Sunday, February 18, 2018

Sepia Saturday 406 - Those Carrett girls

This image depicts a swimming class for local school children. They are gathered on the diving tower and diving board. The water of the bay at Manly can be seen in the background.
Manly Swimming Pool Queensland 1936

Sepia Saturday this week encourages us to explore:

obvious theme possibilities of swimming and water available, but you might also want to investigate the possibilities of standing around and - like the child at the end of the diving board - hanging around.

It's difficult to know where to begin with this blog post.  I've been sitting on it for at least 24 hours.  In those 24 hours, I have managed to list just about every article/listing I could find about my paternal grandmother's swimming feats as found on Trove as well as those of her sisters. This is no mean feat - using the search words "Carrett AND swim*" I found 792 results.  Of course, not all of them are relevant but to give you some idea I now have the following lists and number of items for each sister:

Daisy - 70 items
Ethel - 130 items
Millie - 166 items
Nora - 94 items
Rene - 258 items

Moi - obsessed? Just maybe!

I have blogged about the sisters before here and here but there is always more to find and ponder.

This weekend I have found two new illustrated articles which are a lot of fun.  The quality of the images is not fabulous because they are from newspapers but I'm going to include them anyway.

But first of all, let's set the scene with a bit of a family tree....

Here is my best effort at showing a descendant chart for my grandmother and her siblings. 

I created it using - a mind-mapping tool.  I am open to any other suggestions you may have for creating family tree charts and the like on blogger.  I have tried wikitree widgets and Geni plugins but they didn't have the kind of chart I was looking for.  Onwards and upwards.

Back to the Carrett girls.  My grandmother was Ethel, the second eldest of this tribe of water babies.

This week I found a fetching portrait of her older sister Millie in an advertisement for cough medicine.  Here it is...

Advertising (1917, May 2). The Sun (Sydney, NSW : 1910 - 1954), p. 4. Retrieved February 18, 2018, from

It's a great shame that I seem to be suffering from technical incompetence today because I would love you to see a larger version of this ad.  Click on the link in the caption and go and look at the original if you can.  In the ad, it actually quotes the family's address i.e. Natoma, Fitzwilliam Road Parsley Bay.  I have blogged about Natoma before here.  

Millie is described as:

 "one of Sydney's best-known and most popular lady swimmers, who has distinguished herself at various carnivals.  In 1916 she won the S.L.S. Club's 33 yards Championship; later she won the 50 yards Interclub Handicap at the Metropolitan Ladies' Carnival and secured second in the NS.W. Ladies' Amateur Swimming Association's President's Cup Competition."

The other great photo I found this week was of the littlest of the sisters, Nora. Here she is!

THE WATER BABIES (1919, February 23). The Mirror (Sydney, NSW : 1917 - 1919), p. 3. Retrieved February 18, 2018, from

I learned a lot this week from my digging around.  I learned that my grandmother and her sisters swam with the likes of Fanny Durack and Mina Wylie.  I discovered this by finding this article about my grandmother's younger sister Rene.

(1923, August 12). Sunday Times (Sydney, NSW : 1895 - 1930), p. 19. Retrieved February 18, 2018, from

At first, I thought the Mary Durack mentioned in this article was the Mary Durack of Kings in Grass Castles fame but then I realised that that Mary Durack was much younger and living in a different state. I realised the Mary Durack mentioned in the article must have been Fanny's sister but who was Fanny Durack?  Googling Fanny Durack, this is what I found.

 Portrait of Fanny Durack taken in 1912 - National Library of Australia

What a legend!  The first Australian woman to compete in the Olympics. And she won a Gold Medal in the 100m freestyle at Stockholm in 1912.  It is dreadful to be so ignorant I confess.  There is a beautiful tribute to Fanny here by the Marrickville Library.

Fanny's swimming partner was Mina Wylie.  She won Silver in the same competition.

Portrait of Mina Wylie 29 February 2012 - NSW State Library Collection

Mina's father was a swimming star in his own right and founded the Wylie Baths at Coogee.  There are some great artefacts you can see online here through a site called the Australian Dress Register - check out the Wylie Baths costume that you could hire here.  You can listen to an interview with Mina here.

My grandmother and her sisters swam mostly at Rushcutter's Bay baths, Coogee Aquarium Baths, (don't you just love this photo below? It captures all the excitement of winning I think)

An official hands a young woman swimmer a token, Tramway swimming at Coogee Aquarium, 27 March 1935, by Sam Hood

The Domain and Abbotsford Baths. For some reason, I think that tower at Abbotsford is ridiculously high.  I must be getting a softie in my old age.  

Look at this amazing photo I found on Flickr

Start of a girl's swimming race, Mina Wylie with raised hand - State Library of NSW

Just look at the hats of the girls watching.  Not sure when it was taken but aren't they beautiful hats!! 

And so, I come to the end of my post.  It has been good to submit this for Sepia Saturday.  

It has given me pause for reflection on many counts.  For example...when was the last time I went swimming???  

Here are some photos to finish off dear Mother who was not always the happiest of swimmers, nevertheless looking pretty stunning in this outfit. No idea when or where it was taken.  That looks like Tom her father in the background reading the paper.  It could be at Manly with those pine trees.

Barbara McLoughlin c 1956

And last but not least, one of me and my lovely father, when we both had figures that weren't too misshapen by babies and old age....we are stepping out of the surf at Noosa if I remember rightly - before I was married so I'm thinking mid 1980s...that's close enough to 30 years isn't it?

When was the last time you went swimming?


Lorraine Phelan said...

Hah. I don't remember the last time I went swimming but I read last week about a group of seniors in Warrnambool who meet each week to go boogie boarding and they're having a power of fun. Food for thought :)

Postcardy said...

The first picture from 1917 looks surprisingly modern.

Wendy said...

Swimming is a summer Olympics sport, but it still feels appropriate to shine the light on your athletic family right now while the winter Olympics are in full swing. Wonderful stories and photos!

La Nightingail said...

That little Nora with the big bow on her head is adorable. All neat pix. The next to last one with your Mom looking quite the beach model is especially nice. But my favorite is the one with you and your Dad. A perfect special moment caught for posterity by the camera. And I, too, look back with a sigh now & then at those young days on the beach and wonder where that shapely person with curves in all the right places went after 3 children and a 'few' additional years plus??? Dang!

GeneiJen said...

What an amazingly detailed post enhanced by the results of your successful Trove searches. What a wonderful history to have in your family.

Barbara Rogers said...

I'm in awe of the athletes in your family. Great photos. Me too, love seeing young versions of ourselves and our relations!

diane b said...

Great collection of swimmers. Love their togs.

Crissouli said...

I have included your blog in INTERESTING BLOGS in FRIDAY FOSSICKING at
thank you, Chris

Just loved this post, what a great collection of interesting people and photos...loved the one with you and your dear Dad.