I just think that there are so many people here that really love Cudal that they won’t let it die.
Marion Gosper, Cudal
I came to Cudal in January 1973 as a teacher. I had finished my training at Lismore Teachers’ College and was working in Grafton at a play group and received my posting to Cudal.
The Cabonne Food Wine and Cultural Centre is the main thing I’m involved in. It is run by volunteers and it is situated in the old Cordon’s Store, in the main street of Cudal. The volunteers ten or so years ago applied for a government grant and proceeded to do up the dear old building, and we also bought the block of land next door. Ten years down the track it’s still functioning very successfully.
It was built in 1901 by the Parker family and they sold that to Mr Cordon in about 1920. Everything you could imagine could be bought here. And that continued until the introduction of the motor car when people could go to Orange and shop. The Council took it over in 1957 and just used it a storage room. And it really wasn’t a happy sight to walk in to see the ceiling falling in and water leaking on the floor and engines and oil all over the place. We convinced the Council that we were serious about having an organisation here and it has worked out very successfully.
We now have a free lending library and we have a little area that’s made up for a café where you can sit down and have a cappuccino or a cup of tea with local home-made goodies. Then we have an area where we have a lot of old photographs on display and in that area we can have meetings or functions.
When I came to Cudal in 1973, it was a bustling little town. Max Hazleton had opened Hazelton’s Airline. That was a major employer of locals and I taught a lot of children whose parents were working at Hazelton’s.
Years and years ago a Doctor Hurman came to Cudal and established a great service for our community and she also, along with Nurse Rodda, established the hospital. Robbie Wilson took over as doctor for many years and if anything was wrong he’d put you into hospital. I was even able to have my two children at Cudal.
We had a newsagent, we had a bank in the lovely old bank building. There was the Post Office. There was a bakery – Bill Ryan was renowned for his pies. A school – when I came it was also a central school, so we had children from kinder to fourth form. And there was a little general store, the Beehive Store. We had two service stations and the Royal Hotel. The other side we had Jamie Whiting’s, we had the café and we had a hairdresser. And the preschool was just starting. The fire station is still there and there was the motel.
When I first came to Cudal the Mothers’ Club was very strong. A lot of mothers didn’t work. They used to have tennis, outings and pool parties and all types of things and write recipe books.
The hospital was a big employer. There were nurses, there were cooking staff – if you were in hospital you actually had a meal cooked in the hospital. But Hazelton’s was the biggest employer. Hazeltons had an A1 mechanical section where they did anything on planes and the skills of the people were phenomenal. It was very sad when they closed.
There are a lot of younger people buying houses here because it’s a little bit cheaper and they like the lifestyle. It’s a very safe environment. We have a soccer club, cricket club, rugby club, a bowling club and the hotel. So we’ve got the fun things and it’s quieter, not as busy as a large city and yet it’s only half an hour to commute.
I‘ve just grown to love Cudal. I arrived here and now I’ve lived in Cudal more years than anywhere else in my whole life.
As soon as the hospital closed, because we already had Hazelton closed, it was nearly doom and gloom. I don’t think about it that way. I just think that there are so many people here that really love the town that they won’t let it die. This Cabonne Food Wine and Cultural Centre is one example because every Saturday afternoon a lot of locals come here and have a cup of tea and they have a little talk, get things off their chest and it’s a meeting place now.
Interviewed by Marg Carroll