Corrimal’s bodgies and widgies

By MICK ROBERTS © The bodgies certainly brought a little colour and flare into places like Corrimal during the early 1950s. The Corrimal milk bars were the place for young people to be seen in the 1950s. To be one of the ‘cool’ crowd it was a must for the women to be a ‘widgie’ and…

Bulli Park’s Canary Island Palms

THE Canary Island Palms (Phoenix canariensis), such a feature of the Park Road side of Bulli Park, have majestically lined its border for almost a century. Despite the harsh salt laden windy environment, and often, during their younger years, becoming a meal for horses and dairy cattle, most of the original plantings have surprisingly survived.…

Lonely surfies

Australian Women’s Weekly 1964 Letters Page A sandy’s lot. “WHERE are all the sandies?” the boys are asking. My boyfriend describes a sandy as a brown-skinned, brown-haired girl who carries her boyfriend’s surfboard to and from the beach for him and then sits on the beach in a bikini, watching him catch the heavies. Occasionally…

The Blue Hole Surf Club

By MICK ROBERTS © HIDDEN, secretly perched overlooking the ocean in the Royal National Park, are around 200 historic shacks time forgot. Built between 1910 and 1950, before the area was included into the Royal National Park, the shacks evolved on land leased from freeholders. Material for the jerry built shacks and, the owners’ provisions, were,…

The Royal Theatre, Bulli

ON the corner of Hopetoun Street and the Princes Highway, where Bulli meets Woonona, is a large building that currently trades as a gymnasium exclusively for women. The building originally opened as the Royal Theatre in 1924. The silent film, lilies of the film, was screened to a selected audience when the theatre opened in…

Rise & fall of Billiard saloons

By MICK ROBERTS © RELIGIOUSLY every Saturday a steady stream of men crossed backwards and forwards from the bar of the Bulli Family Hotel to the billiard saloon opposite. They were not playing billiards, or even having a haircut or buying tobacco, the men were making their way to a tin shed at the back of…

Riley’s wine saloon

By MICK ROBERTS © AFTER last drinks were called at Thirroul’s Ryans Hotel, in the days of the “Six O’clock Swill”, swards of men would trudge down the road to Riley’s wine saloon. The wine bar, on the corner of The Esplanade and Lawrence Hargrave Drive, hit its peak in popularity during the 1920s and…

The Bulli Rifle Range

By MICK ROBERTS© STRADDLING the banks of Slacky Creek, fronting ‘Sharkey Beach’ between Sandon and Waniora Points, the Bulli Rifle Range operated for over 70 years. Not long after the first mention of the range during December 1886, when the Bulli Rifle Club invited Wollongong marksmen to a shooting competition at its paddock, were concerns…

The Bulli Beach Park Estate

By MICK ROBERTS © KNOWN today as Waniora Point, the parkland fronting Bulli Beach was for the early part of last century referred to as Point Peter or Floyd’s Point by the local population. Peter, son of Bulli publican and butcher Jack Floyd, inherited 20 acres of land fronting Bulli beach, stretching westward to the…

The Hardie Girls (and boys)

By MICK ROBERTS © ALTHOUGH it is difficult to imagine today, Thirroul was once a thriving industrial centre with brickworks, railway yards and textile factories employing many hundreds of local men and women. A major employer of women was Hardies Rubber Factory, located on the site of the Thirroul Village Shopping Plaza, where sandshoes and…

Naked swimming in the Gong

By MICK ROBERTS © MAYBE it’s our weather – the hot summers. The past time of skinny dipping, getting the clobber off, and bathing naked in the surf has persisted in the Illawarra since colonial times. During early settlement, British soldiers found the Australian weather and the white sandy beaches all too tempting, and often…