We are sisters, born in 1962 and 1964 respectively. There’s six of us siblings. Dad was a travelling salesman so we travelled around, town to town. When we were younger this wasn’t such an issue as we weren’t yet at school but the unstable lifestyle was harder as we got older.
Our dad became a Seventh Day Adventist when we were living in Northam. That’s why we left Northam, because he then felt it wasn’t good to own property; we had a lovely house there but he sold it. And that was the end for our mum. She was just so upset about that. She left when we moved down south, and went to live in Sydney. And we stayed with our dad.
We moved to Griffin Crescent, Manning around 1970, stayed there for about eight years and attended Victoria Park Seventh Day Adventist School. The house was tiny, two bedrooms. At one point my dad decided we were moving to the northern suburbs but changed his mind when we got there and we returned to Manning. The wardrobe fell off the vehicle and skidded along the road. The skid marks remained on the cupboard’s handles as a reminder.
Next we moved to Beverley. To this day we don’t know why we moved. We moved to a little place outside of Beverley in this old station house. Dad got a fruit and veggie shop. It was so bizarre; he’d only just been offered to buy the housing commission house we had been living in in Manning.
Because of our religion, dad didn’t think it was good for us to eat meat or dairy. We were really poor and people would give us things like that to eat but we weren’t allowed them. But dad used to work for Sanitarium, the food company, so we’d get bags of Weeties to eat with powdered milk - we weren’t allowed milk unless it was powdered.
As we got older the dad relaxed the rules and we have really fond memories of going to Kings Park on a Saturday evening with him – he’d buy us an ice cream from the ice cream van and we’d walk around. We’d also go to Queen’s Gardens together after church on a Saturday and take a picnic. We’d wonder around the garden and enjoy the flowers. He’d buy us Cobbers from the corner store as a treat once in a while. We still love eating them now, if you can find them!
Our family was pretty dysfunctional so we loved being part of the Seventh Day Adventists. It was like a family. The ladies at South Perth church were lovely. We were the only ones at school whose parents had separated. We wore ‘hand me down’ clothes and were teased.
We weren’t supposed to listen to pop music because of our religion. It was frowned upon.
Dad went through phases of not allowing us to watch telly as well. We would sneak it, though, and hide it away when he came home from work. Every now and then we’d get caught. He was quite an angry man so there was a lot of fear about that, but we’d still do it.
We were by ourselves the whole time in the holidays so had nothing else to do. Dad would sometimes drop us off at the beach for the day with a dollar and then pick us up after work. He did take an interest in our adventures.
The thing, looking back, that always sustained us was that we had a relationship with God even through all that. There was that rock - even though we had a family that was shitty and horrible, God cared.
Edit: Susan has been back in Perth for about two years after living in Darwin for a protracted period. Since recording this session together, Susan, Rossie and their other sister Joanne, have had some absolutely lovely trips to several places of significance to their family and feel very closely connected with each other again.