In the 1940s my grandparents lived in two rooms at number 3 Lower Fort Street, near the Southern Pylons of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. My grandmother raised four children there while my grandfather worked away from home in the bush as a shearers cook.
My parents lived in two rooms at number 7 Lower Fort Street when they first married and we looked over toward Garden Island Navy Fleet Base. I remember the first cranes going up in preparation for building the Sydney Opera House.
My mother worked as a cleaner, a shop assistant and a secretary. After leaving the Royal Australian Navy my father drove hire cars and taxis for a living.
When I was 6 years old we moved to High Street, Millers Point, where I still reside with my husband.
As a working class family we pay market rent.
I remember going to Lance Kindergarten in High Street, St Brigid’s Primary School, Fort Street Primary School and on to St Patrick’s Girls High in Harrington Street.
As children we used to play at Merriman Street playground when there were still houses on both sides of Merriman Street.
We used to look out at high brick walls of the old buildings on the Hungry Mile from our house in High Street. As a child it didn’t register with me that there were actually wharves and the harbour behind those buildings for quite some time. There was a bridge half way down High Street that crossed over Hickson Road (the Hungry Mile) that was attached to the wharves. We used to cross the bridge and hit tennis balls with our little tennis rackets and cricket bats, against the walls of those buildings on weekends when there were no trucks using that area.
When someone in the area became ill or needed help I recall my parents, their friends and other residents banding together to arrange a “Cabaret Night” at the local Abraham Mott Hall. People would bring plates of food, drinks and music would be organised and they would have raffles to raise money for the person in need.
This has been a wonderful community to grow up and spend my life in. I always thought I would live in Millers Point for my entire life.
We have endured the noise and dust from wool-stores and working wharves and now Barangaroo, without complaint and prior to the plan for Barangaroo, no one but the residents wanted to know about Millers Point. But now after living here for a life-time, despite working hard all our lives, with the prospect of a more pleasant environment, we are being made feel as though we are not good enough to stay in our home.
Making this even harder is the vitriol, public commentary and denigrating comments we have had to endure – made by those who only see the dollar value of our property. All this from people who have never met us, do not know or have no interest in the true story of Millers Point, and have no real idea about the area or the significance of what it means to us.
Having paid market rent for many years, therefore living week to week, without the means to save for a Sydney house deposit we now find ourselves close to retirement with the prospect of my life-long home being sold “from under us”.
It is incredible the amount of tears I have cried thinking about the prospect of leaving here. Like so many in the community it has affected our health and well-being significantly. One wonders exactly how much the stress this situation has caused will impacted on our life span.
Although I am part of a third generation working class family there are some fifth generation people still living here also. There are people living here who were adults when I was born and they too are being moved on.
If this unique and caring community is broken up it will be a very sad case of “Heritage Lost”.
The Relocation Team told Margie and her family they were not eligible for Relocation and they were not able to stay in Millers Point. They were forced out but returned for the Survival March when the community celebrated surviving the two years that were originally allocated by the government for forcing all public housing tenants to leave Millers Point.