In childhood, our family would irregularly plan whole day outings. With four kids and little spare cash, they were planned events. Cooking had to be done the day before in preparation for meat sandwiches and cakes and biscuits to fill energetic stomachs.
Mum would make sandwiches, wrap and pack them into a large oblong basket with a lid which normally held the clothes awaiting ironing. Thermoses were filled, sugar and milk packed and the picnic rug was laid across the back seat.
We would set off in the black Ford for such destinations as Lake Wallace in Edenhope, Rocklands Dam or some other Grampians spot. It always seemed like a long drive. Toilet stops were the only interruptions along the way. This was not an era when you stopped for a soft drink or coffee or to peruse some shops.
I can recall experiencing a degree of spiritualism as The Grampians rose up out of the landscape ahead of us. Hills in our normal landscape were a rarity and these were far more ethereal than mere hills.
We would arrive at our picnic destination and clamber out of the car, eager to be in the fresh air and to have freedom of movement. There would be walks into the scrub and up to advantage viewing points, as well as the obligatory game of family cricket.
The picnic rug would be laid our on a grassy spot and we would all converge on to it for lunch. The pace slowed. We would bite into our white bread and mutton sandwiches with homemade tomato sauce or cauliflower pickles and fall silent. Rock buns, coffee scrolls, and chocolate crunch followed, with some to be kept for afternoon tea. Apples and oranges would complete the meal.
Mum and Dad would then opt for a rest and we, kids, would wander off to amuse ourselves together.
Invariably, the box camera would emerge out of Mum’s basket and a family photograph would be taken. Some of these photos look down on me as I write this – four kids, all with the distinctive Neagle nose, in varying stages of development.
We would set off for home after a cuppa and more cake. We had to be home before dark to feed animals. The car would be unpacked and a simple tea of fried tomato on toast would be dished up to end the day.