IMAGINE buying a quarter acre block in Medowie for just $700.
Though a totally unrealistic attainment in 2016, wind the clock back to 1969, and that is exactly what Graham and Mary Hopper did.
Graham, originally from Hannam Vale, a small town north east from Taree, and his wife, Mary, of Broadmeadow, settled on Medowie for their new home.
Initially they built a small, one bedroom temporary cottage on the property, while they laboured over their permanent abode for nearly 3 years.
As owner builders, they lovingly set up home for their future family, that would eventually include Scott, born in 1973, Todd 1976, and Gavin 1978.
Having spent more than 20 years working for BHP, Graham moved on to own and operate a milk delivery business in Medowie for a further 20 plus years.
Mary worked in various dry cleaning businesses throughout Port Stephens and Newcastle, helped with the family’s milk delivery business, all while raising their young family.
Their block, on the road now known as Medowie Road, but referred to in those days as Main Road, was their location of choice, based on its reasonably close proximity to centres such as Raymond Terrace and Newcastle, while providing a highly desired rural setting.
When the boys began primary school, Medowie Public was the only choice in the town, with Wirreanda Public opening its gates as Graham completed Year Six.
All three boys continued on to complete their schooling at Irrawang High, the school that remains the locally zoned secondary school for Medowie residents.
As a reflection of the family’s affection for the Medowie area, eldest child, Scott, has now spent the past 14 years teaching at the school that he once attended as a child, Medowie Public.
Having spent his first 3 years’ teaching in the Riverina, at a small school called Rankins Springs, 63kms out of Griffith, then receiving an incentive transfer to Gateshead PS in Newcastle for a further 3 years, Mr Hopper was thrilled to have the opportunity to transfer to the school he had such fond memories of.
Mr Hopper said, “I chose to transfer to Medowie PS as it has always had a wonderful, supportive local community, ever since I was a student attending many years ago.”
“It was this familiar knowledge of Medowie PS that appealed to me.”
Mr Hopper reflected on the changes that his family have witnessed over the past half century in the Medowie area.
“The most obvious significant changes during this time would have to be the development of housing and new streets and the increase in local services.
“During the time the Hopper boys were growing up, there were no supermarkets locally.
“Raymond Terrace was the place to shop back then,” he said.
Mr Hopper said, “When my parents moved to Medowie, there were no services.
“There was a tin shed on a dirt floor with wooden boxes that Ken Muir and his family sold fruit, vegetables and some groceries out of, on the main road.”
“The Community Hall at the time, was also a tin shed on a dirt floor.”
“All the roads were originally dirt,” he said.
“There were a couple of houses that were mostly on the main road, but the rest of Medowie was virgin bush.”
According to Mr Hopper, the very first housing acreage to be developed was called Sutton Park and was situated near Kula Road.
“My parents’ block was the first one to be serviced with water,” Mr Hopper said.
“The only services that were in Medowie when my brothers and I were growing up, were the takeaway garage on Medowie Road, the service station and shops opposite Medowie PS and later, a couple of shops that included a pharmacy, hairdresser, butcher, the squash centre, and the Bull ‘N’ Bush businesses on Ferodale Road.”
When asked whether he thought all the changes in Medowie over the years were positive, Mr Hopper replied, “Some have been positive, for example, providing the increased population with necessary services such as primary schools, supermarkets, housing, sporting facilities etc.”
“Other changes have been less positive,” he said.
“Some would argue that the rural aspect of Medowie is disappearing with the ever increasing pressure on the environment, with the increased housing and development meaning clearing of the local bush/tree sites.
“Smaller housing sites have been planned and developed to cater for more houses and hence more money for developers with less focus on the reason people move to the bush and rural setting like Medowie.”
Mr Hopper went on to explain, “Medowie has historically been a place for people locally and nearby to purchase the locally grown stone fruits, oranges, strawberries etc.”
“This sadly has since diminished due to many financial pressures.”
Mr Hopper reflects happily on growing up in Medowie with his brothers.
“Growing up in Medowie was always about family for me.”
“I have fond memories of having barbeques outside in our family’s pool area.”
“Our house was always full of noise and never dull,” Mr Hopper told News Of The Area.
“Friends and family would often be over for a swim in our pool, spend time playing cricket out the back, kicking a soccer ball, riding our skateboards down the front driveway, picking mandarins off our favourite mandarin tree in the backyard, playing 80’s music on the tape recorder, playing table tennis in the rumpus room and running around with the dogs.”
“We would regularly travel to the beach – One Mile – to ride our body boards.”
“It was a fun and loving home.”
Mr Hopper said many of the families he grew up with are all still in Medowie, such as the Crosby, Bee, Crew and Hughes families.
News of the Area asked Mr Hopper what he thought the future holds for Medowie.
He said, “Medowie will always be a location where families can enjoy more space, with the conveniences of major centres like Nelson Bay, Raymond Terrace, Maitland and Newcastle, all within a 30 minute drive.”
“Medowie will cater for the house and land packages that appeal to young families.”
“I believe with an increase in Medowie’s population imminent, more local services will also evolve.”
“It really is a balancing act – allowing the population in Medowie to grow so that the population has services that sustain it, while making sure it doesn’t lose its bush and rural ‘tree change’ charm that my family and many others’ originally came to Medowie for,” Mr Hopper told News Of The Area.