Kellyville - Flo and Dennis Willcox - Part 2


Interviewees: Flo Willcox, born 1921

          and Dennis Willcox, born 1951

Interviewer: Frank Heimans,
            for Baulkham Hills Shire Council

Date of Interview: 30 June 2006

Transcription: Glenys Murray, Nov 2006

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


Dennis can you describe the Comito shop for us and what they sold?

Comito’s was a general store just about any item that you wanted within reason. If you wanted something special you had to most people went to Baulkham Hills, Parramatta or Castle Hill not so much Castle Hill because the public transport used to go to Baulkham Hills and then Parramatta. Comito’s was just a general store but it used to have this beautiful old fuel bowser out the front I don’t know what age it was but it was one of those ones that you had the handle on the front and you pumped it up to two three gallons whatever you want and then it was gravity fed into whatever container you had Was not electric.

Dennis or Flo who were your neighbours and the rest of the population of Kellyville who were they? Can you remember where they lived and what their names were?

You mean when I first came here?

Yeah in those early years?

Mr Smith up the top here, had an orchard.

He’s a cousin of Pearce’s used to be just up here, he had an orchard like you say.

Who were the Dutch people that you bought the eight acres off what was their name?


Tom Bakker he used to grow flowers I think, did he not?

Yes or he tried wasn’t very successful because it was very cold, we used to get big frost. Sometimes the frosts were so good that we had to pour boiling water over the lines in the dairy to get the machines started.

Next one up from that was Jack Hailes with his poultry farm. Mrs Clarke the topside of Kellyville Park.

Mrs Berry

Thompsons used to live up there on the corner.

I’m just trying to think if Thompsons were there when I first come in but I don’t think they were long after us.

They were our immediate neighbours anyway, Frank.

There weren’t too many, there was a captain.

The old sea captain across the road here, but I never knew him.

Were all the people that you talked about were they also dairy farmers like yourselves

No, none of them we were the only dairy farmers Smith was an orchardist, Hailes was poultry farmer, Bakker had left the area when Mum purchased the land off them, we just used that for the farm then.

Comito's Store 1960s

So what was actually here when you first came Flo, in 1949 to Kellyville, what did Kellyville consist of then, did it have a bank, a post office, shops, what was it?

Dairy I think, I’m being facetious but I didn’t get off the dairy too often except when the children went to school and I took an interest in the school then.

It had Comito’s store, had the old post office, had Kellyville Primary School, it would have had the old BP garage as well as Rayer’s Golden Fleece, the Shell garage up here came along many years later the Esso garage opposite Wright’s Road would have been there it’s now a Mobil and there was the old Soldier’s Memorial Hall on the corner of Windsor and Memorial Avenues.

That was about the extent is it?

Dennis you were born in 1951 so when you were say five you went to school to the Kellyville Public School what was it like then?

Kellyville Public School consisted of possibly three buildings the old building which fronts Windsor Road is still there today that was our classrooms there was a little old building beside yet behind that and then there was a newer building I don’t know what year it was built but there were two or three classrooms in that. Kellyville Primary very few buildings, big rooms, large rooms, the ceiling in the main room up there was very high, all the grounds of the school was just open paddock there was probably a run down fence on what would be the northern end of the school between Kellyville Primary and Herbert’s property if you went down the back of the school it was just scrub we used to play in the long grass and I think it was African Boxthorn was the scrub.

Can you remember any names of teachers at school?

John Howard if you got something wrong he used to get a ruler and just tap it across your knuckles until it really hurt you. He was a bit sadistic I thought but that’s the way it was and you didn’t dare challenge him. We used to have old Mr Henderson was my first headmaster and then when he left there was a bloke by the name of Stapleton all he ever had us doing was cleaning the rubbish or we used to get milk delivered to school in little bottles I wouldn’t know the quantity of them but we used to have to unload those and clean the bottles and distribute them to all the children and you’d be burning the rubbish in the incinerator, otherwise if he didn’t have you doing that we didn’t learn a lot. Had a good time he’d have us going up to Comito’s store to get his Butter Menthols for him.

You must have been drinking your own milk at school?

Possibly were yeah, cause the milk bottles used to have different coloured foil bottle tops, gold ones and silver ones.

Dennis where did the school master live?

There was a headmaster’s residence within the school grounds, his actual house was there used to be supplied by the Education Department and the headmaster lived there.

So everything was very local?

He was the security person too.

Any school mates that you remember? Are you still friends with anyone that went to school with you?

Yes one of my very good friends is Robert Dickinson he’s the fellow that lived on Green’s Road down near Glenhaven Road and we’re still very, very friendly with a girl by the name of Melanie, Knight was her maiden name Melanie Lapham now and we see them regularly. Don’t see Bob as much as I’d like to but there’s a lot of old Kellyville identities that don’t live in the village anymore they’ve moved far and wide but if they’re ever down here they call in and say g’day because you just don’t forget. They were good times and you had close bonding relationships. I find it amazing the number of Kellyville people that still keep in touch I think it’s unique.

Kellyville Public School 1989

Did you join any youth groups in the area Dennis?

I was in Kellyville Cubs I can remember getting reprimanded by my mother when I became a sixer because we were supposed to be going on a camp and I told her the wrong time that we had to be there and “hell hath no fury like a woman scorned” so I didn’t forget it. Then I joined the Boy Scouts later on and we were also involved with Church of England Boys Society. But as we became teenagers there used to be this youth group that was run down it was near St Michaels Church opposite The Hills Private Hospital now. What were they called? Community House and all the young teenagers used to come from far and wide to congregate there. It was church based activities, place was packed but that was the only real youth thing that they had going in those days unless you were involved heavily with Guides, Scouts etc.

Dennis I believe you used to skateboard down Windsor Road, tell me about that horrifying prospect?

Well it wasn’t so horrifying Frank because there wasn’t very much traffic about at the time and there was a nice long straight heading down from Acres Road passed Poole Road as you headed towards Windsor. You could get on your skateboard and you could skate for the best part of 500 metres I suppose, it was down hill, it was beautiful smooth tar and you’d have somebody out the back saying “car coming” and you’d just jump off and get off the road, good times.

Just another time the mother didn’t know anything about.

I don’t think you’d try that today right?

You’d get run over.

When you finished your high school Dennis where did you go then? What further education did you try to find?

I left school in 1967 I only did fourth form at the time, School Certificate it was Castle Hill High School. Well I worked on the dairy farm through 1968 then in 1969 I went to Yanco Agricultural College and Research Station down in the Riverina that was a twelve month farm management course I learnt a lot. It was the first time I’d ever been away from home and mother’s apron and it was one hell of a good time. Didn’t pass the course but had a great time.

Did you pick up some valuable tips about how to run a farm?

Oh yes I did we had to do a major project for the actual certificate. We’d bought a farm up at a place called Willow Tree in 1967 five hundred and seven acre property and everything fell into place really because we used to send young heifers up there to Willow Tree cause they grew better up there than they did in Kellyville and we also used to grow oats, wheat, sunflower didn’t do sorghum up there, but that was all an eye opener and I learnt lot through the college in that twelve months that assisted Dad. You meet this resistance, you’re a young whippersnapper and you don’t know much and new technology I’ll do it the old way. I can recall that vividly they didn’t want to know about it.

Now looking at Kellyville today there’s a lot of trees around were there so many trees in the 50’s and 60’s or was it more barren.

Gum trees the natives, Eucalypts I don’t think there’s anymore today than there was then, well we’ve had a couple lopped down here recently since Sydney Waters’ been doing this trunk drainage down here beside Kellyville Park, they knocked down the trees down here that I was quite attached to, I felt quite sad when they knocked the trees down. I said to my wife “I can identify with the aboriginals how their love of the land” and I was quite upset about that. They were an old dead tree mind you but that’s the way it was.

Looking East from Willcox property, 2005


What sort of trees were they?

They were old gum trees.

Why did they have to go?

Well Sydney Water is in the process of resuming the land down here. They’ve done all the trunk drainage works but they still haven’t purchased the property yet but the tree had to go for this trunk drainage works because they excavated about two metres below the land.

In terms of nature are there more animals or birds now than they used to be?


You’ve noticed the decrease then?

Oh definitely less, less birds definitely.

We used to have a lot of foxes, quite often especially in winter you could hear the foxes going along the creek between the dairy farm and Kellyville Park you could hear the vixens crying out at night in the cold still air their voices carried, used to have a lot of rabbits.

We had a fox whelp over there in the paddock once.

Used to get a lot of mice in the paddock with our old faithful dog we used to go digging up looking for the mice it was one of the pastimes. Always had rabbits cause over there where Fairway Drive is used to be all scrub. That’s where we used to have our cattle roam when they were pregnant they used to calve over there and once a week we’d have to go over there looking for them. It was about one hundred and sixty acres I think, we’d have to go through all this scrub looking for these cows with their calves. The cow would hide her calf so no harm came to it we’d have to find it, she wasn’t going to tell you where it was, she put it there for a reason so you didn’t know.

Did you have also town water supplied or did you have tanks?

No as long as I can recall we’ve had town water.

No, no, no, no.

As long as you can recall, yes, but in 1949 when we went there we had tanks, the support for the tanks was built of convict bricks which Dennis eventually got.

Yeah I’ve still got them.

We had a tank out the back and we also had a tank at the side of the house.

Was water a problem in terms of running a dairy?

Yes it was for a while, town water was actually connected to the portion of the property on Memorial Avenue but we weren’t allowed to use it, so we had to have a tank for the dairy as well.

John Stranger's House, Windsor Road between Acres and President Roads 1989

Dennis or Flo, who owned most of the land in Kellyville?

I don’t know the time frame that we are talking about here but I do know that at one stage all the land on the Eastern side of Windsor Road was owned by Stringers and what was on the Western side was owned by Strangers, the only difference in the spelling was the A and the I. All those large blocks of land have been subdivided over the years and more and more people came you might have had a hundred acres, then it was cut down to fifty and later on to twenty and now five acre lots. So they’ve been a lot of changes over all these years I can remember old Jimmy Everston up here he must have had thirty or forty acres it was horse paddocks before. It’s all into five acre lots now.

Is that the trend at the moment?

As we’re speaking all this land has been rezoned for residential purposes where we can look out our kitchen window now and only see two or three houses it’s going to be vastly different in the future. Where we are right here now is zoned for high density residential which will be four to six storey buildings. The mind boggles it’s just unheard of.

So what do you think the future of Kellyville is going to be like when we look forward ten or twenty years?

We won’t know it even Balmoral Road here a section of it is going to be closed. I think if you came back here in twenty or thirty years you’d be searching for the old roads that won’t be in existence and there will be houses where the roads are now. Just completely different I mean right now I said before Frank once upon a time we used to know everybody in Kellyville, you wouldn’t have a hope now of knowing everybody in Kellyville there are just so many residents. Kellyville is a big area it stretches from basically the edge of Castle Hill, the edge of Baulkham Hills right out to Rouse Hill over towards Stanhope Park Gardens on the west. I mean Kellyville Ridge is a new suburb that came into being in the last couple of years because they’re trying to identify certain parts of this large area known as Kellyville, it’s just too big.

Suspension Bridge Acres Road early 1950s

Talking about changes, I believe there used to be a suspension bridge at Kellyville tell me about that?

Acres Road used to be cut in two by a creek, I don’t know the name of the creek (Smalls Creek) , I should do after living here all these years. To traverse that creek you used to have this pedestrian suspension bridge I know all the scouts and guides we used to go down there and have good fun just crossing the bridge. As kids anything that moved we’d get it swinging. But that’s not there anymore that’s been one of the things that’s gone as the result of progress.

So what have been the biggest changes in Kellyville since your youth?

Definitely the increase in housing, I can turn around and behind me now look out this window three years ago all I would have seen was vacant paddock and the other side of Windsor Road up there near Acres Road it’s just all houses all roofs, all buildings, that’s the way it’s going.

So what does it mean to you to be living at Kellyville today?

I’m quite emotional about it in actual fact I know that some time or other I’ve got to face the fact that I’ve got to move from here. I’ve lived in Kellyville all my life as has my wife and I’ve just got to come to terms with moving out from a place that I’ve grown up, known, loved and I’ve got to move on.

What about you Flo how do you feel about it?

I guess I won’t go very far if I do leave Kellyville, I haven’t got too many years left so I can’t look forward too much but it certainly holds most of my life in Kellyville.

Italian market gardeners Antonietta and Roberto Cigolini with
grandaughter Anna on their Acres Rd property 1982

What are your best memories of having lived at Kellyville?

I don’t know how to put it, it’s just Kellyville everybody’s been just so friendly, not that I got out much but we were quite a significant community I would think. We all pulled together even though we were quite diverse as far as people from other lands are concerned quite a lot of Maltese and Italians and all sorts around here we all got along very well together and I think that’s wonderful. I think it’s a way of life that’s gone now.

The big difference is you used to know everybody now you know very few. You still know the old ones every polling day you get to the Kellyville School to cast your ballot and that was just like a gathering of the Kellyville clan. You saw people that you hadn’t seen for twelve months or five years or whatever and you just caught up with old times and that was it. You won’t know them today.

So how do you think Dennis, living at Kellyville has shaped you as a person?

That’s a hard question Frank, I’m just pleased to have had the life that I’ve had, I’m grateful for that. That community spirit does hold a lot of value for me and I just hope that people that live in Kellyville in the future get that same spirit and feeling, it’s just been a top place to live. People used to refer to it as “the sticks” when I was a kid. Kellyville where’s that you know but now everybody knows where Kellyville is because there’s advertisements on television and in the papers because here is where all the new houses are being built.