Industry and Business
Small businesses like grocers, bakers, and dairies kept the farming communities of the Cockburn district running smoothly, and hotels provided some much-needed respite and leisure. But it was heavy industries like lime-burning, abattoirs, and smelting that brought money and workers into Cockburn and set it up for future prosperity.
The Cockburn district had a unique experience of war, particularly World War Two, as both an agricultural district and one with many military installations around its isolated coastal areas.
Find out more about wartime production, rationing, internment and the home front.
Sport and social lives
The hardworking farmers and labourers of the Cockburn district liked to play hard too, and their leisure time was filled with sports, dances, social clubs, and more. They formed local soccer, AFL, cricket, and tennis clubs with gusto, and trained and raced horses in Hamilton Hill and Jandakot.
The Cockburn district was built by migrants at every stage of its history. Early agricultural land policies encouraged migration to build farms and supply a growing colony, and the gold rush of the 1890s saw Chinese, Afghan, southern and eastern European migrants arrive to try their luck. Many moved into Cockburn temporarily, but many more paved the way for their families and friends to follow them, and built Cockburn into the diverse city it is today.
Buildings and places
Stories about the historical buildings and places around the Cockburn district, including community halls, churches, schools, and public space, as well as the history of all the suburbs in Cockburn.
The Cockburn district grew quickly after World War Two. Find out about the new industries, growing suburbs, and wide array of new residents in a modern district.
The owners of the land that became Cockburn were the Beeliar Nyungar, and they called their land Beeliar Boodjar. When the first Europeans arrived in Western Australia, the Beeliar Nyungar were led by Midgegooroo and Yagan. Some of their language was recorded by an early settler, but for many years afterwards they were neglected and dispossessed by Europeans.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are warned that these articles may contain images of people who are now deceased.
Digitisation of Cockburn's historical collections has been part of several projects over the years. Volunteers helped to scan and catalogue the photographic collection, mostly held at Azelia Ley Museum, and staff at Spearwood Library digitised the audio, video, and document collections, including Cockburn's 1978 local history book, Cockburn: the Making of a Community by Michael Berson.
Cockburn History is a collaborative effort between the Cockburn Libraries, City of Cockburn, and Azelia Ley Homestead Museum.
Azelia Ley Museum
The Azelia Ley Homestead Museum and its associated outbuildings are located in Manning Park, Hamilton Hill. The heritage listed residence was built in 1923 for a member of the Manning family and offers a glimpse into the life of a prosperous settler family living in the Cockburn district.
Click the play button to listen to the audio clip.
Densie Cook (interviewer): Can we just start by you telling me your full name?
Rina Lovreta: I am Rina Lovreta.
DC: When were you born, Rina?
RL: In 1940.
DC: And where?
RL: In Spearwood.
DC: What was your mum’s name?
RL: My mum’s name was Milka.
DC: What was she like? What do you remember about her?
RL: She was a very active lady, a bit pushy, we had to work hard.
DC: In the house or in the garden?
RL: Everywhere. They brought us up so strict.
DC: What kind of rules were there?
RL: The old fashioned rules.
DC: Can you remember some of them?
RL: Yes. We used to have morning tea and lunch and then afternoon tea. That doesn’t exist these days. We always had to cook and to help; always.
DC: So what would you do to help cook?
RL: I wasn’t much of a cook, I used to be a tomboy, I used to be outside. My eldest sister did a lot of cooking.
DC: So when you said you all had to help, what did you have to do towards dinner?
RL: Set the table and that, pick the dishes [up], wash the dishes.
DC: What was your dad’s name?
RL: His name was Jure.
DC: What was he like?
RL: He was good.
DC: Was he affectionate?
RL: Yes, he was a lovely guy.
DC: What do you remember about him?
RL: Well, he passed away pretty early. Yes, he always used to teach us things about his olden times and he used to talk about his times when he came to Australia and they worked very hard, very hard.
DC: When did he come to Australia?
RL: He came to Australia when he was fourteen. He left his little village of Šepurina to come to Australia because his dad was here; in 1913, his dad came. He brought his wife and his 3 sons over in 1924. He came over then as a child, I don’t really know much about what he did here at that time.
DC: Where did he come to?
RL: They came to Hamilton Hill, I think.
DC: Do you know where?
RL: It’s mostly where Paulik’s flower is, I think they might’ve had the property or something before Paulik’s.
ELSIE GASPAR: In Owen Road.
RL: Yes, in Owen Road.
DC: What did they do there? It’s okay if you don’t remember.
RL: I can’t remember. Is that all right? Something made me laugh, I’m not going to come out with that, about Mrs Paulik. (laughs)
JOY PARNELL: It’s a funny story. …
RL: Yes, her behaviour was funny, but I don’t know if my dad and his brothers ever got her angry or something.
DC: So did they have a big property there, do you know?
RL: He purchased the original property of 2 acres on Rockingham Road, with an old weatherboard house on it. Later on he purchased 20 acres crown land where Santich Park is now.
DC: Do you know approximately when that was?
RL: The original property was bought in 1923. The second property was in the early 1930’s.
DC: Do you know where that was?
RL: The one on Rockingham Road does not exist but the other one still exists, with the original 3 houses. My Grandfathers, my Dads and my Uncle Grgo homes. It’s where Santich Park is; that was their property then. It’s right next to the Puma garage. It’s lovely to see the old homes still being kept alive. So that’s where they were raised. My Grandfather had a lot of land there and he built a new home for himself in 1936. When it was time for his sons to be married he asked relatives back home to find Brides for them.
DC: Do you know how they arranged that?
RL: By proxy, by letter. Ruža Cukrov was for Roko; and Milka Mijat for Jure. I can hear Mum say, “A photo was given to me and I put it in my apron and I ran away I was so excited.”
DC: So she was pleased?
RL: She was pleased, yes, that she was going to Australia to marry.
DC: Did they have any kind of marriage ceremony before she came out here or did it wait until she arrived?
RL: Mum (Milka) and Roko’s Bride Ruza arrived on the boat Oronsay on 19 January 1937 and they got married a week later. They were all dressed up in borrowed clothes and those photos look beautiful. They had big weddings too.
DC: Do you know where they were married?
RL: St Jerome’s. On their marriage certificate, they put St Jerome’s down in Coogee; I don’t know if it was called Coogee then or not but on the marriage certificate it has got Coogee written down. Dad built a house on my grandfather’s property.
DC: What address was that?
RL: It’s on Rockingham Road. He [Grandfather] had twenty acres altogether. They built their home and so did the younger uncle.
DC: Did you have much to do with those families as you were growing up?
RL: Yes, we were always together.
DC: Did you have cousins your age?
RL: Yes, I had a cousin Johnny; he was my age, and we stuck together all the time, till the time they start chasing girls.
DC: What age was that?
RL: Then they lost contact with us. He went to Queensland and married a girl from Queensland.
DC: So what kind of games would you kids play together?
RL: We played chasey, hide-and-seek; we were so alive all the time. I was a bit of a tomboy.
DC: Tell us more.
RL: I used to climb up on the toilet and jump down.
DC: Did it hurt when you jumped down?
RL: Oh no.
ELSIE GASPAR: The toilets were outside.
RL: Yes. We were outside all the time.
DC: Was there much bush on the property or was it all garden?
RL: Yes, There was bush everywhere. It was all market gardens, there was a lot of land to play on and that’s what we all did. We were always dirty.
DC: So can you describe what the property would be like? How much of the property would be garden and how much would be other things?
RL: Around the house there used to be plenty of space to run around. The gardens were probably a bit further back.
DC: What about sport and music? Were any of those important?
RL: Sport and music? No, my parents were a bit too strict, they wouldn’t let us go anywhere really. But when we were in Yugoslavia, it’s funny – they gave us freedom over there, [but] when we were here in Australia, we didn’t have the freedom. That’s one thing I noticed. My sister Elsie learnt the violin when she was in Yugoslavia, I think they would’ve given us everything over there but here, I don’t know; we had to travel by bus, everywhere you went was a bit further away from home, while in Yugoslavia everything was close. Everything was close so you could go everywhere but here, you had to travel so we didn’t really. Sport – I didn’t play sport, only at school.
DC: What did you think of school?
RL: I loved it.
DC: What did you like about it?
RL: I was very good at drawing, I was very good at maths. No matter what school I went to I was always the top student for those subjects, but when it came to spelling, I was the worst one around. I think it might’ve been because I started school here, then the parents took us over there in 1948 and came back – – –
DC: How old were you then?
RL: We went when I was seven and I came back when I was eleven. I think this may have messed me up, two different languages and their spelling. I was a bad speller, yes. I don’t care anymore.
DC: So what do you remember about that time of getting ready to go back to Yugoslavia?
RL: I don’t remember much really. It was different when we got over there, definitely.
DC: So what was it like when you got there?
RL: Oh, to see children without arms, without legs, there was a lot of that, because of the war. We also saw a lot of broken buildings. Even where they put us to school, the buildings had plenty of broken glass, most of it just swept into corners. I was very active and could not keep still. Once I climbed up on the window sill and I jumped back down and cut myself on the glass that was swept in the corner.
But it was horrible when we came there, definitely. It was a big difference from Australia and then you come into a country that’s been bombed through war and that. There was a change then, the country changed to communism. The nuns who used to knit our jumpers they all cleared out of the country.
Where we lived, behind us there was a family who were living there and I think they were something from the royalty. One of those boys who was in that family, he clung to me because probably around there he didn’t find kids of his own because they were in the royalty and because we came from Australia, he clung to me, you know? We were good friends, and they wore these clothes that kings, you know, that royalty wear.
DC: What kind of clothes?
RL: It was with studs on it and that; I can remember that.
DC: What was his name?
RL: I can’t remember. I’d like to know who? The rich were also leaving the country. So this boy, he disappeared to Austria with his family.
ELSIE GASPAR: I can remember them, they were behind us.
RL: Yes, behind us.
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: He used to play a lot of music.
RL: Yes, so things changed. That first year when we got there, it was horrible to see all those things and the changes and all that.
DC: What year did you get there?
DC: What was the ship you went on?
RL: The Partizanka.
DC: How did your parents find it, going back?
RL: They were excited going back. My dad was so excited but that excitement disappeared as soon as he got there, I think. He got a job and he got a crane come crashing down on him in the boat and he ended up in hospital and we became poor after that. We became one of “them” over there after and it didn’t take long before my parents wanted to come back to Australia.
DC: Why do you think they changed their minds about being there?
RL: Well, you get sucked into going over, then you’re so excited but young people don’t know, nobody knows. People make mistakes. Mum was one of those types that she helped at schools and all that, she got around, but Dad, he ended up being in hospital for a whole year. I think he was in Šibenik, had his leg done and it wasn’t set properly. I’ve heard Elsie say that he said maybe if he gave money to the doctors and all that they would’ve made a better job and so they messed it up and to fix his problem up they sent him to Zagreb Hospital. And he was up there for a long time, so just imagine Mum travelling to Zagreb to see him; it was hard. And we became poor.
DC: Was your mum working?
RL: No, Dad just got that job, Mum wasn’t working because she had us three small kids, but she was voluntarily helping at school and things like that; she was into trying to help all the time.
DC: And after your dad had the accident, did your mum work then? How did you get – – –
RL: Well – they used the money from the sale of the property in Australia, but it ran out soon after our arrival in Yugoslavia as she needed help out her sister and brother. From Australia she also brought my auntie a sewing machine and my uncle extra boot making equipment to help him with his shoe making business.
My uncle amazed me, he was left extremely deformed after a bomb exploded when he was playing with it. I don’t know how he survived, but they managed to patch him up. He managed to make shoes, even got married and had 4 children.
DC: How did you go with the language when you went back?
RL: Because we spoke it at home, we were okay. We found friends easily; we had a lot of friends. You know, coming from Australia, everyone clings to you. We had a lot of friends.
DC: So you were popular?
DC: Was that about who you are or was that partly because you came from Australia?
RL: Well, work it out – I think it’s partly that you came from Australia and we could offer things to people. I had a friend and I gave her a pencil with a rubber on top, just imagine this. And when we left and came back to Australia, my sister said to her to write to me but she couldn’t write because she had no money to post the letter. She did not forget me, she ended up in Sydney. When she got to Sydney she asked everyone for me and finally she found someone who knew me and we are still in touch with one another through Christmas cards and Easter cards.
DC: Does she live in Sydney now?
RL: She lives in Sydney, yes.
DC: That’s a lovely story.
RL: Yes, just by giving her a pencil with a rubber on top. So we did have a lot of friends.
DC: How did you feel about coming back to Australia?
RL: Coming back to Australia? Oh, we were excited about it.
DC: Was your dad still quite unwell?
RL: Dad was, but he had to work, he had to work so he put his walking stick up, and he said, “I have to work. I have to not rely on a walking stick.” So, it happened like that, but he was wobbling because one leg was a lot shorter than the other, but then he wore those shoes; one shoe was a lot bigger than the other. We worked very hard, we worked at Frank Srhoy’s property; he was supplying the ships.
DC: Where was that again?
RL: In Hamilton Road. But first of all, when we came back we went to Ten Mile Well, that is how they called it. After eleven months we went to Frank Srhoy’s place. He had a big property and he supplied the ships so we worked very, very hard.
DC: Fruit and vegetables?
RL: Yes, he was growing rhubarb as well, and the garden was full, it was a lot of work.
DC: Did your dad work in the garden too?
RL: Yes, Mum, Dad, and all of us kids, we had to work.
DC: Did you go to school as well?
RL: Yes. They gave us school, we went to school.
DC: Where did you go to school when you came back?
RL: When we first got back we went to South Coogee, then Spearwood school, then I went to Princess May. I didn’t stay there too long because I was put in a class where there was a mixture of children who couldn’t speak English and children who were not good at school and all that; they just put us all in same the classroom. In those days, there was a shortage of teachers and I don’t know, some teacher they brought in there, I don’t think she knew much about teaching and I didn’t like that. I said to her, “You’re teaching us the same thing over and over again”. I don’t think she liked me, she put me out the door a few times but I’d just stand behind the door.
DC: Outside, behind the door?
RL: Because I was a prefect so I said to the teacher what she was doing wrong. So, I gave up. I went to the headmistress and I said, “Can you change me out of that classroom, put me in a classroom where I can learn something. I’m not learning anything there.” Maybe if my parents went there and asked, it would’ve been a different story but it was me that asked, so they kept me there. So, I decided to leave. I left and Mum put me into dressmaking for three months; I did dressmaking for three months.
DC: Where did you do that?
RL: The Stanley School for dressmaking.
DC: Where was that?
RL: It was in Fremantle, behind the Town Hall. In the first day of school, my sister Elsie was going there and on the first day of school I’d sewn a frock in the one day because I knew how to sew a bit. Mum couldn’t supply us with all the material and all that, she had two girls, so I did a lot of writing in the sewing classes and so I did the three months there, then when the school year started again I went to business college and did one year.
DC: So where was that?
RL: That was in High Street.
DC: Was that a private business college?
RL: Yes, it could’ve been.
DC: Donna is nodding her head.
RL: There was Katie Hujlich – – – No, Mary Hujlich, and Nellie. We noticed Mary and Nellie at the bus stop and they said that they were going to the business college, and Mum said, “If you’re going to this business college, then Rina you go with them.” She put me in straight away so I went in without any notice. So, I did a year at Business College.
DC: How did you find that?
RL: It was good. I was a bad speller, so when you did your shorthand, to translate it into spelling – but then I got a job where I didn’t need spelling.
DC: So what job did you get?
RL: The first job I applied for, I got it immediately. As a matter of fact, I got two jobs on the same day. One was in an engineering firm and I thought there will be only men working there, so I didn’t want to be there. The second job was in Pellews , I got that straight away. All they said to me, “Who is that girl Ukich that already works here?” and I said, “She’s my cousin.” And they gave me a job straight away. My cousin Jeanie was in the dressmaking department and I got the job in the office.
DC: What were you doing in the office?
RL: I started off there at the bottom, doing laybys, and then ended up doing the ledger; that was something used before computers came out. I was there nearly ten years, the last three being the head lady. I was pregnant then and in those days women weren’t allowed to be working if they were pregnant, but I managed to remain at Pellews for nearly 7 months of being pregnant. One of the ladies from downstairs complained that I was pregnant and I wasn’t allowed to be seen pregnant. I suppose I was one of the lucky ones as I was working upstairs and very rarely seen.
DC: They wanted to keep you on.
RL: Well, yes, and I think I was an honest person. The boss liked me. The first day I got a job, I found two pounds on the floor and I handed it in and I suppose that’s honesty, you know. Because I worked with money in the place – I know, I was told that I was the boss’s pet.
DC: So what were some of the tasks you had to do?
RL: I first started off with laybys, in those days, and we had stairs. Every time someone picks up their layby, you had to walk down these twelve stairs to go and give the laybys to the people. We had a room where they used to have laybys.
DC: What kind of records did you keep of laybys?
RL: What sort of records? Well, people have a layby and there was a desk downstairs and people paid their deposit and every time they made a payment, and then when they finalised the payment [account] then they’d pick up the layby which had to be taken out. They had a whole room that was full of laybys in those days, all on the shelves.
DC: How were they organised?
RL: I remember I was doing a lot of printing – printing the names on the labels on the parcels.
DC: Were they organised by name or by number?
RL: By surname. They were in order of surname.
DC: How did you get promoted from laybys?
RL: Well, as somebody leaves, you step up and I did step up – for three years I was head of the office and everybody listened. Everybody listened, everybody did their work and I’m amazed at that and I said, “I can’t control my own family, how come I can control a staff of ten in the office?” And everybody did their work.
DC: So what years were you there?
RL: 1955 and my daughter was born in 1964, so nine years.
DC: After your daughter was born, did you think of going back?
RL: No, I didn’t, but we bought an old house in Mell Road and we started the market garden there. I was on holidays, and I was down in the garden, all dirty and everything, and here comes somebody who was walking down the bottom of the garden – they came to ask me to go back to work, they were short-staffed or something. I didn’t like anybody knowing that I worked in the garden.
DC: Why was that?
RL: I don’t know. People do things that they don’t want people to know that they are doing those things, but garden work didn’t bother me.
DC: Was there something embarrassing about it?
RL: Oh, you’re working in an office and then you’re working in a garden.
DC: So the office is a kind of higher status?
DC: So they asked you to come back? What did you say?
RL: Yes, I went back; I was on holidays.
DC: That was after your daughter was born?
RL: No, that would’ve been before because I left. She was born a month after I left – I didn’t show much, I wasn’t that big at all. She was born in September, I might’ve left a month or so before, I might’ve left in July.
DC: Who did you marry?
RL: I married this handsome looking guy. We were down the wharf seeing a relation off and I looked into the crowd, saw this guy, he was handsome and then we clung sort of together and we started talking and he said he was going to take me home because he dropped someone off in Spearwood and then we started talking and he’d come to where we go to dances. He was from up the Swan. He came from up there.
DC: What’s his name?
RL: We call him Jim but his real name is Jakov.
DC: And his surname?
DC: So you met him, you went to dances.
RL: We went to dances, he was coming to dances and all that. We followed one another, wherever he went I went and he used to play soccer and I used to go and watch him play soccer. Then eventually he asked me out and when he was coming in, he put his jacket on the wrong way or something, I don’t know, nerves, I think, when he came to pick me up. (laughs)
DC: So did you go up there to see him, or did he always come down here?
RL: He used to come down from the Swan, he used to come down to the South Coogee dances. It didn’t take long, once he took me out, the engagement and the marriage didn’t take too long. That’s how it was.
DC: Was he also from Yugoslavia?
RL: Yes, he was here by himself staying at his Uncle’s – – – He left home when he was twelve to go to his uncle. His uncle must’ve been there before and he said it would be better for him to come to Australia because he can make something and send money over there because they were all poor.
DC: Better for Jim to come to Australia?
RL: Yes, but I think that was another big mistake too. You take a child from a big family, you can be poor but you’ve got family. I’ve experienced that with my grandchildren. When they’re with one another that is something enjoyable. And he was taken from a family with three brothers and a sister and himself, so there were five and to take a child from there into a place, up the Swan, on a vineyard, I don’t think that is a very nice thing in life.
DC: How old was he again?
RL: He was twelve. Just imagine leaving your own family, because I can see that with my own grandchildren. If they’re together, they play, five of them. The younger ones play and they enjoy one another and it’s very hard for them to part. They live very close to one another but he was taken away from his family to live up the Swan.
DC: What did he say about it?
RL: Well, he must’ve got depressed, he didn’t go to school much. The authorities were after him because he was not going to school because he started wagging school, because he wanted to plant peas so he could sell it and support his family. So I don’t think he did much schooling here, and the authorities were on his back that he had to go to school. He stayed with his uncle and his uncle was paying him but he wasn’t paying him enough and then one day when he turned eighteen he says enough is enough, and he found a job at the brickworks and then he worked very, very hard to prove himself – that is why he left his uncle and that. So he shifted from his uncle and he went to live with Donko Nadilo and his wife Maria.
DC: Whereabouts was that?
RL: That was in Middle Swan. When we met down on the wharf, and got talking he indicated he dropped Maria Nadilo off to visit the Bacich’s before he went to the wharf. The Bacich’s lived next door to us. That’s how it sort of clicked, because when we were saying, “Where did you drop this lady?” Well, that lady was dropped off to my next door. So, then he kept on coming to this lady’s place to – – -. (laughs)
DC: To see you?
DC: So what year did you get married?
DC: Where did you get married?
RL: St Jerome’s.
DC: Who are your children? What are their names?
RL: Vicki, Janet and Sharon.
DC: When you got married, did you live down here [in Spearwood]?
RL: Yes. We bought the property before we married because someone said to us there was a house in Mell Road, it was a neglected house but it had a bit of land there so we bought that before we got married.
DC: Who lived there before you got married?
RL: Some people, Italian, Forlini, or something like that, lived there but nobody was living there at the time. They must’ve been up north somewhere.
DC: After you bought the property but before you got married, who lived there?
RL: Well, it was a neglected place.
DC: But once you and your husband bought it, did he move in there?
RL: He moved in there because it needed a lot of work, yes. A lot of work was needed.
DC: Did he do that work or did he organise other people do to it?
RL: We had a lot of help, a lot of people helped us.
DC: So what kind of help did you have?
RL: There was someone doing the ceiling in the bathroom, one of his friends, people helped us paint and fix up the garden and all that. Then moving furniture and all that, we got a lot of help and my parents helped too.
DC: When did you move in there?
RL: When we got married, that’s where we lived. We lived there and we had the first child and I said to him, “You should go and try to visit your family.” Oh, we worked so hard, then we did, we went and visited his family. Vicki was three and a half years, I didn’t want to have any more kids till he’d visited his family. I wanted him to go and visit his family.
DC: How was that visit?
RL: It was good for him to see his family and all that; definitely. So we did a few trips over but they might’ve been poor at that time but they stayed behind and a lot of his brothers got educated.
DC: So in hindsight, do you think he would’ve rather stay there or was he pleased that he’d come out here?
RL: He’s happy here now. He says he wouldn’t live there. But I mean, if he’d stayed there, he probably would’ve got some education over there which here he didn’t. He had his job, he got moved up to a supervisor and all that.
DC: Which job was that?
RL: First of all he got a job at Watsons, then he got a job with the Water Corp and he ended up being a supervisor, it didn’t take too long to end up being a supervisor at the Water Corporation or whatever you call it, the Water Authority. He was with them for forty-five years. He got struck with MS [Multiple Sclerosis] and he found it a bit stressful in the end and he says, “I have to leave,” but they said, “Can you still be working for us and we’ll get someone to drive? You just be with them.” But he just gave up.
DC: Why do you think they were so keen to keep him?
RL: He’s got something in him as a supervisor. I was told by one of the workers, he’s got something in him, he can supervise. He can tell you something but he’ll only tell you once, he won’t tell you twice and you’ll do the job. He’s gifted for that. Some people can beg someone to do something, do something, they won’t do it, but he says it once and the way he says it, it gets done.
DC: You were a supervisor too. Do you think that you’ve got that talent?
RL: No. No, I never want to be a head person any more.
DC: Why is that? Why don’t you want to do it?
RL: No, I’m not. Because I take my work home. I always worry too much where he used to switch off. He used to come home, his work is left at work.
DC: Do you want to tell me what your interests are now and how they’ve changed, or not?
RL: My interests now? I’ve got grandchildren and I like helping people. If they say, “Jump” I’ll say, “How high?” The children are into their sports and all that, they’re all into sports and I play lawn bowls.
DC: Where do you play?
RL: Lawn bowls here at the Dalmatinac Club. We played yesterday and it’s very good. Very interesting.
DC: Is it hard?
RL: No, it’s enjoyable. And I help in the kitchen whenever I can.
DC: At the Club?
RL: Yes, at the Club.
DC: Tell me about the Club. How is that part of your life?
RL: That part of the life is from the day we got married and my husband was playing soccer and he joined them, fund raising, from the first go.
DC: So what kind of things does the Club do, or has it done over the [years]?
RL: First of all, it started off I think, he was playing soccer but they were all playing bocce in people’s back yards and I can remember him – I had a refrigerator and he used to fill it up with drinks and then take it wherever they used to play. Fund raising started off then that way.
DC: So would he sell drinks?
RL: Yes, the drinks they were selling when they were having the games, they’d have a drink.
DC: What kind of drink?
RL: Probably beer and all that, cool drink and that, because they needed to drink. They did that and the soccer and then fund raising, they had the “Miss” and all that but that was later, but at the beginning, it was enjoyable, I used to travel with him when he used to go to soccer. Once they went to Northam and it was good. But when my kids came along, it’s a bit hard so in the fund raising, he mostly did all that; make cakes and they used to be selling their cakes. It was hard going, it’s completely different now.
DC: Where did they sell cakes?
RL: They’d have auctions.
DC: At the Club?
RL: At the Club they’d have auctions, and selling the cakes and a lot of things. Some people used to give a lot of money, they’d spend it on the auctions. It was silly times. (laughs) See who’s going to do better. Who can put their hand up higher for the bidding? It was all for the Club.
DC: What kind of things did the Club do with the money?
RL: Look, you can see what they’ve done.
DC: Tell us about it.
RL: The building, definitely the building. And that bocce thing – my husband was involved in that, he and his engineer from work they made that happen.
DC: Do you mean they organised it or they did it?
RL: Oh yes, I can remember the paperwork they were bringing, it was an engineer who helped him a lot. They started off there and they built that shed there where the bocce are. But he wasn’t much on the committee, not in the committee bit. He did play soccer but when he got hurt and he had an operation on his knee, he gave up soccer. Then he was playing bocce. He used to get in the State teams, for bocce, it was all just bocce and fund raising all the time.
DC: So what kind of things did he do for fund raising?
RL: He wasn’t on the committee but we used to help, definitely help.
DC: What kind of things did you help with?
RL: I used to work in the kitchen a fair bit. It’s going back so many years, what is it, forty, fifty years. We’ve been married for fifty-five years so it’ll be fifty-five years we’ve been with the Club.
DC: So when you think back on your life, how was it different from your parents’ lives?
RL: Well you can be born to be miserable and you can be born to be happy. I’m happy. I’m happy with my life.
DC: And your parents?
RL: Well, my parents – life is life. You know, you accept it as it is.
DC: Did they struggle a bit more in their lives?
RL: They struggled. I think they would’ve been okay, you know, but there were struggling times, yes.
DC: Then when you think about your life and compare it to your children’s and grandchildren’s [lives]?
RL: I think my life was better. I don’t like their heads in that computer and those phones; I don’t like that at all. My daughter had an AFL Grand final Barbecue with friends on Saturday. Everybody criticises her, who she is, and so do I too, but she’s got this thing she loves to entertain, And to me, to see those kids play, a lot of friends came over, and there were about four or five boys and four or five girls and they were all doing acrobatics, throwing the ball in the hoop and kicking the ball over the fence and they were blaming that the lemons fell down and the kids were throwing them on the roof. But to me, to see that, the kids mucking around, I thought that was life. That’s what you’re supposed to do, not sit down in front of the computer, in front of their little toys they’ve got, those squares – I call them squares – I like them running them around.
DC: And when you think of your life, what are some of the achievements or some of the things that you feel happy about, or proud about?
RL: I feel proud of my family, yes.
DC: Absolutely. Is there anything else you’d like to say?
RL: If you ask me questions now, I might answer them. There are lots of things I forget what’s happened but I look at the future. My table has got a note on there what I have to do – what’s gone is gone, but I’ve got a note there, every time what I have to do and I wake up to that and I have to do it, but my list is always that I can’t even fulfil it for the day.
DC: And how does that feel?
RL: Well, I think it’s good to be like that, than wake up and not have anything to do.
DC: So you’ve got something to look forward to, because there are things that you’re going to do.
RL: Yes, I’ve got a list.
DC: Thank you so much. It has been really interesting.
RL: Good, thanks.
END OF ORAL HISTORY
9 Coleville Crescent,
Po Box 1215, Bibra Lake DC,
Western Australia, 6965
Cockburn Nyungar moort Beeliar boodja-k kaadadjiny. Koora, yeyi, benang baalap nidja boodja-k kaaradjiny.
Ngalak kaadatj dayin boodja, kep wer malayin. Ngalak kaadatj koora koora wer yeyi ngalang birdiya.
City of Cockburn acknowledges the Nyungar people of Beeliar boodja. Long ago, now and in the future they care for country.
We acknowledge a continuing connection to land, waters and culture and pay our respects to the Elders, past, present and emerging.