Picnics Past Remembered

As we cope with Lockdown restrictions our regular writer of all things historic IVOR JONES continues with his story of picnics past and the places he loved to visit.

In the memoirs of writer Graham McInnes, he wrote of a typical family picnic in the bush in the early 1930s describing how, as a child, he was “awarded the special and coveted task of swirling the billy” and making the tea.

He went on to write “When the billy was on the boil, hung by its handle from a pole supported over the fire on two forked sticks, I would throw tea by the handful into the bubbling water then quickly before it would stew, unthread the billy, grab the handle firmly and swirl it around in a vertical circular motion among admiring friends who were amazed, so they said, that when the billy was upside down above my head its contents did not drench me with boiling tea.”

My late mother-in-law once regaled my wife and I with a tale of going on a picnic at Parramatta Park many decades ago, possibly in the 1920s.

“We were taken to Parramatta Park where there was a little waterhole on part of the river, called “Little Coogee”. One day it rained very heavily and we hastened to shelter under the railway bridge. Only the rich had umbrellas and we weren’t rich.

“The ladies wore Crinoline hats in those days, a light mesh stiffened with a type of glue. Dainty, wide-brimmed and colourful when dry, a gooey, floppy mess when wet. Mum’s was a lovely rose pink and it wasn’t long before a pink goo was running down her neck. We all came home on the train draped in baby nappies, but it was fun and a great day was had by all.“

“During the Depression years, Mr McDonald, who lived close by, had a produce store in Lidcombe. During the weekends he often took his wife and family of five girls and five boys and as many other families as he could fit on his lorry on picnics past.

“The ladies baked and shared their cakes around. Dads came too, we loved those trips, lorries were often seen loaded such as this, but when more cars clogged the roads and became capable of higher speeds it became illegal to carry people this way.”

When I came to Australia my parents would often take the family on picnics past to Bobbin Head, Coal and Candle Creek and to Wallacia in the early 1960s.

In the past, my wife and I have enjoyed a picnic lunch at Macquarie Park at Windsor, Wisemans Ferry Park, the park at Berowra Waters, Lake Parramatta and at the park alongside Ebenezer Church among others and often taking our dogs for walks with us.

There are so many parks and reserves throughout the district to be explored. Why not go for a drive and check some of them out. You may be amazed at the variety and beauty of our district.

Picnics PastWrite and tell us of some of the memorable picnics past you have attended and their location. Either email me at [email protected] or write to 17, Rose St, Baulkham Hills 2153.

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