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Facade conservation and repair works: Over the next few weeks there will be intermittent noise in the La Trobe Reading Room while work is carried out on the external walls. More information

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Victorians on vacation

The Victorians on vacation exhibition celebrated holidays and leisure in Victoria since the 19th century, from sea-bathing to skiing and boating to bush-camping.

The exhibition revealed how our holiday habits have changed over time, reflecting changes in our society, lifestyles and tastes. It traced the postwar rise of the affordable family car, which enabled Victorians to venture further afield, and compared styles of holiday accommodation, from grand 19th-century hotels to fibro beach-shacks and the popular Don caravans.

The exhibition featured many characters and their stories, including:

  • Captain William Kenney, who opened his Bathing Ship for Gentlemen, moored at the end of St Kilda Pier, in 1854. Until 1917, open sea-bathing was illegal and the sexes were strictly confined to separate baths.
  • Alice Manfield, known as Guide Alice, the early 20th-century alpine tour-leader and naturalist who earned fame for her lyrebird studies and caused a stir with her mountaineering trouser-suit.
  • The 1934 arrival of Don Caravans, designed and produced by R Donald Robinson and his family at their factory in Oakleigh. The Don soon became a household name and in 1953 the family opened Greenacres Caravan Park in suburban Springvale.

This exhibition was held from 30 November 2007 to 30 March 2008.

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