Stories told as part of the Moreland Quilt Project
Our family home is in Coburg North where we have lived since 1948. Every weekend my husband would bring bluestone blocks from Merri Creek up in the wheelbarrow to pave the driveway. This was done over many years to create his lasting legacy.
My parents came from Wonthaggi in the depression as there was no work in the town. Their parents gave them 100 pounds, which was a lot of money in the day so they could buy a milk bar on Sydney Road. The small shop kept us all through the Depression years. At that time we were a family of 4.
During this time there was a lot of poverty and hunger in Brunswick. The only work for many of the men was to work for the government on road building and other infrastructure projects. The work was very scarce and so most men only managed to get one or two days a week of work. My parents had a gentleman come in one day to pay his bill saying this was possibly the last time as they had no money at all left. Next day he went to work for the dole only to come home to find his wife and two children dead in bed. His wife had been giving him all the food to ensure that he was able to work for the little money he received. A lot of local families died over these years.
I lived on a dairy farm in Glenroy growing up. It was a lovely place, close to the city but very rural. My parents sold their farm land in the 1960’s and we kept the house and some of the surrounding land. The rest of the land was subdivided into large house blocks. In those days the roads were still gravel with no footpaths.
We had a large family I was in the middle with 2 older brothers and 2 older sisters and 3 younger brothers and 2 younger sisters. Clothes were handed down from family members or relatives and were always patched and repaired. Jumpers were hand knitted. We had one pair of boots which Dad repair over and over again.
We were always outside playing with the other local kids We had no tv and weren’t allowed in the house to play so we entertained ourselves by making things like kites and billy-carts with whatever we could find. Lots of crashes and scratches!
I was a seamstress like my mother, aunt and sister. We would all work together creating beautiful wedding gowns, evening frocks and day dresses from a small shop on Moreland Road. All the beading, sequins and embroidery embellishing was done by hand. In hard times my mother and aunt were all that kept our families fed. We all worked hard. I can’t sew anymore as I have bad arthritis in my hands now and my eyesight isn’t very good.
I always wanted to be a fashion designer. I left school at 14 and went to work in Collins Street for a fashion house. It was very long hours of stitching in the back room for some of Melbourne’s very wealthy women. Once I had my children I started up a small shop with a friend. We would sew up garments to order, repair and restyle clothes. It was such a lovely job. I always sewed all the families clothes or would knit our jumpers. All clothes were handed down and worn till they literally fell apart. We would then use the fabric as cleaning cloths or would make rag rugs for the back door to keep our house clean. Nothing was wasted as money was always very tight.
I came from Hungary after the war. So much of Budapest was in ruins. I was 16 when a friend and I left to cross the border into Austria. We went to the Australian High Commission to get visas to come to Australia. They told us that we had to be married to be allowed to go to Australia. We married and were then very luck to be able to take a plane to Australia Lots of people took the boat which took about 6 weeks.
We settled in Melbourne and had 2 sons. But the marriage didn’t last as he started drinking and being violent. I left with my younger son and went to a hostel in Fitzroy. I took work in the kitchen of a restaurant in the city. I worked hard there and met my second husband who was a Chinese chef. We had 2 children, a daughter and a son. After this marriage broke up I met my Australian husband. He was my true love and passed away a few years ago. I miss him terribly. My children visit me when they’re not busy.
I worked for the railways opening and closing the gates. We had little huts to sit in and make tea waiting for the bell to go to let us know that the train was coming. It was sometimes a very solitary job. It wasn’t until the 1990’s that they upgraded the line and put in the electric boom gates and signals before that we were the last line in Melbourne to still have kerosene signals. When they put in the electric boom gates they shut down lots of the smaller crossings. Some of them still have the old gates there.
I left school at 14 to work in my uncle’s shop. He was a very kind man. I worked for him until I met my husband at Church. We both went to the Sunday school and the youth group. Our first date out was to the cinema. We married and had four children, two of them still live in Coburg. I have always lived in Coburg and in the same house since I was married. People seem to move a lot these days. In my day we would save hard to buy our home and then stay. We used to know everyone in our street but lots of them have passed away or moved into old people’s homes now. Our children all grew up together and would play out in the streets just coming in for meals and bed.
I came to Pascoe Vale a few years ago. My son lives here and moved me here once my husband died. We lived on a farm not far from Seymour. I miss our home but it was too difficult to stay. I am now making new friends here. I get to go on some lovely outings.
My sister moved to Australia in the 1950’s and sent for my parents and I when she had her children. We came out by boat which took 6 weeks. I met lots of lovely people on the boat and some of us stayed friends for a very long time. When we arrived in Melbourne my mother started to look after my sisters children while she worked. We bought a house in Coburg. It was on a big block. My father didn’t like life in Melbourne and went back to Italy. My mother and I stayed and made a home.
I had one daughter who built her house on the front of the same block of land. She has a daughter too. Now that my grand daughter is working I don’t see her as often as I used too. After my mother died my father become ill. My brother in Italy wanted to send him out to Australia for me to look after but I wouldn’t let him. Both my parents are gone now.
I came here from Morocco when I was very young. We were very poor there and ate lots of pulses. It was so lovely to come to Australia and eat meat. When we first came to Australia there were not many Muslims. We settled in Coburg and were able to worship with other muslim people.
I met my husband – he is now dead – here. We had 3 children, a girl and two boys. They all live nearby and have families of their own now. I have made lots of friends here both Muslim and Christian. I love to cook for everyone.
I have lived in Brunswick for a very long time. We bought our house for $28,000 and have lived there ever since. It probably isn’t what people would want to live in today but we have made it our own. Our toilet is still outside! We had 6 children here and they all shared bedrooms. We didn’t have much money but always had food on the table and enjoyable times to share. My children went to Moreland Primary school and then Moreland High School.
When we were young we painted the house and put in a lovely new kitchen back in the 1970’s. We planted a garden to grow herbs and vegetables. My husband would grow everything from seeds and always had things at all stages so we always had fresh food from the garden. Since my husband passed away I have not grown quite so much. We have a lovely lemon tree and a fig tree.
I go to school at East Brunswick Primary School. I like my teacher and we do lots of good things there. We live near CERES and Merri Creek. I love CERES we go there all the time and have hot chocolate. Sometimes we help to pick up rubbish at the creek. It is not good that people leave so much rubbish about.
We are starting a garden at home. Mum and Dad built beds out of old pallets and we are growing things. This summer we had tomatoes, beans, eggplant, cucumber and red peppers. They taste better when you grow them yourself. We have put in silver beet for winter.
We came to Australia from Italy after the war. My father worked in a clothing factory and my mother cleaned for a rich family in Toorak. My father loved to grow things. He made gardens all around our house to grow food. He would always have seeds growing in the glass house ready for planting out all year round. We had a lemon, pomegranate, olive and grapefruit trees.
My mother would cook all the food in the traditional Italian way. We had a small kitchen and none of the things people seem to need now a days but the food was always wonderful. My mother could make amazing meals at of so little.
My father worked in a factory. Every day he went off to work early then would come home change into his suit and go to the club whilst my mother made dinner. He still goes to the club at 4.30 every weekday to meet his friends ever though he retired a long time ago.
I don’t see many people anymore. That’s the problem with getting old – everyone dies! My son lives in Sydney with his family. He moved me to this old peoples home when he left a couple of years ago. I like the food but some of the people are a bit funny! We get to do lots of things. I have made friends here but it’s not the same as my old friends I had through life. I used to make all my sons clothes but when he started high school he would wear them anymore. He went to university and became an engineer.
I come to Oxygen after school. I like it here as they have food to cook and I can hang out with my friends. I’m supposed to do my homework but don’t always! We can play games which is much more fun.
I’ve always lived in Fawkner. It used to be more farms and big blocks but now they are tearing down the old houses and putting up two or more houses on each block. They all look a bit like boxes to me. They are not nearly as nice as the older houses. Melbourne has changed so much now. So many big tall buildings. I don’t know about all these people coming in. We used to know everyone about the place, now there are so many strangers.
We have the best shop in Australia in Brunswick (Mediterranean Wholesaler). I can buy all my pasta and cheese and bread there and make proper Italian food. We could never move away or how would I cook? I can buy so many of the things from there that I used to buy in Italy before we moved to Australia. I love Melbourne but I do miss Italy sometimes. We have only been back a few times in the past 56 years. We don’t really know anyone there anymore. Our children are all very Australian, they were all born here so don’t know anywhere else. I made sure they all spoke Italian as my English is not so very good. My grandchildren should be learning too but aren’t really. Such a shame.
I moved to Brunswick 3 years ago and love it. We bought an old Victorian cottage and have enjoyed restoring it to its former glory. I love the plaster cornicing and ceiling roses and the wonderful ceiling heights.
Brunswick is such a vibrant place to live. So many great places to eat and shop for food. As an artist I find the arts community very welcoming and love that there are still so many artists warehouses here. It will be a shame if they are allowed to redevelop so many into apartments. It is wonderful to wander the streets and so often people will stop to chat. My dog loves that so many people will pat her too!
The galleries are great to visit too, Tinning Street, The Honeymoon Suite, Counihan and Noir Darkroom. I look forward to MoreArt each year too to see what some artists are doing.
Moreland is a community of all ages. Great to come along and be sociable and mix with new people. I grew up in Moreland and I think of it as home. A great vibrant place with so much going on. I can’t imagine living anywhere else.
I moved here when I went to uni with a group of friends. We share a house in Brunswick its such a great place, close and easy to get to uni and great places to hang out. I am trying to reflect the fun of living here in my piece. I have a strong interest in the environment and its great to see the regeneration happening in Moreland.
My first connection with Moreland was when my company moved to Brunswick for 5 years. The area struck me as quite an exciting and vibrant environment to work in. The sights, smells and happenings were always so interesting when I came out of the office.
Quilting may not be my thing but I like to be involved in community projects. I am enjoying learning a new skill and meeting such lovely people. I sing in the Brunswick Choir and love the camaraderie.
We used to know everyone in our street and were always playing in the street, cricket or riding or whatever. There used to be a lot of tight knit communities where every one knew each other. Everyone was always outside shopping, playing, chatting. No computers or videos! People were just out more. Lots more rentals and people move house more. So many shops have changed over the years, they pull things down and then you can’t remember what was there.
I don’t live in Moreland anymore but I grew up in Brunswick and my parents still live there. I have lots of childhood memories of being picked up from Brunswick East Primary and walking down to Gelo Bar for an ice-cream. I lived in a Federation House where my parents still live. I went to Uni High which had an accelerated program. My father went to Rural North School in North Melbourne which was originally attached to the University where the lecturers children went.
East Brunswick Primary was a very nice school to go to. Great teachers and we always participated in the Kingfisher Festival at CERES. It was always great fun. I also went to Friday school every second Friday which a group of 5 or 6 families set up. After Kennett there were no excursions at schools due to funding cuts. Every second week I went to East Brunswick 4 days and had Friday school 1 day. As parents were happy for us to do participate the school didn’t object as it meant that they had smaller classes for the day. Classes had become so large at that time.
Friday school had 3 different groups for different age groups and each was quite small. One parent would take the group each time and would teach us their different skills. For example one parent was an astro-physicist, another a doctor, another an artist. Annalivia Carli Hannan who is on the Council now was one of the students too. Her dad Carlos Carli was our local MP and he took us to Parliament House one time so we have photos sitting in the Speakers Chair as little 5 year olds. We went to some great places like the Harbour Master office and looked around the wharfs, to the Australian Tapestry workshop, Melbourne Hospital, to the sandstone cuttings near the zoo, Merri Creek and many others. I think when I have kids I will try to set up something similar if I can work with the schools.
We had ceremonies for different occasions like starting Primary School or High School. We received gifts as symbols like a watch to take responsibility for being on time, a key to the house to take responsibility for ones self. It enabled our milestones to be recognized and taught us the importance of being part of the community. It was also nice to have the connection with adults other than your parents.
I’ve been in East Brunswick since 1981. I really like the Art Deco architecture around Lygon Street and the Child Health Centre on Lygon Street along with the Art Deco apartments opposite. There are so many great landmarks including the Freedom of Speech Monument. They pull buildings now illegally like the art deco office on Lygon Street which is just an empty block now. It was good that they made them keep the art deco face of the TipTop Bakery. There are others scattered about but they really need to make people keep more of our history. Developers paint them or leave them on the hope that they will fall down. It is sad to see that our surroundings are allowed to be altered so dramatically. As we become more gentrified people come from outside the area and don’t know the old history. But then I suppose they create new history. Some of the architecture down Sydney Road is so lovely. Hopefully the heritage overlays will help keep our heritage.
We moved to Moreland as we were looking for a house and couldn’t find anything in the newspaper real estate ads. One day I looked in the business section and a person who was working with a hotel had put the ad for the house there as they had a company account. When we went along to see the house we asked how much it was and the man said ‘make us an offer’ so we said $34000 and he said fine. He couldn’t care about this little wooden house as he was used to selling hotels. It was amazing and now it is a millionaires row! And near lots of parks which is lovely.
Our house didn’t have a bathroom so someone turned part of the back verandah into a loo and then when the last owner came they put a shower in the loo so you couldn’t open the door properly. The loo had an old wooden seat which was really heavy just sitting on the top of the ceramic loo with a shelf for putting your cut up newspaper to wipe with. It had an old overhead cistern. We have a proper bathroom now! The great thing about Brunswick is that people have come from so many places.
Lots of the old iron you see around in front fences or the ‘lacework’ on houses came from the foundry in Coburg and the bricks from the local brickworks. There used to about 160 brick works in Brunswick in the early 19th Century. Government House was supposed to be built in West Brunswick but they found the clay there was so good for brick making that they built it on the other side of the Yarra on the rocky land instead. Lucky for us or we couldn’t have afforded to live here!
We rented in Brunswick to save up to buy the house. I was a teacher here. There was a lot of poverty then. Brunswick means a lot to me but the united Moreland doesn’t really. The merger in the early 1990’s wasn’t very popular we liked having our local council. Counihan and two others were very much part of Brunswicks history. They had a cart with a cage and one was in the cage talking which broke the rules of the time. The police would chase them up Sydney Road. –
Patrick round the road from us in French Ave was an old wharfy and a Marxist. He’d be in his 90’s now. He was a friend of Maisey Glew who was the granddaughter of the Glews who had a foundry here. He belongs to the historical society and is responsible for the ‘Books’ in the Brunswick Library of local history.
Kennett shut down so many schools and got rid of a lot of teachers. So much of the land is gone now as it was sold off to developers. It is such a shame as now we need more schools and there is no land to build them. We used to have 3 high schools / technical schools in Brunswick. We had Brunswick Tech, Brunswick East and Brunswick High. The Brunswick Community school has a very good reputation and is a lovely small school. They had a lovely garden and it was a school with a wonderful community. Westwick on Hunter Street West Brunswick is now converted into a eco friendly estate. Mike Hill who used to be Mayor of Brunswick bought it with some other people.
I came to Brunswick from Sydney. I love city living but Sydney was just too expensive to buy real estate. I had been getting to know the area of the past 18 months walking my dog around but sadly he passed away. This is a better city than Sydney. It is so much more friendly and takes about 30% less energy to live in. It is great that people still talk to you on the street and people here will help you which is really sweet. It is a real rarity in Sydney for people to offer help. It is great that people will still just have a conversation with you on the tram or in a shop. People seem so much less rushed here.
When we bought our house we had Lebanese neighbours and their were masses of them. One of the children had 13 children so there was always lots of people visiting. They had a different idea of privacy so when we would be in the back garden we would often find their kids on the fence watching all that we did. They used to slaughter sheep in the back garden. There were always family gatherings going on.
We bought the house in the 1991 and it was still a pretty down and out area at the time. We bought of Albanians who told us it is so wonderful here you will never want to leave. I thought at the time I will sell it as soon as I can afford to and move back to Carlton. But we as still here! It’s a really interesting suburb. A place where people are born, live, work and die in the same house. That is so rare now.
The Sacred Kingfisher Festival – CERES
For thousands of years the Merri Creek was a place that was home to many different animals including the beautiful blue kingfisher, who flew all the way from Queensland to nest here each spring. But for many years CERES was a rubbish tip, factories were built along the banks of the Merri and industrial waste was dumped into the creek. One of the species that abandoned its home in the face of such ecological holocaust was the kingfisher.
In the 1970’s the CERES community began to form and people worked hard to restore the land. Finally in 1993 the kingfisher returned! The story goes that former staff member Thais Sansom was working away at her desk in the Education office when out of the blue, a little kingfisher flew into the glass of the window next to her. Stunned, it shook itself off and flew away.
A year later, the Return of the Sacred Kingfisher Festival was born with the vision of the Kingfisher Dreaming team: Jacqui Dreessens, Thais Sansom, Maya Ward, Ian Hunter and Cathy Nixon. The current Kingfisher puppet was made by Kari in around 2009.
For more than 20 years the festival has celebrated the Return of the Sacred Kingfisher to the Merri Creek. It continues to be a symbol of environmental hope and celebration of the work of CERES, Merri Creek Management Committee and more widely for environmentalists everywhere. It’s a story that children understand quickly and readily and has a powerful influence on their ability to understand complex environmental issues.
The annual event also serves to honour and celebrate the indigenous people, the work of creating CERES and the “return of life, of fertility, to our blighted planet.” In its biggest years, the festival attracted several thousand people as audience and involved several hundred more as performers including children and babies, people from culturally diverse backgrounds, Aboriginal people, Elders, CERES and MCMC staff & board, and people with disabilities. There have been singers from choirs and other professional and non professional musicians, dancers and visual artists. Installations have been made, hundreds of children have been involved, and the story has been used in pedagogy to tertiary students to create examples of the power of arts, celebration, ritual and participation.
Over all the years of producing the festival, the Kingfisher Team has explored many themes including ‘Merri Creek Creatures and Plants’, ‘Peace and Conflict’, ‘Migration and Refugees’, ‘Cultural Diversity and Tolerance’, and many Wurundjeri Dreaming Stories including the stories of the Tanderballak and the Murrup, Branbeal the Rainbow Spirit, and others. The Kingfisher Festival has inspired and influenced many large outdoor environmental and arts festivals across the country.
The Kingfisher story is the story of CERES and is consistently remembered, retold, relived and returned. CERES has changed hugely in 20 years and all of the original Kingfisher Dreaming Team have moved on from CERES, though a large contingent sill return to CERES each year for the remembrance. In this decade there are many more festivals that occur year round and competition is high for a weekend in the spring when another festival isn’t being held locally. The festival has been downsized in recent years for a variety of reasons including lack of funding, but retains the key elements of the story and ritual each year.
Free Speech Memorial – 270 Sydney Road, Mechanics Institute, Brunswick
The Free Speech memorial was built to commemorate the free speech fights by workers and the unemployed in the area in the 1930`s and in particular a young artist, Noel Counihan, who defied the police by speaking from a locked cage on a cart chained to a balustrade.
Noel Counihan (1913-1986) was a painter, cartoonist and illustrator of national standing noted for his socialist-realist style and radical outlook, whose reputation continued to grow after his death. The memorial also notes the Mechanic Institutes contribution to community knowledge & education.
Baby Health Centre – 318-324 Lygon Street Brunswick East
It was established in the late 1930’s and the current building was built in the 1940’s-50’s. The Centre is build of cream brick in the Moderne styled with rendered capped parapet and a terracotta tiled roof. The front is dominated by an asymmetrically placed semi-circular bay window with metal framed windows and a painted projecting rendered lintel. The west is defined by a small tower. The internal space has a central sun room looking out over a rear garden with smaller rooms for the nurses, consultants and office.
Gigaree House – Former Synagogue – 32 Lord Street, Brunswick
The four room home was originally build 1911-12 for James Dolphin a hosiery manufacturer. It was the first home constructed in Lord Street and Dolphin owned a number of allotments in this and adjoining streets. Previously, the area had been used as a stone quarry by the Methven family, and after it was infilled, it was subdivided as the Lygon Estate. Dolphin died in 1929 at the age of 80 leaving the house to his wife and two daughters.
The property was later owned by Israel Suluert, a flock manufacturer, when it was purchased by Brunswick Talmud Torah (school for learning) in 1942 for use as a Synagogue and a Sabbath school, at which time a further two rooms were added and a back section containing a cellar. Joseph Yoffe (hosiery manufacturer), Boris Sonkin (manufacturer) and Solomon Werthcam (manufacturing chemist of Fitzroy). After the death of these three joint proprietors it was transferred to Morris Yotfe in 1967, and then to M and HJ Goldberg in 1982. It remained in use as a synagogue until 1987.
The Brunswick Talmud Torah was established in 1921, and has been one of the most enduring Jewish congregations of Melbourne. The Jewish population of Brunswick in 1921 was nearly 300 with many working in the rag trade in local factories. It was one of only two Jewish congregations north of the Yarra, the other being the Albert Street synagogue. The Jewish population flourished with emigrants pre and post WW!! Flocking to the Carlton region, and declined as the Caulfield region became the preferred living area.
The house has now reverted to being a domestic residence.