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On the Write Track: Hilary Williams

Updated: Nov 30, 2022

Belmont...Past Present People Place.

Belmont past, viewed as a student at Carlisle primary in 1952 and the second intake of the still incomplete Belmont High School in 1957 developing under the experienced tutelage of principal Carl Reidel, evolves like this.

Tomato Lake was still a rough natural swamp at the end of the wooden sleeper type road at the end of Oats Street, where we braved leeches on a summer day, paddling home made corrugated iron canoes and float on semi submerged logs. There was no thought of parental supervision.. I often patted horses in what is now Belmont Forum as we biked to school, yes, we all walked or biked back then.

Pedalling at speed downhill, on Orrong Rd, a less important traffic artery then, crossing Gt. Eastern Hwy, risking the traffic and free wheel to the river edge of The Springs. I remember no disasters as we did bombies, swung off ropes on overhanging branches, trained for swimming carnivals and the annual Belmont Swim-through.

Sadly in time, Corlett bakery and the Doney family milk delivery services disappeared. Blocks of varying size that had served Ascot and Belmont race areas were eventually taken up into the industrial service areas we see today for the flourishing first wave of mining wealth of the70’s and is still ongoing.

Ascot proper remained a designated racing stables area, surrounding street names reflect this and the names of Moore, Parnham and Webster linger.

New pubs sprang up and the older Rivervale, renamed The Empire offered a very classy smorgasbord lunch for new youngish mining executives and offered a very popular Chicken in the Basket for after races on Saturdays, all under the supervision of Bill Muhs. The landmark Red Castle had a unique revolving restaurant, Gt Eastern Hwy was reconfigured and Burswood sprang out of a rubbish dump and cement works.

Many surrounding suburbs have evolved from much State Housing to multi housing formats of great variety ,serving the burgeoning FIFO and Airport developing population,.in a great cross section of residential types and classes.

Fortunately the foresight of building Faulkner Park has wisely helped provide retirement accomodation for the older community as required in an ideal location.

Belmont has had a colourful and varied patchwork evolution, still ongoing and the planning forethought of Councils past is making me, in retirement, truly want to return to the familiar benevolent bosom of Belmont.

Hilary Williams (aged about 70)

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