We went along quietly

“We went along quietly and then the war came. And that made a tremendous difference, blackouts, brownouts… A blackout you’ve got completely no lights at all but for the brownouts they used to drive with hoods over the headlights, the headlights were always shining down. It was weird, it was very weird.  We were only saying the other day how some people got panicky and they sent their children inland, away from the coast. But we were never frightened.

“You’d see the searchlights at night practising. All the shops were boarded up. It seems so funny now, doesn’t it? And all our houses were blacked out, all the lights had to be blacked out, you couldn’t show a chink of light anywhere. They decided that it was because Port Kembla was an industrial centre. That seemed silly to us. Here’s the industry blazing away at night and well, what difference would it make? And at the end of Military Road – you couldn’t go past Military Road – there was all barbed wire, right across to the beach. There was no Hill 60, no houses on Hill 60, none at all.

“The things you did during the war were actually quite interesting looking back. You had to be vigilant with the light, as soon as it was dark you had to have everything blacked out, windows blacked out, everything. And we put some of that awful stuff on the windows and we were years getting it off.”

– Kathleen Catterall, 16 June 2016

Photo of Victory in the Pacific Day parade, August, 1945 outside Guinery’s Hotel (now Port Kembla Hotel on Wentworth Street) from the collections of the Wollongong City Libraries and the Illawarra Historical Society.