I was born in Warragul and spent my first 12 years here. My family moved to Coffs Harbour at the end of 1971. The year I finished Primary School.
I have so many happy memories of my childhood living in Warragul. The town is rural, 100km east of Melbourne. It is/was surrounded by dairy farms. The days when as long as you were home before the street lights came on then you were never in trouble. Playing footy with my mates on the vacant block next to the Caldwell’s up on O’Dowds Road. Or riding bikes modified by the older McDonald boys. Or playing lego with the kid up the street.
The town has and hasn’t changed. The CBD area is bigger. There are more shops and the industrial area has increased tenfold. The trees have got bigger and the swimming pool where we spent a lot of our summers at has gone. It has been replaced by an indoor/outdoor complex on the other side of town. The Princes Highway no longer runs through the town. Like most towns to the east of Melbourne it is now bypassed.
I remember snippets of every house we lived in bar the first. The funny thing is I recall every house had a huge front yard, like each house was set back to the rear of the block. When I revisited each house I did so as a 62 year old not as a sub 10 year old. Now that I am “grown up” the perspective has changed and each house really has a very small front yard. Other memories have not changed though.
Dad built 3 houses that we lived in in Warragul. No 140, No 25 then finally No 8. No 25 and No 8 were both in the same street. Sinclair Street. It ran up to O’Dowds road which was where our Primary School was so we mostly walked to school. Houses have replaced the paddock where the pine trees were that we used to climb on the way home from school. The School had a few demountable buildings not like the numerous classrooms that are there now. We had split classes. Now I imagine there are multiple classes for each year level. One thing that made me happy was when talking to a long time resident of the area, she said Warragul North Primary was still the best Primary School in Warragul. We did have the best teachers back then. Mr Foster, Mr Boyes, Mrs France just to name a few. Mrs Steele was the Junior School Headmistress. I remember she died suddenly during our senior years at school and the whole school turned out at her funeral to form a guard of honour. I remember hearing the news at a mates place and how incredibly sad we were at the time. We also lost a classmate in Grade 4 when she was hit by a truck while riding her bike one weekend.
We always knew when Dad and Mum were planning on their next move. There would be a flurry of activity by Dad to finish the house off before placing it on the market.
After selling #25 they brought #8 which was further up the street and was being developed. We rented a really old house in Bowen Street while Dad built the new house. We all thought the Bowen street house was haunted. The back yard was a jungle with an outdoor loo. We found out that mum didn’t like mice when we lived here!