Interview Transcript from Illawarra Stories Wollongong City Libraries Oral History Project – John Street
Interviewer: Samantha Figueroa
Interview date: 12 March 2021
Samantha Figueroa The following interview was conducted with John Street as part of Wollongong City Council Libraries, Illawarra stories, oral history project. It took place at John’s home on the 12th of March 2021. The interviewer is Samantha Figueroa. Thank you for doing this interview with us John. Just wanted to start with the question can you tell me about your life in the Illawarra?
John Street Born May 1941 and Strath Haven Private Hospital, which is on the corner of Roland Avenue and Gladstone Avenue, Wollongong. Just opposite the entrance to Wollongong railway station. My parents were James Percy Street, who was a general carrier. And my mother was Gladys Aida Street. And in those days we lived on top of the hill in Campbell Street, Wollongong. Before shifting down into Corrimal Street, right next to the old Mount Keira railway line. That was a great source for us kids growing up because we used to walk down there to get to Brighton Beach. Long since disappeared. In the late 1940’s we shifted back here onto one of the family farms in East Corrimal on Pioneer Road to look after great Uncle Tom, whose wife had passed away a couple of years before and Tom was in his 70’s and going downhill quick. And that’s where we stayed. Tom died in the early 50’s from TB. And we stayed there. My father still had a small transport business going. We spent a bit of time in the early days on his trucks. He delivered Coca-Cola and ice around the houses of Wollongong with the truck doing general runs to Sydney bringing back odds and sods. It was, it was quite good. I didn’t have much of an education but using good basic sound education of common sense. Yeah from East Corrimal, I still came into Wollongong Primary School until East Corrimal Primary School opened up in 1952. It was easier to get into Wollongong on the bus than it was to get up to Corrimal School. So, from East Corrimal Primary I went to Corrimal High School. Got into third year. I was never greatly interested in school but they tell me one day there’s a hardware store opening up in Wollongong and ah, I hopped on my bike and left school early and went in and got a job at Nock and Kirby’s when they first open up in Crown Street.
Samantha Figueroa Excellent.
John Street That was on the Friday and I started there on the Saturday morning. I stayed there for three and a half years. Met a lot of people, I enjoy meeting people my whole school group had gone in different directions, some doing apprenticeships and others in the retail side. But in May 1960 I was doing outside servicing and installation of TV’s for Nock and Kirby’s and I sold a TV to a chap in Port Kembla, who told me you worked at M&M and I said what’s M&M? He said that’s it there at the bottom of the hill. We make copper tube and copper wire. And he said they’re looking for a junior in the wire warehouse. So, in Nock and Kirby’s truck I went down to the gate, asked the employment officer and got myself a job
Samantha Figueroa Wow.
John Street And I stayed there forty three and a half years.
Samantha Figueroa Oh, Wow.
John Street And I enjoyed it. After 12 months, they realised I had retail shopping experience, in hardware and they put me into the purchasing department. Couple years later I did my purchasing and supply management certificate. And a couple of other small certificates and I really enjoyed working in the industry. It’s an interesting factor to see raw materials coming in at one end going through the process and going back out the same gate as a finished product, knowing that that was going to be going into a house somewhere delivering water or building delivering water, drain pipes. Copper wire used in the wiring of their house. It was very, very interesting. And in that 43 years I met a lot of very, very interesting people and I’m still friends with a lot of them.
Samantha Figueroa That’s wonderful. That’s really good. Just back on when you were born, what date were you born John?
John Street 21st of May.
Samantha Figueroa And what year was that?
John Street 1941.
Samantha Figueroa What was the cultural background of your family?
John Street My father was born here. He was actually born in Corrimal in 1911. His father arrived out here turn one on the ship coming over in 1879. They left Plymouth and arrived here. Yeah, 1879. They came out on the SS Corona. They came out here as miners and farm workers but there must have been a little bit of money somewhere, because within weeks of him getting here, they had a small farm in Corrimal.
Samantha Figueroa Oh, Okay?
John Street And the 1889 census shows the Street family with so many children living off the Main Bulli Road in Corrimal, which we now know is Collins Street. And the farm of course, has since disappeared. The northern distributors gone through part of it and luxury homes have gone up else where’s. Yes it’s, it’s quite interesting and Barbara and I are really interested in family history. So, we were able to get hold of some of these senior members of the family were still alive in those days and talk to them and get a few little artefacts out of them. So, we’ve gone into that well and truly is it’s very interesting.
Samantha Figueroa It is very interesting.
John Street There’s ten children altogether, but they arrived here with four. Edwin Street, being the youngest of them, that’s Ted Street, he of course went off to war with his brother Charles. Charles was killed in action in Polygon Woods, Belgium and Ted came back and with another brother Dan who is the mechanical and electrical genius they kicked off the business together of the ice cream.
Samantha Figueroa What year was that ? That they kicked off the ice cream business?
John Street 1923 they kicked off Illawarra delicacies, which the agreement went for 10 years. Then it was to be off sold and when they realised all the cash at the end of that ten years, they then put the money back in and started up a firm called Streets Ice Cream. And the main shareholders were Ted, his wife Daisy, Dan or Daniel and his wife Florence. We knew her as Aunt Fanny. And a chap by the name of Rider I don’t know anything about him, but he was supposed to be the driver for them, whether he’s doing deliveries or running them around. But he was the works driver. He was another shareholder in it. And so, it went on Dan died in the 30’s and Rider his name sort of disappeared, leaving Ted there to run the whole thing. He was a hard man to work for, but if you want to survive in the depression days, you had to be hard otherwise, you went down the gurgler with a lot of others.
Samantha Figueroa Did you spend much time there at the factory?
John Street Oh just the odd visit in with my father went in to see them over something. Ah Dad bought the odd little bit of machinery down for them from Sydney. Ah, Ted and Daisy retired down to Narooma in 1951 or 52. And the place was left to run. But Corrimal was where it all kicked off in a little shop where my father was born and went down to the bottom of the hill below the hotel to kick-off with the factory there opposite Ziem’s butcher shop and then of course they had another couple of factory outlets up in Sydney. The big one near being out in Minto but they sold the ice cream side out in 1962 or 63 to Unilever.
Samantha Figueroa And do you remember getting free ice creams when you were little?
John Street Every Christmas. All the family got a 2 gallon churn of ice cream.
Samantha Figueroa Oh, wow.
John Street And it was beautiful ice-cream and I think there’s a lot more cream in it than what they normally was. Mind you their ice cream was always good stuff, but this used to be a little bit creamier.
Samantha Figueroa Wow.
John Street And Mum’s family came out and some of dad’s relatives turned up, the two gallons didn’t go too far. [Laughing] But that was a Christmas delight. It was good. Growing up, yes, my father had the transport business going until the early 50s, he tried life in a little general store up the road in Pioneer Road but didn’t like that. So, he tried real estate and he was in real estate from the mid 50’s through until 1976 when he passed away. He had his own business in Corrimal, James P. Street Real Estate and development. And he had a very good name. When things were done on a handshake. Not now with the ah, all the corporate laws have come into it with all the signatures. It was very easy then compared to what is now. Mom was always a house housewife.
Samantha Figueroa Did you have any siblings?
John Street I have an older brother Jimmy, who lives up in Caloundra. Jimmy is 82 in May; I’ll be 80 in May. I have a younger sister Lona who lives in Jamberoo, Lona Ray. She was 75 in February, yes, last month. And I have a younger brother who lives up in Cessnock or Maitland in the Hunter Valley. He’d be 65, 66. What’s his name Peter.
Samantha Figueroa So you’re part of a big family?
John Street Well, there’s four of us there.
Samantha Figueroa Yeah?
John Street Our house on Pioneer Road is an old farmhouse from a late 1800’s Tom and Gussy got that one. There’s a complete standard size block on the South side, which was Dad’s veggie garden and with his chooks and ducks in it. Dad loved the garden. The right side was all lawn. Once again, another building block.1970 Dad build a new home on the vacant block on the north side, beautiful big home which still stands today. All the rest were sold off. We had two tennis courts at the back of the House on two other blocks which has kids used to maintain.
Samantha Figueroa What street is that house on?
John Street The farmhouse where we lived was on Pioneer Road.
Samantha Figueroa Yep.
John Street And you could say on the corner Pioneer Road and August Street, that was all part of the family farm. And then behind the tennis courts is a flat area on the side of the Creek that Street Park. It still exists. Big netball park down there. Augustus Street was named after great Auntie Augustus. And she was one of the Ziem’s of Corrimal.
Samantha Figueroa What did you do at home when you were young?
John Street Apart from working in tennis courts, the mates and how we’d love to go for a walk in the Bush and you had Bush from Towradgi Road right through to just about Woonona running along the edge of the beach and on the sand dunes. And whenever we could, we got down there quite often through the year. An excursion of a Saturday morning early took us up to Brokers Nose. You got to the Corrimal Coke works and you got a lift on the little Coal train that took you to the washery at Tarrawanna, and you stayed on the skips and you got towed up the hill. And then you got a lift around the edge of Corrimal mine. Then we walked up the trail behind there where the power lines come out and walked around and quite often we’d camp on Saturday night up on the top of Brokers Nose. My God that was a windy and cold place. And then we come back down the same way on the Sunday afternoon.
Samantha Figueroa Sounds fun.
John Street Life was simple then.
Samantha Figueroa Yeah.
John Street It’s either that or down at Corrimal Beach and wandering through the bush.
In those days, a lot of the boys collected birds eats and I could never climb a tree, so I didn’t worry about that robbing eggs out of a nest and blowing them. You put a little hole at either end of the egg blew in one end and blew all the innards out and you had the eggshell left. And I was surprised at just how many variations of the eggs there were different colours on the patterns and beautiful blues and reds and greys. And some of them had quite big collections and they’re all taken from along that bushland. There was a lot wildlife through there too. There was a lot of brown snakes which we kept clear of. We now know them as the eastern browns. There was a few goannas there was a few frilled neck lizards down there, we had the frilled neck lizards at home with us. Fishing in Towradgi Creek was another big thing. There is always mullet and bream in Towradgi Creek and plenty of eels. Dad used to get the weed from Towradgi creek and go down to the black rocks at the end of Towradgi Road and go fishing of a night-time. The weed got you good blackfish and drummer. He’s a very keen fisherman. Yeah, I think we came up in a good time ’cause Hotels closed at 6:00 o’clock. You never had all this electronics stuff that we have done. While I’m all for the electronic stuff because the communication now is fantastic. In those days it was a manual exchange. You had to keep the receiver up to your ear and click on the button all the time to get someone at the exchange to listen to you and you asked for a phone number and they would get it for you. Then we went to the automatic exchanges, which made it a lot easier and we all thought we’re in heaven when that came along, you had a circular dial in your dollar two and then the four such forth, now we just press a button. It’s all programmed in.
Samantha Figueroa Yeah. We barely remember people’s numbers these days do we?
John Street Oh, I can tell you the number we had in ah Corrimal, it was Corrimal 104 and Wollongong was, was double one o four I have a fairly good memory for numbers.
Samantha Figueroa That’s good. So, did you have jobs when you were younger at home?
John Street Yes, doing the tennis courts, feeding the chooks, looking after some parrots that we had there. Yeah, when I was old enough mowing the lawn with an old electric lawnmower.
I enjoyed that I still do enjoy mowing lawns.
Samantha Figueroa And did you know your neighbours around there? Is that who you camped with?
John Street Yeah, the kids that we camped with, yeah. A lot of them are gone now, unfortunately. Poor old Barry Smith, who is well known to the council, a well-known Wollongong photographer he had a ah heart exchange many years ago and he, he had a good eight years after that. The first six years were fantastic and two years of going downhill and passed away. Barry and I were very close mates over the years. There’s quite a few of them there. Dick Lovett is still alive. He’s the ah, oh he’s retired now, he was a minister in the Apostolic Church. He lives in Wangaratta way in Victoria. We see and hear from Dick once or twice a year. Paul Moores lives up in the Hunter Valley and I think that’s about the only two of them left now, the rest of them are gone. We seem to forget that we get older. Various diseases take over. I got my first motor car in 1961 as a little Austin A 30 and I thought I was just it. It was great and I met this lovely little blonde girl. Nineteen? in 1957, 58.
Samantha Figueroa How old were you?
John Street 16 1/2 bit over 16 and a half and this blonde girl was 16. Four years later we married.
Samantha Figueroa That’s lovely.
John Street 58 1/2 years now.
Samantha Figueroa Do you have children?
John Street Two sons. The youngest Martin, 52 lives up in Dalby married Debbie. He’s a Boilermaker welder and now retired with bad eyesight from a few accidents in welding. He called it quits while he still got a little bit of sight. They can’t drive by night and not allowed to do anymore welding. The elder son Stuart at 54. He holds a PhD, out at Wollongong uni. Has lived and worked in America for last 21 years. He’s Iron Making Technologies manager at AK Steel. Married Elizabeth Worrell from Keenan, Canada. She has the same PhD. She’s quality control manager the same AK Steel in Detroit. Their a production goes to GM, Ford, and Chrysler. So anytime you send American, Ford, GM or Chrysler here they’ve made the steel for it.
Samantha Figueroa Oh wow.
John Street He could not get a job here in Australia when he got his PhD. He sent out fifteen applications after many phone calls. Fifteen accepted his application, the other said please don’t bother. He was too highly educated so McMaster University in Canada phoned up and said hey we know you’re getting your PhD and you’ve passed it. There’s a job here for you and three years contract. So, he went over the end of three years of Ford Motor Company, grabbed him and ah as he worked for them, then sold his steel mill off to a Russian mob and the Russians had it for a few years. And they in turn sold it to AK Steel, so he’s been in the same office in the effort for 19 years that he’s been over there. And he enjoys it except for the cold winter mornings when you gotta shovel your driveway out.to get your car out of your garage. Little bit of snow falls.
Samantha Figueroa Yes, yeah, that would be hard.
John Street Minus 18 degrees there the other week.
Samantha Figueroa Gosh, that’s cold.
John Street In the pandemic, of course, Elizabeth had to start work from home, which she can do quite easy. Just for quality control ah it all shows up and digital equipment round the works and you just sit in your office and you can see how the whole system is rolling so they said, would you like to work from home? And she thought well she’ll will try it for a week or two. She’s been doing here for 12 months and absolutely loves it. Whereas Stewart is still got to go in each day.
Samantha Figueroa Yes, it’s changed things have changed, haven’t they?
John Street Things have changed. But Stewart comes home every two years. Stewart and Elizabeth both come home here for three weeks. Martin, we see every 8 to 12 months or in regular touch via phone and email. Sending and receiving photos all the time.
Samantha Figueroa That’s lovely. That’s really good.
John Street Martin will be down here in about 6 weeks time for a special day for Barbara.
Samantha Figueroa A special birthday?
John Street No, she got an OAM!.
Samantha Figueroa Wow that’s amazing. So what do you remember about the community events that were around when you were younger?
John Street Never worried too much about football or cricket. So broke a leg playing football in about my third game. So I sort of got turned off by that. Cricket, I got a cricket ball in the nose, so that sort of turned me off cricket [Laughing]. Tennis I quite like, the whole family enjoyed tennis. My younger sister Lona was one of the top B grade players out in the Southern District’s out here. And at the age of 11, she won with her mate Beryl McEwan won the South Coast championships. And I think that did the same thing again at 12 years of age.
Samantha Figueroa Wow.
John Street And they were quite good. Lona unfortunately has been going through problems with hips and knees. I reckon she might’ve worn them out on the tennis court. But social events well, for us kids, the, the big events come Christmas would start saving your pocket money and in those days if you found a bottle, you grabbed it and took it down because you can cash it in at the local shop and get threepence for it, if it was a beer bottle you got a penny at the bottle collectors in Wollongong. But by Easter would all have roughly one pound saved up, which is only $2.00 in today’s money, but we would head off to Sydney on Saturday there’d be six to maybe ten of us. We would head off to Sydney to the Royal Easter Show. We’d be over there for when the gates open in the morning. Mid-afternoon would take off. We’d go down to Circular Quay we would buy big pile of fish and chips and go across to Manly and back on the ferry then go to Luna Park that night. Then catch the paper train home which left Sydney about 12:30 at night.
Samantha Figueroa Wow what a day.
John Street We had no adult supervision. We didn’t need it because I don’t know, maybe the danger was up there but we didn’t sense it at all. We were just there to enjoy yourself. Then cracker night come along, down on the paddock which is Street Park. Terry Lawton had a horse. And we, we cut and drag a tree from somewhere there to act as a centre pole and would start putting rubbish against that pole and we’d build ourselves a big bonfire. And virtually all the neighbourhood come down, I can remember a lot bringing down potatoes and throwing them in the hot ashes and boiling a bit of water there in a kettle to have a cup of tea, but yeah the potatoes were the big thing to cook them in a hot ashes of the fire and all settled in. Bonfire Night was a big thing, cracker night as you might know it. Now you can’t have those things for obvious reasons. But any rubbish it would burn it went in to that bonfire.
Samantha Figueroa Sounds like fun. So, do you remember any local characters around your area? Anyone that stands out to you?
John Street No we were all, I suppose slightly different from each other, but we all got along very well together. There’s Dick Lovett, his parents owned the shop on the corner of Gregory Avenue and Pioneer Road. Dick always had emissions of being into the religious side of things which he became the minister. That’s good and I’m pleased say we’re still good friends and his wife Jeanette. You know, they’re lovely people. Barry Smith. He was a metallurgist at the steelworks before he had to retire with a crook heart. And took up photography and editing a waste magazine. Well, Barry’s gone his wife Adele is still here in Keiraville and a very good friend of ours. The Jones Boys one run a timber yard Fairy Meadow while Alan’s gone. His older brother Brian, who were close to. Brian was a very good. He was just a natural at any sport. He became a painter and shifted down to Canberra little time after Barbara normality in 62. And though we virtually haven’t heard from Brian since, so whether he’s alive now or not, I don’t know. Few of the boys over in East Corrimal, they’ve gone I know that for sure. Yes. Unfortunately, that happens. Time catches up with us all.
Samantha Figueroa It sure does.
John Street But I got ah once I started to go with Barbara, you know, you got a group of friends at school and you start work, so you lose a few of those friends or they’re put to one side and you gain a few more friends. I got this lovely little blonde lady and a few of my other friends went off because my whole concentration was on Barbara then. And then we got engaged, we were married the 29th of September 1962 and our whole concentration then. We had a flat in Towradgi. Barbara had already worked like hell in a clothing factory That is the AMCO clothing factory in Keira Street. And she bought a block in Oak Flats and it was my job to get the house on it. So roughly eight months after we were married. Sorry it wouldn’t be that long, four…six months after we were married Barbara turned 21 and we could start building the house because we wanted in both names. In those days, the legal age for everything was 21. And a couple of months after that we shifted into our own house and people had looked and said “You’ve got three bedrooms” and I said ” Well, what’s wrong with that?” And “you should keep renting”. Well, twenty years of rent pays a unit off for somebody else and I’ve still got nothing. Twenty years of paying that same money then pays my house off. I had something at the end of twenty years. That’s how I look at it. Coming from a real estate agent’s house, we could see the future. So, I was working at MM, but on the side, I had a little wedding photography business going and I was returning hire cars back to Sydney couple of nights a week. When the boys were legally old enough to leave at home and are both good solid boys. Barbara occasionally did one with us of a night-time. It was quite good. And then with the photography business, I got enough to buy this block of land and at this stage I had a home unit up in Brisbane. We sold that and the money that we made out of the home unit built this new house for us. We still had our old house in Oak Flats. Yeah.
Samantha Figueroa Your dad was a real estate agent, is that right?
John Street Yes, Dad was a real estate agent in his own right. Fully licensed with his own business. My older brother worked for him on and off for a few years until dad died and Jimmy kept it going for another couple of years and decided he was going to Queensland to work and he got a few little businesses going up there.
Samantha Figueroa And where was his real estate?
John Street On the Princess Highway in Corrimal Shopping Centre. Dad also had an office at home on the corner of Pioneer Road and Augustus Street, but his main business centre was up in Pioneer Road. He had a very good name in the area.
Samantha Figueroa Were you involved with any sporting groups or religious groups?
John Street No[Laughs] no. Sporting apart from tennis and we all played competition tennis without in the courts at home, we filled in on various teams and we played every day and ah all four of us were pretty good, but my brother and I played B grade competition tennis and I think Lona might have played in the ladies in Wollongong or out here at Shellharbour. But apart from that cricket, football, swimming, yes I could swim but I couldn’t see the sense in it and I prefer to get under the shower. But I did like the outdoor life rather than being inside all the time.
Samantha Figueroa Have you got any significant life events that you wanted to talk about today?
John Street Not really, because I was that damn busy at work. You know, there’s a lot of things by the time I got home from work, each night. There’s always arguments at work, when you’re in the purchasing in the stores, system is always arguments going on and I said to Barb when I come home, I just wanted my peace and quiet. And summer time I’d take the boys up to the foot of Macquarie Pass after we had a evening meal. And you’d have an hour or two of sunlight. Still up there. It was lovely to walk around through the bush tracks upon Macquarie Pass, Yellow Rock Road. I used to go shooting rabbits up there on a farm. I’d go up there very early for Saturday morning before the sun had got up and knock off of a few bunnies or underground mutton as we knew them. And come back and help Jeff Mayo hose out the bloody bails where they milk the cows. They are a lovely group of people. There are some really lovely people here in Albion Park some of the real old families and we got to know a few of them. Several years ago Barb and I joined the local Tongarra Heritage Society, which we’re members of. I was target shooting for a while with the firearms. So I’m in the anti-guns society I can no longer shoot because of the bad eyesight. Yeah, we just enjoyed life took what come along.
Samantha Figueroa Have you enjoyed good health?
John Street No, the last few years has been hell. I suffered from Myasthenia Gravis, which is a bug in the blood that gets into the brain and affects the nervous system that controls the muscles in the body. It’s distantly related to MS and MND and that’s what sent me legally blind, it plays up with muscles in the eyes. It’s the first thing it does then it takes off in all directions. You never know. It affects different people in different ways, so we managing that with the help of Professor David Ceresia from West Wollongong. He’s a neurologist there. And my own doctor Raj down here in the rail. Barbara is in good health thank heavens and she’s got to drive me around if we’ve got to go anywhere.
Samantha Figueroa That must be hard.
John Street Ah, we learned to rearrange things. We both belong to U3A, the University of the Third Age. That’s in the old church over Warilla where we meet this. I think there’s about 270 members in that we’ve just opened up again after being closed for 12 months. We have a regular speaker of the Tuesday afternoon followed by one of our own people who will give a talk. But every day when it’s running full time there was table tennis on, there’s cards, there was knitting groups and Barb and I’d run the morning tea for the group there for Friday for anyone who wanted turn up. So it was quite interesting to get them turning up because we solve the problems of the world and added a few more problems back to it.[Laughing] Remember, because you’ve got such a varied bunch of people coming from different backgrounds.
Samantha Figueroa Yes.
John Street It’s quite interesting. But going back seven years ago I felt I needed something more to do. And I joined the Albion Park Men’s Shed and it was great because I felt like I was back at work again, but not getting paid for it. You know you’ve got chaps from all walks of life and they’ve come along and their taught how to use the saws for sawing up wood and making little toys, pull along toys and we’ve got a metalworking section with full blown engineers in the air and we’ve got welders in there. So, to me it’s just like walking down through the workshops at work when I was there and all boys are there. Except we don’t get paid for it. It’s a great organization the Men’s Shed because I believe something like 40% of the men who belonged to a men’s shed are suffering severely from depression. And this is helping to bring them out.
Samantha Figueroa Yes.
John Street So it’s a worthwhile organization.
Samantha Figueroa Definitely. So how has the area changed and the places and people changed in the Illawarra area since you were young?
John Street When we shifted from Wollongong at the Corrimal in the late 1940s, East Corrimal was still bushland. A lot of homes down in east of the high school. Were more or less depression day shanties that have been put up or tent that had been built around. It’s. It grew and grew like the rest of it. Our farm was subdivided with result the ah from Street Park on the bottom on Towradgi Creek it went up to and included East Corrimal Primary School. And a lot of people think they’re housing Commission homes, but they were built by Davies the builder. So the place gradually went along. And when Barb and I came to Oak Flats, yes it was ah sort of an isolated place, but we could get on a bus here in Oak Flats and go to virtually anywhere on the coast into Wollongong, Port Kembla, Dapto even down to Kiama. Albion Park. It went everywhere. We had the steam train would come into Oak Flats station. So, we got around, but Oak Flats gradually grew. Then we start to see traffic lights going up. Albion Park grew with Centenary being added on and we’ve become quite a big busy area. and Warilla, the Housing Commission homes were coming through. Shellharbour grew, there was a golf course put on there behind the Bowling Club at Shellharbour. Well that disappeared to make Shell Cove. Yeah, I’m pleased that didn’t touch Bass Point. There’s got to be a little bit of bush land left somewhere they help the air. I’m partially green and I like to see trees in the correct area. I don’t like to see trees up against houses or houses being built in the middle of the bush, but I believe everyone should have a tree of some sort in the yard ’cause it helps to purify the air and grass. But yes, it’s, it’s all grown. The roads are good now to what they were. God in the old days coming home, if I had to catch the bus home from work it came down Shellharbour Road and cut across through Primbee on the old Shellharbour Road there and there was a single lane road that came down there and it turned off at Warilla and came up Lake Entrance Road. And on a Friday of a long weekend it could take me up to three hours to get home because of all the traffic.
Samantha Figueroa Gosh
John Street Now it’s dual lane road, you bypass Primbee and it’s a 20-minute run. And it’s a beautiful run now. The Lake Illawarra, you can go down there when the prawning season is on and get a feed of prawns. There’s always good fishing, but with all the communities spreading around the lake, the lake got very highly polluted. But they are gradually cleaning it out. They’ve open the entrance up and they’re getting good fresh sea water flushing in and out each day. And your still getting good prawns down there in the prawning season. There’s good fishing. There’s a number of professional fishermen are on the lake now tells you that. Otherwise they wouldn’t be fishing there. Sporting fields, there are plenty sporting fields are in for those who want the sports. Even this house we are in now is built on the old hockey fields. And because we built a big new ones over the other side, opposite McDonald’s and then of course you’ve got the big newer ones that a little bit further West where the freeway is now cutting through the edge of them. Yeah, very interesting days, but the area definitely has grown and grown and grown. My big worry is garbage dumps for our rubbish in years to come. What are we gonna do with it? And I don’t think anyone knows the real answer to it. As we keep pushing, unfortunately we get people in but we worry about roads and infrastructure later. But our council is trying to address that problem in a few areas and good luck to them.
Samantha Figueroa So what do you, what do you think and feel about all the changes that have taken place in the Illawarra in your lifetime?
John Street Good, I’m all for it. We had to modernize. We had to get with it. We were classed of steelmaking city with the big industries here and yeah as a steelworks started to wind down a little bit. You had a lot of our little workshop started up, and of course if people work in these places they’ve got to live in the area to make it easy. So therefore we’ve got more homes coming along and once again the Councils come along with new roads and pipes. The sewage came through in into Oak Flats in the mid 1970s. It was needed because we had the pan that was changed each week for you. But we had that out in Corrimal too and Barbara had it in Mount Saint Thomas until we got married. Yeah, the charges I think are good and it’s good for the whole community. You’ve got rid of a lot of those old shanties and you’ve got nice modern homes here. Health wise we’ve got a decent hospital over here at Shellharbour and it’s going to get better with the new hospital to be built, which I believe will be down the Shellharbour Central railway station. They’re gonna make a transport hub down there with the hospital in the railway station. So that will be extremely good, cause how far can they go at Wollongong hospital? Not too far at all.
Samantha Figueroa That’s right. Right, as the area grows, we need more infrastructure, so..
John Street That’s right. So as this is a very fast growing area, we knew that new hospital. I don’t know what they’re going to do with the other one now there’s a lot of land up there, they say that will probably go towards the building of a new hospital. It’s yeah, so the people in the area, health wise are better looked after than they were here. We’ve got the ambulance station here. We’ve got plenty of Fire Brigades. We’ve got the little airport over here, which you can get to Brisbane or Melbourne on the plane each day now. We’ve got a couple of dairy farms still running up behind Albion Park. I don’t know how long before they’ll be just swallowed up by a developer somewhere. And I believe that right through to Macquarie Pass has been planned for development for the next 30 odd years. So, it will be interesting. They’ll have to do a lot of road work for that. Overall, we quite happy there’s not a lot of problems that occur on the coast. Traffic wise at this very moment. The big problem is our highway just to get in behind us.
Samantha Figueroa Yes.
John Street It’s terrible. But once that new freeway goes through and they seem to think end of July, it will be open it will solve probably 2/3 of the problems here in the Rail. Trains, yeah, peak hour times. There’s more trains running. Apart from that, every year we can get on a train and go north into Wollongong or right through the Sydney, it’s an electric train if it’s an express train it’s an hour and 50 run which isn’t all that different driving through to the centre of Sydney. So why drive? Coming home trains are every hour, till peak times whether every half hour at one stage. It’s not a bad service. I’d like to see the train line extended further South and he come to a stop in the Shoalhaven and they seem reluctant to take it any further.
Samantha Figueroa Is there anything else that you’d like to share with us about life in the Illawarra?
John Street Only that I think it’s a very healthy area, an extremely healthy area. Yeah, it’s possibly because we’re close to the ocean you you’ve constantly got a sea breeze, but she’s getting rid of a little bit of the pollution that’s around. We’ve got the mountains that are close by that help to filter the bad air. And it’s lovely that we can just drive down the road here, we turn to the left, 15 minutes we can be down on Shellharbour Beach. or 15 minutes to the right and we’re up in the Macquarie Pass rainforest. Where else can we do that?
Samantha Figueroa It’s beautiful.
John Street Yeah, we’re quite happy and I used to love walking up into Macquarie Pass Valley. It’s couple of nice little waterfalls up there. A lot of people get up there and it’s a lovely area.
Samantha Figueroa Thank you so much for sharing your memories with us and we really appreciate your time today, John.
John Street My pleasure.
Samantha Figueroa Thank you.