Interview Transcript from Illawarra Stories Wollongong City Libraries Oral History Project – Bronwen Chamberlain
Interviewer: Jo Oliver
Interview Date: 17 July 2018
Jo The following interview was conducted with Bronwen Chamberlain, and it’s part of Wollongong City Council Library’s Illawarra Stories Oral History project. It took place at Bronwen ‘s home in Bulli on the 17th of July 2018. And my name is Jo Oliver.
So Bronwen I understand that you’ve always lived in Bulli. Can you..,?
Bronwen Yes, I was born in 14 Tyrwhitt Avenue, Bulli, ah, in the house. Um, when I was 20, I moved to Bulli Lookout. Um, I married Peter, and we stayed there for 25 years. Then I moved down next to my old home, and we built there.
Jo Wonderful. So that’s a great summary. Can we, can we backtrack a little bit. So you were born in the house next door, and, and were you parents local.
Bronwen Yes, yes.
Jo So where, where were they from?
Bronwen Well Dad was from Wales originally, and he came out, um, when his father married again, and, ah, he couldn’t stand his stepmother. She was a very cruel person, so he came out to Australia. Ah, his 3 siblings had died with TB, and he said he had more meal times than meals. I was born in Clifton and then they moved to Bulli to the baker’s shop opposite the Bulli Methodist Church and then after that they moved down to the bakehouse and shop, watch, what is now the grounds of Bulli Public school.
Jo Were they, they were bakers, your parents?
Bronwen They were bakers, yes, yes.
Jo And your, and how did your parents meet? Do you know anything of that story?
Bronwen No, I don’t, [laughs] as a matter of fact. They never told me that.
Jo Ok, um, they were, were they involved in the, in the Church at all when you lived there?
Bronwen No, No. My mother was a great gardener. She had a show garden. She had, ah, 2 blocks of land, and, ah, they built their first, their house their only house, um, in 1924. She had a spare block, and it was known as a show garden round Bulli. And it was lovely to grow up with the flowers all the way around.
Jo Mm. It’s a beautiful sight.
Bronwen She used to export orchids to America and, ah, she sold flowers to local people. She had what she called her commercial garden, which was a mass of dahlias and chrysanthemums in flower. But the garden was a picture, it was really lovely.
Jo Mmm, it sounds lovely and it’s a perfect spot for growing with everything. And, um, what did your father – what was his…?
Bronwen He was, he was a miner. But he worked on the weighbridge not, as he said, not underground.
Bronwen He didn’t want to be underground. He was underground in Wales.
Jo And did you have any siblings?
Bronwen Yes, I had one sister, Jean. She was, she was 13 years older than me. We were very close. Ah, Mum wasn’t well after I was born, and Jean did quite a lot of looking after me when she was around about 18, 19, 20. And she married when I was 11, and, ah, she moved to Wollongong. Mum and Dad had bought 3 blocks of ground. There was to be one for Jean and one for me, but Jean’s husband Bill did not want, um, to live here, it was too far from work, he was working in Port Kembla so they built in Keiraville.
Jo And what do you remember about your childhood?
Bronwen I can remember getting on the back of, um, wheelbarrow, or not a wheelbarrow, billy cart. My cousin used to make them, and we would scoot down the hill with me screaming my head off, um, “Don’t go so fast!”
Jo Well it’s a very steep hill!
Bronwen Yes, it was.
Jo Did it have any brakes?
Bronwen Yes, oh yes, he had brakes. I did go down there on my pushbike, and I landed in the, ah, bushes there, that wasn’t very pleasant. Ah, we used to play down at the Woodlands Creek at the foot and, ah, sail boats, and, um, we’d watch the cows going home at the certain time to be milked, and it was always quite amazing to see one particular cow was always the leader. I could never quite understand why that would happen.. they’d go over to the farm. I can remember going over to the farm with Ray and being in the middle of some, I don’t know whether it was corn field or what, and the farmer coming out and screaming he was going to shoot us! I was going to we were hiding, um – I was going to run, and Ray said, “No, don’t! He’ll see the stuff moving, we’ve got to stay very still and quiet until he goes away.” I think Ray got me into quite a bit of mischief.
Jo It sounds like it.
Bronwen And other time we went down onto the railway line, and I followed Ray again, this was before I went to school. And we were playing catching tadpoles in the water beside the railway line, when the train came along. And much to our disgust, the train stopped, and, ah, the other lass I was with, it was her brother was the train driver, and we did get into terrible trouble.
Jo That was so dangerous.
Bronwen I would have been about 4-1/2.
Jo Right. So you really sound like you had a lot of freedom.
Bronwen Oh yes.
Jo [unclear] other children that you were able to go and…
Bronwen We used to go, we had to have cracker nights, and everybody would gather up their fireworks and we’d all go over and pile everything we could onto the bonfire and we’d cook potatoes in the flames and, oh, it was a great, great way to grow up.
Jo And when was that – Empire Day then?
Bronwen Empire Day. Yeah.
Jo And what was the, um, surroundings here – so you saw the cows, so there were dairy farms?
Bronwen There were no, no homes in Sturdee Avenue. There was the hospital opposite, um, there was, um, Mum’s place, Squires, I suppose there was 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, half a dozen, half a dozen homes that’s all.
Jo And what was the hospital?
Bronwen It was a, ah, for babies only, a maternity hospital, Hillside Hospital, yeah. Nurse Taylor, I used to go over and visit her and she used to make her own soap, and, oh, did it smell! [laughs] The whole hill knew Nurse was cooking soap! [laughter]
Jo Not nice. [unclear] made from tallow or something like that I imagine.
Bronwen I don’t know, never asked her.
Jo And was she the only staff at the hospital?
Bronwen Yes, yes.
Jo So she would look after everyone.
Bronwen And she would look after everybody, yeah. I think Mrs Squires and Mrs Macaulay, they both had their baby, their last babies there.
Jo Mm. And was that just the size of a house, is that that’s the house that’s there.
Bronwen It’s over there now on 2 blocks of ground and, ah, it’s, it’s beautiful inside. It’s been turned into a home now, but it is really lovely inside.
Jo So a lot of the original houses are still here in this street.
Bronwen Yes they are, yes.
Jo And what was the main road like then. Was it…?
Bronwen Oh, you’d have sulkies going along and nothing like, I think, like today. I can remember when they actually built the footpath at Woodlands Creek down here and you used to have to go on to the road, and then they built the footpath round, and I can remember being quite disgusted about that, I didn’t like it at all!
Jo What didn’t you like about it?
Bronwen I, I just liked it the way it was before – I did not like that.
Jo Too defined for you.
Bronwen Yes, I just didn’t approve. [laughs]
Bronwen We used to go blackberry picking at least once, twice a year, and, ah, Mum and her sister Aunty Ivy and, er, my two cousins and myself, we’d go down there and we’d pick blackberries all the time, and then Mum’d make blackberry jelly, and blackberry jelly and blackberry pies. And, yeah, that was lovely.
Jo So that would have been in, in summer when they were ripe?
Bronwen Oh yes, yes, summer time – snake time.
Jo Did you ever see any snakes, or were you warned about snakes?
Bronwen Ah, no, I saw plenty at the Lookout, but, ah, I was, we were always careful. But we made enough noise for them to run away I think, yes.
Jo And you’re quite close to the sea here, was the beach..?
Bronwen Once, once a year we went to Austinmer. Mum and Dad did not have a car, and, ah, we’d go out to Austinmer once a year. Mum would take me down to Sandon Point to the jetty, where the boats are, and I’d swim in the channel there.
Jo Just on your own?
Bronwen Just Mum and I.
Jo Had you learnt to swim?
Bronwen Yes, um, I can’t remember – can’t remember whether I was ever taught. I think it just – Mum never taught me. I can’t remember how that…
Jo You just worked it out yourself.
Bronwen I can remember swimming in the channel, and after Jean got married in 1941, I was 11, and, ah, Mum bought me a Scotch terrier dog and, ah, I would deliberately torment her by swimming out and then pretending I was drowning. And she’d jump in and come and grab hold of my costumes and pull me back in again. And I’d pat her and then I’d go back in again. You’d see the look on her face, “What she going in there again for!” [laughs] I would do this three or four times until Mum’d say, “Stop it!”
Jo And what other entertainment did you – was there any organised entertainment that you went to?
Bronwen I joined the Church, ah, right from the word go, ah, at Sunday school at the Methodist Church. Ah, Mum said we were Church of Englands, but it was too far away. And then when I was a teenager the numbers in the Sunday school had gone down, so I went around all the homes around here and asked if I could take their children to Sunday school and bring them back, and, ah, I did that for quite a few years. I had anything up to 20 children. Sometimes I might only have a dozen and I would walk them up. I had to go down here to Sturdee Avenue and I’d start. And then I’d round them up and come up here, and then I’d go over onto the main road and pick up, um, Edna Thomas’s three children, and the children up the top. And then when I got to the top of Tyrwhitt Avenue, they’d seen me in, in, um, the street down there, can’t remember the name, ah, the Wilkie twins and Glennys ?Frew?, and they’d walk up to meet me, um, on the corner of Beattie Avenue, and then we’d walk up to the Church and then I’d bring them back again after. Ah, I loved doing that.
Jo And you would teach them?
Bronwen Yes, I’d teach some of them, yes. So I enjoyed doing that, then we joined the, ah, Comrades at Thirroul, ah, Methodist Church, and we’d have scavenger hunts and paper chases and we’d go to Church – we’d walk out to Church. And then sometimes I’d go with, ah, Mr and Mrs ?Daisley?, Lee and Molly and Allen who lived on the corner down here. And, ah, their car had a running board and you had to step on the running board and get in. And, ah, but often we’d walk back because it was nice to walk back with some of the boys. [laughter]
Jo You were a teenager then?
Jo Comrades was a teenage, like a teenage fellowship group?
Bronwen Yes, that’s right, yes.
Jo And what else do you remember about that time – daily chores or how the household ran?
Bronwen When I finished school, Mum… Mum wanted me to be home with her for a year, and I think I was pretty lazy. I didn’t have a great deal to do, I had to clean the mat, clean the copper kettle. There was one other job I had to do… on a Friday, and I didn’t like Friday! [laughs]
Jo What did you do the rest of the time?
Bronwen Oh, I went to Tech to learn sewing, so I did that. And I just stayed at home and I think I got bored and I think Mum got bored, and then I started, ah, work in Wollongong, so…
Jo What do you think her thinking was behind that. Was she..?
Bronwen I don’t know, I don’t know.
Jo Thought you were a bit young to be out in the world.
Bronwen I started school, I turned 4 in the September. Ah, Ray Wood, my cousin, wouldn’t go to school without me, so they sent me off, ah, I would have been, say 4 and 4 months, I went with him. I did well in primary school. I was very disappointed not to be Dux in 6th class, but when I got to high school I was just too young and I did not cope. Ah, I repeated 2nd year, I think, I finished at 3rd year and got my Intermediate Certificate. But I never enjoyed high school at all, and I was frightened of the teachers. I was not happy there at all.
Jo No. And was that Bulli High School?
Bronwen It was Wollongong High.
Jo Wollongong High.
Bronwen Yeah, had to catch the train.
Jo Right. And before that in the primary school, you were at Bulli?
Bronwen Bulli Public.
Jo Yeah, yeah, so maybe think that was all, maybe that was behind your mother’s thinking, that you were young for your year. And when you went to TAFE to learn sewing, that was at Wollongong?
Bronwen That was at Wollongong.
Jo And how did you get there?
Bronwen By train.
Jo Right. And what… do you remember what you learnt there. Was it, was it aimed…?
Bronwen It was all, all sewing and drafting, and, yes, yeah.
Jo So was it aimed at preparing young women for domestic… work in their own house, or was it occupational?
Bronwen No. Um, Mum was a tailoress and she was a sewer, and, ah, it was just something that I had to learn.
Jo Yeah. So she would make, um, that was a commercial thing for her… she would make things for people and be paid?
Bronwen Yes, she did, yeah.
Jo That was something she could do from home.
Bronwen She did that while Dad was at the War.
Bronwen She didn’t once she moved into the house.
Jo And then how did you meet your husband?
Bronwen Well, I was with my friend Iris, and we were looking through the dance at the Soldiers Hall at Thirroul and I saw Peter dancing with somebody from… was a member of the Comrades, and, ah, the next, I said to her, I said, “Whose – who were you dancing with?” “Oh, that’s Peter Chamberlain from the shop. Don’t you know him?” I said, “No, no. Why don’t you bring him along to the next social?” So she did, and that was that. [laughter]
Jo So love at first sight?
Bronwen Was on my part [laughs].
Jo And who were those dances…?
Bronwen And who was..?
Jo Sorry who were the dances, um, organised by?
Bronwen Um, I don’t know, but I wasn’t allowed to go.
Jo Oh, I see.
Bronwen I was only allowed to go to the movies once a fortnight, and I was allowed to go to Church. And I wasn’t allowed a boyfriend until I was 18. And, um, I met Peter when I was – in June, the June the 10th. Ah, would have been 1948. And we’ve been married 68 years this year.
Jo Wonderful. And the movies that you were allowed to go with, where, where were they?
Bronwen At Thirroul, at the Kings theatre.
Jo And do you remember any of, any of them, what sort of things you would see?
Bronwen No. [laughter] Too many years.
Jo Too many years! Fair enough.
Bronwen Too many years.
Jo So you married Peter, and where, where did you get married?
Bronwen At the Bulli Methodist Church.
Jo Right, where you, you’d gone. And where did you, ah, first live?
Bronwen At Bulli Lookout. And, ah, we stayed there until ’68 and we built down here in 1968. And, ah, my niece and nephew stayed, lived at the Lookout, and then my daughter lived at the Lookout. And then my niece and nephew came back and lived at the Lookout, and we sort of lived down here and went up from 1968.
Jo So how did you come to live at the Lookout? Was that, was Peter’s family involved?
Bronwen Ah, Peter’s, ah, Rube and Jack Hargraves loaned us the money. They knew it was coming up for sale, and they said on the condition that we never tried to take the tourist buses away from them, they would pay us to go, pay, give us the money to go in, yeah, so.
Jo So there was somewhere to live there?
Bronwen Oh, yes, yeah.
Jo And a kiosk, is that correct?
Bronwen Very primitive, but yes.
Jo And was they attached to the building, your house and the kiosk, or were they separate?
Bronwen Oh yes, it was attached.
Jo Attached. And how did, how did the kiosk work. When, when was it open?
Bronwen Seven days a week, ah, we served scones, jam and cream, sandwiches, pies. Sundays and public holidays we served chicken, pork and lamb roast dinners. Um, we had a very, very small kitchen. We had a double oven stove, and you were nearly sitting on it when you were dishing up. Believe you me it was hot in the summer time!
Jo It would be. And did you do all that cooking?
Bronwen Um, Peter did the scones. The idea was I was to do the scones, but when you saw how many went in it, I couldn’t do it. So Peter took over the scones straight away, yeah, thank goodness. [laughs]
Jo So how many would you, would he cook a day?
Bronwen Oh, on a, on a really busy day, he would cook, oh, practically nearly all day, just stand there and cook.
Jo And all those roasts and everything, would you, would you do those?
Bronwen No, we had, we usually had somebody that would be doing the cooking. Um, it was Pat Williams did the cooking in the later years. I had, ah, Pat, Iris and Kathleen the three sisters working for us. They were great. I had a Mrs Joy and Margaret, her daughter. She started, Margaret started coming, looking after Kerrie when Kerrie was born, and she’d be babysitting Kerrie of a the weekend, and then she started, um, as a waitress and she was with us for a long time. A lot of staff we had at odd times. Peter would come down and pick them up and take them home. We had a few horrible things happening there. We had, ah, suicide in the front of the kiosk. We had people jump over, we had cars going over. Um, yeah, we had break-ins. A bit scary at times.
Jo Yeah, it’s quite a, it’s quite an isolated site [unclear].
Bronwen Oh, it is. I wouldn’t like to be up there now.
Jo So, the people that came, they were tourists mostly from Sydney?
Bronwen Yeah, mostly tourists, yes.
Jo And would they, um – how long through the day would they, when would the first people start to arrive, in the morning?
Bronwen Well it would depend on the weather. If the fog was down it’d be quite, nobody around, ah, just the odd ones coming in. And then on a, on a busy day we’d, we’d start early and, ah, we’d still be, have the shop open at 8 o’clock at night. We’d be up washing till 10. Easter weekend you’d get up the next morning and you’d think, “Oh, I can’t stand on my feet, they’re too sore.” It was hard. And four children. That was not easy. Yeah, it wasn’t easy.
Jo And, was the kiosk is quite close to the, to the Lookout, is it?
Bronwen Oh yes.
Jo Close to the edge, so you could see, there was a view from the, from the kiosk?
Bronwen Oh yes, yes. It was beautiful at night, absolutely lovely at night, just like fairyland. I loved it at night.
Jo Tell me about what it looked like, what what were the scenes like at night?
Bronwen Oh, you could see the, the trains snaking through, and you could see the traffic going through, and you’d see, sometimes you’d see ships out there, and the moon coming up. It was, it was really beautiful.
Jo And where did your children go to school?
Bronwen Bulli Public.
Jo So how would they…?
Bronwen Peter had to bring them down, they’d go and stay with Mum next door. And when he brought the staff down, he’d bring them home. Couldn’t have managed without my mother. But once Kerrie turned 16, and she was due to go, starting, she was started work with the, ah, Wollongong County Council at 17, and then we knew she’d be, couldn’t be isolated up at the Lookout all the time, so we built down here then. Three cheers for Kerrie. [laughs]
Jo And then you moved, you lived down here.
Bronwen Yes, we lived down here, yes.
Jo And still ran the kiosk.
Bronwen Yes, still ran the kiosk. So you’d have long days, going up and down.
Bronwen Yes, so I had Donna here. Ah, she was the only one that I felt a proper housewife with a little one, which was lovely.
Jo She was the youngest, yeah.
Bronwen She was the youngest.
Jo And you said there was some, um, difficult situations up there with people suicide and things. What, what would be the procedure then. Did you….?
Bronwen Well, I found, um, things on the top of the cliff, unfortunately it was me, and, ah, so I had to go to court, and I felt so embarrassed. I was in court and I had to take my gloves off and I couldn’t get my gloves off, my hands were sweating to start with, to put my hand on the Bible. And then I started to read out my statement, and he’d say, “Stop! Stop!”, “Why have I got to stop?” And I’d read another – and Peter’s up in the back seat laughing like mad. The typist was typing as I spoke. And I had to speak – nobody told me -why he couldn’t have said, “Please wait for the typist.”
Jo Yeah, they couldn’t keep up with you.
Bronwen Never, ever want to go to court again. [laughter]
Jo No, no. And so, after you moved down here in, what year was that roughly you moved back to, you moved to this house but still worked up at the kiosk.
Bronwen Yes, that’s right.
Jo And then you continued to work up there until..?
Bronwen Until 1975.
Jo And what, you decided to retire then, or what happened?
Bronwen Well, I wasn’t feeling very well, and I more or less said to Peter, “If we don’t get out of here, you’ll be taking me out in a box.” So we went.
Bronwen Yes. He was, he liked being up there, I’d, I’d had enough.
Jo Yes. So you sold the business?
Bronwen Yes, yes, we sold.
Jo And then did he continue to work?
Bronwen Yes, he moved over, he got work at Dairy Farmers over here, and he worked in Wollongong for a while, then he worked over here for a while, until he turned 60 and then he retired. So he’s been retired 31 years now.
Jo So you enjoyed that period when you were back here with your younger family?
Bronwen Yes, yes.
Jo And you, your mother was still alive then?
Bronwen Yes, Mum died in 1980. Yes. We travelled a lot, we, ah, went overseas quite a bit. We enjoyed that. We went to, we started off just going to New Zealand and Fiji and Manila, and then we moved a bit further afield and we went to, um, England and Europe. Then we decided, yes, we’d like to go to Alaska. So we went to Alaska and, ah, we stayed on shore each night which was great. And then later on we went to Alaska with my son and his wife. We went on the cruise ship and, um, Peter wasn’t really keen on the cruises. We went on 3. I would have liked more, but, ah, we got a bit lazy I think. [laughs]
Jo I think you’re allowed to after all that hard work! And, um, you’ve, I understand you’ve been very involved in local history of the area, and you’ve written a number of books. So when did, did you always have that interest [unclear]?
Bronwen Um, I think it was 2002, and I thought I’d like to write down what I knew about where Mum and Dad came from, and then it sort of, ah, went to Bulli Look- – I think it might have started with Bulli Lookout. Because we bought from the Nixon’s and Dolly Nixon worked for the Moore’s when she was a teenager, and she used to ride up the Pass on a horse when she was needed and then she’d stay overnight. And then when Mrs Moore got sick, um, Dolly and her husband took over. I forget how many years they stayed. But, ah, then we bought it from them and we stayed 25 years and just the time got away, we were busy.
Jo But that, that’s partly what started your interest in the history?
Bronwen I think so, because I was able to get in touch with, ah, June and, ah, I got all the information from her mother. She was in a nursing home, and June was very good, she gave me all the details of the early years. And I thought, “Oh, should write this down.” You know, because, ah, Dolly Nixon wasn’t going to last for ever and it would be gone then, so, so I did that. And then, then I started, I thought “Oh I’ll do Mum’s and then I’ll do Peter’s side of the family.” And it sort of grew.
Jo Yes. And you have a lot of wonderful photos too that go with those, with that writing, yeah.
Bronwen Yes, we’ve been lucky with the photos because we got, ah, Rube Hargrave’s, all her photos, and, ah, she had her brother’s photos, Peter’s Dad and, um, so we’ve just seemed to be collecting, and then Peter and I would go around with a camera, and he’d drive and I’d take photos while the car was going along, and then we’d decide, “Oh this is going on, ok we’ll take photos of this.” And we seemed to be doing “Now and Then” photos of Bulli, and then Thirroul. And we started Austinmer, but we didn’t finish that. Then, when they built the bridge down here, we thought, “Oh well, we’re in a good position here to take the photos, so, out came the camera again. Yes, we’ve got quite a few, but not terribly well organised unfortunately. It’s a bit late for that. [laughs]
Jo They’re great in documenting some, some of the changes. And you mentioned Rube Hargraves, so what’s the relationship there, she’s..?
Bronwen That’s Peter’s aunt.
Jo Right, and I imagine with the Hargrave name, she’s related to Lawrence Hargrave?
Bronwen Jack is, yes, yes.
Jo So just Jack.
Bronwen Jack ?Hart? was a nephew I think.
Jo Right, right. So you’ve got a very long history in the area between the two of you.
Bronwen Yes, we do have.
Jo Yeah, and, um, so thinking about changes to the area over the time that you have a long memory of the area, how would you describe the, the changes?
Bronwen Well, I don’t like the traffic. It was so, you know, you could just walk across the road with an odd car might be coming, you know. [laughs]
Jo Across Lawrence Hargrave Drive?
Bronwen And now, it’s so, so dreadful out here. And all the buildings, just, ah, just so different, yes.
Jo Are there particular buildings that have gone that you remember?
Bronwen Um, sorry to see the, ah, Denmark, or the way it’s going. I, I would like to have seen it restored, but, I think from looking inside it I don’t know whether it would be financially viable to make it into… I know they seem to be working on a again now, but I think it’s putting money into a bottomless pit. But I’d be sorry to see it go, because my great uncle George Aston bought it in 1911, and he kept it until he died in 1942, and then it was left to Mum and Aunty Ivy and Aunty Clair, her two sisters. And Mum always said she didn’t want to have anything to do with it, and Aunty Ivy and Uncle Jack bought it. And, and Jack did it up and then when he died it went to Maurice [Bourke], my cousin, and he just let it go. And, ah, then it was done up. We’ve taken quite a lot of photos of all the work when it was renovated in 2004. And then Sean came in and he’s doing it up again, but he seems to have undone everything that was done in 2004, and I don’t know whether it’ll go ahead or not. [laughs]
Jo Do you know if – are there plans for it to be commercial premises again?
Bronwen It was supposed to be. It was, he was going to make it into four, um, units. It’s been, there’s been different plans, but the, the Council have made it pretty hard, that – I’ve just had a letter from the architect that was doing it, and he said it would cost him $500,000, whether that figure’s right or not I don’t know, um, to, to make the entrance in through the Miner’s cottage. Yeah, so…
Jo And what’s the history of the name, “Denmark”?
Bronwen It was called the “Tourist” when it was in our family, yeah, it was called the “Tourist”. But, ah, it was – ?an author?, Mick Roberts, has got all that written down, yeah. Yes, we always knew it as ‘the Tourist’, and then when it changed to the Denmark, my sister said, “Why are they talking of the Denmark, it’s Tourist.” But it was the ‘Denmark’ first evidently, then the ‘Tourist’ and now the ‘Denmark’.
Jo Yes, it’s the, the revived…
Jo An older name.
Bronwen Yes, so.
Jo And any other changes in the area that you would like to comment on?
Bronwen No, I can’t think of any at the moment.
Jo So, you still enjoy living where you grew up?
Bronwen Yes, yes. I enjoy my garden. I enjoy my photos, [laughs]. I enjoy my family.
Jo And are some of them still local?
Bronwen Three yeah. My youngest daughter’s in Bundaberg, which is too far away now. And, er, I’ve got one one in, ah, Thirroul, one in Wombarra and one in Balgownie.
Jo Yes nice and close. And after you left the Bulli, the kiosk, the Lookout kiosk, do you know who, um, had it after that, or what it’s, what it’s history has been more recently?
Bronwen Um, I did have that…
Jo I understand that it’s just – it’s closed at the moment.
Bronwen It’s closed and I can’t understand why. I’m trying to think of the – Trevor, Trevor Robbins had it. And, ah, it was always, it was busy, it was clean, they, the staff were really lovely. They had the best scones on the mountain, and, um, for some reason, they did not meet the Council’s requirements, and they were refused the lease. But I was told on Facebook, so whether it’s correct or not I don’t know, that even if he sold, the Council would not give the new people a lease. And I don’t know why that would be, but that may not be correct, but it was on Facebook, yes.
Jo So the property’s actually owned by the Council is it, but it’s leased?
Bronwen Now, yes. And it’s dilapidated- it’s dusty, everything’s – and that, it closed last October. Whether there was a reason, or what the reason was, that, um, he didn’t get the lease, I don’t know.
Jo And there’s a bit of competition from other, there’s a few different places up there. Was that always the case?
Bronwen Oh, yes.
Jo So Panorama House was near you, and was that a different sort of business to yours, or…?
Bronwen Well, Sublime Point was buses and buses and buses, and souvenirs. They did a fantastic selling of, of souvenirs, they did very, very well. We were picnickers, oh they had picnickers, too. We did some souvenirs, but nothing like Sublime and we did get a few buses. Um, we’d get children going down to the Steelworks to look over the Steelworks. Ah, we had buses of people coming to Australia for the first time. We’d get, ah, the occasional odd, ah, bus in. We’d get gypsies in too, yeah we’d get gypsies in.
Jo Tell me about them.
Bronwen Ah, we’d just say, “Gypsies are in, shut the doors! [laughs]. Lock the doors!”
Jo So would they, they’d be families?
Bronwen Yeah, yes.
Bronwen Travelling through, yes, yeah. I don’t think they, we – I can’t ever remember them stealing anything, but, ah, we were always, you know, tried to be careful.
Jo They had a reputation?
Bronwen They had the reputation, yes, yeah.
Jo And would the buses book in ahead of time? Would you know who you were getting for that day, or..?
Bronwen Not always, no, not always.
Jo So you’d really have to prepare food [unclear].
Bronwen Often it was just the counter too.
Jo Do you have happy memories of working up there, overall?
Bronwen Overall, happy memories. A little bit too much hard work at times.
Jo Yeah, well at a busy time of your life, with young children.
Bronwen Yeah, very, very busy, yes, yeah.
Jo Were you ever worried about the children with the, the lookout and the…?
Bronwen We had one very close shave, I had a girlfriend come up with her daughter, and I never had any problem with my children, but for some reason this time, um, I don’t know why we weren’t watching them, but they’d gone around to the back park and they were 1, 2, 3 – three girls, um, two of mine and my friend’s and two of them had gone outside the fence. And that was, I – Peter saw them and he yelled out to me, “Don’t come round!” And he ran like mad because I ran down, and he just carefully talked them back in. And yeah, so that could have been, could have been very nasty.
Jo Close call.
Bronwen Oh, I wouldn’t – we knew what we were doing [laughs].
Bronwen Yeah, so.
Jo Well, you have some wonderful, wonderful memories over a long period of time of this, this beautiful place. Is there anything else you’d like to, to add?
Bronwen No, I think that might be enough. I think my voice is going off!
Jo Ok well thank you so much, um, for the interview Bronwen . It’s been really interesting and, um, I’m sure it’ll be a great addition to the collection, so thank you.
Bronwen Oh, you’re welcome.