars went through the gates.
These days, I go past there on a daily basis and it brings back memories of my old man. Day in, day out. They’re all good memories. I’ve still got the tools that he used to carry around to repair the gates.
Courtesy of the State Library Victoria: www.slv.vic.gov.au
Gate keeper's house and employees on Upfield line, Brunswick
Date(s): [ca. 1970-ca. 1996]
Creator: Rogers, Phillip photographer.