Glenorie - Ray Whiteman - Part 2


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

How did it feel to be such a small community fairly isolated without all the service that people take for granted today, in those days?

We never missed it, it was a little bit harder if somebody did get sick because there were no doctors, eventually there was a doctor started at Dural and then with the doctor coming well then there was a chemist eventually came and eventually there was a chemist in Glenorie and there still is now. The old fashioned home remedies were very good, probably less worries with the things that Mum had learned from her parents, lemon and honey was great for a cold.

Right and did she always have the Vicks ready for your chest?

Oh that was still there, yes (laughs).

Any old wives tales recipes that you remember any particular cures?

No, lemon and honey was a beauty and I still use lemon and honey.

Well it seems to work?

Yes it does.

Let’s talk about your involvement with the scout movement because that was really a big part of your life? So when did you first become involved ?

I was asked if I would consider doing that in ’53 I did training and we opened a scout troop in Glenorie in March ’54 and we started that in the local Memorial Hall. Later on the committee found a property and we built a hall and headquarters on that and that was a really good set up. We had nine acres, there was a creek going through it and areas where the boys could camp, it was a good spot.

You built the scout hall didn’t you?

Yeah I was involved.

Tell me about your involvement in that and who built it and so on?

Well the scouting started with a committee, Ted Saville and Reg Thomas who were president and secretary and they looked around and found property that we were able to acquire. It was Crown land and the association leased that on that with the help of others particularly Ken Hitchcock and Dennis Wilshire(?) and the Hughes family to build a hall and extend it and so it went.

Was it a volunteer effort for the community to build that?

Oh yes definitely there was a certain amount that was paid but there was an awful lot that was voluntary.

What got you interested in the scout movement?

I was asked if I would do it and I said “yes” and so I was bunged into it and I’ve never regretted it because the Scout Association is a beaut organisation for young people and it’s been an awful sad time when it’s now not functioning.

From which areas did you draw your boys, scouts.


Just from Glenorie, there were enough kids there to make a sizeable group?

Yes, yes there was over the years I shifted and so when I was down at Wisemans Ferry I used to bring boys from there and from Maroota so that I would have a station wagon full of boys by the time I got to Glenorie but it was good, really good.

What do you think the decline is due to?

Two reasons the advent of television, computers these sort of things change young people’s interests, hobbies that sort of thing and of course it’s harder now to get people to take on the role of being a leader.

Hills District Tennis Association courts at Glenorie 1956

Too many other commitments I suppose they have like sporting commitments?

Well there are far more sporting teams and activities these days than there was when we set out in Glenorie there were two sporting groups that was cricket and tennis and they were the only team games that were available at that stage. Since then we’ve got new sporting ovals and lots of facilities, we’re able to get to places easier and Mum’s taxi service to get the boys to this particular venue for playing hockey or cricket or whatever, yes it makes a big difference.

This project is very interested in the change to the suburb as I’ve already mentioned. What to you think have been the biggest changes to life in Glenorie since you were young?

I think it’s just been a gradual change and it’s probably been in most communities that there’s a change because vehicles change, the economy of young people had changed. They can buy a vehicle to get to work because it’s hard although there’s a bus running, so that changes life and as I’ve mentioned the sporting, the falling off of orchards generally from Glenorie they’ve all had a changing effect.

You think that Glenorie is now a better place than it used to be or not, what’s your feeling on that?

I won’t say it’s better but it is different, we’re no longer on the end of the electricity, we’re no longer on the end of the phones and we’re no longer on the end of the bitumen road, the roads are improving so that makes a big change and then of course all the entertainment that comes with TV’s, computers, mobile phones and all that sort of thing, they all have a change in community life and whilst they may be handy I’m not sure that they’re all changes for the better.

Ray what have been some of the changes in shopping in the area?

Well one of the early changes would be the starting of what was known as the Glenorie Cooperative which was made up of people that farmed in the district and they set up a store which would be where they could buy fertilisers, packing cases and those sort of things and that’s over the time it’s developed and became quite a large store. Also in that same building we got a grocery store, later on there was another couple of shops and we got a chemist and eventually we got a few more shops being built, we got a butcher, a newsagent and hairdresser a real estate came into the area and more recently we’ve had the Glenorie Mall set up where we had the other shops such as, we’ve now got a pizza a new chemist a couple of beauticians. A new newsagent increased in size and also the cake shop that used to be on Post Office Road a small one there that’s increased in size. We have a very good service with the bakery. At the moment we’re pretty well served.

Glenorie shops c1980

What sort of businesses have come to the area?

There has been some that have come out to work with the building and maintenance of tractors and that sort of thing. When we first are talking of what was here in Glenorie, there was no actual or very, very small service station and later on we got a good garage and service station with mechanics and all that. We’ve had a vet move into the district and we’re very grateful to have that facility, we’ve had other businesses come in that were factories dealing with livestock needs, medications, the feeds and that sort of thing were being made here in Glenorie. Over the years we’ve had a number of nurseries that have started up all of those have added to the facilities of the district giving work.

You’ve even got a business haven’t you that specialises in providing details of service personnel.

Yes medals that started up to give families the opportunity to have a photographic and other record for their parents or their Dad who may have been in any of the wars and that’s a bonza little shop and very handy to have, they do a very good job.

From what you’ve just told me with all this extra activity in shops, when you look at Glenorie of your youth which was a pretty rural community would you say it’s still a rural community or has it changed?

No it still has a rural aspect but percentage wise it’s very much smaller and they’ve been subdivisions that have been made one on the Hornsby side and one on the Baulkham Hills side and that’s brought a lot of straight residential situation where people are just on a small house block and they are either going to retire or have retired or they’re young families and they’ll all be travelling away to work.

So is it more like a suburban community now?

In those two areas it’s quite suburbia but in the areas beyond that they then become what we know as rural residential, which might be a five acres block or sometimes a bit smaller which means that the owners have got somewhere to run a horse or whatever.

Let’s talk a bit about the Memorial Hall that’s at Glenorie on Old Northern Road. What’s been your connection with that hall?

Initially it was there just as a facility for the community but as time went by I took an interest in it and found that the two people that were running it needed a little extra support so I volunteered and out of that I’ve become the president of the committee. I guess I’ve been instrumental in making new moves that have happened with the hall in that I now have a photographic history of Glenorie based on the 1940’s, 1950’s and we have there over 160 photos that are all A4size framed and permanently on the wall along with about six aerial photos showing what Glenorie did look like from the air. Most of the photos were taken from the air in about 1988 in that era.

What made you decide to start collecting all those historical photographs Ray?

I can’t say what actually started me thinking but I thought well this is a Memorial Hall maybe it should be a memorial also to the history of Glenorie so I asked what some of the people thought about it and from that I started to borrow photos had them enlarged, framed them, hung them and gave the originals back again. So we’ve got this history of Glenorie. I must admit the first time we opened the hall I thought we’d be lucky to get anybody there. We opened the doors at ten people came in soon after and started to immediately look at the photos and suddenly it all became worthwhile because they became totally involved “do you remember this, do you remember that? Oh that’s that one. So it was all good.

Where did you find all those photographs?

I’m still finding them, I’m still asking for more and people will visit here and realise that I think I’ve got some photos at home so they start to rummage round and I get the use of those and give them back and so it grows.

Has the hall also been used as a kindergarten in the past?

It has been used as a kindergarten over the years as an adjunct to the school and it was set up with the fences and that sort of thing to keep the movement of the children limited. It’s been used as a classroom for the school over the years until such time as another classroom was moved on site or extra buildings were put up. Then more recently it’s been used as a playgroup, as an area for that so yes it gets used.

Glenorie ANZAC Day March 1964

Does the Progress Association use that hall at all?

We did meet there but they chose to move to the RSL Club. We still use it we had a very beaut day on Australia Day this year but mainly because it’s the centenary year for both Hornsby and Baulkham Hills. We were asked if we would do something so we decided to put on a small sit down dinner and we did that for about fifty odd guests and that was a very beaut time and that was an activity that the Progress Association put on. We had some members from the RSL Club particularly those who were members of the Progress Association. We had a flag raising ceremony at the Memorial and then they moved in and we had a sit down lunch.

What position do you hold in the Progress Association, Ray?

At the moment I’m president.

This is your first term as president?

No, I’ve been president for quite a while, I wasn’t the initial president but I’ve been at it for quite a few years. There was a move by a group because they didn’t want another phone tower down in the park, but they got their way and then pulled out and I was voted back in and have been going since.

What have been some of the threats that, have confronted the lifestyle of the people around the district, any external influences?

Probably the biggest one that I can think about was when there was talk of putting an airport at Galston that brought in some protests, public meeting both at Galston and Glenorie. Then there was another time when they wanted to make a mausoleum on the Old Northern Road there was public outcry about that. As I’ve mentioned the move to put the phone towers for the mobile phones they’ve been time when people have rallied. Also when there was a move by a developer to put in quite a large project of town houses and the community felt that these were not in the interests of Glenorie as it was at that stage and probably as it still is and so the Progress Association was restarted again and it’s from then that it’s kept going and I’m still president.

Is it likely that a lot more development is going to take place at Glenorie?

At this stage a developer, an owner has permission to go ahead and put in more shops and flats and town houses but for private reasons he’s backed off at the moment. Provided there isn’t a time limit that permissions has been given. It was given on the understanding that sewerage would come to Glenorie. There also was talk by one of the owners which we would certainly back for a village situation to go in, but that hasn’t happened because of no sewerage.

Glenorie War Memorial south of Memorial Hall Old Northern Road 2009

So how do you see the future of Glenorie if you look ahead twenty years or so what do you see?

Personally I’d like to see it stay as it is perhaps with just a slow increase but who knows what’s going to happen. The way things are moving out from Parramatta, out from Castle Hill, out from Dural it would seem that there will be a gradual development more need for subdivisions and it will become more of a rural residential area than it is at the moment.

Would you like to see Glenorie become a suburb like Cherrybrook with lots of houses in it. Is that what the people want?

Is that a personal question? No but there obviously are some that would like that because that means that with more people in the district they’ve got a chance of increasing their businesses and that covers all the businesses when you’ve got more people here.

Then there are other people who want to see it stay exactly as it is. Is that right?

Yeah definitely.

Which category do you fall into Ray?

As it is I guess that’s because I’m probably the older generation but don’t call me old.

Well we’re coming to the end of our interview Ray, are there any other comments that you want to make or anything else you want to put on record while we’re talking?

Well since we’ve talked about the hall I probably should mention that I’ve taken pretty much of an interest in the park that is next to the hall and over the years since 2002 we’ve made the park look something that people should be proud of through the Progress Association. We’ve spoken to councils on both sides and we’ve had them to plant the Eucalyptus “Summer Red” which is a grafted tree from the West Australian Red Flowering Gum and we’ve put quite a number of those along the roadside and that’s been greatly accepted and appreciated by the community and it will in the years to come provided we get the opportunity to do what we want to do and that’s increase that we’ll really make quite a mark for Glenorie along the lines that some of the towns have with the Jacarandas and the Tibouchinas so I’m looking forward if I have the lifespan to see it. But one thing I’d like to mention with the use of the hall was the 2002 bushfires. The hall became a collection point for relief for clothing and furniture for all the things that people lost because Glenorie particularly Forest Glen were badly hit by it. Forest Glen we lost about sixteen or eighteen homes and the whole of the Hills area lost about forty I believe. The hall was where people responded and brought food and clothing and that was really a credit to the community of Glenorie, it got to the stage where we had to say no more. We ended up with so much that we had to have a garage type sale and did some selling off and then took them to charity. But that was a real good use of the hall.