Dictionary of Sydney

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Mr John Costa recalls the gypsies who were once common in the Liverpool area, interviewed in 1986

Mr John Costa was born in 1928 and was interviewed in 1986 for the 'Looking Back at Liverpool: An Oral History of the Liverpool Region 1900 to 1960' project. Here he remembers gypsies who were once common in the Liverpool area.


JOHN: We used to grow vegetables like potatoes, beans, beetroot, and why I remember beetroot and potatoes is because we had them up the far end of the farm, right up the back end of the farm, and down Milperra Bridge there was a big vacant block of ground there, where those shops are at Milperra now, that was all vacant blocks of ground. And on that paddock there used to be not dozens but hundreds of gypsies used to stop there, they were everywhere, they'd camp there for about two, three months. And how I remember the beetroot and potatoes because they used to go down the end of our farm and bandicoot them and dig them up and just leave the vines sitting there, they used to take sacks and sacks of them.

INTERVIEWER: What did they live in?

JOHN: Gypsies? Tents. They had great big cars. I'll never forget the size of the cars, they were huge cars. They'd come around and tell your fortune. Just up the road there, there was a sawmill and they went to the people next door to the sawmill and told them to bring their family out and 'we'll tell you your fortune'. And they came out to the front and they told them their fortune alright; when they went around to feed the chooks in the afternoon there wasn't any left! They were all gone! I'll never forget those gypsies. They'd go away for about twelve months, come back here the following year.

Contributed By
(Excerpt from interview with Mr John Costa, 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)