I remember, I remember…

the house where I was born.

In fact, I was born at Royal North Shore Hospital, at St Leonards.

However, the house I was born into was in West Pymble.  When I was born, it was called 1 Yanko Road, though later renumbered 37 Yanko Road.  Here is an aerial view filched from Google Earth:

My place (once)

My parents were married in Perth at the end of 1950.  The final year of their engagement had been spent apart because my father had left WA and gone to Melbourne to work.  They then lived in Melbourne and Adelaide before coming to Sydney.  The last place they lived in before they moved into the house was a flat in Ashfield which they had taken over from friends, also from WA.  Housing was still tight in Sydney at this time. 

My parents had the house built in 1956 by the father of a university friend of my father’s whose then wife is now my stepmother. I think my parents chose West Pymble because it was close to North Ryde, where my father then worked at the CSIRO.  Ironically, within a few years he took a job at the University of NSW, then at Broadway and shortly after at Kensington, where he worked until he retired in 1986.

Opposite the house was Lofberg Oval, now part of Kuringgai Bicentennial Park.  Like many ovals in suburban Sydney, the oval was built on an old rubbish tip.  The old incinerator remained as a ruin but seems now to be gone.  I think there had also been a night-soil depot, and the night-soil men had been known as “the Lofbergers.” There was also a disused quarry, ostensibly fenced off but easy to break into.    

The house was a three bedroom weatherboard house.  Two of the bedrooms were “double” and one was a single one. 

Some aspects of the building of the house speak of a time which is perhaps now past.

To save money, my parents undertook to sand and varnish the floorboards themselves.  Most of these were sanded by hand by my mother.  The house was built on a sloping lot, with a garage underneath.  My father subsequently excavated beneath the house and dug out a cellar which extended under the entirety of the house.  Over the years my father constructed an enormous number of built in cupboards, in every bedroom and also in the long hall-way which ran the length of the house.   

The house had two toilets (one in the bathroom) and a second shower recess (which was never used) in the laundry, which as well as a double laundry tub and a washing machine, was equipped with an electric copper.  Against the wall in the toilet was a piece of sheet metal which had been fitted to lodge in the laundry window so that my father could use it as a darkroom: the enlarger would then rest on the washing machine and the developing trays be deployed in the tub.  There was no gas in West Pymble, and the house was as a result an “all electric” house.  This was thought to be very modern in the 1950s. 

The living room had a fireplace for winter.  In the 1970s, an under-floor oil-fired heater was installed in one corner of the living room, which resulted in constant tussles with my father about the thermostat setting.  The official maximum setting was 20 degrees celsius, but we were always surreptitiously turning it up (not permitted), or tapping it to rouse the heater to action. 

Until the mid-1960s, the lot was unsewered, and we consequently had a septic tank.  Some older houses in the suburb also had rainwater tanks.

The garage was considered to be a “double garage,” though not really so in the modern sense, as it was double in length rather than in width.  By the time I can first remember it, my father’s 1948 Rover, was parked in the front half of the garage.  My mother’s car, a 1951 Renault, which was my parents’ first car, bought because of the many-months’ waiting list for a Morris Minor, was  parked outside.  The back of the garage was my father’s workshop.    Later, when I started to practise the piano more seriously, the piano was moved down into the garage.  About 100 egg-cartons were then glued onto the ceiling to reduce the resonance and provide some marginal acoustic relief. 

My parents were playing tennis with friends when my mother went into labour with my older sister.  Presumably only my father was playing and my mother was merely in attendance.  They went straight from the tennis court to the hospital. 

I imagine life was more tied down with parenting obligations when I came along, two years later.  My mother told me that when push came to shove at my birth, it was 5 minutes to midnight.  After the final excitement (or perhaps initial excitement for me) the obstetrician, Mr MacDonald (later a president of the AMA) asked my mother “Well, which day shall it be, Mrs [Marcellous]?  My mother told me that she chose the first day because she thought I would always be looking forward to my birthday, and that way it would come earlier.  I have sometimes wondered about what might have happened if there had been a ballot for national service and it turned out that she had picked the wrong day. 

Two and a bit years later, my younger sister was born.  In the course of my mother’s confinement, my father was left to look after my elder sister and me.  He and my elder sister both were ill.  My father may not have been very skilled in detecting symptoms, as my elder sister almost died of pneumonia.

In about 1971, my parents had the house extended.  This was done by the original builder.  They enlarged the verandah on one side of the house by adding a concrete terrace (which itself also had a cellar), and added a second living room (grandiosely called the “drawing room”) and two small rooms, intended to be studies for each of my parents.  This time the builder took responsibility for the various built-in cupboards and desks, and the extension was carpeted, which was thought to be a great luxury.

My mother’s study was also designated as the spare bedroom, in particular for when my grandmothers (both widows) came from Western Australia to stay.  You might wonder at the implicit sexism of that, but in any case, it did not last.  Both my parents, having grown up in the country, had gone away to school as teenagers, and in any case they grew up at a time when shared bedrooms for children were taken for granted.  But children’s and, in particular, teenagers’ expectations in the 1970s were higher.  My mother soon had to relinquish the study, which became my bedroom.

When the house was built, the block still had a number of remnant gum trees.  My father was an advocate of the “bush garden” and over time even more trees were planted, which is why the house itself cannot be made out in the above picture.  A few forlorn friesias planted by my mother occupied the sole sunny spot, and virtually the only other flowers were a boronia nearby and some Sydney Rock Lilies (a kind of orchid) planted by my father in his “Society for Growing Australian Plants” (he liked to call it the “Society for Grabbing Australian Plants” because of their modus operandi for gathering material from the wild) phase, which struggled to flower in another intermittently sunny spot.  In the bottom corner of the block, my father constructed an incinerator out of bricks and the household paper waste was burnt in that.

My elder sister moved out of home to the inner city in about 1977, one or two years after she finished school and started tertiary studies at the Conservatorium. She did not entirely give up her bedroom straight away, as she had to return to West Pymble to teach her flute students.

I moved out in 1981 in the final honours year of my arts course at Sydney University.

My mother died in 1981.

My younger sister moved out in 1984 to live in Forest Lodge while she was finishing her degree at Sydney.

Shortly after, my father remarried.  The house was remodelled a little in the following years at the instigation of my stepmother.  In 1989 my father sold the house and moved to Canberra where, prior to their marriage, my stepmother had lived for about 30 years.  They still live there, although they have moved house three times since.

19 Responses to “I remember, I remember…”

  1. Panther Says:

    I was at Turramurra High School from 1971 to 1976. Are we contemporaries?

  2. marcellous Says:

    Almost, but not at Turramurra High. Do you remember Peter Fry? He was a year younger than I and I imagine 2 years younger than you. Peter and I were both in the Kuringgai Boys’ Choir (see my much earlier post: Don Hancock). I knew a few other people in Peter’s year quite well, and some of my primary school friends would have been in the year below you.

  3. Jobs 1 « Stumbling on melons Says:

    […] Randwick, I also picked up a bicycle from Europa Cycles at Kingsford.  I needed it to get from West Pymble to Willoughby Depot, where I was stationed, since (and it stands to reason) the buses didn’t […]

  4. Bloggers’ meet-up « Stumbling on melons Says:

    […] and it was only today that I realised once again that there would have been some associative tendrils to tease […]

  5. Cheerful young man in Surry Hills « Stumbling on melons Says:

    […] the age of 21 when I was in English IV, I moved out of home in West Pymble into a share house in Crown Street, Surry Hills. The house was above and behind a barber’s […]

  6. Bruce Says:

    I was also in the Choir, I would hate to think that this was the same Don.

  7. John Byrnes Says:

    Dear Marcellous,

    Re Lofberg’s old quarry I’m a geologist looking into features of natural interest and history of Ku-ring-gai local government area. As I boy, living in Turramurra, I rode my bicycle to there as I somehow (forget how now) knew there was supposed to be something interesting in that quarry. That something was prismatic structure caused in the sandstone above an igneous sill. Also perhaps related is an outcrop of prismatised sandstone further south, close to the river – had you ever heard of that? They nowadays call it Grants Castle but I don’t know the timing or source of that name. Do you know anything more about the Lofbergs or their quarry, or know anybody who might please?

    You wrote: ” Opposite the house was Lofberg Oval, now part of Kuringgai Bicentennial Park. Like many ovals in suburban Sydney, the oval was built on an old rubbish tip. The old incinerator remained as a ruin but seems now to be gone. I think there had also been a night-soil depot, and the night-soil men had been known as ‘the Lofbergers.’ There was also a disused quarry, ostensibly fenced off but easy to break into.”

    What I so far have amassed on the place may be seen under “PYMBLE” at
    http://www.lachlanhunter.deadsetfreestuff.com/JB/geo-sitesP.htm

    I’d welcome any corrections or anything further, to john.mail “@” ozemail.com.au

    Best Regards,

    John Byrnes

  8. Mark C. Says:

    I think you will more accurately find that ‘Lofberg Oval’ was named after my grandmother’s family (Enid Lofberg, Born 1901) – NOT because of the ‘Lobergers’. The Lofberg’s were a wealthy early settler family in that particular locality and subsequently donated substantial lands – hence the name ‘Lofberg Oval’ – which was part of the land donation/s. In 1972 I was present when Enid in fact visited the nearby Catholic convent. During this visit one of the very elderly Nuns – who had direct knowledge of the Lofberg’s land donations – engaged Enid in conversation about the oval and associated lands (which were also donated to the convent by the Lofberg family) and the generosity of her family. I have photographs of Enid’s father and mother from the era. Enid’s family had various land/residential property in the North Ryde/Turramurra area where she princiaplly resided. My father was raised in this area and I naturally spent time visiting my grandmother in this locality. Archived records will prove to be enlightening and interesting. Unfortunately, over the passage of time, facts often become lost.

    • marcellous Says:

      Mark, I’m sure I only meant to suggest that the “Lofbergers” were named after the oval, which I have always thought to be named after the Lofberg family.

    • Pamela Cornell Says:

      Hi Mark, My mother was sister of (Enid Lofberg born 19th May 1900) I have original papers when the land was paid for on 25/8/1868 by Jonas Lofberg he married Adelina Lewis (her father Anthonio Morie Lewis already owned the land in this area he was one of the earliest pioneers they lived in cave before he built a slab hut on the property(I have photo’s) they were timber merchants fruit growers raised pigs/horses/hunting dogs/game fighting birds. My grandfather Andrew Lofberg 1st owned and opened and ran the quarry the garbage run for approx 1 year during the depression. Adelina after Jonas”s death bought 2 mortgages from Munro’s widow which included all the land from the Lane Cove river to the Pennant Hills road. I have original documents and also the early old wills. Lofberg oval was part of the land my late uncle andrew lofberg named the oval he said to me at least the family name would continue in the area this was part of an agreement with Thistlewaite and Council regarding the subdividion of the property into building block. I would appreciate your connection being the grandchild of my Aunty Enid who married twice Len Coburn then George Rankin my email is [passed on to Mark and now redacted: interested parties please contact blog “owner” by reply] It would be great to hear from you. Cheers Pamela

      • Linda Rogers Says:

        Hello Pamela,
        I am the G-G-Granddaughter of Jonas & Adeline Lofberg (maternal side). I’m researching the family history and would very much appreciate contact with both yourself and Mark.
        Kind regards, Linda, The Rock, NSW.

      • elle Says:

        Hello Pamela,
        I would like to know about Lorna May Fanning who married Andrew John RJ Lofberg in 1938. As I understand, they did not have children. Lorna’s only sibling, Frederick Fanning was killed in WWI. Do you what would have happened to Lorna’s family photographs etc? Her father was Col FG Fanning of the Northern Rivers Lancers. I’m hoping you may have known Lorna.
        Regards, Elle

  9. Mark C. Says:

    For info. Mr John Byrnes – John my father (Born 1921) often explored and played in the river area you mention. There is a system of caves above certain areas. My father and his friends, particularly in their early teenage years, would use these caves for camping etc. My father, who was a fitter & Turner – Instrument Maker with De Havilland Aircraft Co., and his friends apparently established stoves, cooking facilities, furnishings etc within these cave/s via the skills of their respective trades. Apparently some of the caves were well hidden (however with modern development and urban sprawl etc this may no longer be the case).

  10. An undiscovered country « Stumbling on melons Says:

    […] have been visiting Jz, a very old friend whom I first met in West Pymble (which Jz calls “WP”) on my younger sister’s first birthday. I was three and a […]

  11. Jason G Says:

    Peter Garrett used to live at 22 Grayling Road W Pymble, as a child, just around the corner of the old quarry and used to play in there as a kid as well as playing in the surrounding bushland. Does anyone remember this or knew him or his family?

    • marcellous Says:

      I am about 7 years younger than PG, so I cannot offer any recollections myself.

    • John Says:

      Hello Jason,

      I was born in Ashfield.

      I last knew Peter Garrett when he took over the Nuclear Disarmament Party.

      You are talking about the Lofberg quarry and I also collect any info on that or on the Lofberg family (Lofberg originally worked at Fairyland, then got a job with John Brown and built a place on the north side of Lane Cove River just downstream from the (later) De Burg’s bridge. I’ve looked for any traces of the place in the bush there and have found nothing.

      That Lofberg’s quarry was ever “a night-soil depot, and the night-soil men had been known as “the Lofbergers” I had not come across before — and I got a small grant from KMC to research the place.

      Am interested is Peter comes from the Garrett family next to the laterite quarry (former) on Forest Way (formerly Pymble Road) sub-opposite Wearden Road.

      Re Mark’s “I think you will more accurately find that ‘Lofberg Oval’ was named after my grandmother’s family (Enid Lofberg, Born 1901) – NOT because of the ‘Lobergers’. The Lofberg’s were a wealthy early settler family in that particular locality and subsequently donated substantial lands – hence the name ‘Lofberg Oval’ – which was part of the land donation/s. In 1972 I was present when Enid in fact visited the nearby Catholic convent. During this visit one of the very elderly Nuns – who had direct knowledge of the Lofberg’s land donations – engaged Enid in conversation about the oval and associated lands (which were also donated to the convent by the Lofberg family) and the generosity of her family. I have photographs of Enid’s father and mother from the era. Enid’s family had various land/residential property in the North Ryde/Turramurra area where she princiaplly resided. My father was raised in this area and I naturally spent time visiting my grandmother in this locality. Archived records will prove to be enlightening and interesting. Unfortunately, over the passage of time, facts often become lost” —- I’d never heard that the Lofbergs DONATED any of the land either … I had always thought the Council purchased it for a quarry. My understanding is much as Pamela Cornell wrote. I’d like to get any Lofberg compilations .. and had anyone else thought to go look for the first Lofberg house like I have done (but failed)?

      Also re “My father, who was a fitter & Turner – Instrument Maker with De Havilland Aircraft Co., and his friends apparently established stoves, cooking facilities, furnishings etc within these cave/s via the skills of their respective trades. Apparently some of the caves were well hidden (however with modern development and urban sprawl etc this may no longer be the case)” — would like to see these. I can tell you of a rock at Wentworth Falls (Kings Tableland) .. Google “Lincoln Hall lookout – that is its latest name – under which someone once lived in a cave and it is has been impossible to find any history .. some think it was an “alien” (Swiss German) in WWII went there fearful of being interned. One family has a story they used to leave food for him atop of the sandstone under which the cave was .. even though they did not particularly know him or were related. Cheers, John

      • Linda Rogers Says:

        Hi John,
        I am a descendant of Jonas and Adeline Lofberg and I read their first house was a rustic slab home with a dirt floor. They had a very long dining table and their animals had free access to the house which would have made life interesting. I read that it burnt down and eventually another home was built.
        My ancestor Antonie Luis (Adeline’s father) lived in a cave when he first settled in that area.
        Regards, Linda

      • John Says:

        Hello Linda,

        I am at St. Ives and formerly lived at Turramurra just west of Irish Town and would like to meet you sometime if you are in the area. I have been looking for Lofbergs for yonks — since the Council gave me a small grant (maybe $50 – I am forgetting), many years ago. I am a geologist and another geologist, Prof. David Branagan of Sydney Uni tried hard (but failed) to save the geological heritage of the Lofberg quarry. We wanted it NOT filled, and the basaltic sill that caused the prismatic jointing left exposed. There is another fragment of the prismatic jointing left exposed further towards the river and such feature is called “Grant’s castle” (I don’t know why). I nominated that too as heritage many years ago but nothing has happened. Just from memory at the moment (I have written notes somewhere on computer of courser) I recall the first Lofberg to North Shore worked at Fairyland then got a job with Brown (of the famous Brown family – timber getters BUT who were also into quarrying and ‘shipped’ [barged] sandstone ballast down the Lane Cove River).

        Lofberg (who by then had married a daughter of the boss at Fairlyland if I recall correctly (but of course it was not called Fairyland then I presume) relocated further upstream and apparently established there just downstream of the later De Burgh’s bridge (supposedly that area was an early crossing but a bit difficult to understand how exactly as it is VERY rocky – an easier crossing was further upstream at Brown’s Waterhole).

        I and at least one other have looked for possible sites like the dwelled-in cave or first house site, but succeeded in finding nothing of interest at all. Nearby is a carving of a kangaroo (or ‘kangarooster’ as my grandfather Cecil used to call these animals) – but clearly carved by European hand and not in the Aboriginal style.

        I am also researching the Brown family and nominated the “Browns Field” (in Fox Valley area) also a geological heritage – a diatreme it is believed.

        Plus I got another $50 grant from the Council quite recently for looking into the history of Brown’s Forest canopy remnant of the High Forest which you see on the right hand side along Mona Vale Road heading to St. Ives. Descendants of the original John Brown ( in turn part descended from an American Negro on the First Fleet — but Browns never knew that till the Internet and TROVE came along) lived along what is now called Mona Vale Road (used to be called Stoney Creek Road north to Telegraph Road, and Pittwater Road thereafter).

        One of the Browns there did not care at all for GOVERNMENT INTERFERENCE in peoples’ lives ( NB: the leader of the New Guard, who slashed the ribbon at opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge also lived thereabouts and the “Battle of the St. Ives butcher shop” so-called happened when they [mistakedly] thought they were being attacked by local ‘communists’.

        Anyway, this Brown thought Government was bothering him or persecuting him, so when the Pymble policemen arrived one day with a summons, over a minor matter, he shot the policeman dead.

        There’s plenty of history around to keep one busy and I am also trying to compile the history of the Mona Vale Road itself, with special reference to Tumbledown Dick and First Rocks.

        And so on it goes. I am keen to find anyone researching any aspects at all of the local past or environment. I can be contacted at john.mail at ozemail dot com dot au

        Cheers, John

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: