grandmother

Mavis and me - Nick's Story

streetlights

My grandmother, Mavis Clay, lived with her grandmother on Punt Rd, at 354, for a while in about 1920. Mavis is 98-years-old, and her memory is fading. She attended South Yarra Primary School for a short time, and may be their oldest surviving student. The house is apparently haunted, doors opening and things moving around. The house didn’t get electricity until the 1960s, when there was a problem with the gas lighting. I was in a Jamaican restaurant a few doors down when there was a small earthquake in about 2010.

My old Datsun once broke down in the middle lane at the Eastern Freeway entrance intersection, heading southbound. The RACV guy was not aware that if you travel northbound you can accidentally end up on the freeway. I watched helplessly as he got sucked onto the freeway and waited as he had to go up to the Chandler Hwy and come back.

I worked at Christ Church Grammar School on the corner of Punt Rd and Toorak Rd for five years, 2008-2012. All of my classrooms had views of the traffic in some way. Many students lived in South Yarra and crossed Punt Rd to get to school. The school pick-up traffic could be insane and it was mostly Volvos. Coincidentally, my Dad’s parents got married at Christ Church South Yarra.

I lived in Elsternwick and studied at LaTrobe University. I usually caught the 246 bus, travelling the full length of Punt Rd or sometimes just from Richmond station. I remember getting off the bus to check out a shop or café and catching the next one.

I remember driving down Punt Rd after break-ups, one-nighters, all-nighters, going to the footy, to the city or the tennis centre. I can recall heaps of times when I was walking along, crossing or driving down Punt Rd. It’s a big part of living in Melbourne.

Punt Road memories - Jim's Stories

horse

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."

Nigel's Stories

Lily

1. My grandmother Millie was the first woman in Australia to own a Rolls Royce. When I was about 8 I was in the back seat of this beautiful car (I'm now 63) and we were going under the railway bridge crossing Punt Rd near Swan St. It was raining heavily and the road was flooded. The traffic had come to a standstill. To see how deep the water was I opened the door and...

2. About 15 years ago my wife drove past the corner of Punt Rd and Domain Rd where a fatal accident occured and the dead motorcyclist's body was still visible. My two children now in thier early 20s, who were in the car, still remember the scene vividly as the first time they had seen a dead body.

3. I am the Medical Director of the Millswyn Clinic at 466 Punt Rd South Yarra. It is housed in a beautiful old terraced mansion built in the 1880s. After it was sold by the original owners around the time of the Second World War it was purchased by the Polish/Jewish refugee welfare league (or similarly named group) and it housed Polish refugees when they first got off the boats from Europe. It was a rabbit warren of rooms and dormitories until it became a medical clinic some 20 years ago.

One of the psychiatrists who worked here with me was one of those refugees. This building was his first home in Australia. He has left the clinic now but still lives and works in a smaller building further down Punt Rd.

I believe Renee Geyer also lived here when she first arrived.

A doctor from Brisbane came to see me at the clinic several years ago. He remembered the place from when he was a boy (and refugee) especially the small lilies which still flower in the garden.

I hate the traffic on Punt Rd but as you can see it does bring back memories.