The Infrastructure Premier
Born in Ballarat in 1908 to first-generation Australian parents of German descent, Henry Edward Bolte went on from reasonably unassuming beginnings to become Victoria's 38th and longest-serving Premier.
His entrepreneurial father - a publican, farmer and prospector - was a stern, but virtuous man who was said to 'rule with a strap'. He attended as a boarder at a religious school in Ballarat which further instilled in him character-building principles that would ultimately define his adult life. Bolte's adolescence is best described as multi-faceted: he was captain of his school football and cricket teams; he was a keen fisher and hunter; he was involved with the local amateur theatrical society; and was secretary of the Skipton Racing Club.
After a brief stint in the armed services as a gunner, artillery instructor and pay clerk, he was discharged in 1943 deemed physically unfit for overseas service, a fact he lamented later in life. Shortly after this event, he attended the Liberal Party's first State council as president of the Meredith branch. He was encouraged to stand for a seat in the Legislative Assembly, but a mediocre campaign owing to his inexperience ultimately led to failure. Determined to secure a second opportunity he took public speaking lessons, and in the 1947 elections won the seat of Hampden, a position which he held until his retirement in 1972.
Bolte was swept to the position of Premier in just 8 short years, defeating John Cain in the 1955 state elections by a large majority. A rift in Cain's Labor Party over trade union influence had caused a swathe of members to split and establish their own party, funneling their second preferences to Bolte's Liberal Party, essentially guaranteeing him victory.
He promised a Government of action and wasted no time on delivering on that promise. Largely regarded as our 'infrastructure premier', he oversaw the development of oil and gas fields in Gippsland, the expansion of power generation in the Latrobe Valley, the construction of the West Gate Bridge, the establishment of Monash and La Trobe universities as well as what was referred to at the time as Melbourne's International "Jetport" at Tullamarine.
His government won re-election an impressive five times under his leadership between 1958 and 1970. In 1972 he made moves to retire with his party ascendant and a chosen successor - Ruper Hamer - in place, his government already poised to continue his legacy, readying for construction on the Melbourne Underground Rail Loop.
Having spent much of his retirement on his rural property in Bamganie he died on the 4th of January 1990, remembered as a true man's man: he enjoyed following the sports he loved, as well as having a drink, a smoke, and a punt. The $75 million dollar Citylink bridge spanning the Yarra River and Docklands precinct was named in his honour, and its 90 metre high silver towers stand in tribute as the gateway to the city from the north.
This is a re-edit of a shot of the Bolte Bridge taken on the +Melbourne Photowalkers
Footscray Road photowalk last winter. I have processed it using Adobe Camera Raw to enhance the punchy colours reflected in the water.