The Temporary Dwelling (1956-1958)

garage revesby 1

The stamina of those still on this blog having followed my meanderings, will now be rewarded with yet another serve of nostalgia. The above photo is from the Revesby garage in which we lived for 2 years. Of course the local shire only allowed migrants to live in garages if the name was changed to ‘temporary dwelling.’ After arrival we lived for a short period in a camp and then with A Dutch family in Sydney’s Guildford. They lived opposite us in Rotterdam during the last WW 2 of 40-45. They migrated to Australia about 1950.

If you read Frank’s Story on this blog, you will also know this Dutch family were the ones locking us up in the black coal-shed if we did number 2′ in our pants while at the Montessori pre-school. They unstintingly gave the same treatment to their own children. I don’t think this was typical Dutch child pedagogy of the times. In any case, my parents never did that. All in all, being locked up in dark coal sheds did not seem to have left severe ramifications. I did not turn into a killer or ever went out at night strangling sheep. On the other hand, I did not become a doctor or lawyer, neither a bookmaker or eminent scientist.

What is to become of you, Gerard, was my mother’s oft repeated question? I am still not precise on the subject but joining the army is now far too late.
Here is a picture of the inside of this garage.

My parents are together in a single bed. On the floor between the bunks is my sister Dora The top bunk would be Herman Opposite with the head sticking out is ‘Frank’ of my Frank’s Story story. Below him is Adrian. John on the left at the front. On the empty bed is Gerard (taking the picture for posterity)
God only knows what my parents did about sex or FOR sex. Dad had lots of apples instead or read timetables for transporting the lot off to different schools and.. . Mum… happy to not fall pregnant again!
It was a tight squeeze but we were told that we should just consider that turning around would best be achieved in tandem with all eight of us. Toilet was outside in a drum on top of which was a wooden toilet seat with no water.

These last pictures are of my parents in front of the house that we built after the two years in the garage. They are old now and it must have been taken when they had returned to Holland and came over for a holiday trip to see the rest of the children and grandchildren in Australia.


The last photo inside our kitchen of when we lived in Balmain, Sydney. It was the last time I saw my dad.

That’s how it was.

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22 Responses to “The Temporary Dwelling (1956-1958)”

  1. Rosie Says:

    Loving these reminisces.


  2. Lottie Nevin Says:

    Gerard, hearing these stories really is an eye-opener. Is this the asbestos garage? I sincerely hope that no.2’s in your pants was not a regular occurrence? having said that I did have a few near misses whilst living in Jakarta. Your Ma and Pa were true pioneers, what an extraordinary couple.


  3. gerard oosterman Says:

    No nr 2’s lately but who knows about the future?
    Yes, that’s the fibro asbestos garage. So is the house. Yes, my parents were true heroes. Something out of ‘Mice and Men”.


  4. petspeopleandlife Says:

    Such a great story. the way you write. I must say that you turned into a fine man and an excellent writer and what ever your career of choice- it was a good one for you apparently have done well with your life. Looking forward to more stories of your early years. ~yvonne


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yvonne, I have done many careers and still busy with another one of putting words in an order that readers might enjoy. We might have had a difficult time in the garage but what about the boat people? I think nothing that we experienced comes close to having to end up in detention for years on end and being called a reffo doesn’t really equate or comes close to being called an ‘illegal’.


  5. auntyuta Says:

    Reminds me of the time when we lived in a ‘garage’ for nearly two years from November 1960 on. Our son (7 months) slept in a cot that Peter had built out of left over wood. The girls, one nearly 2, the other 3, slept together in a single bed, one on each end. Peter and I had the luxury of a double bed mattress!
    It looks like you were six children, whereas we had ‘only’ three children in that garage and they were still rather little.
    I think your parents must have had it really tough!
    Thanks for showing us these pictures, Gerard, including the one about your sleeping arrangements in the garage, sorry, I mean temporary dwelling. Your children and grandchildren must really be amazed when they look at it! 🙂


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Thanks Auntyuta,

      My grandkids are forever stooped over their gadgets now. A different world! Of course, nothing new about the old people saying things about the young. My grandparents probably said very much the same; ‘oh, when we were young we did this or that’. Even so, knitting seems to be an art lost to the new generation.


  6. Elisabeth Says:

    It’s amazing how many bodies can fit into such a small space. My family’s first home in Australia was a converted chook shed in which two Dutch families slept, one consisting of two parents and six children, the other of five. I was the baby with no memories and no photos to show for it, only the stories. Amazing.


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      My mother was the giant who made things happen. Dad would just be in constant state of acute bewilderment. Where there is a will there is a way, my mother used to say. (Over and over again)
      Dad would roll his cigarette and dream.


  7. solidgoldcreativity Says:

    Very moving, Gerard. Your mother was quite beautiful and stylish, wasn’t she? Was she also a dancer? Something in the way she’s standing … Incredible to see the photo of the man who pushed his wheelbarrow 150km in Holland for firewood. Makes me cry to think of this x


  8. gerard oosterman Says:

    Yes, my mum was beautiful. My dad walked into a tram while looking at the stars. That’s how they met. He was always intrigued by things celestial. I don’t know how he combined that with our life in a fibro garage or house in Australia. Even so, our clear skies would have been welcomed by him.
    Mum would have been a good dancer. Dad just danced in a straight line without swirling or letting his body make an occasional full circle. His dancing lacked umph, letting go.
    More of that later on!
    Yes, there were tears, both of suffering but also of joy.


  9. Andrew Says:

    A very poignant chapter in your family history Gerard. It gives a whole new meaning to families ‘being close’.


  10. elizabeth2560 Says:

    The migrants did it tough back then. My grandparents first lived in a tent! Good post.


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, I often thought a tent would have been better, even a couple of tents with a large tarpaulin stretched in between would have afforded some privacy, both for parents and the teenage boys. We used to enjoy listening to the radio. Smokey Dawson was a favourite.


  11. hilarycustancegreen Says:

    No wonder you are able to empathise so well with other people trying to start a new life.


  12. kaytisweetlandrasmussen83 Says:

    Whatever careers you may have had in your past Gerard, cannot be as fulfilling as recalling your childhood and early experiences. You give so much to all of us and I look forward to hearing more of your interesting life-path. xx


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