How our foreshore has changed

Local children on the foreshore in the 1950s.

BY the time you read this story, the waterfront makeover of the Lemon Tree Passage foreshore will be a reality, ushering in a new future for the town.

On the other hand it will create a degree of nostalgia for those who liked it the way it was in the ‘good old days’.

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Go back some 80 years or so and life was so very different for the 30 odd souls who called the place their home.

The foreshore had swampy inlets which only disappeared when the suburb was developed in the 1960s.

Indeed the road opposite Henderson Park is still below the level of king tides.

Mosquitoes and sandflies were in plague proportions.

There was the corner store and a hand connected telephone exchange at a house down the end of Cook Parade.

It was then called ‘Kooindah’.

There were clinker built boats for hire and very narrow weekender fishing shacks built out over the water.

The last fishing shack to disappear was that of Skipper Jewel. Skipper had an idyllic life.

You see, his house was right in the middle of the park.

He had access to the toilet block and had food and beer delivered.

A pet cockatoo acted as a watchdog and he did very well out of his crabbing business.

Skipper would row out into the Passage and run out a sunken, baited gill net.

The blue swimmers he meshed up would be cooked in his ‘backyard’.

Skipper would then hang a painted ‘fresh crabs’ sign over the verandah rail.

They went very fast.

After he died, the council was ready to bulldoze the shack but suddenly, out of nowhere his brother appeared and laid claim to the building.

Rather than upset the locals, council waited for him to pass on before getting rid of the structure and making it part of the park.

Of all the ‘one off’ characters who hung around the foreshore, little Willy Rooke was one of the most colourful.

He would cash in soft drink bottles at the corner store.

The owner put them in crates out the back.

Willy would then pinch them a few days later and cash them in at Reggie Carey’s fruit shop.

These too were put behind the shop and the budding entrepreneur would once again recycle them at the corner store. On and on it went.

To sell the blocks of land in the big 1960s subdivision, the company flew up prospective buyers in a flying boat from Sydney. Those purchasing land got the flight for free.

The agents would pick high tides for the sales day as it was hard to get ashore at other times.


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