30 WRRAC Barrack:
By 1961 the local population was recorded as 666.
For 2 years the House was empty whilst the Australian Army purchased it for the 30 WRAAC Barrack who were stationed here until 1976. The occupants up to 80 young ladies at a time were single women from the Army who worked every day up at Balcombe Army camp on the Nepean Highway. Their guiding principle was You must be ladies at All Times.
Corporal Lyn Board please will you tell us about your time here?
I arrived at 30 WRAAC Barrack in 1965 to work as a clerk at the Army Apprentice School.
During the 22 years it was occupied by WRAAC it housed 40 – 50 members at any one time.
In my 2 and a half years living at the Barrack, the OC lived in the cottage at the rear of the building, the sergeants lived in the corridor on the Dominion Road side of the building and the other ranks had the remaining rooms.
Captain Buckley was the first officer in charge. She had 9 staff. Other residents were driven by VW combi van or bus to courses or clerical duties at Balcombe Army Camp.
Each room had either one or two occupants and all members were required to keep their own rooms clean and tidy, and they were inspected regularly.
Beds were grey metal with either an innerspring or rubber mattress. We were issued with three blankets and a brown/fawn heavy duty cotton bedspread. We also had a grey metal wardrobe and bedside desk and a lamp.
Some of us bought our own lamps and bedspreads.
I also had a wooden chest of drawers in my room. I think they were only in the single rooms not the shared ones.
We were also required to keep our washing and ironing up to date. There was a clothes lines and a drying room available but the drying room was not heated as the building was a fire trap.
On more than one occasion when members hung their clothes on the line overnight it was discovered that there had been a “pantie raid” by soldiers from the camp during the night and when the duty member went to raise the flag at 0630 hours she was confronted by a bra or a pair of knickers swaying gently in the breeze at the top of the flagpole! On one occasion the culprits were caught in the act and the victim had to go in to identify her belongings. She said she wasn’t sure who was more embarrassed – her or the investigating officer.
People who worked away from the barrack went on parade each morning before leaving for work, and they were inspected. The foyer was always a hive of activity just before the parade with everyone busy checking each other out and removing stray bits of fluff from uniforms and making sure shoes were highly polished.
We were provided with three cooked meals a day, but the quality depended on the mood and the capabilities of the cook on duty.
We had leave on weekends unless we were rostered for duty and also every night except Monday which was a “closed camp” night and on closed camp night we had organised activities, the most common of which were regular fire drills.
Leisure time was spent in the recreation room, listening to records and chatting or watching television in the TV room. Those who felt inclined also made use of the basketball and tennis courts in the grounds. We also enjoyed shopping in Frankston and Mornington and going to the pictures.
It was also fun to wander down to the beach for a swim when the weather was nice or to just find a sheltered spot and watch the waves when it was cold.
We organised dances a couple of times a year and there were also regular dances held at Balcombe which some of us liked to attend.
Travel could be a bit of a problem as public transport was very poor and no-one had cars.
WRAAC members were employed at, or studied at:
o School of Signals,
o School of Survey,
o School of Music, and
o Army Apprentice School
Members of the RAANC worked at the medical centre at Balcombe.
Over the years the School of Survey and the School of Signals moved to other locations and numbers living at the barrack dwindled until, in 1974, the barrack was closed and those members remaining moved into premises at Balcombe.. Part of building used, in command.
Closed 1974, with two people left to care for building
Please move back down the passage to outside room 5 for station no 7 the last of the hotel days.
ANDREWS. C. Mt Martha House 1890 – 1997
CALDER, W. The Changing Face of Mount Martha
CALDER, W. Mount Martha Lands and People 2009
GORDON. M. Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula pub: Loch Haven Books, Dromana, 1997.
HUXLEY. D. “This Old House Once Knew our People” Compiled for the 40th Anniversary 30 WRAAC Barracks, with cover drawing by Duncan Forrester.
Mt Martha CFA
Mt Martha Estate Booklet 1890
Mt Martha House Booklet 1890
Lynette Board – living – permission given
Mornington & District Historical Society Inc
Mount Martha House Historical Collection
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