Sepia Saturday 159 A family day at the beach 1927

Sepia Saturday beachThis week’s Sepia Saturday is bathing costumes and the beach. Living in Australia there’s no shortage of this type of photo, but the ones here immediately sprang to mind. Don’t you just love those old-fashioned costumes, probably wool and scratchy I’d imagine.

Norman Denis K Dick Amesbury Tom Bryson c1927The men in the photo are brothers-in-law, my grandfather Denis Kunkel, Dick Amesbury and Tom Bryson, each married to one of the McCorkindale women, with my father in the front. There’s no writing on the reverse to say where it’s taken, but my fairly reliable guess is that it was Sandgate, or Shorncliffe, both beachside suburbs of Brisbane, now enjoying gentrification. There was a pier, rather like an English one, with puppet shows and the like –or that’s what my dim memories tell me. Although the pier was called the Sandgate pier it’s now been renamed as the Shorncliffe pier and it seems the reason may lie in the fact that it sits between the two suburbs. The pier is currently being renovated and there are some wonderful old photos here.

Norman Kunkel and cousins c1927

The second photo (above) includes my father, still in his shorts (why?), and two young girls, possibly his cousin Isabelle and a Sydney cousin. Judging on Dad’s age, I’d guess the photo was taken around 1927 or maybe early 1928. My grandfather owned a car at the time so it’s likely they drove out there but when I was a child we used to take the train.

Norman and Kit Kunkel and Belle Bryson

My grandmother (left) and her sister Belle show no indication that they’re planning to swim that day. As good Glasgow-born women they probably didn’t quite know what to do with the sea.

Sandgate carnival
SANDGATE CARNIVAL. (1928, September 26). The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 – 1933), p. 3. Retrieved January 12, 2013, from

Here are a couple of stories found on Trove which reveal how much excitement the place had in those days. Oops, realised I uploaded the same image twice -now corrected, sorry.

Sandgate Progress Association
The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 – 1933), Thursday 17 November 1927, page 24
Google map of Shorncliffe and Sandgate.
Google map of Shorncliffe and Sandgate.

Author: cassmob

I'm a Queenslander by birth and after nearly 20 years in the Northern Territory I've returned to my home state. I've been researching my Queensland ancestors for nearly 30 years and like most Aussies I'm a typical "mongrel" with English, Irish, Scottish and German ancestry.

30 thoughts on “Sepia Saturday 159 A family day at the beach 1927”

  1. I wonder whether my paunch would look big in one of those old costumes too. I jumped when you mentioned Trove as I have discovered it when researching transportation of convicts to Australia and Tasmania.


    1. Yes and it would stick to you as well. I guess it’s easy to forget how recent polyester and man-made fabrics really are. It would be difficult to remain glamorous as your swimsuit sagged around you 😉


      1. You’re right too _I hadn’t even noticed the frill -he must have had some long-johns under the top which I hadn’t noticed even in the original. It shows up far more clearly when it’s clicked on. So I’ve learned something new from this photo!


      2. I was puzzled as well and took the photo to the largest I could…I wonder if it’s a band at the end of the under pants that has become shapeless with age… as you find in some t shirt necklines etc. I doubt very much if any man in those days would wear a ruffle at the edge of his pants.

        A great post, bringing back memories of how it was… My Dad had a pair of woollen maroon togs/shorts with a white belt. I still can see him standing in the water fishing when I was very young. This was one of the times when my mother was reasonably well and we did go fishing and boating, mostly in the lake (now a lagoon) that we lived beside. Happy memories.
        I so remember the pier here as well, though not till the 1960’s.


      3. Yes it’s a bit strange isn’t it? I suspect it’s the result of that wool stretching but who knows. Glad it brought back happy memories for you. I don’t really remember the pier in the sense of specific memories, more a vibe-type memory if that makes sense. Mum used to meet her girlfriend and son there, with me, when I was about 3 or 4.


  2. What great photos and family information. In Oregon, we have a little town called seaside that has rides and a promenade boardwalk. It used to be much nicer before all the huge hotels made their mark. Thanks for sharing!

    Kathy M.


    1. That sounds delightful Kathy -I love the idea of a place called Seaside with rides etc. Actually rides and boardwalks aren’t too common here partly because with surf they would all get washed away. To me a beach isn’t a beach without surf, including the one that’s nearby. Doesn’t the influx of big hotels make an unpleasant difference, though I suppose it has to be said that the added tourists are probably what keeps small places alive. Pauleen


  3. I think we all look at our photographs of parents and grandparents in the old type costumes and think how uncomfortable they must have been. Thank goodness for modern materials – and for us up in the north in the midst of Winter, for heated swimming pools.


    1. Not only how uncomfortable they were Alan, but how “covered” they were. Down Under at the moment, the thought of heated pools is actually of our own back yards -inbuilt heating from the sun …sorry will make you jealous 🙂


  4. All of these Sepia Saturday posts with descriptions of woolen bathing suits has left me wondering too. Were they ever made of cotton fabric? Certainly would have eliminated the itch factor, but perhaps not as sturdy. Thanks for sharing these great family photos.


  5. What a great collection of photographs Pauleen! Many weekends when I was a child living in Brisbane were spent picnicking and swimming at Sandgate or Shorncliffe. I seem to recall an outdoor roller skating rink or perhaps that was Redcliffe? You are very fortunate to have these priceless pictures.


    1. Thanks Sharn. I can’t recall the roller skating rink but then I don’t think we went there as I got older -we didn’t have a car and with dad working shift-work I suppose we never got round to catching the train. Maybe someone else will remind us whether it was there or Redcliffe. Yes I am very lucky -although my paternal grandparents died a long time ago I only recently was given them by my mother.


    1. Thanks Marion….saved us all an internet search when time permitted;-) How interesting that the ice skating champ trained at the roller skating rink. I’m sure friends of mine would have gone there but I never did -a bit off my beaten path. I wonder how many people remember the old ice skating rink at Mowbray Park, South Brisbane? As far as I know it was the only one in Brisbane until the Olympic rink was opened at Acacia Ridge around 1980. I used to love going to Mowbray Park in school holidays and fortuitously it was even on my bus line. Last time I looked there was remarkably little about it on Trove -news or images. Perhaps worth another search on my part.


    1. hi Peter, tucked away here in the far north we’ve had the unusual experience of being one of the cooler places in Australia- believe me, that doesn’t happen often, and we’ve also had clear skies. At the moment it’s quite windy and the monsoon seems to be hovering. It’s nice to have rain storms at this time of year.


    1. Thanks Kat…I’ve always thought I didn’t have suitable photos but it turns out I do have some that suit 😉 Yep, glad I don’t have to wear one of those suits revealing all my flabby bits.


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