Robert Verrall posted on the ARW Facebook page recently of some strong memories from his childhood years; “In the early 1970s we’d go to Edithburgh during holidays to stay with Nanna. She had the very first cottage you saw heading into the town. Easter was nearly always spent down there. My brother and I would walk down to the little swimming pool area they had there or we’d go fishing. In the evening we’d run back and forth across the road and see how many times we could do it before a car came along. We were always careful never to run in front of the cars though. On the way there and back I’d count the stobie poles or give them names. That drove my brother nuts. In the late seventies and early eighties we’d go to the Comic Court Lodge Caravan Park before moving over to the Normanville Caravan Park. At least the Comic Court Park had a little arcade area with pinball machines or we could go horse riding or running around the sand hills, there was never much to do in town. By age fifteen I found the whole aspect of going on family driving holidays excruciatingly boring so I stopped going”.
Each of us has memories of childhood holidays and they generally include long road trips by car, sometimes with a caravan in tow, and the only entertainment provided by mum, usually seated in the front seat next to dad as he drove the car on to the destination.
Unlike today where kids can choose from a plethora of digital games and gadgets, we filled the time playing games such as ‘Spotto’, I spy with my little eye and Riddle-me Riddle-me Ree. There were lots of arguments between siblings about who was taking too much space and eventually all the kids joined in the chorus to ask repeatedly, “Are we there yet?…..Are we there yet?
There were no seat belt regulations then and the only air conditioning on a 40+ degree day was to wind down the four windows to let the hot air flow through the car.
My own recollections of childhood school holidays includes mile after mile on the gravel roads of Pitchi Ritchi Pass as it wound its way through the beautiful Finders Ranges through Quorn, Hawker and on to Wilpena Pound, big old cast iron beds with steel springs and flocking mattresses, the smell of lavender from the little lavender bags in heavy old wardrobes and chests of drawers.
There was always an old maiden aunt who had to be visited and she smelled of powder and made a pot of tea, served in china cups with home-made biscuits and buttered jubilee cake.
As the mid-1960s rolled around Golden Fleece service stations introduced roadhouse-style outlets with restaurants and for the first time there was somewhere to break the long and tedious family journey. An advertisement from a Golden Fleece brochure about their roadhouses from the era talks about the family road trip to distant places ‘being a part of Aussie life in the 60s and 70s’.
So much has changed now with the family touring holiday. Cars are bigger, more comfortable and fitted with all the latest safety equipment, seat belts for all, air conditioning and some even have individual DVD screens for the children in the back seats. There is of course iPads and iPhones, tablets or hand held mini-computers on which to watch movies, play games and listen to music.
What are some of your childhood memories of those family motoring holidays?