"Picnic" - a strange word that sounds French but perhaps is not. Picnic - a word that evokes a wide range of memories - of lazy Sunday afternoons, of trips to the bush or to the river foreshore, of sandwiches, cold meats and lemonade, of special hampers and rugs, and then of flies and ants, of hide-and-seek in the bush, of scratched legs and bruises, and finally of exhaustion and a sleep in the car on the way home.
The origin of the word is clouded in mystery. It first appears in France in the late 16th century as "pique-nique" but was not adopted in England until after 1800. At first, the idea of a picnic meant a social event for which each guest provided a share of the food. Later this became an outdoor excursion to a place in the country where again friends could meet and provisions be shared.
The J.S. Battye Library of West Australian History contains a wealth of material which illuminates our knowledge of how our forbears relaxed and celebrated. Memories of the humble picnic - as an important meeting place for family and friends - abound in the Pictorial Collection, in the oral history recordings and elsewhere.
"Memories of Picnics" will give you a brief look at the picnic experience in Western Australia in the first half of this century.
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