1913 In Review

It was in 1913 that the name of Australia’s capital city was launched. Our first postage stamp with a kangaroo inside a map of Australia appeared, as did the first Commonwealth banknote the ten shilling note which, in that year, was considered a good week’s wage.

1d original-stamps

In Melbourne, with its population of 651,000, it was ‘the year of the dome’, with the opening of the domed reading room at The State Library of Victoria. For the first time, lost dogs had a home in North Melbourne, The Eye and Ear Hospital was completed, and the demolition company of ‘Whelan the Wrecker’ was starting to make its mark upon Melbourne’s skyline. Daniel Mannix, who was to become Melbourne’s Roman Catholic Archbishop for 46 years, arrived in Australia, and half a million people came to visit Luna Park in its first year of operation……..”just for fun”.

Sorrento in 1913 seemed to offer more subdued pieces of news than in the previous year, which contained a drowning, a shipwreck, a hotel fire, misplaced vice-regal property and a conflict of local judicial interests.

A glance through the twopenny Saturday Weekly 4 page edition of the ‘Mornington Standard ’(Frankston) reveals the following literary gems of 1913:

(January) Swimming and Life Saving Education at Sorrento.

The Physical Education teachers held a summer camp on how to be trained in aspects of swimming and life-saving drills. Mr. F. Beaurepaire (Education Department organiser) is the camp commandant in charge of this instructional portion of the camp.

(February) Vaccinate or be Fined.

George Murphy of Portsea failed to have his child vaccinated. Murphy pleaded guilty and was fined £2.

(February) Robberies from Bathing Boxes.

A number of robberies from bathing boxes have occurred during the past month. Constable Brennan has been making enquiries and a boy age 14 is summoned to appear before the children’s court on the charge of theft of a gold watch valued at £5. The property belonged to a visitor from Melbourne. The missing article has been recovered.

(February) Commercial Enterprise.

William Fletcher of Port Melbourne was fined £3 with £2.15.0 costs for running an illegal bay ferry service between Sorrento and Portsea on Boxing Day. Fletcher made no secret of the fact that he was at the Sorrento pier with the intention of making a shilling or two by calling out in a loud voice, ‘Portsea and back for one shilling return’.

(March) Gambling in the Park.

When things got a bit boring on their annual picnic, two Sorrento visitors, Williams and McDermott decided to engage in a game of ‘pitch and toss’ in Sorrento Park. Both men did not count on the vigilance of the local police who arrested both men. At court, at a later date, Williams was fined 5/- and McDermott 10/-. Presumably McDermott’s winnings were in excess of his accomplice.

(May) Death of a Hero.

A young Sorrento local E. E. Parsons died in Melbourne after a short illness. Parsons was a member of the Sorrento Rocket Crew and had received a medal from the Royal Humane Society for rescuing a boy in the South Channel. Parson’s remains were brought down to Sorrento by the steamer ‘Charlotte Fenwick’. He was buried in the Sorrento Cemetery.

(July) A Vile Act.

The cruel act of deliberate laying of poison bait around Sorrento has accounted for the death of over a dozen dogs including harmless pets. The correspondent reported, ‘the act was cowardly and to the person unknown, the lynch law would not be too good for him’. A reward of 10 guineas is offered to find and convict the person.

(September) Sorrento Jetty gets an Upgrade.

Work during the winter months has not been idle around the Sorrento Jetty with the head lengthened some 60 feet and the erection of a concrete sea wall along the western foreshore replacing the old wooden structure. The works for this project was carried out by H. Watts at a cost of £1,200.

(December) Open Air Concerts at ‘The Conti’.

Sorrento’s 1913 concluded on a joyous note when, during the festive season, two open air concerts in the grounds of The Continental Hotel were held. Both concerts were organized by Constable Brennan and successfully raised funds for the newly formed Sorrento Tennis Club and life-saving apparatus at the back beach.

Continental Hotel

Continental Hotel

Amidst such happy times, while the youth of Sorrento enjoyed and lived life to the full, in another and most likely unknown part of the world, war clouds were quickly gathering. Little did they realize that their hopes and futures would soon be crushed upon the battlefields of Gallipoli and the ‘Western Front’.

In time, Sorrento, like many other small communities in Victoria, would come to regard the year 1913 as, ‘the lull before the storm’.

…..’and so dies this year’ (Georgiana McCrae in her journal)

Peter Munro