Sunday, December 27, 2015

Vintage Australia, Part 3

Continuing the images of Australia past.

(There are a lot more items yet to go in this series. I find these glimpses of the past and the related information quite interesting, I hope you do as well.)

Aussie Origins of Freddo Frog:

Chocolate manufacturing has changed but very little over the past 50 years – while machinery has definitely advanced, production still involves a high level of human interaction and quality control, albeit now with hairnets. Iconic childhood chocolate, Freddo, was first launched back in 1930 by Australian confectioners, MacRobertson’s Steam Confectionery Works. The Fitzroy-based company had originally planned on releasing a chocolate in the shape of a mouse, but this was changed after a young employee by the name of Harry Melbourne suggested that a frog might be less scary for women and children. MacRobertson died shortly after this in 1945 and it was in 1967 that the company, along with Freddo Frogs, were sold to British confectionary giant Cadbury.

Hollywood marriage torn apart by gruelling Aussie tour:

Hollywood legends Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier married in 1940 after a years-long secret affair. In 1948, they embarked on a six-month tour of Australia to raise funds for London's Old Vic Theatre; this photo was taken in June during their short holiday on the Gold Coast. Outwardly, the tour was a success: the pair sold out shows as Leigh charmed the press and praised Australian fashions. But in private, it was a disaster. The relentless schedule was especially gruelling for Leigh, who had bipolar disorder and was frequently ill, and she and Olivier often fought — sometimes violently. At the tour's end Olivier told the press he and his wife were "a couple of walking corpses", and according to one biography, the actor later said he "lost Vivien" in Australia. The couple divorced in 1960. 

The fraught history of the chocolate crackle:

The first (known) recipe for chocolate crackles — a favourite snack for generations of Aussie kids — appeared in an advertisement in the Australian Women's Weekly in December 1937, under the entirely accurate headline "Gee, they're good!" The ad was placed to plug the vegetable fat Copha, one of the key ingredients of the crackles. The other key ingredient is crispy rice cereal, and in 1953, Rice Bubbles maker Kellogg's nabbed the trademark "chocolate crackles" (which it still holds). In 2003, Kellogg's reportedly stepped over the line when it attempted to (gasp!) trademark the crackles recipe itself. Fortunately, the story was more "media beat-up" than "corporate power grab" — it's all but impossible to patent or trademark a recipe. 

Australian fruiterers pose with mountains of produce:

Australians have long been accustomed to floor-to-ceiling fruit and vegetable displays. But before the supermarket started its domination in the 1960s and '70s, Australians mostly bought their produce from specialised stores like the one in this picture. The store's unidentified owners, photographed in the 1930s, sold their goods somewhere in Victoria. Ripe bananas cost 9d per dozen, passionfruit 6d per dozen, and delicious-variety apples 4d for 16 — "d" being the symbol for penny, a holdover from the Roman Empire coin the denarius. 

Girl dressed as nurse feeds medicine to kitten patient:

Dress-ups have a long and illustrious history: in this photo taken around 1900, a young girl has donned a nurse costume to give medicine to her furry and adorable patient. The State Library of Victoria does not list many details about the photo, other than that the girl is a member of the Fraser family and the photographer was someone called C.J. Fraser. Charles John Fraser was the name of a very well-known social and political figure around Gundagai in the early 20th century, and he had two daughters named Isabel and Poppy — so one of them could be the girl in this photo. 

Seven-metre floodwaters swamp Brisbane in 1938 disaster:

In February 1893, Brisbane and its surrounds were hit by the worst flood since European settlement. After eight days of solid rain, the Brisbane River rose seven metres above its usual level and caused more than 2 million pounds worth of damage to the city. This photo was taken at the intersection of Market and Mary Streets. A similar but less destructive flood had struck three years before, so fortunately, many locals were prepared for the 1893 disaster. Unfortunately, many who escaped the earlier flood unscathed were complacent, "and watched in disbelief as the waters rose and engulfed their possessions". Almost three weeks later, the flood waters finally subsided.

Aussie daredevil plunges down waterfall in inflatable suit:

Australia's daredevil aviator Vincent Patrick Taylor lived a remarkable life. He crossed Sydney Harbour in a balloon, rode over Melbourne in an airship and was renowned for "hair-raising acrobatics" — such as a parachute descent from a balloon high over London. Perhaps his most memorable achievement was an inflatable rubber suit which he tested in the United States by crossing San Francisco Bay's Golden Gate. Taylor later wore the suit while riding down the 5.5m-high Eagle Falls in Washington.. "I will say I never have been frightened in my life but I'm willing to admit, for argument's sake, that I often have been anxious for my safety," he remarked of the stunt. Sadly, his chosen career was not lucrative enough to sustain him: he collapsed at a Florida police station in 1930, jobless, starving and ill, and died days later aged 56.

First to the South magnetic pole:

The financing for Ernest Shackleton’s 1907 expedition to Antarctica hinged on reaching the South magnetic pole. The Northern Sledging Party – Alistair Mackay, Tannatt Edgeworth David and Douglas Mawson (left to right) – did exactly that on January 16, 1909. Their journey was half-complete. Battling frostbite and depleting food stores, they dragged their heavy sledges back for 2028km. Mawson assumed the leadership when David could no longer lead. In The Sydney Morning Herald, Mawson was later described as the "soul" of the expedition, "of infinite resource, splendid physique, astonishing indifference to frost". That said, it almost didn’t end well for him. On the way back, he fell into a crevasse and required rescuing.

Runaway tram plunges into Sydney Harbour:

On the morning of July 20, 1952, the wheels of a Mosman tram locked. Despite the best efforts of the driver, the tram skidded more than a kilometre and a half downhill – at an estimated speed of over 70km/h – until it crashed through the blocks at the end of the rails, tore up almost 10 metres of road, and shot off the embankment, hurtling 18 metres through the air, onto rocks, and then into the harbour. The driver and conductor both suffered head injuries when they abandoned the tram during its descent. The two passengers left on board were also injured. 

Gold Coast girl competes in 1935 sand castle competition:

When the Jubilee Bridge opened in 1925, it was the first road connecting the town of Elston with the north. As cars became more reliable through the 1930s, Brisbane locals travelled down the coast for their holidays in increasing numbers. The coastal strip between Southport and the New South Wales border thrived, and come 1933, Jim Cavill successfully lobbied that Elston be renamed Surfers Paradise, after his popular hotel. The beaches of the Gold Coast attracted swimmers, surfers, sunbathers, and even sand decorators, who competed in a beachside contest around 1935.

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