Michael Toohey

Michael Toohey grew up in Waterloo, a once heavily industrialised suburb in inner Sydney. In this interview he talks about his family, childhood, work, industry and local connections. In the excerpt below Michael mourns the disappearance of ‘old’ Waterloo people through the process of urban regeneration.

I enjoy going back to the old haunts that I grew up in, and look around, but it’s not the same. Time marches on and things change; people move out and new people move in to start a life of their own, and it’s not the same as it was. We’re too independent now, yes. A lot of strangers moved into the area. The elderly people moved out and retired up to the Central Coast or wherever they moved to, and those that stayed behind gradually faded away; and new people moved in that didn’t have any history of the area. They came from everywhere, all different suburbs and walks of life, and they didn’t know who the old identities were and what they were about, and stuff like that. They didn’t have a belonging of Waterloo. They pulled down the old houses where your friends used to live, and where my mother’s friends lived, and they put up new housing and, yes, it’s just not the same. Young people move in with their own families. They don’t have a history – at the time then, in the ‘70s and ‘80s – they didn’t have a history of it; they just thought it was always like it is when they moved in.

Lisa Murray