Giovanni Lo Surdo grew up in Woolloomooloo’s Sicilian community in the 1960s. In this interview he talks about the life of the professional fishing community in that suburb; his mother’s work as a seamstress, and his sadness at the loss of the old Woolloomooloo community. In the excerpt below he describes a now disappeared street scene.
How we left Woolloomooloo was that the Eastern Suburbs railway came through – it was meant to be built – and people from the government came around and basically wanted to buy us out and move us out, which I think that destroyed the most beautiful community that you’d ever see in your life in this country. I’ve never seen it anywhere else. You would be able to walk in 1960, walk down the street and you will see a fisherman with a sewing needle for the nets, wrapped up, he’d have half in his mouth and he’d have his toe stretching his net and he’d be doing his net; and I’m not talking about in his house, I’m talking about in your street. And down next to the wharves where the finger wharves are today, Woolloomooloo Waters [apartments] and all that, that was all fishermen, setting up their nets. All those good things that really have a culture about it have been destroyed. Obviously over the years we all got bought out and we all moved to different locations.