Interview Transcript from Illawarra Stories Wollongong City Libraries Oral History Project – Karolyn Spinks Part 1 of 2
Interviewer: Julie Horton
Interview date: 14/12/2016
Julie: Thank you Karolyn for coming in to speak with us today about why you chose to move to Dapto with your family.
Karolyn: Um, yes, thank you Julie, um, yes well we chose to move to Dapto because we’d heard that the neighbourhood down here was a lovely place to live, and to raise a family and also because we love old architecture. And we had previously lived in an old house and, um, this lovely old house came up for sale here in Dapto and it’s an original farm homestead and one of the few remaining double brick homes in Dapto now. And we actually love it and enjoy living in it. And enjoy living close to the C.B.D. of Dapto. And, um, it’s just wonderful, you know, being able to walk down to the, the Ribbonwood Community Centre, for example, and the library and the resources here are fantastic and, and it’s been great to raise our family here. Um, you know, we’ve raised 2 boys, so just being able to walk down to the Ribbonwood Centre. They’ve done Rhee Taekwondo lessons and, and going to the bonsai club. And, um, you know, Zumba classes, and that’s for me. Yes, but – so we’ve really enjoyed living here for our last 12 years and, um, done a bit of exploring around Dapto.
There’s a lovely, quite a steep track at the back of Dapto that goes up the Illawarra escarpment that we’ve been on family hikes on. And, um, and the other thing is we like hearing the sound of the trains in the distance. From our house you can hear that sound of the trains go through and the, the sound of the steam train, the steam tourist, um, train that goes through down to Kiama now. The whistle of the steam lovely sound. And, um, and the sounds of the train.
We hear that showground from our house, because our house is just sort of across the way from the showground, so we hear the Christmas carols, um, coming and floating through the air, and it’s lovely. And we hear – we see and hear the fireworks, and the, um, the Dapto greyhound dogs. Um, all these sort of, um, activities that have been happening in Dapto for a long time, so, you know, so that’s really lovely. And the Dapto markets – and there’s just all these community things that are available to us.
Um, yeah so, my experience of living in Dapto has been a very positive one. The neighbourhood’s been lovely, and I’ve made a lot of friends here in Dapto. And, um, the people are really friendly and accommodating and, um, so… And I wanted to be interviewed for the Dapto Oral History Project because, in a small way, I wanted to shape history from this moment forward so that people know what it was like living in Dapto in, you know, round the Millennium 2000-2004 onwards to now, 2016.
Um, one of the other things I’d like to share with you is my husband and I love old time dancing and we go to the, um, the famous Marshall Mount old time dances [laughter] that has been going on for 60 years, and it’s, it’s sort of like a lovely piece of Australian culture when you go there. They’ve been running it the same way every fortnight for 60 years. And the hall, the hall is decorated in a lovely way and they give you a lovely supper and, um, hmm – chance to have lovely, um, fun dancing and getting to know people.
Julie: And did you attend Marshall Mount dances with your, your boys?
Karolyn: Just, just with my husband actually, yes. Um, my boys aren’t ready yet. Um, I’m working on getting them involved with dancing, but [laughter] actually they didn’t.
They commuted up to Wollongong High School. Yeah for the reason where, when they went to the primary school that they were at before, the Wollongong High School was the feeder school – or the primary was the feeder for that. So we wanted to keep them in with their, sort of, um, network of um, friends, their social network Um, yeah, so they did that, and now they’ve moved on to university and so, so it’s been good, yeah.
Julie: … friends and taekwondo and …
Karolyn: That’s right, yeah, they met friends down here and taekwondo and then ah, attended the photography club and just, just things like that. And, um, enjoying being involved in the community, and going on bike rides to the lake. Um, singing in the local singing academy that’s down here. With going to Christmas concerts and, um, southern – yeah, the singing academy in Dapto. Yes, so…
Julie: With your home, did you know when, what year it was built, or…?
Karolyn: Yes, it was built in circa 1920.
Karolyn: And it’s lovely, um, it’s marble fireplaces and it’s got ornate ceilings and its high ceilings and it’s a very comfortable house to live in. And we’re really enjoying it now, because we’re having a heat wave at the moment, and it’s lovely and cool and we don’t need air conditioning.
Um, and I’ve managed to do quite a bit of history – um, research on the history of it, because I’m – I’m interested in, um, you know in history and antiques and old architecture and things. So, um, I’m doing quite a bit of, um, research on that. And found it was part of the Lakelands Estate many years ago. And, um, it’s been part of a local Dapto family, um, for many years, and we bought it off the local Dapto family. And, um, and, um, it takes a lot of, ah, tender loving care to, to help keep it up, you know, looking nice.
Julie: About raising your family here and taking into the community resources available in Dapto. I know you’ve spoken to me about it a bit previously. Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Karolyn: Not really, not that I can think of. Just that they’ve, you know, enjoyed living here, and they’ve enjoyed having, um, the nice neighbours that we have and, um, and there’s great access to public transport here, so they can get around. [Cough] Not only, you know, on the train, but they can – there’s the bus as well. And then, you know, they’ve also got, you know, the option of, of driving, but Dapto is well serviced in that regard, with having both train and bus services.
And I remember the remodelling of the Dapto Mall, and at the time I thought, “Well seems good enough as it is at the moment.” But it’s actually much better since they’ve remodelled it now, yeah.
Julie: There’s a lot more shops there – some have come and gone even since the remodelling.
Karolyn: That’s right, but they were thinking of the future weren’t they, so, yeah, it’s good. And the, um, just having the library here available – a great resource [laughter].
One of the um, I’m not working at the moment, but when we moved here, for 7 years I was actually working full time in Sydney, and I commuted to Sydney by train, so I have a lot of memories of rushing down to the Dapto railway station and waiting at the station for the train that came in at 13 minutes past 6. So you’d be down there early [laughter]. Um, and at that time the trains were the, um, the older trains with the yellow doors and the green seats, and the green seats were very, very, very comfortable and then they replaced them and they brought in the ones called the Oscars, um, yes, and when the Oscars came in they had some good features about them too, but, um, the seats are not as comfortable! Well, yes, um, I used to get off at Redfern station and that would be probably an hour and oh, an hour and 20 minutes I think to there, or an hour and 15 minutes to there. But, um, yes, vivid memories. The Oscars I have to say were a lot more reliable than the other trains, so that, that was a wonderful thing, because, you know, it’s a long trip in, the last thing you want is to be delayed and um, through breakdowns. So we, we lost our comfortable seats in, in lieu of reliability.
Julie: And, um, so the Oscars were they before the Tangara?
Karolyn: After, after the Tangara. Yeah, maybe they brought the Oscars in around 2012 or something like that perhaps -2000 – no, maybe before that – 2008 perhaps -2010, yeah, something like that. So the Oscars are still running at the moment. But, um, yes, I’ve met friends now who are the train drivers who drive on the Dapto line, so – and they live down – they live in my street, so it’s nice to, um, talk with them.
And they live on land that was originally part of the original, um, dairy farm. Because the dairy farm extended all the way down, ah, to Emerson Road and then over round the Lakelands area. Lakelands primary school was part of the farm, um, the Dapto Citizens Bowling Club on Fowlers Road was part of the farm. And so, yeah, the farm extended all the way over that way down to the lake. So, um, a lot of people know of – older people in the area know of the farm, or, the, um, you know, the – how, how it was, yeah.
Julie: The, paddock, the paddocks and um, and previous, um, oral historians’ cricket in the street and in the paddocks.
Karolyn: Yes, that’s right, and…
Julie: And sports in the…
Karolyn: That’s right and they used to have the circus that would come, and that was down in the front paddock of the farm which was – the front paddock was down on the Princes Highway. And the front gate was even down on the Princes Highway at that time, so, um, yeah. So, we, we bought the house off the Swan family, but prior to them, the, the, you know, there was history prior to the Swan family as well, when the house, um, started off. So, yes, the house was built in 2000 and -1920 – around the 1920s, so, um… And one of the few remaining double brick homes left in Dapto. It would be lovely to have those old character homes and the old, um, hotels and things that have now been pulled down, sadly, but Dapto would have a lot more character if they had been kept, but never mind, you know, that’s gone so we just try and keep a little bit of what’s left.
Julie: Yes, absolutely.
Karolyn: Yeah, yeah, so um. It’s just nice to be – nice to have the opportunity to be able to be recorded, to go down in history in some small way.
Julie: That’s right and this is, um, so this will – story Illawarra Stories website, and people from all over the globe can access Stories website to listen to the oral histories that we’ve received.
Karolyn: That’s a lovely initiative that the Wollongong City Council and the library have, you know, have started, so, good. Thank you.
Julie: Thank you Karolyn, and…
Karolyn: That’s about all I can think of at the moment.
Julie: Your homestead mentioned the Swan family, we’ve actually…
Karolyn: Yes, relatives of the Swan family, yes, who, um, – they are connected to they’re not the – they weren’t the owners of our house, but they were connected to, like, you know, relatives of the family. Yes, so, um, [coughing] so the old homestead is in Kent Road in Dapto, and a lot of people don’t realise that it’s there
Julie: It’s wonderful – the Dapto community has always been a real Ribbonwood Centre, the Community Centre. It’s got a real community feel, um, to it. So I understand that’s why you, um, enjoyed raising your family in the Dapto community and being part of that.
Karolyn: Yes – oh, look it’s wonderful to tap into resources here that we have in the local community, and just to be able to, ah, you know, walk down here within, you know, less than 10 minutes’ walk. Um, yeah, lovely – it’s just nice to have those resources because it helps to, you know, enrich your life and give you skills. I remember, because I have a registered nursing background. I’m actually a registered nurse, and I did a nursing refresher course here at the Ribbonwood Centre, and that was around in 2004, just around the time when we actually purchased the house and, um, yeah, so things like that – it’s good. We would – there would be a big hole in the community if we didn’t have such a resource here.
Julie: This Centre opened in 2001. The library used to be in Byamee Street, and there’s been various sites, but for the community it’s a central hub.
Karolyn: Yes, it’s wonderful that the library is integrated into the um, in the, in the Community Centre, you know, because there are services here for all age groups and, um, just to bring the community together, and get to know people and mmm…
Julie: Thank you very much Karolyn, for your wonderful stories and wonderful memories. Thank you very much.
Karolyn: Thank you, thank you Julie. It’s been a pleasure.