“The first true canteen that the club had was affectionately known as the caravan. It was built by my uncle, Donald Westrup, out of an old box trailer. A wooden floor was laid down then a frame built on top with sheets of galvanised steel forming the sides and roof. The door was wooden and on the side was a push-out flap that would open up and brace into place with two steel uprights. Inside along the side with the flap was a counter.
Everyone who worked in the caravan seemed to have a great time but, being a trailer, the canteen did have some stability issues. When the ladies (note back in those days it was usually mums) moved to one end at the same time the caravan would tilt and everyone would have to spread out to balance it out again.
Nothing was ever stored in the canteen. Dad had a bright yellow Holden Kingswood that we would load up on a Friday night and then unload into the canteen every Saturday morning, then reload to take home in the afternoon.
There was no electricity or flowing water. Water came from a water barrel that we would have to carry to and from a distant tap.
The only hot food and water came from a port-a-gas stove that would cook hot dogs and boil the kettle to fill the push pump thermos that would provide tea and coffee (instant of course).
The only drinks available were soft drinks (water was never bottled back then): Coke, Fanta, Leeds Lemonade, Tab Cola and Tresca were the original the original drinks, later adding Mello Yellow and replacing Tab with Diet Coke. They were stored in drums of ice kept under the counter. The ice was made at home using ice cream containers filled with tap water.
Apart from the hot dogs, packets of potato chips and a great lollie selection were what was offered. Big coffee jars with spearmint leaves, milk bottles, bananas, hard jubes, raspberries, frogs (red and green) chocolate buddies, freckles and caramel swirls were 1c each. Musk sticks and fruit sticks were in boxes and were 2c each. It was great to go up with 20c and select them one at a time to fill your bag.
One of the big money spinners was the cake board. Mothers would cook cakes (my mum and Aunty June were regular contributors) and donate them to the club. We would then sell tickets – I think there were 25 numbers for 20c each. What started with one or two cakes each week sometimes would go to five or six, with supporters from other clubs searching for tickets when they would visit our canteen.
Near the canteen was a 10-gallon drum punched full of holes with the top cut off. This was where the rubbish would go. Us kids left would collect chip packets and long sticks because at the end of the day, dad would light it up to get rid of the rubbish. Chip packets would then go on the end of the stick to be placed over the fire and shrunk down to miniature size. I had a great collection.
Eventually the caravan would reach the end of its useful life and we would move into a building with electricity and running water. I don’t have a photo of the caravan but it will remain a huge part of what made this club what it is today.”
– Graeme Westrup
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