Our latest addition to the RAHS Flickr page is a fascinating album of photographs donated to The Royal Australian Historical Society by Ray Woodley of Palmerston North, New Zealand in 2015. The album records a 1936 trip to Australia made by Ray’s uncle, Dave who lived in Wellington, New Zealand.
Like a Facebook page today, the photos in this album show us the curated version of Dave’s trip as it was presented to friends and family. But without the benefit of Dave’s narration which would have accompanied viewings of the album. From the photos and Dave’s notes on them, we surmise he travelled with friends – possibly fellow members of the Wellington Harriers Club – and visited Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Auckland. Dave and his friends appear to have travelled to from New Zealand to Sydney on the T.S.S. Awatea. This famous (and fast) passenger liner made its maiden voyage to Sydney from New Zealand in September 1936.
From the photos we think Dave spent longer in Sydney that in the other two Australian cities. Interestingly, in each of the three cities he visited a zoo, botanic gardens and an ANZAC memorial. In Sydney, he travelled further afield visiting Bulli, the Hawkesbury and Cronulla as well.
There is a lot we don’t know. For example, the reason for the trip. Was it a club tour or just a holiday? We know Dave’s visit occurred sometime in the period between late September and late December 1936 but we don’t know how long it was, or long he stayed in each city. How did he travel between cities? The photos suggest at least one trip by train and the possibility he travelled by ship to Melbourne, but we don’t know for sure.
Looking through the photos, the viewer can’t help but feel Dave’s enthusiasm he recorded the interesting and exciting aspects of his trip. Ultimately this is the most interesting aspect of the album, the information it provides about what was novel or interesting to a young man visiting from New Zealand in 1936.
Catherine Stuart, RAHS Volunteer