Dawn Caruana

Dawn Caruana was born in 1946 on a dairy farm in northern NSW and trained as a nurse before moving to Millers Point in 1968 when she married a foreman stevedore whose family was part of the waterfront community there. In her interview she talks about working class life; Maritime Services Board; hotels; schools; children; fundraising; the traumatic death of her husband and son; and community reaction to the planned selloff of her house and others in the late 1980s. In the excerpt below she recalls her children’s Catholic infants’ school and two nuns who were identities in the local community.

This interview is part of Housing NSW’s 2005 Millers Point Oral History Project. The City of Sydney acknowledges the State Library of New South Wales as the archival custodian of the project and digital preserver of the masters.

They went to St Brigid’s, which was the end of Kent Street, which was virtually adjacent to where I lived, and that went up to year three. That was a little Catholic school run by a nun called Sister Antoinette, who is a hundred now [in 2005] and still living, she is up at Waitara at a nursing home. She taught my children, as well as another nun, called Sister Maureen, who is now over at the Mater Hospital. I think the maximum was about twenty-three children.

Tell me a bit about Sister Antoinette, what sort of person was she?

She was beautiful. She was a very old-fashioned nun, very strict, very very strict. Very kind and very loving, she was a beautiful person and a wonderful teacher.

So would the nuns have much interaction with the community, in which way would they interact?

With the church, and with the school, Sister Antoinette. Sister Maureen was more social, she’d come out, we had our ladies’ days or nights, she would come out. We still do. She still comes out with us and she is included with us if we go out on the odd occasion, birthdays and things like that. Antoinette used to wear a habit, she never got out of a habit, she was one of the old school, whereas Maureen was in the skirt, and times had changed and fashions had changed and rules had changed.

Frank Heimans