The next “Take a Photo” pic was part of the Western District Families Facebook page theme “Along the Hamilton Highway” in 2017 and is a favourite photo of mine. From the Museums Victoria Collection, the caption reads “A woman, Christina Park (sic), drying apples.” The date was given as c1931, the place depicted as Lake Linlithgow and the creator of the photo, Myrtle Sharrock.
Christina looks as though she could have been drying apples at Lake Linlithgow near Penshurst all her life, however, I found the photo depicted just a short moment in time in a long life.
Christina was born Christina Arbuthnot in 1855 in the Geelong district, the second eldest child of Alexander Arbuthnot and Elizabeth McKenzie (1) ). It appears she grew up in the Blakeville district north of Ballan. In 1875 aged twenty, she married Frank Parke (2). Frank built a house at Blakeville and they went on to have ten children over the next twenty years with most born around Blakeville. In 1883, while working as a sawyer for Mr Blake’s mill at Blakeville, Frank badly cut his hand and was taken to Ballarat Hospital. In 1885, baby Agnes was born at Barry’s Reef near Blackwood but died a month later. (3) (4).
After thirty-five years, Christina moved away from the area she had known most of her life when the Parke family went to Warragul. Baby Charles born there in 1891 (5). But it was around the time she turned forty, Christina’s life saw the greatest change when the family moved to the Melbourne suburb of Collingwood. Rate books from 1896 show they were living at 90 Reilly Street (now Alexandra Parade) in a rented brick home owned by Arthur Taylor (6). Frank’s occupation was given as sawyer however later records show he was working as a bootmaker, possibly at one of the many boot factories in Collinwood and surrounds. The Parke children too worked in the boot trade on finishing school. Also in 1896, the last of the Parke children Myrtle Alpha was born (7).
Over the next fifteen years, the Parke family moved to various homes in the northern part of Collingwood. It would have been very different for Christina after forty years in the “bush”.
In 1904, Christina and Frank’s son Charles died at the Carlton Children’s Hospital aged thirteen (8). About five years later they moved further north to the suburb of Northcote and that’s where Frank died in 1912 aged sixty-two (9). Not only did Frank die in 1912 but also son George at Collingwood aged thirty-three. (10) And just a year later, another son Ernest died. (11)
Christina moved back to Reilly Street, Collingwood for a short time before spending the next eight years or so living with her youngest daughters Ivy and Myrtle in homes in Northcote, Clifton Hill, and Fitzroy North, while the girls continued working in the boot trade. When she was sixty-five in July 1920, Christina’s mother Elizabeth died at Camberwell. By that time, Christina and her younger sister Ellen were the remaining Arbuthnot children from a family of eight.
The following year in 1921, Christina’s twenty-six-year-old daughter Myrtle married William Joseph Sharrock. William was a son of John Sharrock and Janet McMillian of Fernleigh near Mount Napier, just south of Hamilton.
William worked as manager of Rockewei near Penshurst and Myrtle went to live with him on the property and so did Christina. By the time the 1930s arrived, Christina was seventy-five and she went to live in Cobb Street in Penshurst while William and Myrtle were off at Glenthompson managing another property (11). Next William managed a property at Croxton East, the location of Lake Linthigow and Christina moved in again. It’s from that time we find out more about Christiana thanks to the Weekly Times. In 1932, Christina participated in the paper’s Free Exchange Service, offering plant cuttings and National Geographic Magazines in exchange for Robour Tea coupons.
Also, Myrtle took a photo of her mother drying apples and sent it to “Miranda” of the “Women’s Bureau” column in the Weekly Times., the same photo held by Museums Victoria. From Myrtle’s letter, we learn about Christina riding horses and giving swimming lessons.
Christina was soon on the move again. Her next residence was at Buangor where William and Myrtle were also living around 1936. (12) By 1942, William had taken up the family property Ferneigh at Mount Napier and Christina went with them.
By the end of the decade and into her nineties, Christina made her longest journey, moving to Brisbane. She died on 10 July 1950, aged ninety-five while living in an Eventide Home in Brisbane leaving three daughters, Olivia Limpus of Frenchville, Queensland, Myrtle Sharrock of Hamilton, and Elizabeth James of Toorak.
What a life!
- Victorian Birth Index, Christina Arbuthnot, 1855, Registration No. 4650/1855
- Victorian Marriages Index, Christina Arbuthnot, 1875, Registration No. 3981/1875
- Victorian Birth Index, Agnes Park, 1885, Registration No,7689/1885
- Victorian Death Index, Agnes Parke, 1885 Registration No. 4146/1885
- Victorian Birth Index, Charles Clyde Parke, 1891, Registration No. 18049/1891
- Victoria, Australia, Rate Books, 1855-1963
- Victorian Birth Index, Myrtle Alpha Parke, 1896, Registration No. 18977/1896
- Victorian Death Index, Chas Parke, 1904, Registration No. 11812/1904
- Victorian Death Index, Frank Parke, 1912, Registration No. 11531/1912
- Victorian Death Index, George Alexander Parke, 1912, Registration No. 5236/1912
- Victorian Death Index, Ernest Sydney Parke, 1913, Registration No. 10202/1913
- Electoral Rolls, Australian Electoral Commission, Christina Parke, 1931, Penshurst, Wannon, Victoria
- Electoral Rolls, Australian Electoral Commission, Christina Parke, 1936, Buangor, Corangamite, Victoria