Alexa St George

Lots of building was happening on the shore sea bath structures started appearing, we not so proper girls swam free in the bay we didn’t have the proper attire, we’d go buff naked or in our drawers.

“Winds of Change 6”

Water tanks were erected at the Junction, under the gum trees, it was so good to have some freshwater, we still went down to the bay to have a bath, the local indigenous peoples had all but disappeared from the bay, I missed seeing them, hearing the children’s happy squeals as they ran in the waves but all was silent.

Lots of building was happening on the shore sea bath structures started appearing, we not so proper girls swam free in the bay we didn’t have the proper attire, we’d go buff naked or in our drawers. The fancy ladies would swim separately, in costumes head to toe, more than I wore on a good day, they swam in a tent-like contraption hidden from the gentlemen who had the added advantage of Mr Kenney’s Gentlemen’s bathing Ship which was moored offshore. The young gentlemen who frequented the bathing ship developed muscular Christianity by the exercise and sunshine swimming gave them, (Mick had read that quote in the Argus newspaper) I tell you that muscular Christianity was put to good use with us girls. If only the good Christian mothers knew what their sons got up to after the swim. That Mr Kenney he wouldn’t let any of us girls onboard, he was a clever clog bought an old scuttled ship called Nancy, floated it to St Kilda beach, turned it into a floating pool moored it in the shallows and made a lot of money off the wealthy male clientele.

Mr Kenney's Gentlemens Bathing Ship
St Kilda Sea Baths (click on image)
St Kilda Historical Society
Canvas Town South Melbourne 1950
Ballarat's Tent City
Chinese mining operation at Guildford
First locomotive on the Melbourne and Hobson's Bay Railway
“Gold 7”

 Mick was full of all the news about gold, how there were so many people now the population of St Kilda had multiplied itself by 4 in two years. The Chinese had come and set up josh houses on the other side of the city taking a lot of the sly grog and illicit trade with it. Only us girls remained as a reminder of the wild days. After years defying the law Mick was now a respected publican. He even held the local Literary society in the back room of the Junction, the toffs called the room The Athenaeum. Everyone and everything in Melbourne were booming, Railways started to come and in 1857 they finished and opened the St Kilda Railway station.

About a year before the railway opened, I was being visited on a regular basis by a lovely young American, Theodore, he had fallen in love with me and he wanted to marry me, little Irish orphan poor whore me, what should I do?

He had a very successful claim up in the goldfields and had purchased a property on St Kilda Hill, he was building us a house and a future of children, and respectability was mine.

“Beginning and the End 8”

Should I wait for Jimmy who may or may not be coming to me or should I give myself the opportunity to thrive in fancy dresses and doing tea with the ladies, bathing with them oh no I couldn’t conform to that strict structure so I wouldn’t go that far to fit in but I had decided to marry Theodore he was fine to me really treated me as a lady and not the whore I had become.

After New Year he gave me a lot of money so I could buy myself a wedding dress and a trousseau as my threadbare hand-me-down dresses were all patched. I decided to get a wedding dress made. Sadie my friend said I should get the newest fashion with flounces forming a crinoline, they had wireframes to support the material now but I wouldn’t restrict myself with wire trapping me.

I went to Levi bros store in the city with Sadie and I purchased the prettiest Emerald green silk the colour of the rolling hills of my homeland it was to be edged with a much lighter green, like the gum leaves of my new homeland. For my dress, we needed nearly 15 yards of material all up with cotton for the fullness folds, many layers that made up the crinoline dress I had to purchase a camisole, a chemise and a corset, god I was worn out thinking about the fact I would be wearing all of this at once, no wonder those rich ladies were so pinched in their faces it would take them all day to dress then in the Melbourne summer, I was not looking forward to those days when I would promenade down the boulevard to the Esplanade in 5lbs of material. My dress was getting made, Theodore would come and visit me from the diggings, we would hold hands as we walked up to our house on top of the hill, he would tell me where our children would play. We had planned to marry the next month, I still lived at the Junction Hotel but didn’t have to ply my wares to make a quid anymore, I still looked out for Jimmy every day, a little bit of my heart would always belong to him.

It was May the 4th 1857 my wedding day. Sadie had some flowers and a pretty calico dress I had bought her, we’d even bathed, Mick had made an exception as we only had a bath every two weeks. We were getting hitched by Mick, he had been ordained by some missionary that wanted to save his soul years before so he was official.

Sadie and me went to Mrs O’Brien’s across the road to get dressed, she had done hair for royalty she said before she got done for stealing a silver hairbrush an getting sent to the colonies. So, with my hair full of flowers and in my beautiful dress Sadie and I crossed the road, it had got busier and busier now, big bulk carters full of wool and wheat with a 6-horse team would always be galloping along far too fast. I saw a big load of bluestones coming towards me, Sadie had already crossed, I could make it easily but then my shoe got caught on those new bloody railway tracks, I struggled to get my foot out the muddy tracks, I was in a dream, my shoe was stuck I got my foot out but as I bent to free my brand-new shoe, I looked up, too late, SMASH. KAPOW.!!!!!

The dress reform controversy in colonial Australia
1857 the railway to St Kilda opened
Victorian Bluestone Rock
George Hotel - Click to Visit Walking Tours of Melbourne
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