Tag Archives: Point Avenue

Vale Raie Harding (14/10/24 – 1/2/20)

By Jill Hosken, Celebrant
(with contributions from Tim, Stephen and John Harding)

Being born in 1924, Raie Harding grew up in very different times and throughout her long life she has witnessed more technological, political, economic and social changes than are ever likely to be experienced in one lifetime.

Raie was an only daughter born to Tom and Ruby Purvis and the family initially lived in South Caulfield before moving to Middle Brighton.  With her Dad being an engineer and in regular work, despite the depression years Raie had a happy and settled childhood – nevertheless it is unlikely she could ever have envisaged the wonderful, rich experiences life had in store.

Raie aged about 20

Her secondary years were at the prestigious MacRobertson Girls’ High, a selective entry school but with the unfolding of WW2 she left early and after completing business studies attained work at the Victoria Hotel in Little Collins St.  In addition to her office duties, Raie helped organise events and tours to entertain the visiting US military officers (including swing bandleader Artie Shaw), many of whom were based in Melbourne – organisational skills which came to the fore later in life.

She’d known Bruce Harding, a local Brighton lad, since her early teens and when he returned from war service, they reconnected and ultimately married in the Melbourne Grammar School Chapel in 1948.  The newlyweds  bought a double block opposite Rickett’s Point, on the corner of Lang St and Point Ave surrounded by dirt tracks and ti-tree for the princely sum of £182/10.   Despite the shortage of building materials, with Bruce being a qualified builder, he was able to construct what was to become the family home. 

Bruce and Raie’s wedding day, 1948

Over the ensuing eight years, they were blessed with three sons Tim, Stephen and John and even though they were pretty good as boys go, Raie still had her hands full!!  Nevertheless, she relished her role as a mother and nurturer and always supported her three sons in their endeavours ensuring they had the best of opportunities and many wonderful experiences. 

With four active males under her roof, Raie craved some girl time and was known to occasionally “borrow” a neighbour’s daughter, Sue McGregor who shared on hearing of Raie’s passing, how as a young girl, she loved opportunities to be in Raie’s company, learning to cook and sew.

Beaumaris back then was very isolated – there were no local shops and before getting a car, Raie would catch a bus to Black Rock to do the weekly shop.  However, she was one of the first women in the neighbourhood to have a car, a Land Rover – probably the first SUV to be seen in the area! 

The neighbours were like extended family – the boys related how each afternoon, the Point Avenue mothers would gather at one another’s home on rotation, vegies in hand and join together over a sherry as they prepared their respective evening meals.  The neighbourhood kids enjoyed the freedom of playing in the bush or riding their bikes or going to the beach – the only condition being they were home by 6 for dinner.  

Raie aged about 30

Her sons appreciate the long leash they were given but also knew there were expectations such as good manners, respect and ethics which stood them all  in good stead for the future.

In 1956, the year John was born, Bruce and Raie purchased “Shady Acres” in Macclesfield – a farm at which they spent many a weekend or school holidays getting back to basics with no power and no mod cons.  Here they grew Angus beef cattle, Angora goats, pine trees and later on wine grapes – they also had horses which all the boys rode – a skill that Raie never quite  mastered, despite having lessons and so when friends visited, often after enjoying a BBQ lunch they’d all head off for a ride, Raie was very unimpressed to be left cleaning up!  

Raie holding Bruce’s horse at ‘Shady Acres’ in 1967

Later Raie and Bruce purchased a holiday home at Metung where sailing on the lakes and many happy times were enjoyed by all.  When “Shady Acres” underwent some remodelling in the 80’s, Raie, being a very gifted seamstress sewed all the drapes, bedspreads and even the new upholstery for the lounge suite.  

Raie rode a bicycle instead of a horse on the family farm

At home she also sewed, enjoyed creating a welcoming garden and for a time, having a neighbour who was a very talented artist and potter, Raie took up pottery.  Raie also was a wonderful support to Bruce in his business and many a dinner party was enjoyed at their Beaumaris home by colleagues and friends alike.  She was the consummate hostess and a gifted cook – she embraced cordon bleu cooking (very in vogue in the 70’s) and had all the fancy cookbooks of the era.  

The boys recalled how their Mum would do a practice dinner party dinner on a Tuesday – always a new taste sensation.   Raie also gave dedicated support in Bruce’s community work with the Beaumaris RSL and Legacy to which they gave a great deal of time supporting war widows and their children.

Perhaps it was through this that piqued Raie’s interest in Social Work – this together with her desire to prove, in the very male dominant world of the time, that despite limited education opportunities, women had a brain.  So, aged 46, Raie enrolled in an Arts Degree at Melbourne Uni and Tim related how he enjoyed sitting in Politics lectures next to his Mum.  In 1978 Raie proudly graduated with a Bachelor of Arts and Social Work. 

Raie at her BSW graduation, March 1978

Over the years she and Bruce enjoyed a number of overseas trips and a well-remembered one was when she visited Steve whilst he was in London during the 70’s and they then toured Europe together.

After completing some extensive renovations (including electricity), Bruce and Raie moved to “Shady Acres” living there until Bruce died after a short illness in 1996.   After coming to terms with this new reality, Raie moved back to Middle Brighton where she enjoyed a full and active life.  She could often be found at Victoria Golf Club where through her 40 years of membership many strong friendships were forged

Playing golf into her early 80’s Raie then moved on to Bridge and enjoyed lunches and gatherings at Victoria with friends.  She loved any opportunity to go to the movies, enjoyed shopping – was always on the hunt for a bargain and loved hopping on the train to visit Steve, Susie and the girls in Adelaide!

Raie had a very loving relationship not only with her three sons Tim, Steve and John, but also with her daughters-in-law Lisa and Susie. She was very grateful for the help they gave her, especially towards the end of her long life.

Three years ago, acknowledging she needed support and after doing her own research Raie made the decision to move to Karinya Grove Aged Care in Sandringham where she has been well cared for. 

As she always had in the past, Raie continued to participate in and enjoy all the family gatherings and celebrations – birthdays, Christmases and retirements along with Carl and Jayne’s wedding.  Raie particularly enjoyed visits from her beloved grandchildren – Georgia and Kate all the way from England, as well as from William and Angus. She loved hearing about their lives and various achievements.

She especially enjoyed celebrating her 95th birthday last October at Karinya with family and friends in attendance. All would agree, even with her decline in acuity in these past years Raie always made the best of things and did what she could to ensure those around her felt loved, connected and cared for. 

“Lastly I must say thank you for the great privilege and all the joy and pleasure that I have experienced as Mum to my three wonderful boys and and their families. I leave you with all my everlasting love and the wish that most of the hopes and aspirations you may have had for the great journey of life that we began together will be realised.’ – Raie Harding

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Memories of Point Avenue, Beaumaris

by Tim Harding

(An edited version of this article was published in the Sandringham
& District Historical Society Newsletter, February 2019)

Point Avenue is named after ‘The Point’, which was a Victorian-style mansion overlooking Ricketts Point in Beaumaris.  It was built in 1890 by wealthy wine and spirits merchant Matthew Lang (1830 – 1893), after whom Lang Street is named. Lang was Lord Mayor of Melbourne from 1889 until he was elected to the Legislative Council in November 1892.  He died at The Point in March 1893. The boundaries of Lang’s original estate are thought to be roughly Beach Road, Reserve Road, Haydens Road and what is now Florida Avenue.  The western end of Point Avenue was the front driveway to the estate, and the first leg of the eastern end of Point Avenue was the rear access driveway leading to the coach house.

In 1919, The Point was purchased by Thomas Turner Shaw, who later left it to his son, the pioneer aviator Major Harry Turner Shaw (1889-1973), whom I personally knew.  (Major Shaw is an historic figure worthy of an article of his own).  The Shaws gradually subdivided and sold the estate, creating Point Avenue, Lang Street and surrounding streets.  They finally sold the mansion in 1959, after which they lived at what is now ‘Pointside’ in Lang Street, but which was originally the servants’ quarters, coach house and horse stables.

thepoint

The Point mansion (centre) in 1959, just before it was demolished. The curved street in the left of the picture is Point Avenue. Beach Road is in the foreground.

I grew up at No. 6 Point Avenue which was on the corner of Lang Street. My parents purchased the land from the Shaws in 1948 for 182 pounds and ten shillings.  They later did a further subdivisional deal with neighbours to create 80 feet frontages to the south side of Point Avenue, instead of the usual 60 feet.

What is now the eastern end of Point Avenue was a caravan park, with an English-style ‘village green’ in the centre.  This was possibly attractive to the ‘ten-pound poms’ who lived there.  As a result, I grew up with the mistaken impression that British people were all poor with funny accents and missing teeth.

Residents of the western end of Point Avenue were attracted to its natural bush environment; and they later successfully campaigned to stop the Sandringham Council from making the street with the usual footpaths and guttering.  As a result, Point Avenue remained an unmade private road with the residents themselves responsible for filling in potholes and any other maintenance.

One of the leaders of this campaign was the late Colin Macrae, who lived with his wife Joan at No. 2 Point Avenue, and who became the second President of the Beaumaris Tree Preservation Society (now the Beaumaris Conservation Society).  The important fossils at the Beaumaris Bay Fossil Site were a major interest of Colin’s. Fossils he found are now in the collections of Museum Victoria and the Sandringham & District Historical Society.  His discovery of fossil remains of a significant extinct penguin at this site led to it being reported in a 1970 paper by a Harvard University palaeontologist, with the species being named after Colin as Pseudaptenodytes macrei.

Colin Macrae’s wife Joan (nee McIntosh) was a potter, who gave pottery classes to the ladies of Beaumaris (including my mother).  The members’ exhibition gallery of the Beaumaris Art Group in Reserve Road is now named after Joan Macrae.

On the beach side of the Macrae’s at 401 Beach Road lived Richard Franklin, who started his artistic career as a drummer with the Pink Finks rock band (which later became Daddy Cool after a couple of personnel changes).  Richard became a Hollywood film director and a protégé of Alfred Hitchcock.  He directed Psycho II (1983) and later returned to Australia where he filmed Hotel Sorrento (1995) and Brilliant Lies (1996).

The Shaws’ daughter Raithlyn married Creighton Burns, who was Reader in Politics at the University of Melbourne and who later became the Editor of The Age newspaper.  They lived at No. 1 Point Avenue, which was the old gatehouse to The Point mansion. I remember seeing Creighton on ABC TV’s Meet The Press interviewing Prime Ministers and other politicians. He later became Chancellor of the Victoria University of Technology.

Next to the Burns at No. 3 Point Avenue lived the MacGregors, who also had a back gate to Coral Avenue.  The father Bruce was responsible for bringing Tupperware to Australia.  The mother Nan later owned a dress boutique in Black Rock.  The daughter Sue is now a prominent barrister and solicitor in St. Kilda doing mainly legal aid work.

At No. 9 Point Avenue lived the Bunnetts.  The father Lindsay was an architect, who designed some of the famous Beaumaris Modern houses in the 1960s.  The mother was Kay Bunnett who was an artist specialising in Ikebana, including wall hangings.  Sadly, the Bunnetts got into a very bad argument one night, where Kay grabbed an antique dagger off the wall and stabbed Lindsay to death with it.  Kay pleaded guilty to manslaughter, but was not sent to prison because of her age and ill-health.

Across the road from the Bunnetts were the Gashlers at No. 4 Point Avenue.  The father Chick was a legendary amateur snapper fisherman in Port Phillip Bay; and the mother June was a champion amateur golfer.  One of the daughters was named Suzy. I remember at about age 10 Suzy telling me that her mother wanted her to become a model, which naively I scoffed at.  But sure enough, Suzy Cato-Gashler did become a top model and later a notable TV, film and voice-over actress.  She recently appeared in The Dr. Blake Mysteries: Family Portrait (2017).

In the late 1950s, the caravan park at the eastern end of Point Avenue was subdivided into the house blocks you see today.  No. 21 Point Avenue was one of the Beaumaris Modern homes listed in the recently published book of the same name.  It was designed by architect Bill Kerr (whom I later knew as a jazz clarinet player) for the Deutscher family.  The father was Ray who inherited the WA Deutscher fastener manufacturing business.  The son was Chris Deutscher, who became the art dealer of Deutscher-Hackett fame.  Chris and I went to Haileybury together (as did Richard Franklin). I also played in Chris’ jazz band but we were never close friends.

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