In 1993 after 10 years of serving with the Australian Army, I decided to elect discharge and seek my fame and fortune in the civilian world. However, seven of those years were spent in Sydney and six of them we were living in Leichhardt, a suburb of Sydney's inner west, so it is understandable that the family shares quite a bond with that cosmopolitan part of Sydney.
During our time there our kids went from Primary School to High School, our son played his junior rugby league on some of rugby leagues most hallowed turf (Leichhardt & Birchgrove Ovals), our daughter swam competitively at Leichhardt Pool, the local rugby league team the Balmain Tigers contested consecutive Grand Finals (1988 -89, losing both) and I think it was the first time that our family felt part of a community, so our bonds with the area remain strong.
So on a recent trip to Sydney, Jude and I went back to Tiger Town to see how the place has fared since we left in the summer of 1993.
This is our place at Unit 6/64 Charles Street. The palms I planted in our small courtyard seemed to have grown quite a fair bit since we left! Charles Street was a great place to live, with Leichhardt Oval only a 15 minute walk away & some of Sydney's best restaurants even closer!
I was quite surprised to see that our local corner shop is still operating and is still owned by Charlie after all these years. In a fast paced world where the landscape is dominated supermarkets and 7/11's, there is still a place for local business's to grow and thrive. Charlie also saved me the newspaper headline leader about Canberra's amazing win in the 1989 Grand Final.
Blackmore Oval was the home of the mighty Leichhardt Wanderers. Mick later left the Wanderers and went to play with the Balmain Police Boys. Both clubs are steeped in rugby league history and both played on some of Sydney's most iconic rugby league grounds.
I don't think there is anything better than an Il Cugino pizza. Il Cugino's are still located on Norton Street and are still serving the best pizza's in Sydney. A couple of times each month during our time in Leichhardt we made sure we visited this family owned pizzeria to take home a family treat
Kegworth Public School was the second school we enrolled the kids at, they first went to Leichhardt PS, but we had to change schools due to 'difficulties' with the Headmistress. The kids then settled in well at Kegworth with Sheryl becoming School Captain and Mick becoming a Prefect, a pretty impressive achievement! My Aunties also attended Kegworth PS in the late 1930's, so we really had a strong family connection with the school!
26 Marlborough St Leichhardt was home to 1 Amenities Unit, where I served two postings, 1987 - 89 and also 1991 - 93. The building itself was originally a fire station and then became an army drill hall around the time of WWI. It was eventually sold off by the Department of Defence in 1994 for I believe around $60,000!. Although the street frontage hasn't changed at all, the building has been extensively renovated out the back and is now a private residence. I still have some very happy memories from that little obscure army unit!
It is sometimes pleasant to go back to an area that holds so many happy memories for us as a family, to walk around the old landmarks and reminisce about the happy times we had. Whilst it was fun, and I still do so love Leichhardt, I'm more than happy with my life choices. Although it was hard for the kids to break their bonds with the area, I'm glad we did, initially moving to the Central Coast and now to our home at Newcastle.
Leichhardt is now a memory, not a destination.
However, seeing what property is fetching in Leichhardt these days and what I could have bought it for in 1986 ... I too could be driving a Ferrari!