Historical information

Eldest daughter of Edna and Bon Barrie, born on 03 November 1943 in Melbourne, Victoria,
Memoirs of Wendy Barrie, recalling the early formative years of life in Melton:

In 1949 I started school at Melton State School no 430 and was driven the 2½ miles to there by my parents at first. Later we walked home in the afternoons or were picked up by car as we made our way home along the Western Highway. In 1956 I went to Bacchus Marsh High School. There were 4 students in grade 6 and 3 of us went to the High School.

The students from Melton, Melton South and Toolern Vale State Schools went by bus to Bacchus Marsh High School as far a fifth form. My parents drove me to the pick up point and during the five years of travel to High School. The bus travelled via Toolern Vale and later went through Exford and through Parwan. On the return journey in the afternoon the bus went in the reverse direction. The bridge at Exford was an old narrow wooden one, and the students had to get off the bus and walk across, with the driver crossing in the empty bus for safety reasons. There was a travelling allowance paid to parents and it was estimated from the distance the crow flies, a straight line. We lived a Ferris Lane, just where the Harness Racing entrance is now situated about 2 ½ miles by road to school too close to qualify for the subsidy. While at State School Melton we would walk home in a group with the Nixon and Gillespie children, along the main road over the bridge near the Shire Offices and down a hill. I was being dinked on Joyce Gillespie’s bike while holding onto the seat, toppled off the bike striking my chin and teeth on the bitumen and cracking my jaw. I was about 9 years old and stayed a couple of days in the Quamby Hospital in Bacchus Marsh, it seemed like and eternity at the time and quite traumatic being separated from my family. I can remember contemplating how I could get out of the window and run away but realised it was too far to walk home.

Often we would cut across the Common on our way home from school picking up stray golf balls and collecting them from the creek when it dried out. We were warned about not accepting lifts from strangers passing along the Melbourne/ Ballarat Road. The only danger we faced was being swooped by the magpies particularly on the open ground on the Common. We were also fairly cautious when the Gypsies camped on the Common in the area just about opposite the small reservoir. “Mum” grandma Myers loved to have us call in on our way home, and usually would cut a slice of Jongebloed’s bread and spread it with home made butter. Sometimes we waited there until we were collected by car, usually driven by our mother.

Margaret Nixon and Joyce Gillespie were a few grades ahead of me and Barbara Nixon was born just two months earlier than me. Our mothers were great friends for over 6o years, born in the same month three years apart. They lived within a few days of the same age as each other at the time their deaths. Dad and George Nixon attended Melton school at the same time. Sarah nee Hornbuckle Nixon and my grandfather Frederick Myers Snr were at school together at the same in the 1880s.

The Nixon family lived in Keilor Road just past the Toolern Creek near the turnoff. Tom and Ann Collins lived on the southern side of the Western highway and Keilor road intersection. Jim and Ruby Gillespie’s house was further long Keilor road on the right. They backed onto the Myers who lived on the north side of Western Highway east of Myers Gully (Ryans Creek).

The Bridge over the Toolern Creek as very narrow and as truck traffic increased there were accidents. One truck took out the side railing and plunged upside down into the bank and into the shallow water. Another fatal accident happened between a car and a truck right in front of the Myers house. Grandfather Fred had been a bike rider all his life, as far as the Riverina in his younger years, wryly made the comment about the drivers the speeding along the Ballarat Road were setting out to kill themselves. The road was busy particularly after the Races at Ballarat when the crowds were hurrying home to Melbourne.

Train travel had changed very little from the time my mothers generation to mine. The timetable meant the usual rush to Melton South by bike in her case and if she was running late the train pulled up on the crossing. I was driven to the Station from home past Keith and Mary Gillespie’s house near the Ferris Road rail crossing to Bridge road to Melton South for the 7.32 train. While attending Sunshine High School in 1961 I would meet up with three other students, two of whom I knew from Bacchus Marsh High School days. We usually got into the same compartment on the train, it was a typical country train with a corridor along the side and compartments with a door, roof racks and sometimes heated metal containers for the feet in the winter. Some of the trains came through from Horsham and Ballarat, and the Overland from Adelaide passed through in the evening, we could hear it in the distance from the Ferris Lane home. The carriages had 1st and economy class compartments showing photographs of county scenes and holiday destinations. The engine was the large A class diesel. They are still running to Bacchus Marsh 50 years later, due to the need for the greatly increased number of commuters travelling to work in the city. Sometimes the carriages were pull by a Steam engine, these were a problem in the summer time because the sparks caused fires along the train lines and then quickly spread into the dry grass, crops and stubble.

The Motor Train left Spencer Street at 4.23 pm and was the best train for me to catch. Ferris Road was a designated stop and train pulled up on the road crossing. It had steps at the door and rungs to hold while alighting to the ground. The ballast along the tracks was rough and uneven and awkward to land on. The train was painted blue and yellow with the letters VR pained on the front. This saved may parents the afternoon trip to collect me from the Station. On the walk home on the gravel road I would pass Uncle Tom and Aunty May’s house before reaching home. Melva Gillespie was studying at Sunshine Technical School and we sometimes both got off the train at the same time.

On other occasions the Motor Train was replaced with a diesel engine with carriages, it was also required to stop and the driver had to be notified in advance. This meant getting into the guards van a Rockbank. It was more difficult alighting from the carriage as the gap was greater and more precarious to swing out and land on the ground.

A few times in my last year of study at Melbourne Teachers College in Grattan Street Carlton. I managed to catch the 2.30 pm train to Serviceton, it was express to Melton and was very quick trip. The last train, was the 5.25 pm diesel to Ballarat and I usually caught this train to Melton South Station. On one occasion after being held up on the tram in Bourke street I had to make a mad dash to the platform chasing the train as it was just moving off and yelling to the guard, fortunately I was noticed and the train ground to halt. I scrambled into the end door and took most of the journey home to recover.

After the last year at High School I continued to travel on the train, 2 years to Prahran Technical School changing at North Melbourne. There were a lot school children travelling to private schools and some at the primary level and mainly from Bacchus Marsh. Rockbank children also travelled by train from the beginning of their high school years, quite a few went to Sunshine High School. During my third year of teacher training I travelled to Flinders Street to RMIT for ceramics classes and Grattan St Teachers College located in the grounds of Melbourne University. There were many teachers being trained at the Secondary Teachers College due to the baby bulge creating a great shortage of teachers. Sunshine High School was very well represented amongst the different courses in Primary, Secondary and Art and Crafts. I attended Melbourne University lectures, studying a Fine Art subject. Bernard Smith was the most notable of the lecturers. he replaced Professor Joseph Bourke who had taken leave for the years. In 1962 he published the art book “Australian Painting”. The secondary art and craft student teachers from the College were in the majority, taking this subject and were well regarded due to their practical art and craft methods and their teaching round experience.

In December 1964 I graduated as a Trained Secondary Teacher – Art and Crafts. The graduating ceremony was held at Wilson Hall. I received my appointment to work at Maryborough High School. Uncle Max and Aunty Rosemary Myers arranged my accommodation. Uncle Max was a teacher at the Maryborough Technical School fat the time. The appointment was suddenly changed when just before the school year was about to start when I received notification that I was now required to move to Warracknabeal High School.

I was subject to a bond for the three years of training and three years of teaching and was under an obligation to comply with the directive of the Education Department. My father stood as guarantor when I was accepted as student at the Melbourne Teachers’ College, thus enabling me to receive my teacher training, and a 5 pounds a week allowance for expenses.

After teaching for two years at Warracknabeal High School I was fortunate enough the gain a transfer to Sunshine West High School, returning to live at home in Melton and travelling by car to work with a fellow colleague, Jock Smith who lived at Station road Melton. I completed bond obligation and resigned at the end of the year. The employment regulations at that time did not allow the option of leave of absence for, indefinite overseas travel.

I returned to Australia in October 1969. Visiting Arthur Hart the Principal of Sunshine High School he arranged with the Education Department for my re-employment at Sunshine High School until the end of the year. In 1970 I was transferred, and returned to Sunshine West High School where I worked for the next three years.

In January 1968 I sailed on the “Oriana” to South Hampton with two teaching friends from Warracknabeal High School on a travelling and working holiday. Doreen Kiely, a former Bacchus Marsh High student and fellow train traveller from Bacchus Marsh, was already working in London, had arranged our accommodation at the London Travellers Club Hotel, Braham Gardens, Earls Court SW5. We based our stay at this address in London and travelled around Scotland, Ireland and England. In the summer we took a four month trip around the Continent and the Mediterranean. I registered with The Royal Borough Of Kingston Upon Thames as a Supply teacher, and worked at Chessington School form autumn to spring the following year and living with Mrs Rose Gillies at Kinross Avenue, Worcester Park, Surrey. In the spring of 1969 visiting Norway, Sweden and Finland joining an organised camping group to the Artic Circle, entered Russia at Leningrad (St Petersburg) Moscow, Minsk, to Poland and Czechoslovakia. In August returning to Worcester Park for the flight to Montreal to stay with cousin Lynette and husband Jurgen. A side trip was taken to Toronto, Niagara Falls and New York. The flight home from Montreal to Melbourne took 52 hours. A ½ day break in Vancouver before boarding the Qantas boeing 707 via San Francisco, Honolulu, Fiji, Sydney to Melbourne. Around the world in 21 months.

Physical description

Photographs of Wendy