Thursday, October 06, 2011

Grafton tour

While we were staying near Coffs Harbour we took a short trip to my hometown of Grafton. It was a fantastic place to grow up, but the kind of town where everyone leaves town once they've finished school. My three sisters and I all did and Mum and Dad were left there by themselves, so they moved to Wollongong to be closer to us all. Anyway, it was so nice to have a look around the town, check out my childhood homes, my old schools etc.

This is the house we lived in for the first seven or so years we were in Grafton. It was right across the road from our primary school and mum could stand on the balcony or at the window and watch us all the way to the school gate.

Then we built this house where we lived until we left Grafton. Yep, another elevated house. Technically we lived in a flood plain and all the houses had to be elevated, but the levee saved us every time. Dad designed and owner built this house (12yo me designed the three way bathroom cos Dad couldn't work out how to configure it LOL).

This is the old Peters Ice Cream factory which was near our house. It closed when I was in Primary school but I can still remember going on a couple of tours. I love factories - especially ones that make ice cream LOL. It was empty for years and now it's now a brickworks. :(

We crossed the railway line next to the ice cream factory and Dave thought this sign was sooooo cute. Chugga chugga CHOO CHOO!

We drove over a little bridge onto Carrs Island which is a tiny farming island right next to suburbia. Aren't these cows adorable? I love cows.

I wanted to show Dave and Tassy the old Saraton Theatre which was closed when we moved to Grafton in 1979 but reopened a few years after that. Back then it still had the original seats, fixtures and lots of original equipment. Recently it was closed again for a few years for a big renovation. It now has new seats, a/c, a $400K screen plus two new small cinemas next to the original cinema. Dave mentioned to a guy working there he was just waiting for his wife to have a quick look around cos she used to live in Grafton and he offered us a personal guided tour! The main cinema wasn't showing anything at the time so he took us in there, turned on all the lights for us, took us onto the stage... we were so priviledged!

Then he sent me up to the balcony to quickly take some photos before the lights went out for the next session. Oops, too slow, even though I ran!

I took these two photos as we came out of the Saraton. The Countrylink train crossing the viaduct over the main street...

And the clocktower, which next month will have the usual lighted crown on top for the Jacaranda Festival. Surely you've heard of it, yes?

We went to Hanks bakery and got some pies for lunch. My favourite - a Ned Kelly pie. That's a pie with a broken egg, cheese and bacon on top instead of pastry. Delish! And a caramel tart for afters. :) We sat on the riverbank outside Dad's old office block, and where I used to do rowing.

We bought ice creams and ate them in the grounds of my family's church.

I didn't take photos of my old schools but here's the beautiful old Post Office. Grafton has so many beautiful old buildings. I really miss that in Canberra. Practically no old building, only two or three old farming homesteads. Luckily one is only 5 mins from my house so if I need a fix I don't have to go far.


Charlotte said...

LOVED the tour! Oh I miss Grafton so much. Being there with Jai for a few days made me feel so at home & I could feel myself living back there happily & bringing up my family there! Pity it's too far from the rest of u! And Will wasn't so into it :(
One day when I was about 15 I rode my bike to Peters Icecream factory & the door to the main building was open so I went inside & climbed these big industrial ladder-stairs all the way to the top floor! There was nothing in there except chicken wire which was doing a bad job of keeping the pigeons out cos there was bird poo EVERyWHErE! I was hoping there would be something interesting inside the building but there wasn't.
Mum said when they moved to town there was so much industry- Ice Cream factory, Brewery, Khoolkan Power Station, Zeitsch Bros Bottlers, Abbatoirs, more Saw Mills etc but then they steadily shut down :( so sad. At least Grafton still seems to be faring alright! Lots of my friends who left to study have gone back which is nice!

Lis said...

What a lovely tour of your home town, its so nice to go back and revisit and show your kids where you did things. Im so lucky that I still have family back in Hobart.

Anonymous said...

I do miss Grafton. We loved our regular visits, it was like "coming home" for us too. We loved catching up with all the Grafton friends of your Mum and Dad too. aaj

Lea said...

that's fantastic. I'm with Dave..I love the cute sign and the tain going over the bridge right there in the street!!!WOW.

Anonymous said...

O.M.GOODNESS! The memories!!!!! Yep, I have heard of the Jacaranda Festival .... ha ha!
When we were in Grafton a few months back we drove over the little bridge to Carrs Island too - loved looking at your photos of Graftonia!!! xxx

Love Jayne

Earl said...

My wife and I drove through Grafton on 01/10/15 and did a quick circuit. I was born there in 1942. My friends and I were at the opening of the ice cream factory and everything (ice creams; soft drinks etc.) were free and plentiful. The bridge over Carr's Ck. is relatively new. The old one was rotting timber and it was the one a mate was about to jump off to retrieve part of a 'slug' gun when we spotted a 6' Grey Nurse shark cruising underneath. Even though this point is more than 40km from the sea the Clarence is such a massive river that it was reasonably 'salty' at some times of the year. The 'Saraton' has always been a beautiful theatre. In the 50's it had another called the 'Garden'and there was also one in Sth. Grafton. When I lived there only steam trains crossed the viaduct over Prince St. Lumps of coal (some the size of footballs)often fell out of the tender and you had to be very careful walking underneath. Yes,it was a great place to grow up but most of us had to leave to work once we finished school. Those were the days.