MacRobertson and the Motor Car
Throughout his life, MacRobertson maintained a passion for the latest innovations in transport.
He loved his horses, participated in the bicycle craze and was one of the earliest adopters of the motor car. He purchased his first car, a French Rochet in 1902 and later bought an Oldsmobile, pictured above.
There was a large garage in the factory grounds to house the firm’s fleet of motor vehicles. When the first cars were imported into Victoria, there was no specific motor car legislation until 1909. Prior to this, charges relating to the control of vehicles (horse and carts included) were mostly discretionary. The higher speed capabilities of cars meant that pedestrians had to modify the way they used the roads in order to avoid injury. MacRobertson was the first driver in Victoria to be involved in a road fatality.
On Friday 25th August 1905, The Argus newspaper reported that Macpherson Robertson had run over a man at the corner of Gertrude and Nicholas Streets. The man was placed into the car and driven to the nearby Melbourne hospital, but was declared dead on arrival. He was identified as Thomas Hall, a widower who worked at the Messers J. and T. Muir Iron Foundry on Leveson Street, North Melbourne. The inquest into the accident found that Hall had been drunk and that MacRobertson was not responsible for the accident.
MacRobertson was keen to demonstrate the potential of motor vehicles in the Australian outback and in 1928 he initiated the Round Australia Expedition where an Oldsmobile and two Karrier trucks branded with MacRobertson advertising set out to circumnavigate Australia on 12th May. The expedition left from the steps of Parliament House in Melbourne and returned on 12th September 1928. The trucks were stocked with cinematic equipment to provide locals in remote areas with entertainment and MacRobertson products to capture a new market. Images from the expedition show Indigenous audiences posing with the trucks and MacRobertson confectionary. On board the expedition was an operator from the Amalgamated Wireless Company who broadcast radio shows from each isolated area, providing listeners with a new insight into the Australian outback. The progress of the expedition through each region was documented by ‘The Recorder’ in a segment called ‘Motoring Notes’. The trip demonstrated the feasibility of motor vehicles in the outback, although many pictures document multiple incidents of the trucks getting bogged on unsealed roads.
Confectionery: Past and Present
The White City
Walking the White City video
The Marketing Man
The Marketing Man Video
MacRobertson's Horses Video
The Cycling Craze
The Cycling Craze Video
MacRobertson and the Motor Car
The MacRobertson Legacy
Mac.Robertson Girls' High School video
MacRobertson Land, Antarctica
Old Gold Airplane
Story education resources
Education MacRobertson's Confectionery Factory - Education Kit
The MacRobertson's Confectionery Factory education kit has been designed for grades 2 and 3 and looks at themes such as 'the past in the present' and 'community history'.
Key themes include:
1. Historical buildings and monuments
2. Victorian industry and the workforce
3. Technology and transport
4. Advertising and design
5. Local history
Teachers and students use the kit in conjunction with the MacRobertson videos, images and stories available on Culture Victoria to complete a range of activities aligning with key historical skills such as:
1. Distinguishing between the past, present and future
2. Posing questions about the past using sources provided
3. Exploring a range of sources about the past
4. Identifying and comparing features of objects from the past and present
5. Exploring a point of view
6. Developing a narrative about the past
7. Using a range of communication forms (oral, graphic, written, role play) and digital technologies