Myra and Trinity Avenue in 1970

Trinity Avenue

In 1970 Myra moved into 18 Trinity Avenue with her husband Nick and two children. She remembers what it was like moving to Trinity Avenue…

‘Construction of the Western Distributor forced our family to move from above my husband’s shoe shop in Erskine Street. The Maritime Services Board did not compensate us for the loss of the shop but had a small terrace in Trinity Avenue for us to live in. When we moved there in 1970 we were surrounded by wonderful neighbours.

‘Next door in number 16 lived Beryl Burton. Beryl was divorced and made a living running residentials in Kent Street. Beryl joined us for dinner most Friday nights for chicken and chips and we became firm friends. My husband Nick was committed to working and would rarely take a holiday, so it was with Beryl I travelled overseas to Germany, to France where my sister lived, and later to countries throughout Asia.

‘Past Beryl in number 14 were the Taylors. Joan was a lovely lady who had a job at Grace Brothers, and her husband Charlie was a wharf labourer. Charlie was Aboriginal, and he always had presents for all the kids at Christmas. Their son Russell worked at the CBC Bank and now works for ATSIC.

‘Next door on the other side in number 20 were the Caruana family, the mother Scottish, the father Maltese, and together they had three children. John their eldest son married Dawn, who has written, “I lost my husband and son in a car accident in 1979. The community was absolutely wonderful, the support never stopped. They rallied around, people brought food, cared for the kids. That’s what they do in this area, when anything like that happens. We are there for each other.” Dawn continues to live in Kent Street and is an active member of St Brigid’s congregation.

‘Billy was the other Caruana son. He suffered severely from scoliosis. After my husband passed away in 1991 I cared for Billy and would have been eligible for the Carer Allowance, but by that time my sight had deteriorated to such an extent that I was classified as legally blind, and I was judged by Social Services as incapable of looking after Billy. So I cared for Billy for many years and managed without the allowance.

‘In number 22 was Geraldine Thomas, her husband and three boys. Even though they built an extra room out the back, it was a very tight fit for their family. The extra room was built of brick but it was a tiny room. For the son who lived in it, his books were spread across his bed, which he used as a desk while he studied, and everything had to be packed away when he slept. The small space they used as a dining room had a drop-side table so it took up less room when not in use. I don’t know how they managed in so small a space as the boys grew, but eventually a larger house became available in Lower Fort Street and the Thomas family moved.

‘It was a busy but happy time when our family moved to Trinity Avenue. I was still working for J Walter Thompson, before I became secretary to the bishop in 1972. My two children attended Fort Street School, where I formed many friendships, including one with Nita McCrae. In my spare time I ran the Historical and Military Museum at the Holy Trinity Church across the road which housed many important artefacts and records from the early years of the Colony.

‘I continued to live in Trinity Avenue and look after Billy Caruana until 2008 when a friend visiting from New Zealand told me that the narrow and steep stairs in my house were too dangerous and she would never visit me again if I did not move. I knew several people in Sirius and when an apartment became available I agreed to move there.’

The large Georgian house at 8-12 Trinity Avenue was in a poor state of repair, but the City of Sydney and the local community raised funds to refurbish and extend it, and for more than twenty years it has been known as Darling House and operated as an aged care facility until it was forced to close its doors this year following a massive state government rent increase.

Darling House can be seen in the foreground of the photograph from about 1900 that accompanies this story, and the terraces Myra writes about can be seen further along the street. The houses above in Princes Street were demolished for the approaches to the Harbour Bridge, and behind the paling fence at the left of the photo, blocks of Workers Flats were built early in the 20th century as part of the government rebuilding of the wharves of Walsh Bay and Cockle Bay, and erecting great bond and wool stores to service the wharves, and flats and houses to accommodate maritime workers. This massive reshaping of Millers Point and the Rocks transformed the area more than 100 years ago, and now it is undergoing change of a similar magnitude through the construction of Barangaroo and the planned Relocation of most residents.

8 Responses to Myra and Trinity Avenue in 1970

  1. THERESA 19 April 2015 at 3:19 pm #

    I am a Sydney girl and know the area quite well. My Uncle’s father worked on the wharfs and he himself became a wharfie and they lived in that area and we lived not to far away from there as well. This is a rich piece of Australia and Sydney history. What a shame it would be to tear down these places and evict the residents who have lived such a rich life and is probably all that they have known all their lives. I hope that common sense will prevail and the residents can continue to live out their days in their familiar surroundings. Don’s destroy such rich history.

    • JohnD 19 April 2015 at 6:52 pm #

      This week we had some good news from the new minister. See the home page for details.

  2. ratepayer 2 June 2015 at 9:36 pm #

    How horrible. Neighbours knowing eveybodys business. Thank God I live in a very nice area where people keep to themselves and all mind their own business.

    • JohnD 3 June 2015 at 4:33 pm #

      We give thanks for this as well.

  3. Jane Jones 8 November 2015 at 6:35 am #

    What an inspiration Myra is. Thank you so much John for putting me in touch with her regarding my family history. When we spoke Myra was recovering from a fall, but I do hope that by now she has returned home and is still fighting for her cause.
    Jane Jones

    • Jane Jones 29 July 2017 at 2:15 pm #

      Myra you are still my hero. This week I saw you on tv when the news was released about a reprieve for Sirius, and Imrejoiced for you and your community. We spoke once before about Beryl Burton, your neighbour and her friend Emily Taylor, my great-aunt. Keep up the good fight.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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    […] for hot water. When her home was demolished to build the Western Distributor, she moved to 18 Trinity Avenue behind the Garrison Church. Myra began caring for her next-door neighbour Billy who suffered from […]

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