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Whyalla. Where life began.

Road Trip Day 10: 1st June 2007 (Evening)

Life for me began in Whyalla. Rose wasn't born here (she was born in Elizabeth in Adelaide) however, since my family moved here when she was so young, she pretty much considers Whyalla to be her first home too.

I don't remember the first house we lived in here though I've seen photos of me playing in the yard there. Life for me begins on Noble Street, our second home in Whyalla where I lived until the age of eight years old. Then in 1978, when BHP closed the ship yards, our family moved to Perth, Western Australia.

Rose and I went for a drive around our old neighbourhood. Noble Street. The house we lived in is still there, though now it has two driveways and two carports and a garage - none of which were there in our day (well it only had the one driveway at least).

All the trees along our street are full grown and provide shade that wasn't there when we used to walk to school. I'm surprised that the reserves at each end of our block are still there. These were never properly cared for parks. Just bush land with a few well worn short cut trails. Only big enough to fit maybe two houses on these were a part of our playground when we got our first bicycles.

At the end of Noble street is the 'One Stop Shopping Centre'. Which is what is was called in our day though we referred to it as 'the brown shops' because the roof was painted brown and matched the bricks. This hasn't changed much. There is still a mini supermarket at one end and a deli at the other. No doubt owned by someone different but still the same.

A block or so over is our old primary school, Scott Street. It's no longer called Scott Street and in fact it was recently closed down. In our day the buildings were all shades of brown with rough, gravel like finish on the exterior walls. These days the buildings have been painted bright shades of yellow and blue. It's clear the school has been shut down. The gardens look over grown, the play grounds are looking worn and I noticed one or two window boarded up along with the first signs of graffiti. We didn't take any photos because it was kind of sad.

I've already mentioned the Westland Shopping Centre in a previous post. I used to think this was quite a distance from Noble street but on a previous trip back here I discovered you could actually walk there in under twenty minutes. Everything seems further away when you're eight or younger.

I have memories of the beach and Ada Ryan Gardens. Two places we used to visit for a day out as they are right next to each other. Sadly the beach, even though it is still there, looks nothing like I remember it. All but one of the huge metal shelters have been removed and the foreshore looks nothing like what I recall. There used to be an old steam locomotive that we played on which is now nowhere to be seen. I can't even remember exactly where it was. In fact I always thought the Ada Ryan Gardens (which is a popular park here still) was completely separate from the beach front but now they seem to kind of merge.

The biggest change to the beach is a boat marina and fishing jetty. Neither of which was there in 1978. No doubt these helped to shape the way this area looks today.

Other vague memories I have of Whyalla include watching the Christmas Pageant in the main street. I can't tell which road is the main street? I remember the pageant progressed through the 'city' part of Whyalla (because of the two storey buildings) though I'm not sure exactly which part of the 'city part' that was?

Rose and I have driven around Whyalla a bit and I've seen various buildings that I got a glimpse of pre 1978 and kind of recall. Whyalla seemed a much bigger place back when I was a kid. These days it seems much smaller and very, very different.

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