Teri Carter

Teri Carter moved to Millers Point when she was six, with her mother in the 1960s. They lived with Teri’s grandmother, who ran a residential, and her husband. In her interview Teri recalls the life of an only child with a working single mother and hands on grandparents, the several houses she has lived in in Millers Point; conditions, circumstances and strategies for accessing Department of Housing accommodation; friendship, generational change; increasing wealth and developmental pressure in the area and many other topics. In the excerpt below she remembers the experience of living on the edge of Sydney Harbour as a child and as a teenager.

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.

The [Sydney Harbour Bridge] pylon lookout was open and you could actually access it from right at the base of the pylon, there was a stairway that we would work our way up, climbing stairway after stairway to get to the top. That was something else we would do if we were bored, we would just find our way up there, or we’d walk along the [Sydney Harbour] Bridge, or we’d go up to where the trains came through the tunnel on this side and just wait for the trains to come through and watch them. We just tried to amuse ourselves any way we could, there wasn’t a lot to do.

We had an ongoing view of the whole process of building the [Sydney] Opera House, it was quite a fascinating event. I remember when it was flat before they had any of it there, so it was quite a deal to watch that go up. It was an even bigger deal when it finally was finished, it was like, ‘Oh finally!’ Finally don’t have the cranes and everything over there, finally this beautiful building.

My eyes were on the Harbour all the time, I used to watch the Oriana coming in and the Canberra and pine to leave with them. I’d loved to have sailed off through the Heads, it always seemed such an exciting thing to go on a ship to leave the country. It always seems like such an exciting event, with all the people throwing streamers and cheering, and waving goodbye and all that. It just seemed like such a big deal and right through my childhood, right up to my teenage years, I remember sitting and watching these boats coming and going and thinking one day I’ll get out of here to go and see what is going on in the world; and I still haven’t been. A lot of things went on in the Harbour and that was one of the things. When I was older there were several spots that I used to sit, favoured spots. There was a spot down further, close to the water where I used to sit and I could look straight at Fort Denison and that is where I’d been when I’d be watching the liners leave our shores.

Siobhán McHugh