Portland Roads - 1950 VIC PENNY’S LEGACY

After the complete civilian evacuation of Cape York during World War II, it was years before people started venturing back into this remote region. From 1948 until 1951, Vic Penny was the only permanent resident living at Portland Roads. Vic’s legacy to the area is his remarkable archive of images taken during his stay here 70 years ago. For posterity, he passed on his collection to Greg at the Café with the hope his record of the era would be maintained and appreciated. The magnificent colour images were taken as 35mm Slides with an early SLR camera. This was at a time when most amateur photographers in the bush, were using the ubiquitous Kodak ‘Box Brownie’.

A Photographic Record BY VIC PENNY

Some of the black and white images are not of high quality, but are very important as a register of the very different way life was lived at Portland Roads back then. There was no corner store and very few camps had the luxury of a kerosene fridge. Carrying rifles was a very normal part of life in remote areas, both for protection and hunting.

Using traditional hunting skills, local indigenous groups made the best of the tides to fish, forage, collect oysters and hunt the highly prized turtle and dugong. Catching dugong required great skill and understanding of their habitat. Proud tribal hunters returning to camp would be admired by kin for their immense hunting skill and herald the beginning of a ‘Kup-Murri’ (feast) for all.

Picture at Back: The Gun Emplacement road is clearly seen on Aylen Hills. Every year the hills were backburnt for community protection.

Picture at Left: Jetty from the old gun emplacement site.

Picture at Right: Vic Penny leads from the front on the Butan Butan Expedition.

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