I lived in Colac over half a century ago, when bold young women (no such thing as teenagers) wore the a new garment called pedal pushers and my Grade 3 teacher lived by herself and drove a Morris Mini. A bit much for this conservative western district city – just proclaimed in 1960 perhaps due to my family’s arrival.
On my recent visit for the Colac Quilt Show I was surprised at how familiar the centre of town remained, although I was a bit thrown when the Baptist Church which was my navigation reference was no longer there. My father was the minister and we lived in the manse just around the corner. The house is still there but with a caravan parked out front I couldn’t get a picture, I found out later that the church is to be rebuilt. So thanks to Mr Google here is how they appeared not long ago.
It looked like the owners were at home, so with nothing to loose rang the bell. Ian and Judy have lived in what is now a beautifully restored late Victorian home for over 30 years. They love it and have made all sorts of improvements since I lived there. Hot running water, lino lifted and stunning floorboards revealed, efficient heating and cooling and plenty of living space added to the back. My enclosed verandah bedroom has become the laundry and toilet. The garden is now a delight; it was quite nice at the front and practical at the back in my time and I remember a beautiful lilac at the side. This had been there until it recently when it did not come back from a heavy prune.
Other than a change of colour the front is still the same, the iron lace and elegant front door survived the years of neglect from when the church sold the property not long after we left, until the current owners took possession in the early 80s.
As for those young people, not a bouffant hairstyle in sight, just as it should be.
Another very important building has also gone, the Municipal Library, my favourite place. It has been replaced by a cultural centre, but it’s not the same. Fortunately there is a picture of the old Arts and Crafts building in the archive of the State Library. This picture is dated 1908, but I think it is the same building, I remember it being in a park setting, and having to cross the road to be on the other side from the hotel on the walk down Gellibrand Street. Also a large, perhaps octagonal reading room, the lantern on the roof hints that there is something like this below.
The more recent photo from the National Trust shows a bland paint treatment concealing many of the original features, and looking a bit more how I remember it.