Children at Mount Martha House



Narrator:   Since earliest house days, there have always been children at Mount Martha  House.  They had their own accommodation, their Nursemaids came too, they had a separate dining area as well as a covered play area.

Daniel, you and your children from the Mount Martha Primary School Grade 3 children would you like to tell us please will you tell us about children who were here at the time.

Daniel Vercoe:    They would walk several miles to school, and Mount Martha children walked to Osborne Primary school.  They learnt the basics, reading, writing and arithmetic.

Games played would have been knucklebones, bowling the hoop, blind man’s bluff, and they would have had free run on the property.   They were all wildlife savvy and knew to keep away from snakes.   Older ones would have ridden the house bicycle, gone fishing off the rocks below south beach, hunting rabbits across the hill, of which there were plenty, and entertained themselves.   Drives in the carriage with their parents and afternoon teas of dainty sandwiches and home made cordials under a tree.

During the 1950’s children waited patiently at the Ferrero General Store while the owner sweated over her home baked custards, which she churned into delicious ice creams in cones.

Evening entertainments would have been long chats far into the night with their friends, and tableaux vivants around then popular nursery rhymes, Little Bo Beep. Miss Muffett.

They could recite off by heart long poems like Banjo Patterson’s  “The Man from Snowy River” written in 1890, and many more.

Most children were taught to play the piano, so evening concerts were very popular.

Narrator:  Rylie will you please read from the local paper an account of a Sunday School outing in January 1892:

The annual picnic in connection with the Presbyterian Sunday :School was held on Wednesday 16th 1892  in response to the kind invitation of Mr McNeil  (the present tenant of Mount Martha-House) who also had the children conveyed to Mount Martha by drags.   The day was all that could be desired and the children mastered in great force at least 120 being present.  Outdoor games were entered into by the children and teachers, cricket, rounders, swinging, and sea-saws, besides races, for which prizes were given, and a bountiful spread of tea, sandwiches, cakes, fruit and lollies were done ample justice to by the young folks. Mr Hicks (the energetic superintendent of the S.S )

Narrator Ruby you were at the Sunday School picnic

What a great time we had at our annual picnic this year was down at the Coffee Palace at Mount Martha, I have never seen such a spread, there were lollies, sandwiches and cake, as much as we could eat.

Narrator: Kai how did you feel after your visit:

I had a belly ache all night from eating so much and then jolting along in the waggonette.  First time I’ve been to Mount Martha – that sea looked lovely.

Narrator: Amelie what did you see along the way Along the way there were so many rabbits, I could catch one for mum to cook for tea one school holidays.

Narrator: Jocelyn you were here as a child in 1938 how did you come to be at Mount Martha House.

It’s my summer holidays of 1938 and I am staying with friends at their holiday house.   I have 2 Christmas cards that I have to send, so I’m running down to the Post Office at Mount Martha House to buy stamps. Mrs Pride is sometimes very busy as she has to operate the switchboard for those who have telephones.   I will just have to wait.

Narrator: Tommy    1944 – why are you here.

Hi, my name is Tommy.    I’m 10 years old and I’m having a 3 week holiday at Mount Martha, staying at the  Lord Mayors Camp at Balcombe, to give Mum a rest from looking after me and my little sister. You see, Dad’s missing while fighting in New Guinea and we really miss him, but Mum is sad all the time, so we were sent here with lots of other kids in the same boat; to give all our mum’s a rest.

Narrator: Archie its 1947 and you’ve come down to Mount Martha House – why are you here.

Already 2 years have passed since the end of the second world war and Dad is taking me to his golf game today at Mount Martha House.    I have to carry his clubs because he finds it too hard since he injured his leg in the war.   He used to love playing tennis here with his mates, but he can’t run anymore. Maybe he should try croquet, then I can go fishing with my mates off the rocks.

Narrator:  Simon Gordon  Please will you tell us about Guides, Brownies, Scouts, Cubs, Venturers.  They were a very big part of Mount Martha House since 1978 onwards and they still have a connection in the building today.

Simon Gordon:   The 1st Mount Martha Scouts were one of the original community groups which helped to influence the Shire of Mornington to actually purchase Mount Martha House in 1976 for a Community Centre.

The Cubs and Scouts had a combined use of Room 18 with Girl Guides, Brownies, Venturers and Sea Rovers.  Lots of alterations to room 18 installed treated straw ceiling, sound proofing to coincide with the use of rooms 24, 25, 27,28.

Throughout the early years many activities were held to raise funds for the developments of the Mount Martha House.   More notable ones were wine bottling was one, The funds that were raised enables parents and leaders to volunteer their skills and arranged working bees, camps, billy cart derby’s, jamborees. And specialised trips away  including Camp Nial and Joseph Harris Scout Park in Mount Martha

The Scout movement  was the last to leave after the community – this was largely due to interest in single sex activities as girls wanted to do the same as boys.   We are pleased that there is a selection of their memorabilia from the Scout group as well as photos and other documents in the collection for everybody to see and enjoy.


In 1988 Vicky Bugg decided Mount Martha House was the perfect place to start a dance school.   It had many rooms which she could use as studios and they are still in use.

Over the years the style that is taught has continued to reflect current trends  in today’s dance world.  This includes Classical/Jazz/Contemporary/Hip Hop and Acrobatics.   Over the years the school has taught 1000’s of local children to dance.  It’s also taught children from age 3 years to adult  and some of have remained in the school for 22 years.    They currently  offer  VCE Dance as a year 12 subject.   Current staff are ex pupils of the school.

Please move to station no 9 outside Room 2 in the main corridor to hear about Mount Martha Community Contact days.


ANDREWS. C.  Mount 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.

1st Mount Martha Scouts Official memories

National Library of Australia – Trove – Newspapers

State Library of Victoria

Daniel Vercoe Mount Martha Primary School

Students: Jocelyn, Kai, Amelie, Archie, Tommy, Ruby

Simon Gordon  – living – permission given

Rylie – permission

Mornington & District Historical Society Inc

Mount Martha House Historical Collection

Many thanks to all contributors and supporters