Carol North – Interview Transcript

Interview Transcript from Illawarra Stories Wollongong City Libraries Oral History Project – Carol North

Interviewer: Samantha Figueroa

Interview date: 15 April 2021

Samantha Figueroa  The following interview was conducted with Carol North as part of Wollongong City Council’s Libraries, Illawarra Stories Oral History Project. It took place in Stanwell Park at Carols Home on the 15th of April 2021, and I’m Samantha Figueroa. So can you tell me about your life in the Illawarra Carol? Have you lived here for very long?

Carol North  I’ve lived here in particularly here for four years. Unit 27 Stanwell Park.

Samantha Figueroa  And how about in the Illawarra area? How many years have you lived in the Illawarra area for?

Simone  So you said 1958 is when you moved.

Carol North  That that was permanent, but I was here in 48.

Simone  Yep.

Carol North  Yeah, so I suppose. From when we were building or when we lived permanently?

Simone  All of it.

Samantha Figueroa  Yep.

Carol North  So I was permanently from 58 in Coledale

Samantha Figueroa  OK.

Carol North  And which when after the war when my husband died, I moved up, went to the top of Australia went to the bottom of Australia which I have.

Samantha Figueroa  Where was your favourite place in all the places in Australia?

Carol North  Just it’s just a beautiful place you could live anywhere in Australia.

Samantha Figueroa  We’re lucky, aren’t we?

Carol North And 1st, of course, I’ll after the war we had a box trailer and we slept in that the first time around Australia and then we came back. That time my husband wasn’t happy with the trailer, so we brought a, ah, I think the caravan. Yes we bought a caravan and did Australia with many times again and each time we travelled Australia we would stop at Kalgoorlie. We would stop maybe any place for the weekend and then we’d move on again. And when I came, when we finished travelling that part my husband got too sick to drive ‘cos I did not drive a motor car, so I had to get, no, we had a we had a boat, then. We bought the boat and we took the boat from here up to the Islands, Barrier Reef and whatever. Then I had to get my boat licence because he wasn’t safe enough. If anything should happen to him in the middle of the ocean, I would have to take over. Luckily, I didn’t have to, he, he was okay.

Samantha Figueroa  That’s good.

Carol North  Yeah. And then I think that was the end of our, my travelling. He got too sick. And ‘cos he was in the War for six years and he was suffering from War injuries. When he died, I was living at Coledale on my own.

Simone  For a long time.

Carol North  I’m just thinking, would it be three or…

Simone  So Pa died in 2006 – ’75. She lived on her own at Coledale and looked after a whole property for many, long… So, she, you didn’t move after Pa died, you lived at Coledale for a long time.

Carol North  I lived on my own for a long time and I had to do the garden and house and painting and did everything. And it got too big for me, I couldn’t manage all the duties so the family decided I should move. I could not manage living on my own as …

Simone  You decided, I think. It was on your…

Carol North  Well it was a help from the family they, they guided me to say, “Nana, you cannot live here and do what you do on your own at 91.”

Simone  No, No, you were ninety, no you were 96-97.

Carol North  When I moved from Coledale?

Simone  Yes.

Carol North  Well I’m 99 now.

Simone  Yes. You were 96.

Carol North  And I’ve been here four…96. That’s what I’m a bit confused in, the dates. And then I would move here for four years and I’m very happy here. I can still travel, which I have. I went to Canada; I went to America. So I’m still…

Samantha Figueroa  And then you get to come back to a beautiful place.

Carol North  Yeah, yes, I realise I have been very lucky here. Everybody’s nice here.

Samantha Figueroa  Do you mind if I ask you about, um, when you were born and where you were born. So what year you were you born?

Carol North  Melbourne in Victoria I suppose, ah, in a place called Armadale. And my father wasn’t in the War because he was working for the government at the time.

Samantha Figueroa  Okay.

Carol North  And I was 18 when I left, no, 17 when I left school. I got a job in the local Coles and I was there for, oh, a year I suppose. I didn’t like that. So I, I represented Australia for, in basketball twice.

Samantha Figueroa  Wow! That’s incredible.

Carol North  Yes, I was only 14 when I first represented Victoria and then as I got to 18 I represented Victoria again. And then I left school and then I got a job anywhere. In those days you were lucky to get a job. And then my girlfriend and I decided to travel around Australia hitchhiking which they did. So then after that – I forget what happened after that.

Simone  Did you go to the War then? You would have been about that age.

Carol North  Oh, that’s right, I joined the Air Force. That’s after that, yes.

Simone  You would have been 18-19.

Carol North  Oh yes I was. and I joined the Air Force and I was a radio wireless operator. But we trained in the racecourse which is now Flemington.

Samantha Figuero  Oh, wow.

Carol North  And I was in a horse shed with other trainees and I was there for six months doing my training when I was posted, I was posted to Queensland and I walked in, I worked in several places there. The last place was Amberley and that was underground and we had a lake on the top of us. It looked like a lake but we were, we were working secretly underneath the glass top. So when we went on duty and off duty we had to go into Brisbane into the secret place which was behind a cigarette stall. So we used to go in the cigarette stall, at the back was a huge radio organisation, and we learnt then, I think I’ve got it all written down in there.

Simone  Morse Code.

Carol North  No, we did the Morse code in at Flemington Racecourse, six months training. And then we were, well, I was sent to, with many others of course, to a coding place in Amberley which everything we took was in Morse code and we used to listen very intensely for the airwaves. Then if we heard a, a strange plane, which in those days was Japanese planes flying everywhere, we would take their code number, we would record it, go back to the office or wasn’t an office there, it was back to the station, given to General MacArthur’s helpers, or I suppose they were just workers there or officers. They would decode the messages that we had given them, and they would know what, what planes were in the air, so they could,

Samantha Figueroa  Wow.

Carol North  They could trace the Japanese planes where they were and all that. So that was very, very secret at the time. No one actually knew where the Air Force was working with the, with the radios. That was exciting.

Samantha Figueroa  That’s amazing.

Carol North  Then in, I, I’ve got it written down in there, well, I was discharged in Melbourne, Flemington again.

Samantha Figueroa  How old were you when you were discharged?

Carol North  I was 23 then.

Samantha Figueroa  So it was about…

Carol North  Yeah, I was 23 and then my husband, which was only a boyfriend then, was in the Navy. He was in the Navy for six years and he was discharged almost the same time as I was discharged from the Air Force. We got married and we lived in Melbourne. And then we lived in Melbourne for a while and then we discovered Coledale – block of land.

Simone  You moved to Parramatta, Dundas. When was that?

Carol North  When?

Simone  When did you move to Parramatta?

Carol North  After the War. That was straight after the War, we went to his mother’s place actually, ‘cos there was no, we didn’t have a home. We had no money; we were in a War for both of us. The mother, his mother gave us a block of land in Dundas which was just rabbits and bush. We cleared that and got a War Service loan, which wasn’t much now, but it was a lot then. My husband got a job in the Railways and he was happy there. So, we, he stayed there until we discovered Coledale. We preferred Coledale to permanently live. So we built a house or, no, we had to get rid of the little house that was there, it was just a shack. And then we gradually built a home as we got money and as time went on, we kind of built a home. We stayed there for until, or till my husband was too sick to do anything. And when he died then I lived at Coledale on my own for, how long – 10 years?

Simone  What is that, from 2006 to 2017.

Samantha Figueroa  Oh, okay.

Simone  Is how long she lived on a huge block on her own.

Carol North  Yeah, I lived there for a while.

Samantha Figueroa  11, 11 years then.

Simone  Yeah.

Samantha Figueroa  Yeah.

Carol North  Approximately, easily.

Simone  We’ve for a while now.

Carol North  Simone was in Canada at the time.

Simone  When you were selling, yes. So, I flew home to help you.

Carol North  And she was very good, she decided to come back to Sydney to help me pack and unpack and which I’ve got a lot of photos I should have kept.

Samantha Figueroa  This is your granddaughter here with us.

Simone  Yeah, sorry.

Samantha Figueroa  I might just introduce you as well. What was your name?

Simone  I’m Simone.

Samantha Figueroa  Yes. So, Carol’s granddaughter Simone’s here with us as well and, um, and she’s got memories as well of her Grandma’s life, so she’ll be sharing those in between as well. So, thank you Simone.

Carol North  Yes, that’s my daughter’s daughter.

Samantha Figueroa  Yes.

Carol North  My daughters, um…

Samantha Figueroa  So how many children do you have Carol?

Carol North  Two. I had one daughter, Lorraine, yes, and I’ve got a son who lives in, ah, Bellingen in New South Wales of course up near Coffs Harbour. He’s a farmer or was a farmer – he retired. He lives there. My daughter lived in, I suppose Wollongong, after she got married. Your mother.

Simone  Yeah. I don’t know Mum’s story much. Sad.

Carol North  Yeah. She lived there, still lives there.

Simone  She lives in Wagga, Wagga Wagga, not Wollongong.

Carol North  Wagga Wagga.

Simone  Yeah.

Carol North  Yeah, she still lives there which she, until recently, she’s not well, she came down regularly from Wagga Wagga to here to see whether I was all right. And now my granddaughter’s thankfully come to finish me off before [laughs].

Simone  That sounds morbid. [Laughing]

Carol North  Finish me off, say goodbye. No, she’s very good. [Laughing]

Simone  Just to make sure you’re ok. That’s all.

Samantha Figueroa  And she’s lucky to get to spend some nice time with you.

Simone Yeah, that’s right. Yeah. It’s a blessing for me, so

Carol North  I can’t see my life here has being very happy of course.

Simone  ‘Cos, um, with Coledale, you had it as a holiday house for a while, am I right? You used to go there on weekends with your family.

Carol North  Every weekend we used to go down.

Simone  Yes, from Dundas.

Carol North  From Dundas, yeah.

Simone  Correct. Yeah.

Samantha Figueroa  And then you fell in love did you with Coledale?

Carol North  We were married then, yeah.

Samantha Figueroa  And you fell in love with Coledale and wanted to live there.

Carol North  Oh, yes.

Simone  They had it like a little holiday spot. And then you were like, “This is where I want to be.” And then you stayed there for 1948 to 2017.

Carol North  A long time.

Simone  You lived at that one house.

Carol North  Yes, and there was a school and there was so many shops, a butcher and everything, which are not there now of course.

Simone  No, Coledale’s not what it was.

Carol North  They’ve all gone and I’ve seen Coledale grow.

Samantha Figueroa  Tell me a bit about Coledale back then. So what, what kind of shops were in Coledale?

Carol North  Well, there was only a butcher, a doctor, a chemist and a bit of a shop where you could get milk and butter and kind of, I don’t know what they called it. Just a…

Simone  A corner store.

Carol North  A corner store, that’s what it’d be which is not there now of course. It is there but it’s not what it used to be.

Simone  It’s a coffee shop now. Fancy

Samantha Figueroa  Yeah.

Carol North  And of course it was a coal mine in Coledale. There used to be coal trucks going up and down all the time which was dirty, you know the coal dust and everything. But when the coal mine closed down, everybody from Sydney decided Coledale wasn’t such a bad place. So, they start to come down and buy old houses and like they’re doing today and put new ones down.

Samantha Figueroa  Yep.

Carol North  So there was only one or two houses along the main street, but now, of course, it’s completely packed. So, I’ve seen that completely change from nothing to what it is today.

Samantha Figueroa  So did you have neighbours back when you first moved?

Carol North  No, I had never, never had neighbours at Coledale because the block of land is, um, and which I will show you, is such unusual. I had the Water Board on, I’ll just pick this up and show you if I may… just.

Simone  I’ve got this for you Nana. That’s yours there from the air, yeah.

Carol North  Oh, that’s it.

Simone  I got it from, I don’t know how I found this, but that’s Nana’s house there.

Samantha Figueroa  Okay.

Simone  And she used to own the Council land didn’t you and you sold it.

Carol North  No, the Council always had the land but they, I just used it.

Simone  Okay, sorry.

Carol North  Yeah and then…

Samantha Figueroa  Yeah, so you, you had your own…

Simone  Beach access. So, you walked down her garden and the, the ocean used to touch her grass. So just where she, she had no neighbours. The most bizarre, block you’ve ever seen.

Samantha Figueroa  Your so lucky. Very lucky. [laughs]

Simone  I know, jackpot! [laughter[

Carol North  That was Cater Street where the house was. That was, belonged to, ah, well, I suppose the government then. It wasn’t ours, but we had our fence there and that was government which went down kind of, it was on a cliff. Here was the Cater Street. This was Council and this was here is the beach, the water. So, when I came down from my house here, time I mowed and did that I’m on the beach.

Samantha Figueroa  Wow.

Carol North  The sand came up under my property actually. Yeah, so I lived there for so long and was quite happy there. And then I had to move up here. I didn’t have to move, but I realised it was the wise thing. When you get to 98-97, you can’t live there forever.

Samantha Figueroa  No, that’s right.

Carol North  So then I moved here.

Samantha Figueroa  And you still live in a beautiful place at Stanwell Park, so you’re lucky.

Carol North  Yes.

Simone  It’s still familiar to her. She never wanted to move, say to Wagga to a village, ‘cos it just wasn’t … you always wanted…

Carol North  No, I never liked it…

Samantha Figueroa  So you love the Illawarra.

Simone  Yep.

Carol North  I liked it because it was easy and I had the water.

Simone  It’s home.

Carol North  I’ve got the mountain. I do a lot of walking up there up until woohh..

Simone  Six months ago. You’ve only slowed down.

Carol North  Oh, no, I did…

Simone  You can still walk though. We walk around the whole village.

Carol North  Yeah I still do lots of walks in the bush.

Simone  You’re still very active.

Samantha Figueroa  Yes.

Carol North  And I don’t go swimming now like I used to because I can’t get there without a motor car, so I can’t…

Samantha Figueroa  So did you used to swim all the time over the years, you’ve done lots of swimming?

Carol North  Yes, yes, yes. I was at Coledale I suppose for a couple years and I decided to walk. No car, or my husband had a car but he wasn’t well enough, so I used to walk from Coledale to Thirroul maybe every time, maybe every third or fourth time. Then I walked back to Austinmer and I would have a swim. I would do quite a few laps there. Then I would walk back to Coledale which is…

Simone  It’d be a long way. It’d be 10kms.

Samantha Figueroa  It is a long walk.

Simone  And you did this up until you were in your 80s.

Carol North  Right up until I came here I was still…

Simone  Yeah, you were still walking. In 2017 when we were moving her, before we left for here, she could still walk 8 kilometres at 96-97 without stopping.

Carol North  Yes I was still doing that. And swimming I, we used to swim ‘cos I had a rock pool actually in my property. And I used to be able to, before lunch I’d have a swim. After before night I’d have a swim and during the day on a hot day I’d have a swim because I only had to walk down in my own place actually.

Simone  So she made a lot of friends at the Austinmer pool.

Carol North  Yes. I used to… Judy Burke and all

Simone  Yeah.

Carol North  All those girls.

Simone  Everyone knows her from that pool ‘cos you did it every morning. I remember being at her house and she’d get up before anyone else and she’d be gone and get back before I even woke up.

Carol North  Yes, did walking and swimming and…

Simone  Pa would just wait for you.

Carol North  Yeah, so I’ve kind of been busy.

Samantha Figueroa  That’s good. Well that’s done, that’s done you well hasn’t it, to do all that exercise kept you fit and healthy.

Carol North  Well I suppose I’ve been travelling ever since I was 18 because I was in the Air Force and I used to fly around, in the Air Force not privately. We used to fly different places to pick up different messages and what all this stuff.

Simone  But you’ve always kept fit haven’t you. You’ve always liked being active.

Carol North  I’ve always been active, always walked early of a morning.

Simone  And then kept you going.

Carol North  Yeah.

Samantha Figueroa  That’s wonderful. So, I’m going to ask a bit about your family, your Mum and Dad. What was your Mum’s name?

Carol North  My… Charlotte, Charlotte and my father’s name was Eric Bailey.

Samantha Figueroa  Okay.

Carol North  Mum of course was Bailey too. They were married for a long time, 50 years, 60 years before they, he, Dad died first and then Mum died. Ah, I had four brothers. I had two older and two younger which is now deceased of course. And, ah, my daughter had two daughters. And my son had two sons.

Samantha Figueroa  Oh, wow.

Carol North  So they all, Simone as you can see, is a, she travels as much as she can, works here and works there.

Simone  Yeah, I’m not working right now.

Carol North  And the two boys are kind of part farmers in Bellingen they’re a builder and…

Simone  And well, they’re not, but yeah, Luke’s something fancy, he’s a…

Carol North  No.

Simone  I can’t think what it is, but fancy.

Carol North  No. And they’ve got a farm up there of course. And they come down when they can but it’s too far for them to come down, like Simone’s not married, so she’s got no, nothing to stop you from coming down. The other, her sister, my other granddaughter, who’s married, and she lives in Wagga Wagga and she comes down regularly to see me, which is next weekend?

Simone  Yep, yep. So yeah, she’s my older sister, Danielle. So, she’s just as supportive. She’s been very good.

Carol North  I’ve been very lucky.

Simone  She helps you every way she can.

Carol North  Yeah. And they were actually, I wouldn’t say born, but you were brought up at Coledale.

Simone  I feel like, yeah, well I’ve been going there every school holiday since I was a baby. I’m nearly 34. We’ve gone, we spent six weeks at Christmas like we’ve just always been there. And I’ve watched Coledale change. I used to go to the video store and get video, VHS videos and get lollies from the counter.

Carol North  Yeah.

Simone  Now it’s a hairdresser.

Carol North  Yeah.

Simone  Like even for me, it’s not what it was. I used to go to the corner store and buy like different things.

Carol North  A bit of lolly when no one’s looking.

Simone  Now it’s like a yuppie coffee shop. Like it’s just not what I remember which, you know.

Samantha Figueroa  No, it has changed a lot hasn’t it.

Simone  All those shops were just completely different. The buildings are still the same, you can tell where the butcher was, but it’s just not…

Carol North  Yes.

Simone  It’s just not what it was.

Samantha Figueroa  All right, so, um, I’ve already asked you about your home. And we found out about your work that you did, which was really important work.

Carol North  It was then.

Samantha Figueroa  Which is incredible. Yeah, so interesting. So, did you work at all, um, besides in the home throughout your life?

Carol North  No, because I joined the Air Force so young.

Samantha Figueroa  Yeah.

Carol North  Then and then I did three years and then coming out getting married. And of course those days your wife was, never went to work as much as they do today.

Samantha Figueroa  Yeah.

Carol North  My husband went to work and I stayed home with the two, my two children.

Samantha Figueroa  Working at home.

Carol North  Yeah, and then I could…

Samantha Figueroa  Yes, Yeah.

Carol North …do my swimming and all that while he was working. [laughs]

Samantha Figueroa  Yeah.

Carol North  That was the life 50-60 years ago. Oh, we were married for 60 years, or 59 and 3/4 of a minute under 60. So, we were married for a long time too. And he died of war injuries of course.

Samantha Figueroa  What was his name?

Carol North  Kenneth.

Samantha Figueroa  Kenneth.

Carol North  Ken.

Samantha Figueroa  What kind of injuries did Kenneth have?

Carol North  A, a lot. He had so many – stomach and kidneys and heart and…

Simone  Diabetes.

Carol North  He was just – diabetes.

Simone  And I think I, did a door, a door fell on him, am I right?

Carol North  That was when he went to the Railways when he left the War he went, got a job in the Railways. He didn’t know what he wanted to do. Then he was a carpet layer for a week, he was a policeman for a week, the parking police. [laughter] He didn’t like anything like that, so he was just a, until he got back into the Railway and then he was quite happy there. He was, he wasn’t on the trains, he was in the office where they brought all the food and milk into.

Samantha Figueroa  Oh, okay.

Carol North  Darling Harbour then. And, and he used to have to tell the companies how much milk, how much vegetable, how much of all this. He was that part of the Railway.

Samantha Figueroa  Oh, Okay. Wow.

Carol North  He wasn’t a train driver or anything. So, he was inside and he retired from there, I think he was 55. And then when, that’s when we started to travel, we bought a [laughter] to go around Australia ‘cos he, he couldn’t settle. Being in the Navy for six years, he was very interested in travelling.

Samantha Figueroa  Yes.

Carol North  So it suited me. Then we travelled around as, all over the place really. You mention it, yes I’ve been there.

Samantha Figueroa  You’re very lucky, very fortunate.

Simone  Yeah, your life’s been good.

Samantha Figueroa  So I’m going to go back, back a bit further now, back to school. Where did you go to school?

Carol North  At Caulfield in Cedar Street in Melbourne, near the Racecourse, now of course, it wasn’t there then and…

Samantha Figueroa  Did you like school?

Carol North  Of course, I played basketball most …Yes, I, I didn’t mind. I wasn’t, I wasn’t clever, but I did like to know what I should know. And I left school early and got this job in Coles which was up the corner from me. Which was, I think if you look up history, I think your mother has looked it, the Coles store then was the first Coles store in Melbourne.

Samantha Figueroa  Oh wow.

Carol North  In Caulfield. You could check that, Lorraine’s got it.

Samantha Figueroa  We can look that up.

Carol North  Yes, so I was in the first Coles store which everything was under two and six (2s/6d). You couldn’t buy, well that was, that was it, everything was two and six (2shillings 2s and 6 pence/6d). And then of course Woolworths and Coles changed too. I’ve seen all that change from nothing to what it is today.

Samantha Figueroa  You can get almost anything now from Coles and Woolworths [laughs].

Carol North  No, it was special to go in there with two and six (2s/6d) and buy all your food. Well, you couldn’t buy much because the Depression was on. There was no one working, only the miners. And then, um, I joined the RSL which was in Coledale and, um, I was in the Sub-branch, still am actually. I owe them, I mean another year’s up. I’m still in the War service in a Sub-branch and I’ve been quite a few places with them and enjoyed that. I can’t get there now because not having a car and going at night time and coming home later, it doesn’t suit me to come home on my own at night. Yes, I’ve been offered the others to drive me, but I feel as though that I better not. I still could go. I might mar-, oh, yes I marched every year. Ah, I still, I suppose I could still go but….

Simone  Yeah so she’s, because she’s an Anzac she does that every – at Coledale they have the big march and she’s done that. You did that every ‘cos it was at your street so…

Carol North  Yes, that’s right. It’s Coledale RSL.

Simone  You marched every year with your medals on and stuff.

Carol North  Yeah. So that was another part of my life in the War service in the Sub-branch which is, I suppose finished now I suppose. Well they haven’t finished, but probably I have, I’m not sure [laughs] whether I’ll march. I don’t know whether they’re having a march either. Do you know?

Samantha Figueroa  Um, I’m not sure.

Simone  No I feel like they’re not with COVID again. So, no.

Carol North  No, I don’t think they’re allowed to have it.

Samantha Figueroa  Things are a little bit different at the moment.

Simone  Yeah. I think like I heard on the news there’ll be no march, so, no.

Carol North  And I haven’t heard from them so I’m not sure about the march.That was another part of me life.

Samantha Figueroa  Okay. Um…

Carol North  And then I joined the Wanderers, the ladies club with Judy Burke and, ah, we used to travel every month. We would go all round the area and see all the places and things which was very…

Simone  That’s very important ‘cos they’re all the locals so they’re, I go with them now so they’re all like 80 plus year old ladies and they just pick a, a destination and they go for the day and have lunch and do something. They’ve been doing that for a long time.

Carol North  Yes, all the places where…

Samantha Figueroa  And you’re called the, the Wanderers.

Simone  Happy Wanderers.

Samantha Figueroa  I like that.

Carol North  The Happy Wanderers.

Samantha Figueroa  The Happy Wanderers.

Simone  And we’re going somewhere next Wednesday. Yes, a month ago we went to Berry for the day.

Carol North  Yes.

Samantha Figueroa  Oh, lovely.

Simone  They hire a bus and then there’s a, Margaret’s the head of it, and she organises where you’re going.

Carol North  Yes.

Simone  And then Nana’s been doing that for so long. How long have you been doing that – 20, I don’t know.

Carol North  Well, ever since, oh, a long time.

Simone  You used to have meetings at the Thirroul library…

Carol North  20 years.

Simone  …to organise the trips together, you’d sit in there and they’d organise where they want to go. You were part of that committee.

Carol North  Yes.

Simone  And that’s all kind of gone with COVID.

Carol North  Yes.

Simone  And you live too far away now, you’re not at Coledale any more.

Carol North  That’s true and sometimes we were the, the Wanderers, we would stay five days. We’d go to, as far as, as far as the bus could take us there and back kind of which I suppose we could go, Oh, I suppose, where, Wagga Wagga we went once. Oh, we went all over the place.

Simone  But they’re all along this, kind of we drive and pick everyone up along the coastline. There’s people from Corrimal, Woonona, Wollongong. So there’s this bunch of friends that were all strangers but now you’ve all met from a travel club.

Carol North  Yes, more or less.

Samantha Figueroa  That’s wonderful. So you’ve got nice friends from your travel club?

Carol North  Yes, yes. And the next bus trip is in, as you said.

Simone  Wednesday.

Carol North  But we forgot to, I forgot to ask where we’re going.[laughter]

Simone  Lucky dip.

Carol North  It’s probably down south somewhere I should imagine.

Samantha Figueroa  It’s kind of nice to have a surprise, isn’t it? [laughs]

Carol North  Oh, Berry, we went to Berry last time.

Simone  A month ago. I’ve got, Simone’s travelling with me and she helps me walk. I’m a bit slower walking.

Simone  You’re a good walker, just you balance this.

Carol North  Yes I can walk all right and no problem but they’re frightened I might trip on something which you do when you get to 99, you’re not, you haven’t got it up there.

Samantha Figueroa  Well, I think you’re doing really well. [laughs] So, your significant relationships in your life were you’re, you’re obviously had a lovely relationship with your husband.

Carol North  Oh, yes, yes, yes. We were engaged for six years. I probably only saw him twice because he was in War and he was doing all the zones where no one knew where he was, you know what I mean. So when he did come ashore, we’d get engaged. Then he’d go away for another year or so and come back and so it wasn’t a very close relationship, only by mail.

Samantha Figueroa  Could you, Oh yes, I was going to ask…

Carol North  We used to mail all the time, never had phones of course, you know, we just letters and…

Simone  Did you, did you meet Pa before the War or during?

Carol North  Yes, um, when I travelled around Australia at 18, we hitchhiked around Australia, which was fun. And I went to a dance in Dubbo which they, everybody used to go to dances in those days. And I was staying with my girlfriend’s friends in a farm about 10 kms out from Dubbo and they all used to come in in their um, horses and their trucks, trucks and wagons. And they’d all come in, the young ones. And of course, the War was just starting and finishing. There was a lot of Army, Air Force, Navy, so it was quite a young group of dancers. We used to dance and I was there and the ladies sat here, and the men sat over there. So the men would come and ask the lady for a dance kind of thing, so…

Samantha Figueroa  That’s nice.

Carol North  And this sailor went home from his, when he was, um, in actually in Sydney for a weekend or something, he went to Dubbo to see his mother and father. His father was an Inspector in the Police force. He went to Dubbo to see mother and father. And of course, the local boys said, “Oh, let’s go to the dance. There’s a dance down there.” And of course he went and he was in uniform. He hadn’t changed out of his, working clothes. I always hated sailors. I used to think there’s nothing worse than a sailor! [laughs] He came over here and he asked me to dance and I said, “Yes.” Well then we carried on from where we got married so…

Simone  And then they went off to War. But then they both survived obviously and that was it.

Carol North  Yes, yes. So that was my romance.

Samantha Figueroa  Beautiful, that’s a beautiful story.

Carol North  We were engaged for a while and got married and lived in, as I said, with his mother and then went to Coledale and built our little house and that’s my…

Samantha Figueroa  That’s beautiful. So have you always had good health?

Carol North  Always. When I just had a heart operation what, last year?

Simone  Ah, 2019. She had an operat-, at 90 – how old were you then?

Carol North  I was 98-97.

Simone  97. So it was just after you moved here, correct?

Carol North  Yes.

Simone  20, ah, so she had a TAVI, which is like a artificial valve put in her heart. At 97 they went through her great art-, and put a fake valve in.

Carol North  Yeah.

Samantha Figueroa  Wow.

Simone  So, she’s had a major operation and she pulled through that completely fine.

Carol North  Yes. That’s right, and that was the first time I’d been in hospital.

Simone  Correct. I thought it was fun seeing all what goes on in a hospital. [laughter]

Simone  Major op at that age.

Carol North  So I came out, it was only a couple of weeks in there.

Simone  Oh, not even that. It was like a week.

Carol North  Yeah.

Simone  Yep. And that was done at Macquarie Hospital in Sydney.

Carol North  And he, the doctor just said, “Now you can get up and see whether you walk.” So there was a corridor of course so I just got up ??, “Hey!” he said, “Slow down, you’ve got a new heart in there!” [laughs]I’ve always kept going. Yeah, we walked and everything.

Simone  Oh, she’s had no major health complications up until now.

Carol North  I’ve never been in hospital.

Simone  …crept up, but nothing has happened to her, which is just phenomenal.

Carol North  I’ve got all me bits still.

Simone  Yep, no artificial joints. Other than that one heart valve, nothing is artificial in her whole body.

Carol North  No, I’ve been very fortunate then.

Samantha Figueroa  That’s amazing! Um, so how, how has the area changed and places and the people down here and in Coledale since you, since you came to Coledale?

Carol North  Well, I can only say what’s happened to me personally. I can’t see anything wrong with them as far as being friendly to me, but you hear everybody else saying that when this sold, this house and these people from Sydney come in, they don’t socialise with us, if I can call ‘us’. They’re too busy doing their job and working, going to Sydney for work and all what they do. So it’s not the same feeling anymore. Where, when I was there, everybody knew everybody and if you want to go to the chemist to get an Aspro, “Oh, I’m going up. I’ll get it for you.” You know, that was just like a big friendly place. And it was, everybody would walk and you’d meet them from up in the bush or in the water or somewhere, but not now. They just don’t know you, you know, for whatever reason. They’ve got busy I suppose. So yes, it has changed completely and all the old houses which were falling down more or less have all been pulled down and new homes there and new streets.

Simone  Yeah, even Cater Street, where she’s from, it’s very different now they’re all those big square, they’re just not what we had at Harry and Iris’s house and stuff.

Carol North  No, it’s not, not the home where it had back yards, front yards and it’s just a box now more or less, aren’t they, just everything units with everything. No, I can only say it has changed a lot.

Samantha Figueroa  Yes.

Carol North  Yeah, from those days, yeah.

Samantha Figueroa  And, um, do you think that’s good? Um, do you think there’s some good things in those changes?

Carol North  Oh, well, you can’t stop progress, we all know that. And as far as I’m concerned, I’ve got this little niche here so I don’t care, I can be honest, what happens at Coledale now [laughter].I still visit Coledale and I still know a few of the Wanderers haven’t died. Most of my friends, those days, have all died, unfortunately. So I haven’t got many of my age left, they’re all gone. So yes, I can see a big difference in Coledale. But living here doesn’t worry me. So I don’t have to worry about, I haven’t got any neighbours, only what you see here in the, in these four units. And that lady that, she just sold her house at Coalcliff for $4.5M

Samantha Figueroa  Oh, wow.

Simone  Actually

Carol North  Yeah, and of course as you probably know, I got $3.5M for my little home at Coledale.

Simone  And what did you pay for it? You found the figure.

Carol North  Yes, I found when I first, we first went to Coledale, it cost us $1.00 deposit.

Samantha Figueroa  [laughs] Oh, wow.

Carol North  We had to, um, because we were in Parramatta and we came to Coledale and before we left we fell in love with this block of land because my husband was in the Navy and I loved the exercise. And this little shed was there, so we decided to…£3,000 and we paid 10 shillings deposit.

Simone  Yes £3,000 is what she paid and then it sold in 2017 for $3.4 something million.

Carol North  Yeah, so I mean it’s, yes it’s changed completely.

Samantha Figueroa  That’s amazing, isn’t it.

Simone  Even cost of real estate from when she bought it to now it’s Coledale’s like Thirroul and Coledale are like prime real estate as you would know, it’s like the most expensive spot.

Carol North  I feel as though I’m, I’m living overseas because it’s so different to what, what I first came here. I feel when you go overseas in America or that, there’s all these high buildings and traffic. Well that’s what it’s like here now.

Simone  Even the roads are busy when we go to Thirroul, the congestion.

Carol North  You probably wouldn’t know that. Yeah,

Simone  That was never a thing for me growing up. We just drove in five minutes.

Carol North  One car on the road. Yeah, what’s he doing its a road, on the road.

Simone  Now you have to wait on weekends to get on that Lawrence Hargrave Drive, which is not something we’re used to.

Carol North  No.

Simone  Up until the last few years.

Carol North  Yeah, no, it’s completely. I can’t tell you how…

Simone  It used to quiet, Coledale was just quiet.

Carol North  Yes.

Simone  Now it’s just not.

Carol North  No. And you could have a bonfire around the backyard and you can do things you can’t do now, you know, it was just a very little homely place then.

Samantha Figueroa  So, what out of everything in this area, what’s been your favourite?

Carol North  What in Stanwell Park?

Samantha Figueroa  Well, um, in Coledale and Stanwell Park in this whole, in the Illawarra area, what, what’s been your favourite kind of place to be near?

Carol North  Just to be there I think, just being there and, and feeling a part of it. You kind of feel, you know, Coledale’s yours, because there’s hardly anything else going on that you’re not in it, you know, you, you’re in all the little things. Anybody had a party in that street, they say, “Hey, there’s a party on tonight.” Well I mean, you miss, you don’t get that here anymore, we don’t get it anywhere.

Samantha Figueroa  Yes.

Carol North  Half the time you don’t know who you’re living next door to.

Samantha Figueroa  So that was your favourite, favourite thing about the area was how friendly people were and how lovely.

Carol North  I think just being homely.

Simone  And community.

Carol North  Yes, just a lovely homely place to live.

Samantha Figueroa  Yes.

Carol North  And it had everything you needed. Luckily you didn’t have to go to school at Coledale, you were too…

Simone  I was in Wagga.

Carol North  You went to school at Wagga. You didn’t have to go to school at Coledale ‘cos they didn’t live here.

Simone  No.

Carol North  So I didn’t have anybody at the school, which is just there, just kind of, it was close, you could walk, you could do anything. It was just one big happy place actually. Lovely area.

Samantha Figueroa  Well, thank you so much Carol. Is there anything else that you would like to add today?

Carol North  Well, I can show you the photos so you can have a look at them. I’ll get the photos of what the house was, how we bought it for £3,000.

Samantha Figueroa  Okay. So, Carol and I are just talking now about, um, the garden at her home in Coledale.

Carol North  When I first moved there. That would be, and I was digging the garden making a garden and I was digging and I dug out all these crawly things who I thought they were lizards, and they were snakes and they must have been born, my husband said, oh about, I don’t know a month old, they were only babies. And I’m just handling them. And when he said they were snakes, I nearly died. They weren’t lizards they were snakes!

Samantha Figueroa  Oh, my goodness. Well, you’ve certainly had an amazing life Carol, and I’m so grateful for your story, for sharing your story with us.

Carol North  It might sound silly to somebody else, but to me it’s been very busy. If I could only keep this bit more thorough, that’s all my travels around Australia. Every town I went to around…

Simone  They used to draw on it when they’d done a road.

Samantha Figueroa  Oh wow. So you have a map of all the places you’ve been in Australia.

Simone  All the roads.

Carol North  Cup of tea or Coffee, or anywhere we stopped or stayed. My husband had it on the wall in the garage, a photo and he used, every time he came back from a journey he’d cross it. And I thought I’d thrown it away, obviously I kept it.

Samantha Figueroa  Something special. Yeah, well, I think you’re something special Carol and thank you so much for sharing your story with us.

Carol North  Oh, thank you for being interested. People probably had a better life than mine, but I’ve enjoyed mine I can tell you. You know, If I died tomorrow I don’t want anybody to cry, say, “She had a good time!” [laughs]

Samantha Figueroa  A great life, yes. Thank you so much.

Carol North  That’s quite alright I appreciate that you coming and bothering.