Dictionary of Sydney

The Dictionary of Sydney was archived in 2021.

Mrs Dorothy Colburn, interviewed in 1986, recalls hazards associated with the Georges River in the 1930s

Mrs Dorothy Colburn, interviewed in 1986 for 'Looking Back at Liverpool: An Oral History of the Liverpool Region 1900-1960' project, recalls hazards associated with the George's River.


DOROTHY: We use to have to stand on the river bank and coo-ee to the relations that lived on the other side for them to bring the boat over to us. But when they started to build the first Milperra Bridge, I walked across a plank that wide [showing how wide] that the workmen used to use and I wasn't game to look down, just hung onto the back of Dad's shirt. That was just after a young chap was taken by a shark by the side of the river.

INTERVIEWER: When would that have been, do you recall?

DOROTHY I can't tell you exactly the year, somewhere around '29. He dived off the other side of the river, and he was mauled dreadfully; and the same day, my cousin's friend, used to ride the horses to school with her, her arms were chopped off, one just above the elbow and the other one just below the elbow and they thought it was the same shark. She had been in swimming at Kentucky, what they called Kentucky. It's just past where the aerodrome is now, where the golf links is. She'd been lying up on the bank in the sand, and her mother woke her up - she'd gone to sleep - woke her up, and said 'Come on, we're going home' and she said 'Well I can't get in the car like this' 'cause she had all sand on her, and she went down and stood in water no higher than her knees and swished her arms and he grabbed both arms. They reckon he come up out of the water. And he took both her arms. She's married and got a family, living up Newcastle way, somewhere there. She was marvellous, didn't seem to stop her, she still rode the horses, and she wouldn't let anyone help her.

Contributed By
(Detail from interview with Dorothy Colburn, from the 'Looking back at Liverpool : an oral history of the Liverpool region 1900-1960' conducted in 1986 by Liverpool City Council, editor and project co-ordinator Catherine Johnson ; researchers Angela Imbrosciano, Verica Miiosavijevic, Kathleen Smith.)