A Seaside Holiday in Geraldton

In April 1933, Leonard Hood, secretary of the Parents’ and Citizens’ Association at Meekatharra, wrote to the Geraldton Municipal Council expressing a desire to arrange a summer seaside holiday for the Meekatharra children.

Throughout the year, plans were made, and the Association held fundraising events. Finally, on the night of 27 December 1933, 74 children and nine adult supervisors boarded the train at Meekatharra bound for Geraldton. One newspaper described the scene at the railway station:

Long before the arrival of the express from Wiluna, the platform was thronged with happy and eager children. Two coaches were necessary to accommodate the party and in a surprisingly short time all had been billeted in their compartments. A loud din reigned as the train slowly drew out, the air being filled with the voices of cheering children and blasts from the whistle of the engine.

The Magnet Mirror and Murchison Reflector (Meekatharra, WA : 1928 – 1935); 5 January 1934; Page 3; Children’s Seaside Trip

The Geraldton Tourist League helped plan the seaside holiday and worked hard to ensure the children were thoroughly entertained during their stay. Accommodation and bedding were provided by the Scouts’ Hall, Matt Reid’s Buildings, the Country Women’s Association, the Returned Soldiers’ Institute, and the Swimming Club.

In the evening, on 28 December, a fleet of twenty cars waited at the railway station for the arrival of the children. They were then driven to their respective accommodation and went to bed early. On the following day, they visited the beach. For many of them, it was their first time seeing the ocean. They went swimming and fishing and became experts at catching blowies. That night they went to the pictures, but after such an eventful day, many fell asleep by the interval.

Children at the beach in Geraldton circa 1926

On 30 December, they spent more time at the beach and played on the swings and merry-go-round. They visited the Geraldton shops and, in the afternoon, they were treated to a beach sports gathering near the camping ground. Sunday was spent quietly with many of the children returning to the beach.

As well as spending time at the seaside, they also went on various other excursions. On 3 January 1934, they hiked to Point Moore Lighthouse. Eight at a time, they climbed the steps to view the lantern room and marvel at the views from the top. They visited the Geraldton Radio Station, where they were shown the “mysteries of wireless” and toured the office of the Geraldton Guardian and Express newspaper to see the type-setting machines in action.

Point Moore Lighthouse circa 1932

There were boating trips on the bay, a camp fire concert at the Scout Hall, picture shows, a visit to the super-phosphate works at Bluff Point, and cricket matches.

On Sunday, 7 January, members of the Traders’ Association and citizens drove the children to the mouth of the Greenough River. It was a popular spot that day, with an estimated 100 cars there. Everyone enjoyed themselves, with the children particularly enjoying the “attractions of surfing.

The final events took place on 9 January. In the morning, they spent time at the beach, while in the evening, a farewell frolic was organised to take place at the Town Hall. Local children were invited, with the only requirement being that they brought a plate of food for refreshment.

The seaside holiday was a success for both the children of Meekatharra and the people of Geraldton. Eager to promote the town as a seaside resort, the Geraldton Guardian and Express noted that the children enjoyed “refreshing sea breezes and the constant indulging in sea-bathing.” The hope was that they would return home full of praise for Geraldton, which would lead other Murchison residents to visit.

Before departing on 10 January, the children had a “final dip in the briny.” They then boarded the train to return home to Meekatharra, and to fill the ears of their loved ones with tales of their holiday adventures.

Sources:

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