Part of a group of six photographs depicting the Rolfe family of Elsternwick on camping holidays with the pop-up caravan trailer built by motor body builder Charles W. Rolfe.

Charles William Rolfe was born at Maryborough, central Victoria, on the 8th September 1878. After schooling he trained as a apprentice coachbuilder with the local firm of Martin, Millgate & Cosstick, who had opened a coachworks in High Street, Maryborough, in 1890. As part of his training, C.W. Rolfe built a detailed scale model of a horse-drawn dog cart or buggy (now held in the Museum Victoria collections - ST 023999 ), which he exhibited at several local agricultural shows, between 1898 and 1902.

Charles moved to Melbourne in the early 1900s and found work as a motor body trimmer with a firm in South Melbourne. He married Mabel Tassell in 1913, and they settled in Elsternwick, raising two children - Mabel Dorie (born 1913) and Victor Charles (born 1919). Charles later established his own motor body building business that operated at Elsternwick and Richmond from 1923 to 1938.

Aside from his business activities, Charles turned his skills to a variety of domestic projects, building a large timber sideboard and a radiogram entertainment unit for their home. In the mid 1920s, he designed and built a camping trailer, which in many ways was a prelude to modern camper trailer designs, incorporating such features as a pop-up roof and two foldout beds that could be extended on either side of the trailer. The family used the camping trailer for family holidays to places throughout Victoria. Charles purchased a DeSoto car that was used for towing the camper van and built a wooden boat that fitted neatly on top of the van.

Description of Content

The Rolfe family camp site taken during an annual camping holiday at St Leonards on the Bellarine Peninsula over the Christmas break in 1937. The campsite is situated on the edge of a small glade of coastal ti-trees and it appears that the sea can be seen in the background. In the centre is a pop-up camping trailer/caravan built by Charles W. Rolfe in the mid 1920s, which has beds that fold outwards on either side. The camping trailer is supported on metal stands resting on blocks of wood. There is a rear door in the camping trailer which has a flywire screen in the top half and is closed. In front of the camping trailer doorway is a wooden box used as a step and beside it a kerosene hurricane lamp and several cooking pots on the ground. Between the camper trailer and a tree is a small washstand or table with a metal basin on it. To the right of the camping trailer is an A-frame canvas tent with the front door flaps tied open. Inside the tent are two stretcher type camp beds. There is another tent behind the camping trailer and to the left is the family's motor car. In the foreground is a large clump of sword grass. The camping trailer has a registration number plate fixed to it which reads "VIC 143636".

Physical Description

Digital copy of a photograph.

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