Interview Transcript from Illawarra Stories Wollongong City Libraries Oral History Project – Beryl Tolhurst
Interviewer: Samantha Figueroa
Interview date: 28 July 2020
Samantha Figueroa The following interview was conducted with Beryl Tolhurst, whose maiden name was Ranyard, as part of Wollongong City Council Libraries Illawarra stories Oral History Project. It took place at Beryl’s home in Sturdy Street Towradgi on the 28th of July 2020 and my name is Samantha Figueroa and I will be interviewing Beryl today.
Thank you, Beryl, for participating in this interview.
Beryl Tolhurst Thank you, it’s my pleasure.
Samantha Figueroa OK, can you tell me about your life in the Illawarra? Have you always lived here?
Beryl Tolhurst Yes, I have. I was actually born in Crown St Women’s Hospital. I was probably about 10 days old when I was um taken home to Lilyvale. I probably wasn’t, I think I, I was, my mom was living in Sydney and my grandma came to see her. Grandma lived in Lilyvale and she went to visit mum and decided that that wasn’t the environment that she should be living in and so um they moved to Lilyvale, when I was probably just um a couple of weeks old. And um I lived in Lilyvale from then until I was married and that was in um 1954.
Samantha Figueroa OK.
Beryl Tolhurst Well I’d lived in Lilyvale then until I was as I said until I was married in 54. So Lilyvale when I when, as I remember it consisted of just 3 houses. There was no electricity and no running water and no sanitary collection. Um, so everyone we relied on on tanks for our water. And um I remember that every time there was a drought um my grandma added a new tank and we ended up with about 8 or 9 tanks around the house so that every part of the of the you know the roof where there was a runoff went into a tank.
Samantha Figueroa Wow.
Beryl Tolhurst I can remember.once when we had a drought in my my uncle, my mom’s brother, had a utility and he used to take his utility truck down to the um the creek at the bottom of the hill. And ah we lived up on a hill and down the bottom of the hill was a creek and he’d take his utility down there with a couple of big ah water casks in the back and he’d fill it up with water and drive up home. By the time he got up there with the sloshing of it there was only about half a cask in each one left. But you know it was quite a quite a traumatic time if there was a drought and your tanks were low and so you know she used to add the tanks all of the time.
Samantha Figueroa What year were you born?
Beryl Tolhurst I was born in 1936 on the 22nd of January in 1936. Um, I’ve often, often thought how remarkable women were back then.um my mum ah was I think, staying with my grandma before I was born and when she went into labor she caught the train to Sydney and it was an hour and a half in the train. Just as well, it wasn’t a quick birth! And then of course we came back by train. Mmh and um the train was our only mode of transport in those days.
Most of the shopping was done in Sydney. They had um, my grandma had um, you know everyone had accounts at the grocers in those days and she did a lot of shopping basics like kerosene and flour and stuff like that which was all bought in bulk and that came from the grocer in Otford, which was you know, the next station down of course on the line .Um and it would be brought up on the train loaded at Otford and put off again at the next station at Lilyvale and um and that’s how all of our heavy stuff um feed for the cows feed for the chooks and everything that was all delivered on the train. Even ice for the ice chest was delivered on the train and er had to be carried then over home. We lived close to the railway station, so it was just as well we did.
Samantha Figueroa So what was your cultural background?
Beryl Tolhurst All English all English. Um I guess you would say we all we’re all Australians way back.
Samantha Figueroa So who was in your family growing up?
Beryl Tolhurst Just myself I was an only child um and then there was my, we lived with my grandmother and there was my, my mum and ah and her brother.
Samantha Figueroa What were your parents’ names?
Beryl Tolhurst My mum’s name was, was Daisy and I had a stepfather his name was Cliff, Cliff Ranyard and he lived there as well of course he lived there. Um now he had an old to begin with an old T model Ford and there was a Chinese market garden in Helensburgh and so they would buy all their um you know all the vegetables that they didn’t produce for themselves they would buy from the Chinese market garden. And then and then they, they um often had fruit as well there and they would buy that you know from there.
I had the funniest experience once at the market garden. For some reason I was frightened of these Chinese people. Um they were all men there, there was never any women there and there’d be about six or eight of them all lived in this you know little falling down, that to me that they looked to me as though they were falling down where they lived these little old houses and they had a big barn out the back where they kept all sorts of seeds and things. And you know like kids do, one day Mum was being served and she knew them all by name and she was really friendly with them. But I was still frightened of them. And so I walked away and I walked into this barn and I was standing there you know just looking around and I looked up and right up in the air was this old Chinese man sitting on top of all these bags.
Looking down at me. And I was so terrified I ran out of that barn for my life. Wouldn’t leave my Mother’s side after that. They um they would you know carry the, the stuff home in the Ford. And then there was um there was one um movie theatre in Helensburgh and every Saturday night we would all go to the movies and that was the big highlight of the week you know going to the movies on, on Saturday night.
Samantha Figueroa Sounds fun. So, what was your home like? Where did you live and what was the home like?
Beryl Tolhurst Um, well as I said we lived in Lilyvale and um the home was um originally a miner’s a miner’s um house because all the land was leased from um the Coalcliff Colliery.
I can’t remember the name of the I think it was from the steelworks I think owned it the whole thing and this man used to travel up on the train about once every three months or something and collect the rent. And the rent was just a nominal rent it was like don’t know it back in those days two and six a month or something like that it was just or, or a week something like that you know it was very, very small amount um and ah it was because the miners all worked in the mine in Helensburgh mine and um and so the little cottages you know they were allowed to rent them.
And so our house was, it was detached because anything that was built onto the actual the first structure which was now the little cottage itself contained there was a what we used as a dining room with a big open fireplace in it and a bedroom next to that.[Cough] And another bedroom behind and a veranda on the front. And that was the original the original little cottage. So my grandmother had built afterwards um a huge room and that was a kitchen and it was something like 20 by about 14 about 14 feet by 20 feet a huge big room and there was a closed in veranda on the front of that and partitioned off so that there was a bed in one end and that constituted a bedroom. And then there was another one at the back of that, which is another little closed in veranda and there was another at the back of that. And then there was another, another freestanding room built. My, my uncle built that for himself and it was his bedroom and then later on out the back further of the of the house, the house again he built another room which was he intended to make that a room that he could take apart and so all the you know all the sides were bolted together and because he was working on the railway he thought that if he was transferred anywhere he could take his room with him and just put it up and it never ever left the place where he built it [laughing]and so it became eventually my room.
Yeah it was kind of, we look at it today you know in the way we live today and it was totally different, the, the walls inside, the walls inside their original place were hessian and, and hessian ceilings. You know that the lining was just hessian and it was covered with layers and layers and layers of wallpaper. And every year my grandmother or every year or every two years she’d feel like changing wallpaper so she did paper over the top of the ones that were already there and it became quite solid. You know, it was quite solid and quite warm, and its beautiful big open fireplace was the room was like toast you know.
It was lovely, lovely room to be in and during the winter you know that’s where every night everyone would have dinner outside in the in the other room everyone would come in there and sit there until bedtime and we would listen to the radio and listen to amateur hour on a Thursday night or some you know story that would go on week after week. Um and I can remember I think it was that either 6 o’clock or 6:30 every night when I was a child we had a children’s program and it was called the search for the Golden Boomerang [Laughing]..Oh would not miss that. That was inside sit down in front of the radio and listen to it [Laughing].
Samantha Figueroa Sounds great.
Beryl Tolhurst And we had um when I started school, I started school at Otford, at Otford primary school and that’s where I did all my primary school and um was just a tiny little schoolroom. It was two rooms and we had everyone in the same from kindergarten to 6th class in the one room. And so that was my schooling. And then I went on from there to Sutherland High School, but we they had a little Hall that was called the Progress Hall in in Otford and every month there was a dance there. And all the kids went to the dance and all the parents went to the dance. And they’d have a pianist and a drummer and if you were lucky, they had a guitarist as well, and that was your orchestra. And all the ladies brought it played, and they had, you know, supper was taken around the Hall and as you get older when you were a girl, you were allowed to take the plates around. And you know that was lovely. You were allowed to take the plates around to supper [Laughing]. Old time dancing.
Samantha Figueroa Did you have jobs around your house? Did you have?
Beryl Tolhurst Yes I think my first job was to get the sticks in. Getting the sticks in meant that it was, it was just a small pieces of wood in, you know, to start the stove up the next morning because it was a fuel stove and so you had to have the sticks. That was always called the sticks and sometimes we had to go up into the Bush and bring home. This is just for the fallen, you know limbs off the trees and the smaller stuff, not the heavy ones, but just a small ones so that that could be broken up for the fire to start the fire the next morning.
That was probably my main job, and then of course as I got older washing up or wiping up, you know, but I didn’t have a lot of jobs to do. I had a horse when I was young and my and I did have to look after him. He had to be fed and groomed and everything. So you know that was another job that was mine, mmh.
Samantha Figueroa Did you know your neighbours?
Beryl Tolhurst Yes. Across the road across, there was a road if you’d call it a road. There was a bit like a paddock and there was a road in the middle about across the other side that paddock was my, my uncle and aunt used to live there and they had they had quite a few children but when I was growing up there was only three of them left at home and there were three boys and they were all older than me and ah yeah, so I didn’t really have any playmates. Across the other side of the railway line and up the hill there was one more house. And then when I was probably about. I suppose about 9.The ladies, her two, her two of her grandchildren came to live with her and that was a girl my age and a boy a couple years younger so that was wonderful, for from then on I had someone to play with. That was really good.
Samantha Figueroa How did you use to get to school?
Beryl Tolhurst When, when I first started school, I caught the train? And the train didn’t leave until 10:00 o’clock, and I caught the train to school. And I didn’t get to school till you know, probably 20 past 10 every morning ’cause it was only 5 minutes. You know 5 minutes from one station to the next and that was at Otford. And then we walked up from the railway. And by the time we got to the school was probably about 20 past 10. So, we miss nearly an hour every day of school. And as I got older, then I was allowed to walk but it used to walk along the railway line from Lilyvale to Otford. Now the ganger are on the on the on the railway on the Lilyvale length, ah he used to board at my grandmas and sometimes if he was if he was you know, I would call it running the length. If he was going down South, he would give me a ride on his on his trolley, you know his railway trolley and he’d be working the trolley, you know. And I was sitting up on the back [Laughing].Having a ride almost ??, you know about three parts of the way, and then I’d have to walk the rest of the way and I used to walk home again.
Samantha Figueroa That sounds fun. That sounds really fun. So, what did you do in your spare time?
Beryl Tolhurst There wasn’t a lot to do. I mean, I read a lot. I, you know, just well played around whatever kids do when they’re young and they’re on their own. And in the summertime but, there was always swimming ’cause my, I learned to swim from my three cousins. And you either swum or drowned [Laughing]. They were terrible. They put me in and push me under the water and do all kinds of things. But I learned to swim in a in a in a big pool in the Creek, and then they called it the swimming hole and we went to the one pool all the time and at the end of every like the beginning of every summer, the boys would clean the pool out because there’d always be flooding in there, you know, during the winter and big rocks and things would be, would be rolled down into the pool. And so, they would clean all of those out and that would, that would necessitate a lot of diving underneath to see where the stones were. And then sometimes it would take two of them to lift them out, you know, big rocks and they put them all around the edge so that they had a pool where they could dive in and know that there was no rocks in there. And that would take you know weeks in the beginning of the summer to do that, and that’s where we swam. We swam there every, every afternoon, probably through the summer, and you know, every day was just swimming during the summer.
Samantha Figueroa Sounds fun! And who were your friends and when would you see them?
Beryl Tolhurst Well, as I said my the only two friends I had. Well, I suppose you could say my cousins across the road and weren’t just see them every day. You know, across the paddock, ’cause it was probably only about. Probably about 200 yards away from where I live, they lived, you know, and so we’d see them all the time. But these are the ones that were my age would probably say them not every day because you know they weren’t allowed out to play every day. And I wasn’t allowed to go to their house because we might make a nuisance of ourselves, but whenever we could, we get together. And probably you know every second or third day we’d be together and play
Samantha Figueroa And. What games did you play?
Beryl Tolhurst Oh all sorts of made up games. I can remember we had, my grandmother had a shed where all the feed for the chickens and everything was kept and she had also she had a little kiosk and it was a little old wooden thing you know and she used to keep all the drinks and stuff in there. And beside that there was an apple tree and the apple tree used to grow up and its branches used to go over the top of this shed. And we used to get up there underneath the, underneath the branches and take a blanket up there and lie under the thing and pretend all kinds of things.
I remember one favourite game we had was that we were in aeroplane, you know, because we were up off the ground[Laughs].And it was beautiful when they when the blossoms were on, you could lie underneath that and smell the apple blossoms and hear the bees in the, in the tree, you know. It was a lovely! And of course, when the apples came on, we used to get the green apples as well.
Samantha Figueroa Sounds great! So, what do you? what else do you remember about where you lived? Shops, farms, transport? Roads and housing?
Beryl Tolhurst Well, I can remember that when, I’m in my very early life, hiking was a great thing, a great sport and hundreds of people would go on the train from Sydney. And there were, there was a track from Lilyvale over, over the, through the bush over the hill to Burning Palms and to Era beach. And so, people used to come down on a Friday night and they’d call into my grandmas or Saturday morning. And they’d change into their hiking clothes and leave their hiking, leave their good clothes at her house and um, hike over to the to the beaches and, and they built cabins over there and they used to stay in their cabins and then they’d hike back again on the, you know on the Sunday.
And my grandma kept herself for years by cooking for them and the hikers you know. And she had this little, little kiosk and her only trade was weekend trade, mostly Sundays. And she’d cook meat pies and apple pies and sponge cakes and sausage rolls and scones. She used to cook all day Saturday and these things would be on sale on Sunday. And you know that so that that sort of kept the weekend going. And I think I learnt to cook by watching her cooking, you know? So that was, that was Sundays, and um…I suppose It wasn’t a great deal. I can’t remember great deal of things we did, but we were always kept busy. I remember I’d like to go through at one stage. I like to go in this one part where there be all kinds of big moths and you know, I used to go collect. I had a moth collection of all these different moths. What was it? What was the other?
Samantha Figueroa What do you remember about where you lived?
Beryl Tolhurst I remember the house at the top of the Hill had a well and um you know
we were always warned and warned not to get, not to get near that well. It was all covered with boards you know, and, and hammered down. But there was the space for where they used to draw the water out. I mean, I don’t know how deep the well was, but it was pretty deep, yeah and I can remember one year there was a bush fire and their house was threatened. They had a little Orchard at the back, probably would have been apple trees in the back, and the fire came right up to the fence and everyone was there even though the kids and everything all trying to beat out this fire, you know, so that it didn’t come any further.
And a few days afterwards the children and myself we were down there and there was all this soft ash you know and we took our shoes off and we were walking through all this really soft, it like walking through talcum powder but I walked on one part and I didn’t see what was underneath and it was all red coals underneath and I can remember it burnt my feet, all the bottoms of my feet were blistered and I couldn’t walk for days after because all you know I burnt all the bottoms of my feet. Gosh, that was painful and remember that one.
Samantha Figueroa Were there any community events that you remember well?
Beryl Tolhurst As I said, just down at Otford, you know they had the dances we went to, but other than that and we didn’t have any community things because it was, like I said, it was just three little houses. And you know that every morning my, my mum and my grandma would sit and listen to their serials on the, on the radio you know that they have their serials every morning. They’d get up and then breakfast would be over and washing up done and you know the beds made and there’s all this kitchen swept and the mats shaken and everything and then they’d sit down to listen to their to their, their serials. So that was probably the big thing for them. And then as I said before every Friday they’d go to Sydney. I didn’t say it I think but every Friday as I got older, they would go to Sydney and, and go to Paddy’s markets and do the shopping at Paddy’s markets. And school holidays that was a big thing to be able to go to Paddy’s markets and walk through there.
Samantha Figueroa Sounds fun! Um, do you remember any local characters?
Beryl Tolhurst Um, not really, not really. There was there was a man that used to live
between Lilyvale and Otford and to me he was always a bit of a legend because he was an old man and he lived on his own and his name was Hamilton, Mr Hamilton. They called him they called him Gutty Hamilton and you can imagine why ’cause he had a big tummy.
But he was a nice old man and, and you know, he didn’t, he didn’t seem to mix with anyone very much, so he was a bit of a character.
And then there was another one who lived through the railway tunnel. When I say through the railway tunnel, he was on the other side of the railway tunnel and he lived sort of down the hill, and you could see the house from the train and didn’t see him very often. But he to me again, he was a bit of a legend because I didn’t see him and didn’t know him very much you know, and I think their name was Bissell. And he lived down there and he lived on his own for years and then he, out of the blue one day he brought a wife home with him and everyone said, ‘Wow, where did that come from?’[Laughing] But obviously he’d , you know known this lady for a long time.
But other than that, there wasn’t any, any characters. There was one, there was one time because we weren’t on the main road or anything, so you didn’t see passing people passing or anything men used to come down and pick in the in the summertime and pick blackberries and they’d come down, you know, and on their own and go picking blackberries. But there was a tramp camping up just above our house there was. The road ran along the back of the house and then up there as far as the railway gate, and come back down to the front and um and there was a bridge across the railway line and he was near the railway line and, and I was, he was near the bridge and I was coming home from my friend’s house up on the Hill and I got to the end of the bridge and saw this man camp there and he’s building a fire. Don’t know where he got the water from. Maybe from my grandmother. I didn’t know who he was and I was frightened to walk past him and I had to walk past him to get home. And I remember starting to run at the end of the bridge and ran as fast as I could across the bridge and passed him zoom [laughing] down home ’cause I had to get passed. Because you know, where we live, we didn’t see anyone, and I didn’t have any social skills as far as talking to people and of course. Your Mum always says ‘you mustn’t talk to strangers’ you know, so if I ever I saw a stranger, I’d bolt [Laughing].
Samantha Figueroa So did you pursue any education after school?
Beryl Tolhurst No, I didn’t actually, after I left school I just went to work.
Samantha Figueroa Yep and what work have you done and what jobs have you had?
Beryl Tolhurst I, in my life, let me see now, that at first I, the first job I got was in an office in Chippendale in Sydney and um I was, I was um, bookkeeping. And I didn’t particularly like bookkeeping. And when the trial balance came at the end of every month, it never ever balanced. And it was my job to go backwards and forwards through this huge big ledgers, you know that we used to have in those days because it was all done by hand and find out where the thing, where the mistakes had come from. I hated it. I really didn’t like it and then my friend, my cousins wife (one of these cousins that lived across the paddock from us) she said to me that why don’t we come and get a job together, you know? And so, we got a job together at AGM was AG Morris it was a needle workplace and they made needlework and doilies and, and supper cloths and things like that. And I was there until I was married. We stayed there because it was just a nice place to work, you know. And then, then I was married, and I came down to Wollongong and I worked for only probably a couple of months at um Berlei’s, Berlie’s bra factory, they had a bra factory in Wollongong. I worked there for a couple of months and then I left and then I went to work as Stamina trousers and I was working there until I fell pregnant with my first child, which was only 12 months, you know? Yeah, so I worked there.
Samantha Figueroa And what year? What year was that?
Beryl Tolhurst That was in 1954? Sorry,56, I was married in 54, came to Wollongong and yeah, so he was born in 1956. Then we came to live in this house at the end of 1957. Mmh.
Samantha Figueroa Oh wow. What do you remember about your workplaces?
Beryl Tolhurst And the first one was um a Dictaphone factory um where I, that was when I was working in the office and they, the office was just the room above the, it was, we had to walk up a flight of stairs to get to the office and it was behind the factory. It wasn’t very nice. It was, you know, just pretty dark and not very nice. That’s what I remember about that one. But the, the other one, the AGM that was lovely. That was a big, open, airy place and nice people. You know, nice people to work with in Wollongong, I didn’t really get to know very many people because I wasn’t in either the job very long down here. But yeah, it was friendly enough. I thought you know a funny thing was that I, I met a lady that became a very good friend, years later she used to work in the same place at the same time.
Samantha Figueroa Have you been part of any sporting or religious groups or community groups and activities?
Beryl Tolhurst Yes, I joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints um in 1958.
And um yeah, I’ve been a really active member there, and that’s sort of, that has filled any need that I’ve had in my life outside of my family you know, you know, ever since.
Samantha Figueroa Um, what have been your significant relationships?
Beryl Tolhurst Probably outside my family, well um my mother and my grandmother, um were the, you know, especially my grandmother because she was the matriarch of the family and my mum, they were the significant people in my pre married life and then after that was just, just my own personal family, my children and my friends.
Samantha Figueroa How many children do you have?
Beryl Tolhurst I have three, two boys and a girl in the middle. The poor thing.
Samantha Figueroa Do they still live in this area?
Beryl Tolhurst No. My oldest son lives in Whyalla in South Australia, and my youngest son lives in Frankston, South of Melbourne in Victoria, and my daughter lives in Oatlands in Sydney. So yeah, they’re pretty spread out, mmh.
Samantha Figueroa Have you had good health?
Beryl Tolhurst Yes, really, I have I I’ve always enjoyed good health and I’ve had a breakdown in joints[laughing], I’ve had two knee replacements. Basically yeah, basically I’ve had good health.
Samantha Figueroa What has been significant events in your life?
Beryl Tolhurst Mmm I’d say first of all um obviously your marriage and um joining the church would have been the other significant thing.
Samantha Figueroa How has the area changed? The places and people over the years?
Beryl Tolhurst Well, as I said, Lilyvale started off with three houses and now there’s none. So, I suppose that’s, I don’t think that it may be one still left. I’m not sure, but I know that the house that my aunt lived in across the paddock and my grandma’s house are both been demolished and the station has been taken away so it really doesn’t exist anymore except on the main, the Lady Wakehurst Drive goes round into the National Park from Bald Hill and I think except for a property which is called ‘Lilyvale’. I don’t think there’s any evidence of it ever being there now, so that’s a big difference.
And Helensburgh I’ve never been up there for years, but I believe that you know there where we used to walk through the bushes in our houses, same with everywhere and down here. Oh well, you know that um when I first came to live down here in Towradgi or I lived in Fairy Meadow first and you know you could look at start at the top of Crown Street and look straight down and, and it was just one street, you know all the way down. The bus ran up and down Crown Street parking up and down Crown Street so that’s definitely changed. You know changed after the mall came. Waters used to be up on the corner, the big store up on the corner near the railway line, you know and that’s gone now and Walton’s used to be there and that’s gone. You know? So that yeah, there’s been a lot of changes there and here in Towradgi.
You know when I was when I was a child I can remember um, just after the Towradgi station was built, we came here to visit my stepfather’s relation. He lived on Towradgi Road and I remember going with his children across all these paddocks to get to the beach and there was all, you know, those little stunted trees that little shrubs that grow around the beach. We walked through all of those through all these flats and got to a beach. And now came to live in Towradgi. And where we walked is covered with houses now. [Laughing] There’s no, you know, there’s no flats there, that’s a big change.
Samantha Figueroa How do you think the area will change in the future?
Beryl Tolhurst Well, you know I can see it changing all around me where the little old cottages that were there when I came are gradually being demolished and you know, two story homes are being built. And I, I suppose, really that this will just become a beachside suburb because that’s what people are looking for now. So I gathered that you know that will be it. I remember a few years ago my son was looking at home across the street from me and, and asked me to find out from the estate agent, you know how much they wanted for it and so forth, and he said the estate agent said, “Oh well, that’s East Towradgi” and we thought East Towradgi ? There’s never been any East, North, South or West. It’s always just been Towradgi. But he said “Oh no everything east of Pioneer Road is now East Towradgi and that’s quite expensive”. And I thought oh for goodness sakes [Laughing]. We were all amazed. So, I suppose this will be the trend in years to come, yeah.
Samantha Figueroa Yeah. It sounds like it. Um what do you think and feel about all of these changes?
Beryl Tolhurst Well, I think its progress and certainly it’s much better than when I was a child. I love having running water and, and a normal house and electricity. Um, Yeah, I think I think it’s great to see all the changes that are coming, but I think you know some of the old ways. It’s a shame to see them go.
Samantha Figueroa Was there anything else that you remember about Lilyvale?
Beryl Tolhurst Um yeah, I can remember that once that one thing that gave me great joy is as young as a little child before school before it started school on laundry day and it was called washing day. My mother and my grandmother had a great big old aluminium tub. It was the tubs that in the old days they used as a bath. They would load that up with all the laundry and, and carry it down the bottom of the Hill to the creek. And they would light the copper down there at the creek and carried the water up into it and the, the washing would been done on a scrubbing board in this big tub and wrung out by hand and rinsed and wrung out again and put on lines, clothes, lines that were attached to um trees actually, and strung out so that all the sheets and everything in the in the clothes could be put on them.
They’d be hung out, and by that time it would be lunchtime and we’d walk back up the hill for lunch. Have lunch. My grandmother would get dinner on for the night and then back down the Hill again and collect all the washing and folded and carry it back up to the house again. And it was probably about, probably about four or five hundred yards up and down this hill, so it was it wasn’t like stepping from one room to the other. It was quite a long way, but I loved it because I was able to play and make little tracks through the bush and do all sorts of things. Get down near the creek and so to me it was a glorious day, but I don’t think it was such a good day for my grandmother, and I know my mum.
Um when I got older I had a horse and I was going to school, I used to collect the bread and bring the bread home after school and a couple times a week I would deliver it around to a man who lived about oh probably, probably, maybe more like a mile away from our house, and um and he was a man who used to live on his own, and he built his own home out there. And it was a fairly big house and he had um he had a piano. He could play the piano and he, he could play the violin and he often let me bang on his piano just, just as children do. But he tried to teach me how to play the violin, but I was always frightened that the chords were going to break and snap off on me when I was playing it [Laughing]. So, I never got to play the violin um, yeah.
Samantha Figueroa So what was his name?
Beryl Tolhurst His name was Ward, Mr Ward. I can’t remember his first name because to me he was always just Mr Ward and yeah, he used to live around there on his own in this house. Yeah just another lovely memory that I had.
Samantha Figueroa Yeah, that’s wonderful. Thank you so much for sharing all those beautiful memories of Lilyvale with us. Just one more question, what was your mother’s background?
Beryl Tolhurst Um Yeah, Mum was, Mum was born in Sydney and, and she lived, and they lived in, lived in Sydney until she was about 2 1/2, I think and then they came to live …
Her mother married my grandfather and they came to live down, you know, they came to live in Lilyvale. And so that was my mum’s background was that there were quite a few more houses there when she was a young girl and she grew up there and you know. And then when she was old enough to leave school and I think she went into service in Sydney until I was, I was born and then she came down to live in Lilyvale as well.
Samantha Figueroa And what was your mother’s maiden name?
Beryl Tolhurst But, my mother’s maiden name was actually Scott, but my mother, my grandmother remarried Charles Hargrave, so it was Hargrave. Which is quite a well-known name around the South Coast.
Samantha Figueroa Well um, you certainly have a really interesting history in this area, particularly with Lilyvale. Such a wealth of knowledge for us to know about, so thank you so much for sharing all your experiences with us. Is there anything else that you would like to share?
Beryl Tolhurst Probably not. You know the things that you remember. You remember droughts, and you remember bushfires and things like that, that um still happen to people, but they, they impacted more in our lives then than you know than we do now and, and things like you did the shopping once a week ’cause there were no shops by you, you had to have a supply of stuff in your home and I’ve still had that now.
Just recently my grandson, my son in law came in, he opened up my pantry and he went my goodness what a lot of food and, but that’s just something that I’ve grown up with. You know that you had things on hand, and you know, and so I think that’s probably a change. So, we have people just often go to the shops whenever they feel like, we couldn’t do that. We had to be prepared for, you know, an emergency.
Samantha Figueroa Yes, well, thank you so much for your time and for sharing your experiences with us.
Beryl Tolhurst Thank you, it’s been my pleasure.