Our Place: Stories of Woolloomooloo - Biographies

Our Place - Stories of Woolloomooloo - Jackie Gratton-Wilson Biography


Jackie who was born in 1962 is the daughter of Brenda Humble who was also interviewd as part of that project. “People were disappearing and getting bashed, and it wasn’t that uncommon.” In the 70s,there weren’t a lot of residents there. “A lot of it had been closed down and was sort of derelict or half-demolished. And there weren’t many kids in the area.” There was a pocket of residents in Kidman Terrace and some younger people there too, younger couples. Most of the residents lived in Cathedral Street when Jackie moved to there when she was about eight. She lived at 173 Bourke Street, a semi-derelict, DMR-affected house. Jackie’s mother was politically active. The Woolloomooloo Residents Action Group (RAG) was followed by a breakaway group called Residents of Woolloomooloo (ROW). They protested about the proposed Eastern Distributor, as well as inappropriate high-rise development; Londish was a developer. Jackie names some of the activists: her mother Brenda, Ken Lovett, Mrs Wilkinson, Carol Vescia, and Jerry and Nelly Leonard. Jackie describes one demonstration she attended at Fig Street, Ultimo. She met Juanita Neilsen shortly before she disappeared. Jackie, as a schoolgirl, was actively involved in saving the land, under the viaducts, from becoming car parking spaces. They established a park there, planting about two hundred trees. She and her mother were cautious after Juanita’s disappearance “because it did become quite dangerous”. “Woolloomooloo was like a suburb in transition. I think they cleared all the residents out so they could go ahead with their development, but it just didn’t quite work out like that.” As usual the Playground was still an important focal point for the community. Mr Ryan and Miss Straughan were, as ever, in charge there, and basketball was one of sports catered for: “They were fantastic, the pair of them”.