Family Names

Monday, 26 February 2018



Brucknell, Victoria, Australia

Living in the country (or anywhere) presented special challenges in the 1930/40s for families cars were a luxury or in the case of a farm an alternative to a horse.

"The school fronted the main Timboon-Nullawarre road, between Taylor's road and Hayne's road."[i] It was on the same road as Uncle Norm’s farmhouse. Before the Todman's arrived in the area the local school had 12 boys enrolled (1936). The year that Judy (1838/9) joined the school two other girls (sisters) also enrolled.

For the first few days Myrtle, their mother,  walked with them each morning when they set off on the half hour journey from the house to school.  Soon, however, the children learned to walk all the way to school it was just the two of them, brother and sister. It was a long walk on the dirt roads, and some mornings it would be so cold that the puddles on the road would be frosted over.  They learned to take off their shoes and socks before jumping in the puddles to break the ice so that they wouldn’t get in trouble for damaging their shoes with the water.[ii]  Eventually, as they got older they were able to ride their bicycles to school.

Photographer unknown, Warwick & Judy Todman leaving for school, 1939. Brucknell Victoria Australia. Myrtle Sharp's Private Photo  Collection currently held by  Sandra Williamson[B068]

Everyone is up early on a dairy farm for milking, there are no spare hands to mollycoddle anyone, so getting yourself to school by bike was a way of life. 

Photographer, Brucknell State School whole School Photo, Brucknell, Victoria, Australia  circa 1941-42. Annotated image [B164annotated]

Terang, Victoria, Australia

When Judy’s mother remarried and they all moved to Terang, both Warwick and Judy attended the local school.  The ride was not as easy, the road was rutted and uncomfortable to ride along.
Terang was a much larger school, instead of 12 students for the entire school, there were 20 or 30 children per class.

Back to Terang Committee (Vic.).  1950,  Back to Terang and district, Easter 1950  Back to Terang Committee Terang, Vic  <>  p.24(cropped image)

The family lived in Terang for a year, after which they relocated to Camperdown, Victoria.

Camperdown, Victoria, Australia

According to Judy Camperdown was much prettier than Terang, but the ride to school was also  much harder due to the hilly landscape,
Photographer unknown, Going to school in Camperdown, Warwick and Judy Todmand with Mt Leura in the background, circa 1940s, Camperdown Victoria Australia  [b075]

Both Judy and Warwick rode to High School each day.  Judy loved the high school there were lots of people to make friends with and plenty of things to do.

Photographer unknown, Camperdown High School, 1954, Camperdown, Victoria Australia  courtesy  Camperdown and District Historical Society

Getting around as a young woman.

Bicycles seemed childish when compared to motorized bikes. 
Photographer unknown, Myrtle Taylor watching Judy & Warwick Todman with their cousin Ken Sleight on his motorbike, circa 1953,  Camperdown, Victoria Australia. (image cropped) [b084]
Real liberation came later when everyone could ride motorbikes, it was much easier to travel over larger distances.

Leaving home and Travelling

In 1954 Judy moved to the city after working three years in the local bank to study nursing.  It was an exciting time for Judy and she enjoyed the excitement and comradeship that nursing offered.

Photographer unknown, Nursing Group 12 of the Royal Melbourne Hospital & Association Hospital School of Nursing” circa 1954/1956, location unidentified [T321]

After graduating she bought a Vesper motorbike like many of her nursing friends

Photographer unknown, Judy Todman with her vesper, circa 1957, Camperdown Victoria Australia Myrtle Sharp's Private Photo  Collection currently held by  Sandra Williamson [b209]
In 1957 she rode her bike from Melbourne to Sydney and caught a ship to New Zealand taking her bike with her.  In between earning money as a lab technician Judy and her friends toured around New Zealand for almost a year before returning to Australia and a more conventional life.

[i] VPRS 14519/P/0001 unit 26 Primary Schools 2771, 2773
[ii] Judith Williamson, in personal discussion with author, 30 July 2016


  1. Good for Judy -quite an adventure, traveling around for a year. I bet they had a great time.

  2. I cant help wondering how many kids today cycle to school?Not many ,I would imagine....

  3. What a wonderful life. I really enjoyed the stories and the photos.

  4. It is hard to imagine children traveling a long distance on unpaved roads alone. I'm sure having bicycles to ride made the trip much more enjoyable. It's fun to see so many photos of people on bicycles and read about each photo.


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