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Inspired by a trip back to Port Germein, South Australia, and meeting 2 primary school friends after thirty years, I decided that some memories of a lovely childhood should be recorded, especially as there seem to be few local histories about Port Germein. I lived there for 8 formative years, from 1954 until 1962, and the sound of the waves ebbing and flowing just outside my bedroom window was as familiar to me as my heartbeat.

Listen to Ann Jones describe her walk along the jetty in 2015.

The following dot point list, in no particular subject order, is a starting point. I'd love it if you too would share your memories.

In December, 2013, Port Germein Primary School closed after 132 years.


  • strawberry fetes with lovely baskets of home made lollies. The fetes were held in the Pt Germein Institute and usually arranged by the Methodist Congregation. Stalls were erected around the edge of the large dance floor, selling all manner of interesting things and beautifully decorated, often with colourful crepe paper. The stage was set up attractively with its dark red velvet curtains pulled to the side, imposing floral decorations, a microphone for announcements like the drawing of raffles, and musical equipment for the band which would play at the dance which would usually follow. The stalls would sell lollies, bowls of fresh strawberries with whipped cream, drinks, crafts, bric-a-brac and there would be cake and craft competitions and more. Merilyn can remember back in the 50's when her Grandmother & Mother got into huge strife with their fellow Methodists because they cooled the strawberries off in the hotel coolroom ready for the Strawberry Fete...they thought the strawberries might get contaminated, being next to the alcohol.
  • bikes decorated with coloured crepe paper at the school fete
  • sawdust used to polish the floor at dances where the Mitchells' band, pictured below, often played - Donald Lampre on the left. Photo courtesy Susan (Mitchell) Franklin
  • Harold Raymond concerts at the institute when he played songs on his multiple collection of cow bells
  • When I was young I loved "Milly Molly Mandy" books, especially the warm and cosy kitchen.
  • reading and loving Famous Five books but not being impressed by Secret Seven
  • collecting Nurse Cherry Ames books
  • the boys' Biggles books
  • borrowing books from the institute library
  • collecting my copies of "Schoolfriend" and "Princess" from the shop
  • Rupert annuals for Christmas
  • going to stay with a friend for a weekend and reading our way through a pile of comics about 2 feet high
  • getting 2 shillings pocket money, putting on clean clothes and walking over to the shop (photo courtesy R. Shaw) to buy an icecream, a comic and 6 pence worth of lollies
  • Grandma Duck with her boots and gaiters and driving her car with Huey, Louis and Dewey in the boot, the Beagle Boys and Uncle Scrooge diving in money were some of my favourites in the Disney comics. The Phantom turning up in Diana's bedroom with his pet wolf was also romantic
  • going to the Red Cross second hand bookshop in the side street opposite Myers when we went to town and buying lovely old books
  • shopping at Rigby's when we went to town and checking books and craft gear for Mum for school
  • buying icecream from a real American ice cream parlour in Woomera, when Dad was working at Pimba
  • climbing confidently to the top platform of the swimming pool in Woomera-after all, I dived off the jetty all the time at Port Germein-and realising with horror how far down it was, but there were too many people behind me for me to go back
  • mass on Sundays at the institute or later in the supper room
  • saying confession in the stage confessional, a draped curtain around a wooden frame that could have been a clothes horse - I never knew what to confess
  • First Holy Communion at the Institute
  • school concerts at the institute including the wonderful little musicals mum produced, especially "Cinderella."
  • the glorious sunsets
  • watching my brothers play tennis at the courts on Saturdays and the fantastic afternoon teas they would have
  • travelling to all the local towns during the footy season for the football matches and parking the car around the oval
  • our dog Tammy having puppies in the drain pipe under the esplanade road and lots of little kids crawling in and bringing out 8 fat and shining black, white and brown kelpie/collie puppies
  • movies in the tin hall behind the church on Saturday night. The adults sat in the seats and us kids sat down the front on the benches. "Tammy" was the movie I most loved although I remember a very exciting movie starring the gorgeous John Saxon (Courtesy of IMDB, I believe it was "The Unguarded Moment" released in 1956, and also starring Esther Williams and George Nader)
  • occasional trip to the movies at the Ozone in Port Pirie and listening to the Salvation Army band playing, looking down from the toilet windows.
  • even rarer trips to the Shandon Drive-In when it opened in Port Pirie (1957)-the glamour, especially the canteen!
  • hanging pillowcases on the end of the bed for Xmas
  • making paper dolls by tracing around Betty and Veronica in Archie comics and drawing outfits for them to wear based on pictures in the The Women's Weekly
  • drawing ballerinas and admiring Margot Fonteyn who featured a lot in the English story magazines like Schoolfriend
  • trying to learn to tap dance in the back room at the Mitchells' place, the post office (Kerry Mitchell's birthday party at right) Photo courtesy Susan (Mitchell) Franklin
  • playing chasey around the police cells with the Mitchells and Stevens, and getting locked in a cell
  • a beautiful scrap book that my Nana made, sticking picture from cards on the pages of a Women's Weekly, I think.
  • the arrival of TV-we got one and watched it through a cloud of snow-the only time it was any good was in thunderstorms
  • watching 77 Sunset Strip despite the snow
  • collecting cards of singers and movie stars- Fabian, Connie Francis, Brian Hyland come to mind

Here is what a quilter visitor to Port Germein in 2006 wrote:"One of my favorite places to visit is the small town of Pt Germein originally settled as a deep sea trading Port in the late 1800's. The historic timber jetty is still the longest wooden jetty in Australia. When built, back in 1883, it was the longest jetty in the southern hemisphere at 1,664 meters (5,459 feet) Storm damage reduced its length to 1,283 meters (4,209 feet).
I had the luxury of time to walk the Jetty and take photos. As I walked, I suddenly realized it was the first time I had been alone since early December. I love the solitude I encounter on my travels; it is a way of focusing and refreshing the spirit. The day was just perfect, and in my shorts and T and warm sun I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, but more was to come. Was that a sign with a quilt on it in the main street? Of course the quilting car stopped automatically. What a find! The store was filled with all sorts of exciting bric a brac, vintage handicraft goodies, antique quilts and all manner of old sewing supplies. I browsed for a while, then from the bowels of the store came a woman dressed in the most interesting style. Her appearance fitted the store perfectly. A skirt made up of antique fabric, laces, buttons and large Suffolk puffs. A vest of Asian origin and a wonderful big Aussie hat with a bright blue feather. Oh and boots of course to finish the overall ambience. Not known for quiet clothes I felt quite plain in my shorts and T-shirt. We talked for ages. Where did the old quilts come from? One by one they were unfolded and their origin was explained. There was the one made from men's suits - even the pockets had been left in. It was just wonderful.


The pictures show the school yard in 1962, classes in 1960 and some of the same people at the centenary of Pt Germein in 1978.


Students from Pt Germein attended Pt Pirie High School. The 100th anniversary of education in Pt Pirie was celebrated at John Pirie HS on Oct 29-31, 2010.



Photo of the Palais in the 1950s courtesy of Robert Shaw


Photos: Fortunately the hotel has been returned to its former glory with a proper verandah which we photographed first in April, 2004. My brother and I next to a Christmas tree in the porch of the hotel.



Photos: Above right is the front verandah of our house through the tamarisk trees, taken 1962. Below R. is a Malleys chip bath heater, available from Chas Geddes in Port Pirie for 75/- in 1954. The wood stove was photographed in the kitchen after the fire. I was thrilled to find (Nov 2019) the lovely black and white sketch of the harbourmaster's house, below, in the book, "Reluctant Harbour" by Nancy Robinson, page 201. It was drawn by Jill Francis in 1975. I include it because it shows the tower, still then in place, though the cottage to the right was not there when we lived in the house.

Port Germein fire causes $50,000 damage
Posted Sun May 28, 2006 7:45am AEST
Investigators are still trying to determine what started a blaze which gutted a house at Port Germein, north of Adelaide, last night. The fire broke out in the Fourth Street house just before 11:00 pm, causing about $50,000 damage.

This ABC news story is about the fire which damaged our former house in Port Germein.


  • chocolate milk ice blocks from the Jarvis's shop
  • the water fountain always bubbling on the wood stove
  • the jelly sponges mum made every weekend until she could "whip" one up like all the country ladies
  • home made lamingtons using the recipe from The Green and Gold
  • jam puddings-from the CWA A Pudding a Day book
  • milk emulsion-not a food, but we loved it-almost as good as laxettes
  • Dad's favourite bread and butter pudding
  • shepherds' pie made from real mutton
  • simmering the milk on the stove to get the scalded cream-is there anything better tasting in the world with fresh white bread and jam?
  • wine trifles
  • Mum's unique chopping of apples for fruit salad
  • the horrible smell of 'school milk' in its little bottles, which had been left in the sun before school and the fascination of the small straws
  • flavoured straws of chocolate or strawberry that you could use with milk-not for me
  • the sweet, sickly smell of junket tablets
  • whiz fizzes with licorice straws
  • the first tutti frutti icecream on a trip to Adelaide
  • chocolate malted milks in metal containers
  • spearmint leaves and raspberry lollies, clinkers, fantales, minties

Bullock cart at Port Germein Centenary, 1978

Even though I grew up in Pirie around the same time, I too have fond memories of Pt Germein. I went there with Mum and Dad nearly every Sunday afternoon. Dad always walked the jetty while Mum sat in the car and we kids played on the swings above the deep seaweed and the old railway sheds on the foreshore.

On really hot afternoons we would pack a picnic tea about 4 pm and head to Pt Germein to park down near the water under the jetty. I remember most of the farmers had Ford Customlines with striped canvas blinds. We rarely had soft drinks, and so for these picnics we made up cordial stored in a bottle. No ice of course! Occasionally we would have a bbq made from a few bricks with an iron plate on top and a fire underneath. Such great times. I also remember playing on the ramp leading into the Palais.

A few years later as teenagers we also used to go out and park near the water (tide nearly always out) Gerry Broehx parked a bit too close, returning to find the tide had come in and his lovely Toyota Crown ruined.

My brother, Peter, used to be a photographer/journalist at 'The Recorder.' One of the articles referred to Rev Deutscher's time at Port Germein. I remember my brother being friends with Stanley Deutscher and even have a photo of them both on their bikes on Three Chain Road.
Julie Strachan née McMahon

Aileen Preiss née Luhrmann lived at Booleroo Centre, but they would go to Port Germein on special occasions like New Year's Day. Cars would drive out onto the beach but had to watch that the tide didn't get them. Not that the tide ever seemed to be in.

After the big storm in 1954 a lot of the jetty was washed away. One day, Aileen's father and her brother in law took her out with them on the jetty to go crabbing. The jetty was a tangled mess of timber and three quarters of the way along she got so scared she wouldn't go on. The men were determined not to go back after walking so far, so she was made to sit down and promise not to move an inch until her father returned. First they had to go out and put down their nets. She remembers that she seemed to wait forever, too scared to move. The crabs were lovely big blue swimmers.

Page created 6-10-2008, updated 1-12-2019.