Interviewee: Ab Rootliep, born 1928
Interviewer: Frank Heimans,
for Baulkham Hills Shire Council
Date of Interview: 3 Sept 2001
Transcription: Catherine Sapir, May, 2006
This interview represents the personal recollections, views and opinions of the interviewee
Ab Rootliep is one of the volunteers at the Hills Tourist Information Centre. He arrived from Holland in 1966 to settle in Castle Hill and has become an unofficial, unpaid but not unrecognised tourism ambassador for the Shire.
I retired from my job in 1993 and in the first one or two years we did a bit of travelling but after a couple of years I thought I want to do a bit more, make myself useful and get out of the house a few times a week. In 1996 I was taken on as a volunteer at the Maritime Museum, which I am still doing today. About the same time, I also knew that in Baulkham Hills they were looking for volunteers to man the Tourist Office which is now located in Dural, the tourist Centre in Dural. I was accepted as a volunteer and I have been doing it for a number of years now and enjoy it very much.
So can you tell me a little bit about the work that you do at the Tourist Information Centre?
If someone walks in the door and asks me what can we see, what can we do here, can you suggest a few things we should do for walks or for driving around – we do have a few people dropping in who are totally lost and they have to get from here to Windsor but don’t know how to get there. We have the odd overseas visitors, of course, who are passing through and they would like some guidance of where to go, what to see and we have all sorts of questions - people wanting to go to a nice restaurant, we may have some young lady coming in looking for a place for a reception for a wedding, all different things. In addition we also have next door to the Information Centre we have an old historic home called The Pines, Roughley House. That house is open to visitors to go through, with a guide of course, so when I feel that when some of my visitors might be interested in seeing an old Australian home, I usually take them through and they’re quite thrilled to see it all. The gentleman who lives there, he is a direct descendant of the old Roughley family who settled here in the mid 1800’s and he is the last one of the line, so he still lives in that house. He was born there 87 years ago. Delightful man, and he is always very, very pleased to meet people, no matter where they come from. The house dates back, according to the records, to 1856. Clive Roughley's grandfather, he was the first one who came into this district and what Clive has done, he has left it basically as it was when he was still living in it with his family.
What we also do in the summer months, once a month we have an open air Jazz Concert at the house in the garden, so we get also involved in that. We provide the tables and chairs and tea and coffee and people can come there and spend a Sunday afternoon bringing their own picnic lunch and listening to jazz. A very, very pleasant way of passing the time here.
How much of your time is involved in the Visitors Information Centre. How often do you go there?
Well I do it once a week, usually on Saturdays from 10 to 4, six hours. We have a number of volunteers, I’m not sure how many we have now, maybe 12 or so, so the idea is that every day there is a different person looking after the Visitors Centre.
In terms of other volunteering activities that you are involved in, you already told me about the Maritime Museum, but you’ve only sketched on it. Tell me a little bit more in detail what you do there.
I do two jobs. One day a week I am a guide, taking people around on the couple of warships that we have and the second day I work as assistant to the manager of the Welcome Wall which is dedicated to migrants and settlers, anyone at all who came to this country and who would like to have their name recorded on this wall. So I am involved with a lot of the administration of that and I do talk to people over the phone. I just remembered in ’96 and 1997 I worked for two years as a volunteer with the St Johns Ambulance Brigade who had a section which trains volunteers to assist schools with providing assistance to young children in the primary school age with reading skills. We were allocated a child who had difficulty in reading or comprehension and then we, as a volunteer, were placed with that child for an hour a day, maybe two hours on a one to one basis and help the child with improving their reading skills and spelling skills. I enjoyed it when I did it.
Sydney Hills Visitor Information Centre 2006
Of all the time, the days in a week, how many days would you spend on volunteering activities would you say?
I do two days a week at the Museum and one day at the Visitors Centre in Dural, so three days a week I am busy volunteering. I am working with a very nice group of volunteers and we have great fun I think.