Wednesday, 20 September 2017

The Old Swaggie of Wedderburn

When I think of old swagmen from our country's distant past, the photo above is the sort of image that my mind conjures up. There was always something mysterious about them. Like they had no name and didn't come from anywhere in particular and weren't planning on going anywhere special. I remember my grandmother relaying stories of swaggies who visited her shack in the bush during the Great Depression and how they would often 'scare the blazes' out of her and her siblings. They're such a fascinating component of that time when life was so difficult and every day proved a challenge just to survive.

I recently discovered an interesting account of such a swagman in one of the library's resources. Hollie Rees (nee Knight) was born in Warby Street Campbelltown around 1924, but spent her childhood at Wedderburn. She describes her memories as a small child and that of a swaggie well-known at Wedderburn during the height of the Depression. It's compelling reading. Rather than me summarizing it, I thought I would provide her full description in this post. I've no doubt you'll find it enjoyable.

Once a year there used to be an old swaggie. I used to love that old swaggie. He used to come up opposite where the church is, there used to be an old building called the dump. It was a big square place where people that didn't have a lot of fruit used to put it there and the man in the truck used to call there first and he knew if it was Rice's fruit he didn't have to Rice's, if it was Thompson's fruit he didn't have to go to Thompson's or wherever, and the swaggie used to camp in there.

He had this beautiful cattledog. He came there every year for about four or five years and we all used to race up after school and we'd see the smoke from his fire and we'd say oh, he's back. We never ever found out his name. His dog was blue, and he would disappear the same as he arrived. He'd have a rest and about three or four days later he would just disappear. We never knew where he went or where he came from, but he was a nice old bloke.

He carried his bedroll rolled up, it was a grey blanket with a red stripe, and everything rolled up in it with his billy hanging off the side. It was over his back with two leather straps and practically everything he owned was in that. He just slept on the ground with his dog to keep him warm and he had a bigger billy as well, that was all he had. To us he was ancient, but I would say he may have been maybe his mid-fifties , early sixties, with a beard. He was ruggedly built with vivid blue eyes, I'll always remember those eyes. They would look right at you, he was real happy, he was always laughing. Just happy. He always used to greet us with "Hello kids, been to school again. He'd say "Good, learn what you can".

The old billy was used as a cookpot, I think it used to be stew cooking in there, but what he ate the dog ate. I have never ever seen him go to a shop or anything, he carried it all with him in that bedroll.


"Why Campbelltown?" Interviews


Tuesday, 12 September 2017

The Way We Were- Part 5

The next series of then and now photographs were taken around Campbelltown and Bradbury on September 11 2017.

The top photo is of an unknown street parade moving down Lindesay Street in Campbelltown.

The same spot today near the corner of Dumaresq and Lindesay Streets.
 Garnet Jennings and Frank Monaghan at St. John's Prepatory College for Boys. Photo taken in 1926.
91 years later and little has changed here. It's now St. Patrick's College for Girls.
Newly built houses in the 1960s in the new suburb of Sherwood Hills.
The same scene in 2017. Sherwood Hills later changed its name to Bradbury. The street is Lawn Avenue.
Quondong taken in 1960
Today Qoundong is the Tourist Information Centre. The environment around it has changed dramatically since the 1960 photograph was taken.

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Building Our First High Rise

High rise development in our city is a topic that is currently dividing opinion. The latest controversial proposal is the construction of high rise next to the old CBC Bank and later Macarthur Advertiser building in Queen Street. However the arrival of high rise to Campbelltown dates back to the early 1960s with the building of Campbelltown Council's brash new administration centre. The library has in its collection a number of fascinating photographs of the construction of this building that I wanted to share with you.

The administration centre opened on Saturday, 28th November, 1964. It was easily the highest building in the town and was seen for kilometres around Campbelltown. The design was seen as "providing a strong vertical emphasis to the Civic Centre". Mayor Fraser at the time called it "a symbol of our faith in the future". The first stage of the Master Plan was prepared in early 1961. The first sod for construction was turned in June 1963 and by November the steel frame had begun to take shape. Work continued on through 1964 and by July the building was near completion.

The following photographs show the various stages of construction. They were taken by Jim Waugh. It's interesting to also look at the built environment around the administration building, most of which has disappeared.

This is the earliest construction photo we have in our collection and would've been taken in late 1963. The photo is looking towards Broughton Street. In the background to the right are the old ambulance station and to the left of the construction is the old milk depot. Both buildings no longer exist.

The next photograph above shows workman pouring concrete. These are the days before WHS became an issue! This would be in early 1964. In the background is the milk depot which stood on the adjacent to the railway line in Broughton Street. It was burnt down in 1969.

The above image is looking south west with the railway station in the background.

This one shows a lone worker perched precariously on a steel girder. The view is looking east and shows the old Macquarie Cinema in the background that was demolished in 1979.


McGill, Jeff 1999
Campbelltown: A modern history 1960-1999
Campbelltown: Campbelltown and Airds Historical Society

Campbelltown Ingleburn News Tuesday, December 1, 1964

Friday, 1 September 2017

Campbelltown - Remembering our Pop Culture

Campbelltown City Library is celebrating History Week from the 2nd - 10th September. This year the theme is "Pop Culture", and we remember some of the trends that have helped to shape Campbelltown over the years. From the advent of live entertainment at the Catholic Club, the transition from balls and debuts to discos and nightclubs, leisure activities including roller skating and swimming, and the changes from humble milk bars to more sophisticated dining, we take you on a trip down memory lane. Please drop in to the H.J.Daley Library to take a look at our display celebrating Campbelltown's Pop Culture this week.

Friday, 25 August 2017

Our Own Pool

It was a long time coming but the people of Campbelltown finally got their own pool in 1967. There was now no need for a hike out to the Woolwash or a drive to the river at Menangle or having to be satisfied with a cool down from the garden hose.

A pool had been planned by council as early as 1960. The following year a swimming pool committee was formed and there were expectations that building of the pool would be started by 1963. When the then Town Clerk Harley Daley was asked by Alderman John Marsden when he thought work would start he replied: "The Summer of 1963". However for a number of years continuous arguments raged over where, when and how it should be built. Finally in 1965, with the help of the Campbelltown Apex Club, council set up a pool construction fund, and six months later a pool was announced as the next fundraising project of the Fisher's Ghost Festival.

Bradbury Pool in 1970 (Geoff Eves Collection)

Deciding on a location then proved to be a problem with the north and south of the LGA staking their claims. It was eventually decided to build in the new suburb of Sherwood Hills which is today's Bradbury. Anticipation in the town was high during the lead up to the opening. Cars would continuously drive around the site checking the construction progress. It was hoped and planned that the pool would be opened in December so the population could cool off during that summer. However they had to wait until March and then suffer the disappointment of a cold weekend for the opening. On Saturday March 11 1967 the Campbelltown Swimming Centre was opened. It was an Olympic-size swimming pool and, at the time, the only nine-lane pool in NSW. It cost $304,000. Despite the freezing wind and cloud for the day after the opening, 1152 people poured through the gates for a dip in the new pool.

Taken in the Summer of 1971-72 (Clarice Stretch Collection)

On the 12th September 1987 a new heated indoor swimming pool was opened at the Centre by Mayor Bryce Regan. The official opening was originally set down for August 15, however for several days prior to the opening  there was a malfunction in the sand filter, causing a major constructional fault.

The official opening of the indoor swimming pool in 1987

In 2011 the pool was re-opened and re-named after an extensive $1.2 million upgrade. It was named after former Campbelltown Mayor Gordon Fetterplace who died in 2008 after a battle with cancer.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Minto Public School - then and now

This year marks a very special year in the history of Minto Public School. Turning 150 years old, the school is the oldest public school in the district of Campbelltown.
The school had had three locations. The first was on a small portion of land donated to the Catholic Church by Mr J. Pendergast, (who owned a rendering works on his 50 acres at Saggart Field, Minto) for the purpose of building a school. In June 1866 the small Roman Catholic School opened, called "Saggart Field School". The one acre block was on the western side of the railway line, on the south-east corner of Campbelltown Road and Redfern Road (now Ben Lomond Road). The first teacher, Mrs Clarke was unpaid, received free lodging at the school, and was supported in whatever way the families of the pupils could manage. Mrs Clarke wrote to the Council of Education to enquire about receiving a salary, but because the Council of Education could not give government funds to denominational schools, arrangements were made in 1867 to transfer the school from the Catholic Church to the government. The school was known as Saggart Field Provisional School for it's first eighteen years.
Due to severe overcrowding, and the inadequacies of the building, a new, single classroom school building with an adjoining teacher's residence was completed in 1882 on the corner directly opposite the old school building. In 1884 the school was renamed Minto Public School. At his second location the school grew over the years, with the numbers of students increasing and the addition of a garden, cricket pitch and tennis court.
In 1898, due to the number of children living in East Minto, many of whom did not attend at all, East Minto Public School was opened in Hansen's Road, East Minto, on the corner of Hereford Place. Unfortunately in 1947 the East Minto Public School burnt down. The Department of Education decided to resume a two and a half acre block on the edge of Minto village to build a new, larger Minto Public School to take pupils from both Minto and East Minto. This new Minto Public School on the corner of Pembroke Road and Redfern Road opened in 1954, where it still stands today.
The centenary of the school was celebrated in 1967 during the headmastership of Mr Arthur Jones. Mr Jones, a keen historian and photographer took the photo below during the centenary year.

(Jones Collection. (Campbelltown City Library, Local Studies Collection)
Minto PS students, staff, and Campbelltown Library staff recreated the photo in 2017

Written by Claire Lynch

"Truth and Courage : commemorating the first 125 years of Minto Public School 1867-1992" by Laurie Porter
Campbelltown City Library "Our past in pictures" photo database

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

50 years ago today - raining cats, dogs and shoes

Tuesday August 8 1967. The Campbelltown district had just experienced an astounding 17 cm of rain. Heavy winds blew down trees and a number of narrow escapes were reported. Electricity and telephone services had also gone down. Minto residents in Lincoln Street took to placing household items on tables as a precaution. A large bulldozer which had been working the previous day nearby was found completely submerged.

At Glenfield, water inundated Railway Parade and although cars could get through many stalled. Work ceased too on the electrification of the railway line as the deluge prevented both the "wire" train and "work" train from continuing.

Against this watery backdrop, Campbelltown police reported a number of car accidents during the flood but "most thankfully were not serious". An accident that occurred just prior to the storms involved a car crashing into Bunbury-Curran Creek, Macquarie Fields. The occupants were nowhere to be seen but the vehicle had previously been noticed at the scene of a burglary at White’s Shoe Store in Ingleburn. When towed from the creek a large quantity of shoes and boots washed into the water from within. News soon spread and the spot became hugely popular with swimmers, many of whom were soon sporting brand new, if sodden, footwear or as the newspaper put it "booty."

Bunbury Curran creek in flood in 1975. Photographer: A. Gleave.

written by Michael Sullivan

Source: Campbelltown Ingleburn News 8 August 1967 p 1,4, 9