Down Memory Lane with Jack Devitt *
AS motor vehicles became more numerous several garages began to appear in the Bulli Woonona area; with their hand operated petrol pumps, selling several brands such as Shell, Plume, Texaco, Union and a brand DPL a few pence per gallon cheaper on which my dad’s 1926 Superior K Chev went for thousands of miles.
He was the sewing machine representative with an area from North Wollongong to Waterfall, which he covered every fortnight.
Ivo Bunker had a garage opposite Bulli Hotel, later at the foot of Bulli Pass. He was an excellent mechanic, in fact a bit of a genius the jobs he could do.
He had two hire cars that I remember, a Chandler and its little brother a Cleveland. Both had side valve red seal engines, the Chandler reputed to have gone over Bulli Pass in top gear, quite a feat in the early 1920s.
Further south along the road next to the present Bulli Chemist shop [Now Fitz Bar & Café], Harry Buttler, another smart mechanic, had a garage and hire car, a Studebaker Californian Tourer, a hard top with side roller blinds from memory. I think Harry only had one bowser. The depression caused Harry to close up.
Later in the mid 30s, Ben Lansdowne opened a garage at the corner of Molloy Street and the main road, the property owned by Tom Medlin, who ran a couple of trucks hired to Bulli Shire Council on road work.
Ben, another good mechanic, had a couple of bowsers, one for DPL that dad used.
He later moved to the north coast, selling out to Russ Fletcher, who stayed some time before selling to Jim Molloy, who finally had to go when the property was sold to Shell, who opened the then very modern garage on the site.
Brooky Hall had a garage just south of Popes Road on the western side approximately where the doctor surgery stands.
Hec Pember, another fine mechanic, served his apprenticeship with Brooky, who was quite a character, said to have had only two speeds, stopped and flat-out!
Brook had Packards in which he transported the Woonona soccer team to away matches, Sydney (Metters and Goodyear) and teams in the Newcastle area.
Some of the players often told me of some hair raising experiences they had with Brook giving the Packards their lead on the way to and from the games.
There was another garage run by Vic Southal on the western side of the highway opposite Gray Street, Woonona. The building still stands being used by a garden and feed supplier [Now Woonona Tyres and Mechanical]. Vic sold out to go into the real estate business down the coast, the business not lasting very long after his departure.
Later Hec Pember opened his own garage at Russell Vale [at the corner of Collaery Road and the Princes Highway], still operating, taken over by his son when Hec retired [Pembers has now closed and is trading as Pacific Furniture and Bedding].
* First published in the Corrimal Post newspaper, October 1997.
Subscribe to the latest Looking Back stories
Can you help by donating to Looking Back?
Would you like to make a small donation to the Looking Back and Bulli & Clifton Times websites? If you would like to support my work, visit my donation page where you can leave a small tip of $2, or several small tips, just increase the amount as you like. Your generous patronage of my work and research, however small it appears to you, will greatly help me with my continuing costs.