About PEG IS 40!


There is a large scribe of white graffiti painted onto a train bridge above Burwood Highway in Upper Ferntree Gully, Victoria, Australia, which reads “Peg is 40!” This piece of text has existed in the same place ever since I can remember. It has fascinated me ever since I was first able to read it. I am surprised that the text has not been weathered away, further graffiti has not overwritten it, and that it hasn’t been removed by council.

I find comfort in the knowledge that in this time of rapid cultural transformation and global pressures, Peg is still and has always been 40. There is a certain myth surrounding Peg. Peg is anonymous; Peg is immortal, and timeless.

If I mention “Peg is 40!” to someone else who has lived in that part of the Ranges, they will understand what I am talking about. The shared understanding does not only connect with the familiarity of the phrase “Peg is 40!”, but also through an association of place in which the text is inscribed, beyond a published, legislated or definitive title. It is an understood “sense of place” that connects directly to the local community within it. “Peg is 40!” belongs to the community.

35 thoughts on “About PEG IS 40!

  1. I felt a swell of emotion as I read your “Peg is 40″piece Brydie. Perhaps because as you stated and like many in the area, it has a place in our history. To know Peg might evaporate part of this emotion and mystery, so i’m happy not to know everything about Peg, but perhaps just a little bit more, please!

  2. My mother wrote ‘Peg is 40’ 19 years ago. Do you want to know why? And who peg is ???

  3. I think Peg came about for me when I was 6 or 7, and when I told my mother this, she said – ‘Well that’s probably when you learnt how to read’ but I dispute this, I swear I feel like Peg came about in the early 90’s…and has always been there since, for me it’s also the sight where I was first told to kiss my hand and touch the roof of the car when I drive under the bridge (although a passenger at the time), this is good luck thing. I do it under all sorts of bridges now.

  4. Ahhh yes, “Peg is 40”, this takes me way back to the 90s! I vividly recall when it appeared on the bridge one day, and though it has faded over the years I still check every now and then that PEG is still there. And she is. I’m sure she always will be there.
    I really enjoy reading these comments (especially the hot tip from Stevee!) because it just really demonstrates a link between so many people over such a simple thing! If you’re from the Hills, ya gotta know about PEG! She truly is a part of our history.

  5. It’s funny how a simple act of graffiti can make me smile. Living so far away from home these days (and “home” will ALWAYS be defined as those beautiful hills I grew up in), when i return, regardless of what has changed throughout the years, Peg is still there.
    Peg may be faded but never forgotten.
    Peg is a million fond memories.
    Peg is timeless.
    More importantly, Peg is home.

  6. I recall my son was about 12, so it must have been 1994, and he had a skate/ska punk radio show on 3MDR. We had been seeing the sign for several years by then. As we drove under it one day, he said to me “If I ever have my own punk band, I’m going to call it “PEG is 40”.

    So far I haven’t heard of any Hills band choosing that name, but what a great idea!

    A bit of local history.

    Have you thought about having the graffiti classified, so that the railway people don’t remove it one day? That would be a really sad thing.

    Stevee, I hope you can tell us more?

  7. I always thought that the graffiti was written upside down by someone on the tracks.

    Since then, a barrier has been erected, and thankfully the graffiti was not removed when those works took place. I hope it never is. A paint company could get good mileage out of what kind of paint was used, as it has endured so long….

  8. Haha quite speechless at the moment it seems that my own mum has become an urban myth- my mum was nicknamed ‘peg’ years ago as a reference to peg from married with children simply because she had big hair and never cooked but made sandwiches whenever there was a get together and what not….almost 20 years ago now my auntie painted ‘peg is 40’ on the uppergully bridge for her birthday for a bit of a joke I guess and that’s how it came about….

  9. Oh btw I might add that ‘karen’ my mothers quite deservant of the myth like status this has generated over the years, although almost 20 years later peg still beholds the very same qualities that drove my auntie joe and another anonymous person let’s say craigus to hang like bats and acknowledge a birthday. Peg embodies the true spirit of the hills, down to earth but young at heart I hope that locals still close or afar take note that peg is an icon worthy of your an imagination….

  10. Peg really is an enigma – and thanks Cody for sharing – I would love to know the outcome of this project. I’ve always wondered if she still lived around the area… I hope it doesn’t get deleted…

  11. I agree it appeared in the early 1990’s around the time I also turned 40 which was in 1992. I clearly remember it was painted in blue paint which has faded to white. I always check to see it’s still there when I drive under the bridge.

  12. Cody! HAHAHA! This has made me laugh sooo much!! Was it Stevee’s mum? Oh Karen what a legend! Have you told her? Can I run across the street and tell her now?
    I knew it was you talking about your mum as soon as you said big hair and sandwiches!
    What a joy reading this has been. “Peg is 40” is a memory we’ve all had, and I didn’t even know I knew the lady!
    Amy Elliott

  13. I love the link this has created between people who grew up in the hills!!!

    Great work Jo and Karen for creating this story, to Brydie for bringing this story to light and to Stevee and Cody for bringing this story closer to home…

  14. It is so interesting to read all the to and fros from the hill folk talking about ‘Peg is 40’! I have travelled most of my life, so can’t say what its like to know one place inside out and be a part of the everyday and long term unravelling relationship with a particular place. But from an outsider’s perspective, considering ‘Peg is 40’ I have always found obscure graffiti (such as ‘Peg..’ ) to remind me of the lyrics ‘the words of the prophets are written on subway walls’. This is an idea that I love – that philosophy, apocalyptic predictions and everyday insights aren’t necessarily to be found in libraries or institutions or organisations…but scrawled on the streets and subway walls – public places. And public places where these ideas can live on in all their weird and wonderful manifestations – such as is described in this blog.

    P.s. the lyrics mentioned are by Simon & Garfunkel in ‘The Sound of Silence’ (yes I was raised by hippies)

  15. Liz Reid, I thought it was all in my imagination that the sign used to be blue! I’m glad someone else remembers that too!

  16. I feel like ‘peg is 40’ has been there my whole entire life. I remember reading it every time we drove down the mountain. I always wondered who Peg was, how old she was at that point in time and whether she was still alive…
    I love the fact that you can say Peg is 40 to anyone in the hills and they know exactly what you are talking about. It makes me feel like I am apart of a special club, that knows a special language…

  17. I was a Sherbrooke Shire Councillor when Peg turned 40. Soon after the words appeared Peg was subject of a general business session at a Council meeting. The matter was ‘noted’ with no further action as the responsibility rested with Victorian Railways, now Vic Track. As the years have passed Peg has become a Dorian Gray. The picture ages but Peg is still 40. Long may she stay 40!

  18. this is a first @ last commentry regarding peg is 40.from one who knows. This is year 20 the message has been on the bridge. It was put in place with love @ a sense of adventure by a group of people to whom `the normal` options of expression, (ie) lalala happy blahblah, were never going to cut it.We always thought outside the square, and embraced originality @ honesty. Great to have this mythical interest @ possible friendship that can flow on from a shared interest. Take away from this the same sense of individuality we had @ be proud of your difference.Sadly,not all participents are here 20 years on, @ it is in a friends memory l write this , to advise anyone interested to hang onto special people, be it friends or family, you know their worth, so do not let minor hassles turn to major ones,l made that mistake @ never got to say goodbye, so R.I.P mac, you naughty instigator!!! K aka Peg

  19. It is the Peg is 40! bridge. The graffiti has almost come to own the bridge. Like many people, I smile whenever I drive past and I see that Peg is still 40 and that no one has ever changed that. I point it out to visitors.That’s our bridge. It belongs to our community. Peg is 40! gives it life and a sense of being.

  20. The ‘Peg Is 40’ signs were painted at midnight in July 1992. I painted them as a finale to putting ‘Peg Is 40’ and ‘The Sandwich Queen Is 40’ signs on every lamp post and significant tree, from Belgrave South to Upper Ferntree Gully. My Friend had turned 40 and didn’t want anyone to know, so I knew I had to tell everybody. I didn’t use her name for obvious reason’s but used the name Peg ,as myself and a few others called her that after Peg Bundy in ‘Married With Children’. The lady never cooked (just like Peg Bundy), made sandwiches instead (like Peg Bundy) had high hair, make-up, shoes etc., (like Peg Bundy). The signs were painted in a bright blue paint (Dulux) and retained their colour for quite a while, until they faded and are now white. After checking to see what time the last train would pass and after finishing the bottle of vodka, I ran along the tracks( in my leopard skin stiletto’s) with my paint and while my accomplice held my feet, I hung over the bridge and painted ‘Peg Is 40’ on either side. I knew that Peg would be coming down ‘the mad mile’ the following day and would be sure to see the signs, so made them as bold as I could.
    Peg and I were both born and raised in the hills, went to Upwey State School and to Upwey High and our children have done the same. Peg still lives in Belgrave and my heart will always be in the hills, although I have since moved. Im happy to know that the signs are in people’s memories of growing up in the hills and I hope that they are retained as is.
    I won’t name who Peg is. She was always a very exclusive person and still is and I won’t name who I am, as I’m sure there is still the policeman who was hovering that night,( but wasn’t quick enough) dying to get his hands on me!

  21. What an entrancing dialogue – unravelling the mystery that many of us have pondered as we travel down the mad mile from the hills to the flatlands. Thank you to the originators for their candid comments. Magical! Peg is 40 will always take me back to the days when we went to the FTG market for fruit and vegetables on the weekend, returning home with the kids in the back of the car eating hot cinnamon donuts from the market van. And wondering who is Peg, what did she think of her birthday message, and where is she now? It is great to hear the story behind it after all these years.

  22. Driving home to the flatlands after a day of teaching at Upwey High School I would always see “PEG IS 40!” on the bridge. When it first appeared I wondered who Peg was and how her 40th birthday went and who painted the bridge. Over the years it just became part of the furniture, something I momentarily focused on before I drove under the bridge. Sometimes I would wonder about how Peg was going and how she was aging, seeing she was no longer 40. But on the bridge Peg was always 40, frozen in time.

  23. I remember driving under ‘PEG IS 40’ every morning on our way to primary school. I think i was first impressed by the massive public birthday card. A homage to Peg and her 40 years. I wondered if the author would change it with the years- would i drive past one morning to find out Peg turned 41 over night?
    I wonder how she feels about the sign?
    The aged paint of PEG IS 40 is burnt into my memory, I wonder at the power of the simple gesture, of the writer, creating an unlikely hills icon in the dead of the night.

  24. My brothers and I would race to be the first to say “Peg is 40” as it was bad luck to be the last to acknowledge the diverse graffiti when driving under it in the family car. We have been doing it for as long as it had been around and has eventuated into other games such as race the train when it was good luck to drive under the bridge whilst a train was crossing over it. That area has always had a funny sense to my mother who many years ago planted our family christmas tree in the middle of Upper Ferntree gully station so we could all be together at christmas looking over the hills we grew up in.

  25. guess this is the july 20 year anniversary. What a great movement Brydie formed to involve all our memories. Yep. l am 60 this year, @ love the suggestion of the bridge being my massive, once in a lifetime, big fat metal, birthday card. Yeh, l am still here @ just like the paint. have gotten a bit faded @ a bit worn out. Also like the paint, l am endurable, can still demand a bit of attention, and remind all of their better memories. My PEG advice is the same as 20 years ago, Be honest @ true to yourself,keep your moral standards high. Be kind. Do not accept mediocrity.Most important, have a sense of humour@ don`t get hung up in drama when you can have a laugh instead. Give up smoking, don`t get addicted to ebay!!!!! (or anything else), blah blah. Appreciate friends that write on bridges!!!!! All the above does not cost money, it is how PEG lives her life @ why she likes herself….. that is priceless…. so hope it works for all of the lovely people reading this @ being involved with Brydie. Oh, @ anonymous… the stilettoblondebombshellcalligrapher!!!!! … l know who you are!!!

  26. Wow what a ride this has been! Absolutely fascinating reading everyone’s stories from trips off the mountain and seeing it as a kid or an adult. The story about how it got there. For me, I must have been in primary school when I first saw it. My story is nothing exciting but it often inspired conversations with my parents in the car, and later in my life when I was driving, my friends. Now a whole new conversation has begun. Love it! Well done PEG and a big well done to Brydie!

  27. I first lived in The Hills nearly 40 years ago and always remember seeing “”Peg is 40″” and wondering about “”Peg””. She is so much part of our history in The Hills. Fantastic Brydie what you have done to link all our memories and tell the story.

  28. (The following comment is not of the opinion of the blog, but an opinion of the author “loving the graffiti scene”. We do not support or condone illegal tagging, but do appreciate unique opinions and personal responses.)
    The words “Peg is 40” I think has shown how many people who would otherwise HATE graffiti begin to respect the culture. Graffiti is a great part of society, and surprisingly a lot of the time it goes unnoticed. Graffiti is important to our society particularly in Melbourne. Artists have the ability to display their art, in a public space for people to see, a public gallery where no one has to pay to enter. You build a profile a, reputation as a graffiti artist through the originality, quantity and quality of your work. This creates a more level playing field. Even though paint on a bridge is different to aerosol can being used to tag, both apply the same principle of graff “getting your work up”.

    So when you next walk past a laneway, public toilets, underpass, Electricity pole, signal box, bus stop, a fence, a bridge, an abandoned building, a train, a street sign, a car park or a wall anywhere take the time to look at the graffiti. There is a distinctive beauty in all graffiti look for it. I encourage anyone to try, because its some of the best fun you will have!

  29. Hi Peg! Yes, I know that you know who your calligrapher is!!!!! We should get together, it’s been a while! Who would have thought that ‘Peg Is 40’ would hold so much interest for so long? There has been so much ‘water under the bridge’ since then! (Do you like that?) If you still have the same phone number, I will ring you. Love to you dear Peg! stillettoblondebonbshellcalligrapher. X

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