Our photo this week is taken from a glass negative and is over a century old. It shows a group of adults with their children on a New Year's Day picnic. There are 19 adults and 11 children and a young baby in the photo. All in the group are all well dressed, even elegant, almost too dressed for just a picnic, or it could a wedding gathering maybe. Does anyone know?
The photo was taken by Frank West of Dunn's Corner near Bowenfels. Dunn's Corner was named after John and Sarah Dunn who had arrived in Sydney on the 'Ben Nevis' in 1856 and married in Sydney the following year, later moving up to the Bowenfels area near Lithgow.
Frank has written "Rough Proof Only" with copies costing one shilling each.
The photo was taken on New Year's Day 1914 with no one realising that the Great War would be declared by mid August that year.
Maybe some of the men in this photo would enlist in the Australian Infantry Forces over the next five years or so.
The weather looks simply perfect for the outing with hopefully a refreshing southerly breeze as the clothes that they are wearing look quite warm.
They would have arrived in a group of horse drawn buggies and gigs.
Games were popular at picnics with participants enjoying themselves with drop-the-hanky, potato sack races, oranges-and-lemons, tug-o-war, egg and spoon races, skipping and wheelbarrow races.
Cricket was also popular using a commandeered a log or tin rubbish bin, ideally suited for the wicket.
Prizes were usually handed out for the winner and runner-up. Both women and men took part in the sports events as did the children.
Might it be a Church and Sunday School picnic, many of which bring happy memories back for our older generations.
Pleasure seekers would attend to partake in the many culinary delights of home cooking from the many country cooks.
Often an annual event it was eagerly awaited with families looking forward to the occasion, sometimes twice a year or more.
I recall the big sticky currant buns that Miss Lemon used to bake. The only thing was she never threw any excess out, even after the mould had taken over.
At the picnics there would be the uneventful metal trays of mixed sandwiches. Children were usually asked to bring their enamel mug with a string on it to hang around one's neck. This allowed the mothers to bring around the huge enamel jugs of fruit cordial to fill the mugs.
Following the sandwiches came the trays of small cakes beautifully iced, scones, biscuits and fruit or date slice.
By the time that everyone was ready to go home there was another treat for the kiddies.
Usually, it comprised a paper bag full of boiled lollies and a fresh apple for each child. A real delight was a freshly made toffee apple.
New Year's Day was first marked in Australia by the settlers, soldiers and convicts since Europeans arrived, though the latter did not have anything to celebrate.
The day was part of the Gregorian calendar which had been initiated by Pope Gregory XIII on February, 24, 1582.
The acceptance of photography increased in popularity later in the nineteenth century which meant numbers of amateurs were able to take up the hobby which could see them taking photos for friends on a part-time basis.
In the early part of the 20th century photography underwent remarkable transformations. Frank would have used a view camera with leather pleated bellows on a focusing rack which could be attached to a tripod.
Frank had to learn how to use his equipment and the film and paper materials.
Glass 'dry plate' negatives, commercially produced, were purchased in lightproof boxes that needed to be loaded into the camera in total darkness.
If anyone knows of the photographer Frank West or anyone in the photo, I would like to hear from them on 02 63315404.