Friday, April 27, 2012

Stike up the band

With my car now mechanically sound and well serviced, I decided it desperately needed a scrub. R has taken to paying someone else to do his now. Even though I used to help him out with it at times, it seems he now needs to involve a commercial third party. I am still up to doing mine using the tried and true old fashioned manual hands on method.

So doing mine by hand, we did, in Ashburton. Why there? R used to work near there and we know it is a good car wash and we were going on somewhere.

We went on to Box Hill, in the past a small shopping area servicing local market gardeners and orchardists.  How can I describe what Box Hill shopping centre is like now? Think of yourself in a shopping centre in Bangkok, KL or Singapore. You can see other fair people like yourself around but you are the minority among the black haired. Melbourne is no longer a dull place with everything shut on Sundays and this includes the very vibrant Box Hill. Whether I like all this Sunday busyness, matters not.

Can you get decent coffee in Box Hill? Maybe, but we failed, even in quite a likely looking place.

Wattle Park is land in the ever so middle class suburb of Surry Hills. Either one of the private tramway companies in the early twentieth century or the later government owned Melbourne and Metropolitan Tramways Board bought the land and created the park. I've forgotten which. Some of the park's fences are strung with cable extracted from conduits below the ground when Melbourne converted its tram system from cable operation to electric. It is a very nice park, with some semi formal areas and some areas with native vegetation. Even in the early twentieth century there was a cable tram trailer there to amuse, and there has always been a tram body there since. Vandalism has necessitated replacement of the tram bodies at different times in the history of the park. The various tram bodies have always been magnets for children, and even in these days of online interests, kids still love to play in an old tram.

Well, that is a bit of the park's history. It is now under the control of Parks Victoria, the transfer happening in the late twentieth century.

We have never done anything like this in our lives, but we visited the park to see a performance by the Tramways Band. Of course the Tramways Band used to be staff of the Melbourne and Metropolitan Tramways Board, but no longer. It is tramways in name only, performing in a park that is no longer owned by the tramways. Modern times, hey.

For a while I feared I was the youngest person there, but no, some younger people did attend. But essentially it was older folk there. Unlike us, they were well prepared, with fold up seats, sun hats, umbrellas and other rain protection garments.

'Andrew, get a picnic blanket from the car for us to sit upon', the order went out. As I walked to the car, I lamented the tartan picnic blanket that used to be spread along the rear seat shelf of my Humber. One day I picked it up, only to find it crumbled away at my touch. Ah yeah, it was a present for my 18th and it was over twenty plus years old and has been exposed to sun for many years. I also realised that my car does not normally go out for picnics and all picnic blankets were in R's car. I brought back a Geelong seconds football club rain jacket that Bone Doctor had given to me and a Dan Murhpy's liquor carry bag for us to sit upon. We were all class among the good teetotal folk of Surry Hills.

As the band struck up, down came a shower of rain. It was light and we ignored it while most pulled out the rain protection garments and umbrellas. Being near Anzac Day, and the band earlier playing for an Anzac Day service at the park, the music had a war theme. The shower passed and we changed our uncomfortable seating positions on the ground many times as we listened to the band. I called it. I could see there was another shower approaching and I am too old to sit on the ground for long. As we left, a heavy shower dumped on the park. I have subsequently heard that people bolted to shelter and then came back once the shower has passed. After the Tramways band, a swing band performed. A swing band member personally chatted to us to gee us up for his performance.

By the time the swing band performed, we were home.

(I have decided, against my own logic, to caption photos like nearly everyone does, below the photo. It makes sense in a book, but I don't think it does in a blog where you read from top down)

One of the many old trams that have been placed at Wattle Park for kiddies to clamber around in and the youth to graffiti and torch.


The Wattle Park Chalet, available for hire for weddings, parties, anything. The building has nice proportions. Hard to believe that rain bucketed down half an hour after I took this photo.

Pretty, with a play area for the kiddies. The sound of children playing is almost up there with the warble of magpie for me.

I think there were well over one hundred people there by the time the band started.

Lying on my back staring up into the branches of Australia's most volume successful exports to the world.

The band in action as we departed. One minute later, I could hardly see through the car windscreen for the rain. We could have been in England. The plate on the tree reads, 'In honour of Elizabeth Welsh, whose lands became Wattle Park. 31st March, 1917. Friends of Wattle Park. Parks Victoria.'

I wasn't sure if R enjoyed it, but he said he did. So, while the Tramways Band's season has finished for the year, we will go back for a performance during the next season. But next time, with rain protection, seats, umbrellas, sun shades and hats, snacks and bugger the ultra conservative good bible bashing teetotal burghers of Surry Hills, a bottle of wine.


  1. Ya can't beat washing your car by hand on the driveway or front lawn with a bucket, sponge and hose and most times when you've finished it starts raining Grrr! :-).

  2. I have a photo somewhere (which I can never publish) of my grandchildren aged two and four washing their own plastic car with buckets and sponges. They did this every Saturday while their dad washed his car.
    I think you should immediately go out and purchase a large picnic rug, a large sun shade umbrella and a couple of lawn chairs to keep in your car boot.
    Just in case.

  3. Even driving in this week's weather, you should keep Arctic wear in the boot.

  4. I agree Windsmoke and rain on my clean car it did.

    That is cute River. I think we need to think a bit in advance about such things.

    Jah Teh, I have never had a waterproof jacket until BD gave me hers. It is great, even though I haven't used it yet.

  5. Ahhh, the car stored picnic blanket raises a cherished memory for me which I can't repeat here without causing an adult rating for your blog. Those were the days.

  6. Victor, all the work I put into the post and you debase it with allusions to your youthful shenanigans. I am guessing you did spread out a picnic on the picnic blanket.

  7. Now that's what I need to do ... wash my car by hand. Sounds like a ripper of a concert Andrew I'm sure you were pleased you happened to upon this event ... minus check travel rug and brolly.

  8. Dianne, I did not have the laptop with me and did not touch my phone either. Simple things are nice.

  9. Sounds like the next time you'll be prepared for anything Andrew, what are the odds that it'll be a beautiful sunny day without a drop of rain, I think it's called Murphy's Law!! If you're prepared,,it's just not going to happen!!

  10. Grace, a day like today would have been perfect.

  11. Anonymous11:17 am

    I only caption mine below in Blogger coz that's where the caption thing goes. Don't think there's a caption option in wordpress, well I haven't explored it, maybe next post I will.

    You needed beanbags, they'd have been comfy.


  12. Anonymous3:20 pm

    Gee I haven't been to Wattle Park in a looooooong time. And it's even longer since I listened to the Tramways Band! I remember both fondly. If I'd been there that day, I would've been tempted to stay on despite the rain - I love swing!! V.

  13. Fen, I don't use the caption thing, a feature in the new Blogger system. Perhaps I should. I find the photo placement really hard in the new system. Bean bags would have been perfect.

    V, we have something to look forward to, a return visit and better prepared. I too like swing music. Somewhere I have a cassette tape with swing music on it.