7 October 2022

Generations of families grow to love Australia Street

| John Thistleton
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Christopher Painter with his father Kevin. They represented two of the three generations of Painters who have lived on Australia Street. Photo: John Thistleton.

On a gentle rise above Goulburn South Public School and running in a narrow, dog-leg design, Australia Street’s workers cottages haven’t changed their facades since they were built in the late 1800s.

Most of the cottages and terraces were simple, three- or four-room dwellings. But today they hold so much heritage significance altering their front exteriors is not permitted. But large living rooms, kitchens, bedrooms and laundries have been added in many of the homes without sacrificing the street’s quaint character.

Integrated Design Associates’ heritage study in 1995 found numerous residents had lived in Australia Street for generations or had family associations with it or the surrounding area.

Today the Painter family continues the trend in one of the street’s earliest cottages. Arthur ‘Chick’ Painter and his wife Lorna married in the 1960s and bought number 12, raised their family and retired there.

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Their son Kevin loved growing up in Australia Street and returned there in adulthood. “It was the best street ever, mate,” he said. “We knew everyone, the kids were always out in the street.”

This stopped when one of the neighbours bought a television. “Every kid in the street used to go there and watch TV till six o’clock when we had to go home for dinner,” he said.

“Next door to my parents’ place, Ken Worthy lived and had a chrome-plating business up the back. Johnny Coughlan bought [the cottage] off him, he was one of his apprentices. He only died this year,” Kevin said.

About 1997 after he separated from his wife, Kevin returned home to live with his parents for a while before buying and renovating 20 Australia Street, an Edwardian-style weatherboard cottage built in 1878.

He sold number 20 in 2006 and the new owners turned it into a bed and breakfast which in recent years has hosted the neighbours for drinks on Christmas Day.

Duplex pairs of cottages in Australia Street have timber cladding dressed to resemble stonework on the front facades. Photo: John Thistleton.

When Chick Painter died, Kevin’s son Christopher bought number 12 and began renovating it. Lorna left the home to live with Kevin.

Across the road from the Painters at number 1, ‘Rose Cottage’ is an early example of a weatherboard dwelling built between the wars. Ann Buggie has lived there for about 15 years. Among various previous owners was Goulburn’s postmaster Kevin Mills and his family.

“We all get on well, especially this little strip [of homes] along here,” Ann said. “I can remember Chick and your mum yelling out to one another over whose turn it was to make a cup of tea,” she told Kevin.

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When Kevin was painting Ann’s home she introduced him to one of her other close friends in the street, Joanne Bennett who lived at number six. The house painting slowed but Joanne and Kevin’s friendship hotted up and today she is his fiance.

“Joanne was from Sydney and she absolutely loved Australia Street,” Kevin said. “And guess what? She’s got a little dog and its name is Chick, and that name was from before I met her,” he said, laughing.

Four Australia Street has been thoughtfully renovated behind its repainted facade. Photo: John Thistleton.

Edna Swift was raised in Goulburn and returned for her retirement to 4 Australia Street about four years ago. “It’s a lovely little street because we have a Christmas party and we all go to the bed and breakfast up the road,” she said. “Everyone in the street gets invited and we sit around and have Christmas drinks and a barbecue.”

Another resident Jean Ralph expressed a similar sentiment in the Goulburn Post in 1995: “It was a lovely street here, everybody cared for one another. The kids all played in the street because there were not so many cars around in those days. They played cricket or tennis or hopscotch without a care in the world.”

Australia Street was named as an expression of national identity, and residents have done their best to fulfil that hopeful sentiment we all share.

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