Glenorie - Ray Whiteman


Interviewee: Ray Whiteman, born 1933

Interviewer: Frank Heimans,
            for Baulkham Hills Shire Council

Date of Interview: 7th June, 2006

Transcription: Kevin Murray, Nov 2006

This interview represents the personal recollections, views and opinions of the interviewee

Now, why did they move to Glenorie, all the way from Camden?

Dad, I think, got tired of that part of business life – he’d always wanted to do some farming and we came out onto an orchard.

In what year was that, Ray?


Right, that was the middle of the War?

No it was the latter part.

Right. So what do you remember about moving over to Glenorie? You were only about 9 or 10?

Ten. What do I remember about it? Many trips. Many trips in a utility and Dad bought a Blitz at one stage, a Blitz Waggon, and we had lots and lots of trips back and forth from Camden. One outstanding memory was that we all did the loading of the removalists and when we got to Glenorie we waited and we waited. They’d stopped off at the 'Bull & Bush' at Baulkham Hills and by the time they got to Glenorie all they had time to do was to put in some beds so that we could all go to sleep that night. And then my sister was only very young and she couldn’t make head nor tail about what was going on – she wasn’t happy! So they’re the things that really stuck in my mind.

So eventually everything was moved over, was it?

Oh yes, we all made it eventually.

That was quite a trip in those days wasn’t it? I mean the roads weren’t very good were they?

Oh, they were all sealed, all the way. It was only from Glenorie onwards that it wasn’t sealed. It was a fair journey, but nevertheless…

So what were your first impressions of coming to live at Glenorie?

Well, we had more wide open space. We came onto a property which was 80 acres of which 20 odd was in citrus and other farming fruits – orchards. And so, yeah, we had a wonderful area to grow up in, certainly not just a backyard. School was just opposite. The one and only shop was just a quarter mile down the way, so it was good.

So on what road was it that you lived at Glenorie?

Old Northern. That’s the main road.

Right, Old Northern Road. Do you remember the number?

I don’t think we had numbers at that stage, I’m not sure. It later on became known as 42.

Glenorie General Store 1966

So if there was one store. Who owned the store?

There was a family that owned that, he was Bill Hogarty, he ran the store when we first came out.

And that was one mile down the road?

Just a half a mile – barely that.

Right, and what did he sell in his store?

It was a general store – a Post Office and general store. We could get a few groceries, but only the simple things. Certain things came by bus – we’d give an order, put it on the bus and they’d pick that up on the way down at Castle Hill or Round Corner and so we’d get some deliveries that way. Bread and meat would come that way.

There was a butcher at Castle Hill where you used to get your meat from?

I think ours was actually from Round Corner, which is Dural. You’re stretching the memory!

I usually do that. Taking you back forty or fifty years or more…

Yes, it’s all of that.

So, what chores or duties did you have as a child?

I think we were probably spoiled that way. We did help with the farm, but at ten, just the normal things that you do – help with the washing up and all the rest of it. Not a great deal.

You were going to school, of course. Did you help to pick the fruit and that sort of thing when it was holiday time?

Oh yeah. Mainly helped in the packing shed.

So, your father was growing citrus fruit, you said…

Firstly, yes. We had oranges, lemons and passionfruit and just a few household trees which had apples and that sort of thing.

Right. A lot of other people have told us about growing passionfruit. It must have been a big passionfruit growing area, was it?

Well I think it was a sort of a situation where it was a little bit more ready cash crop rather than planting citrus, because they obviously take years before they’re ready to produce.

More immediate, right?

Yeah. We did some vegetables, but I don’t recall what.

Can you tell me about your childhood activities. What kind of play did you engage in, where you swam and all that sort of thing?

That’s a hard one too. There was no swimming facilities anywhere here. We did have a very small dam and we had a packing shed, and sometimes we’d swim in that, learnt to dive in that, my brother and I. There were only two of us that were old enough to do those things at that stage. But it was a case of going to school, and coming home and doing a little bit of helping.

Your father changed his occupation from being a grocer to becoming a farmer. How did he take to the new occupation?

Very well. It was what he wanted to do. The other wasn’t really his first choice, but he certainly made a good fist of it.

Right. Did your mother get involved as well in the farming things?

My mother would help in the packing shed, yes. Very much so. That was where my mother would help, packing peaches and that.

Glenorie fruit ready for market

Now, your parents seemed to be pretty hard workers.

We all had to be.

Yeah, sure. And it was tough years, of course, but did they have a social life as well? Did they do anything for recreation afterwards?

Eventually, somewhere along the line, Dad did buy a boat, a Halverson. And it was kept down at Bobbin Head. And that was a great relaxation for Dad, he liked the boating.

Did you ride with him on the boat as a kid?

Oh yes, definitely. Far beyond being a kid.

Do you still have a love of boating or sailing?

Well, that was just a cruiser, a small one, but, yes, that started me off on boating. I later on did a fair bit of sailing, particularly with Scouts – I used to take the Scouts sailing.

Right, we’ll get onto that a bit later. Did anyone in the family play musical instruments?

I was taught to play the piano, which I didn’t do very well at. But I chose to play the organ, and I still play the organ.

Now, can you describe the Glenorie of your childhood to me, from the mid 1940’s onwards. What was the place like? Tell me what was there?

Well, as I say, there was only the one shop. We were at the end of the bus run from Castle Hill out to Glenorie and that was owned and run by George Deaman. The company was “George Deaman Bus Company”. The centre for activities were either the churches or the Memorial Hall, where there were dances held fairly regularly – at least once a month from my memory. The Hall was altered at some stage, probably in the early Fifties and it accommodated a theatre – projection room above the entry and a big screen at the end of the hall, on the stage, and that became an outlet for recreation and social life.

So what kind of movies did you see there?

Whatever they could get. I eventually saw the Coronation for Queen Elizabeth there. But, whatever films were able to be borrowed or hired by the operator.

Was it a 60mm projector?

I presume so, but I don’t know.

Probably. So they used to hire the films, did they?

I would say that that’s what he was into. He was within the group that did that sort of activity for country people. Thank goodness.

Were there any showings for kids, kids’ films?

Oh yes, occasionally there were the Disney ones, that I can remember. You were sayng “what else”… the school was opposite and the life of young people was around school – what was on in the Hall or the Church life at that stage.

What form of transport did your father use... you said he had a Blitz car, or was that a truck?

It was a... that was one that was sold off from the Army, the Blitz Waggon, but we had a little Morris utility in which we did many trips from Camden, and his first car was the one we had when we shifted, was a Terraplane.


Yes, Terraplane. I believe later on it became associated with the Hudson manufacturers, and then later on we bought a Vanguard and a few more things along the way.

So your family was luckier than most people who didn't really have transport. A lot of people I've interviewed only had horses and sulkies.

Yeah. When we came we had two draught horses which was what did the working of the orchard for a while. Then he bought a tractor. That made it a bit easier... we didn't have to feed it quite so regularly!

Glenorie bus depot, 1967

Now, when did the buses start running? You said there were busses here.

Buses were there before we came.

How regular was the service?

Well, at least daily, because men had to go to work, if they were not fully occupied on the farm then they went out to work. Some of those would go to Parramatta, others I'm not sure where they went.

So it would be two or three times a day the bus would go, or more?

At that first stage at least there would be an in and out, but I can't tell you any more. Later on there was more than that because they then had to take young people to High Schools.

Was it a Government-run bus service?

No, privately. And when I started high school it was a bus run from Glenorie to Castle Hill, then change and go from there on another bigger bus company - Parramatta Bus Company I think they called them - and we'd go into Parramatta then to go to high schools.

So it wasn't so isolated as one might think, then?

Well, if travelling by bus for that long to get to school isn't isolated, then no it wasn't.

Now tell me a little bit about attending the Glenorie Public School. At what year did you enter there?

As soon as we came from Camden I went straight into the school because I was ten, so I was in fifth class at Glenorie, did a few months and then the next year was sixth class, then off to high school.

Can you remember much about that school, the Glenorie Public School? Who was the Headmaster, for instance?

The Headmaster's name was Burchett and he used to live at the top of Galston Gorge, on the Galston side, and he actually walked from his home to the school and then would walk back to his home in the afternoons, so he was very fit - physically very fit.

How long do you think that might have taken him?

No idea. But the way he walked, he did fairly well.

Was he a good Headmaster, as far as you were concerned?

That's hard for one at ten. And we only had two teachers, so he had to take fourth, fifth and sixth classes and any who were doing high school by correspondence, he would have to look after that. I can't remember much about the teacher for the Lower School, I've got no memory of that, but the memory of Mr Burchett - not a fond memory - is spelling tests. He would open the newspaper up and he would just read from that and that was a shock.

Historic fire fighting tools at Kenthurst Fire Brigade. L to R: knapsack, foam
making branch, branch, 2 stirrup pumps and bucket, 3 breeching pieces, canvas water bag

Did your father help to fight that fire?

At that stage there was no real organised - there were groups of people that would get out and help anybody that was in need, but in this case it came through so quickly that it was a case of you did for yourself. So he did for himself, we went out to the back block on the western end of the property and lit the burn-back fires and that took the intensity out of the fire. By the time it came up to our property it met this burnback which was going towards it. But it still came through with a lot of force and burnt everything up. I was left in one of the orchards to look after the utility and put out any sparks that landed on the vehicle while Dad went up to the house to make sure that Mum and the younger members of the family were OK. At that stage they had put the car into the centre of the park which was opposite, so that if anything was lost in any of the buildings, hopefully we would still have a car. But it did burn right through the park. It set alight to a couple of buildings in the park - they were only saplings, small trees cut to length with a corrugated iron roof and wall. But a couple of those were set alight and burnt some bits. There wasn't much to burn in them, but nevertheless they did catch alight.

What's it like being caught in a bushfire? It must be very terrifying, is it?

At about eleven, it was quite frightening.

At any age, I guess.

Well, it was at that stage, I think! And a first experience. Since then I've seen quite a few.

Yes, you joined the Bushfire Brigade didn't you, as a volunteer?

For a little while, yes.

Any interesting moments during that time?

I was then involved... the then captain of Glenorie was a Mr Frank Smith, and he and another chap asked us to go out and do some control and we had to do some putting out of fires and making firebreaks and that sort of thing. But that was all done with knapsack sprays and basher bags, but you can't control a fire with those.

 Historic fire fighting tools at Kenthurst Fire Brigade. L to R: foam
making branch, 3 branches, hose spanner, knapsack and 2 stirrup pumps

It's pretty hard, isn't it? Now, going back to Glenorie again, in those days. The first house that you lived in in Glenorie on the main road, can you describe what it looked like?

It's still there. It's a brick home. It was only a two bedroom brick home, but it was very comfortable.

And how many rooms did it have?

Two bedrooms, a living room, and a kitchen with a fuel stove and the previous owner had put an electric stove in it. And a large back verandah that was sort of a living area for the family.

So you had electricity from those very early days?

We did have electricity from the time we got here, yes. But it didn't go very much further. We were sort of on the end of the bitumen, the end of electricity, and the end of water.

Oh, so you had the town water too?

We did, yes.

You were lucky, then?

We thought so, yes. We were sure so, actually.

What about sewerage?

No, there still isn't. When it came, it came by the owners putting in a septic tank and running their pipes to that. Dad saw to that happening fairly soon after we came, because we had gone through the situation at Camden of going from having pans being picked up and emptied, to having sewerage put on throughout Camden. So we'd experienced those sort of things, and Dad was definite that we were going to have the septic tank put in which we did. And that made life easier.

Did you have a telephone at home?

Yeah, we did - the old fashioned one which sat up on the wall and you turned the handle to ring the bell and our number at that stage was 48.

Now, we're talking about Glenorie as it was in those days, the Forties, Fifties, and so on. Can you remember who the neighbours were, that were close to you, along Old Northern Road or any other street? Do you remember their names or what they did?

On the southern side the Hogartys ran the General Store. They were neighbours across the Schwebel Road. On the other way we had a family which had a large orchard - it was Walker. And opposite them was another family, Findley. So they were the close ones. Coming back onto the southern side there was the Deamans - he was the bus provider and operator. And opposite his was a family, after the war, of Chegwyn and further down the road there was a property owned by George Hitchcock.

So that's on the southern side, now?


Did you see much of these people? Was there interaction between different families?

Yes. There was interaction between those families. Particularly the Chegwyns, the Findleys eventually sold and a family by the name of Semple came in there, and, yeah, there was quite a lot of interaction between the Semples and Mum and Dad. Stuart started to farm and occasionally helped Dad.

Shore 40 acre orchard Cattai Ridge Road 1950s

Were you all growing the same kind of things, the citrus fruits and all that or did they specialise in any particular other lines?

All that were on orchards had similar sort, in varying sizes, and some supplemented with vegetable growing, like cabbage, cauliflower, those sort of things... tomatoes, beans, peas.

Were there any particularly hard years for the farmers there - in terms of droughts or floods? What do you remember about those events?

I think probably one of the hardest setbacks was when we got a very bad hailstorm when I was about 20, I think. I was in National Service at Flinders Naval Depot at that stage, and they got a really bad hailstorm in Glenorie and that was a real setback. The hail heaped up in some places, but it certainly knocked the fruit crop around, badly.

And did your father lose a lot of trees or fruit?

Not trees, but fruit. A lot of income was lost. Glenorie has gone through quite a few bad hailstorms, which, of course, knocks the income of the farmers during those times - badly!

Talking about some of the changes that happened in Glenorie in the farming, tell me what they were. I mean, there aren't as many people growing fruit and vegetables today, are there?

No, there aren't. And I'd say that there is a number of reasons that those farms are not functioning now. It's harder to compete with the very big farms. There's a few big orchards still here in Glenorie and they, I'd say, are doing very nicely. But for the medium sized ones it became very hard to make an income. Young people tended to go for other work. Rates were another problem, so that gradually the medium sized ones, or the very small ones just folded up.

Did your father get disillusioned about farming when these adverse events happened?

No, Dad was resolute that that was what he was there to do and he got in and got over it.

OK. How long did he continue with the farming?

It's a bit hard to be sure on that. The next brother, when he left high school, he came and worked for Dad and then, eventually he took over the farm until such stage as he decided to move away. When that happened, the property was divided into four - three 25 acre blocks taken out of it and just left Dad with a very small property. But Dad's interest had gone into orchid growing at that stage, and so that became his income then. Since then, the youngest brother has gone in and taken that over and that's his income now.

Right. Was the climate good here for growing orchids?

Yeah. They've done well out of them.

Did you father have any problems finding enough labour when the fruit picking season came? Fruit pickers - some people had problems finding enough people?

I think we managed fairly well that way.

In terms of the kind of people that lived at Glenorie, were ther any, say, ethnic minorities, like Italians or Greeks or Maltese - those sorts of people - in the area?

There were a few Italian families but they had migrated out to Glenorie before I came so they were just absorbed into and were part of the community. There was certainly never any fraction.

Italian migrant from 1950s on his Fiat tractor north of Glenorie 2004

Do you remember the names of any of those families?

Muscio. That's the one that stands out.

And they also grew their own fruit and vegetables?

Yeah. They were orchardists, yes.

No Chinese that you recall?

Not at that stage, no.

OK. Now when your father wanted to do his banking, was there a bank in Glenorie at that stage?

Nowhere near. Our banks were at Parramatta, initially, from memory. And then, eventually there was some at Castle Hill and then later a small office came into Glenorie.

Now you mentioned that some of the supplies were brought by the bus and so on, like meat and so on. Were there any other hawkers that came - people that came along the roads to ply their wares?

There was a very genuine chap called Ronald Jones. He came around with clothing and those sort of things in his wagon - and other bits. That was very handy. It was good. He's still alive. He was down at Kenthurst. Still writes for one of the local magazines - and he often had a little bit recalling what his journeys were, and the people he met with them. Very nice couple they were, and they had a couple of boys. That's the only one... other than... do you know the brand of medication, Rawleighs? There was one of the family that did a bit of that sort of thing - go around and do cough mixtures and those sorts of things that were handy. They're the only two that I can think of.

So he sold pharmaceuticals, did he?

That sort of thing, yeah.

Aspros, that kind of thing?


So you didn't have a chemist shop anywhere nearby?

Oh no.

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