This is a recent photo of Marino from the air, but what did the suburb look like six decades ago? Mike Rutherford’s clear memories were of vast open spaces east of the rail line and a few modern houses west, surrounded by sometimes shoddy holiday shacks, some previously occupied by smugglers according to local legend …. again with much vacant land. And of course there were some of those wonderful grand homes of the past – Kingston House, the Dutch colonial home on Bundarra Drive (where Sir Hans Heysen was believed to holiday occasionally in summer), and a few others. Marino was certainly not the desirable suburb that it is now. The steep hills, bad roads and lack of amenities, made the suburb the poor cousin of Seacliff and Brighton.
Mike talks to 5049CC in June 2020:
My wife bought a vacant allotment in Yomara Road in the mid 1960s, where we always intended to build. So we regularly visited to plant trees and keep them alive through the first few summers by transporting water in plastic bottles from home. We eventually built in the mid 70s.
There were some secret pearls in the area. The caravan park was then both north and south of the carpark – part of the now Kingston Park reserve, and although under-developed, was popular especially with tent campers. The boat ramp at the foot of Jervois Tce provided great entertainment as keen boaties risked life and equipment launching between the rocks. We had the community hall – with its cabarets, drama performances and special interest groups. There was also the excellent Education Department local kindergarten – off Robertson Place. And then there was the real local gem: the fish shop on the corner of Jervois and Marine Parade overlooking the sea. In summer people would come from far and wide to buy the locally caught fish served in cardboard trays with real hand-cut chips, and then sit on the rocks watching the sun go down.
It was almost semi-rural. We live adjacent to the now Conservation Park, which at the time was grazing land. Mr Sheidow’s sheep and occasionally his cattle would break through the fences and roam down the hill towards the railway line. There were remnants of a cattle corral in the gully that runs parallel with Nimboya and Yomara Roads …. and that gully, plus others would be filled by creeks in winter, with frogs and birdlife. However, the landscape was virtually barren. There were very few trees. It was not until the 80s that local residents, and the then “Progress Association” started to give the suburb its green image. The Cove Road didn’t connect with suburbs to the south, so we didn’t have the road traffic that we do today. One memory is the night the lighthouse light went “out”. This was before any back-up generator or batteries were installed. Pt Stanvac was an active port at the time, so we thought it prudent to notify the authorities that the light had failed. Well ….. to convince Police, Marine and Harbours, the Fire Brigade, or anyone else, that there was an incident was a real challenge. Whoever we phoned, either didn’t know of the lighthouse’s existence, or even where it was located.
But we did lack amenities. Only one shop – a delicatessen/post-office in Jervois Tce was the only shop this side of Seacliff. The bus service was as bad as now, although for a short period it travelled high into the south eastern parts of the suburb, and through the area west of the rail line. Sadly that was discontinued.
One of Marino’s great disadvantages was that we had a reputation as the suburb of garbage dumps. Entrance to the suburb was marked by Holdfast Bay Council’s dump on what is now the Kauri Parade Sports Centre, nicely off-set by the cement works and associated dumps on the southern side of Scholefield Road. Then there was Marino Council’s dump on what is now Bandon Reserve, later moved to the top of Nimboya Road. At least those resulted in Bandon being repatriated into the Reserve that it is now, and Nimboya Road Reserve being established to compensate locals for all the traffic and disturbance from the big dump on the hill. However they brought visitors! At weekends, a convoy of cars towing trailers would snake through the suburb – in the days before green and yellow bins. I wonder how many of those people thought to themselves: “Gee …. This might be a good place to eventually come to live”