Can you start by telling me your name?
Brenda Nisbett, and my parents were Cyrill and Doreen Law.
No worries. So how long have you – – – did you live in Prospect Hill? And when did you move away?
I lived in Prospect Hill for 19 years until I was married in 1957.
Yep. So where was you house located in Prospect Hill?
Our farm was at Blackfellas Creek where Chamel Fields property is today
Okay. Can you tell me what you did in the community?
Well I worked at the – – – as a telephonist and a postal clerk at the Prospect Hill post office for four and a half years.
Okay. So who was the manager of the post office at that time?
The postmaster was Mr Keith Griggs.
So did anyone else work at the post office?
Amy Stone, she also worked there, she was, she lived at the post office house. She was a cousin of Keith’s. We were all related, so the post office used to open from 8 o’clock until 10.00 o’clock on, on weekdays so you know if I finished work at 5 o’clock someone else had to take over. Keith would have cows to milk and Amy would take over.
So when you lived in Prospect Hill how much involvement did you have in community activities?
I played tennis and basketball which is now known as netball at Prospect Hill. I attended the Methodist Church, now the Uniting Church, as it is known at Prospect Hill. I used to sing in the church choir and my dad Cyril Moore was the choir conductor for a number of years. I did used to attend the CWA handicraft days as well.
What were the CWA handicraft days?
Well they were just days that the CWA ladies met say of an afternoon and did various handicrafts, like making cushion covers, like cane baskets, and a lot of handicraft in that, that respect.
Okay, were you involved in the community association?
Well at that stage there was no community association but of course there were other organisations. I mean the school was still operating, so therefore there had been school committees and the church was very active so there would be committees attached to that…and the tennis club and everything was all very active. And so there were various committees associated with those things.
So did you attend the Prospect Hill School?
I did attend the Prospect Hill School.
From grade 1 to Grade 7 and Miss Galley was the teacher.
Okay, would you say that Prospect Hill was a particularly Methodist community?
It was in those days. There were a few families that belonged to Church of England, a family or so that belonged to the Catholic Church but really other than that at, it was mainly attachments to the Methodist Church.
Do you think that because most people were Methodists that that helped to shape Prospect Hill?
I would think so. I would think so.
In what way would you think?
Well there was a number of families who, a lot of them were related of course, but I suppose it was in the era that that they grew up in that church was a very important part of their lives. It is different today.
Okay, so can you tell me a bit more about life in Prospect Hill? What was the community like? Or what is it like?
Well it was a very friendly, a very friendly community in, in those days…of course we now live back at Goolwa, we live at Goolwa North, so we are able to visit Prospect Hill on various occasions, which is very nice. But it was a very peaceful community…of course it was settled amongst the lovely hills and the pine forest and when I lived there the population was approximately a 160 people and it was a dairy farming area, with the milk being taken to the Condaparinga and the Farmers Union factories at Meadows and…then there were, because there were, most, most people then in those days were farmers, were dairy farmers. A few men worked at the saw mill at Kuitpo…but the, and of course the Methodist Church, a lot of people attended the church in those days, most families, which included Sunday School anniversaries which…we had service, two services on those occasions and then…on special occasions we had night services, and so it was really quite a centre point of Prospect Hill.
Can you tell me what you consider to be the most important aspects of Prospect Hill’s history?
Oh—what a shame my mother is not here to be able to tell you some of these things, [laughs] she was very knowledgeable, a knowledgeable person. Mmm. It was just a great place to be in the years that I was there.
Yep. Umm, so do you know much about the history of the Prospect Hill area before European settlement? So, such as the Aboriginal history of the area.
No I can’t really tell you very much about the Aboriginal history. I can remember my mother saying that there were several Aboriginal children attended school when she was at school. But I think they were mainly State children that come to live [inaudible few words] with somebody’s, at somebody’s home for a period of time…but I can’t really enlighten you on that.
That’s okay. Can you tell me about the early days of Prospect Hill, so from European settlement?
Well I, my mother was the daughter of George and Agnes May Griggs and so my thoughts would really be centred around the Griggs family actually. Anne Russell Spencer married George Thomas Griggs on the 10th of May, in 1866, and they started their married life on a property at Tea Tree Creek, near Prospect Hill and their first four children were born there and in 1872 they bought an acre of land from William Luffeman and they built a pug house which is now the Anne Russell Museum. There were eleven children in the family and my grandpa George was the seventh child and he built his own house which is just over the hill from the museum. And it still stands today on the property now owned by my cousin, Michael Griggs which is his grandson. The eleventh child was William and the father of Keith Griggs and William took over the post office work from his father George Thomas and William’s son Keith carried on the work at the post office and this was in the family for three generations over a hundred years. And the Griggs families were all very involved with the Methodist Church at Prospect Hill.
Okay, so what are some of your favourite heritage stories about Prospect Hill?
Mmm—-We were always told that Blackfellas Creek got its name from a Negro…who apparently jumped ship and who came prospecting for gold. And on our property at Blackfellas Creek there was a mine shaft. I remember that very well and my dad used to take us up there and we could look at it but we had to be very careful that we didn’t fall down it. I suppose it is perhaps all covered in now, I don’t know. I have heard the story of Sarah McHarg but really that’s all I can really help you with there.
No worries. Can you tell me a little about the historical figures that you consider to be important to Prospect Hill?
Well, I think that my thoughts would be on Keith Griggs. He was a special person, although he was my former boss at the post office at Prospect Hill. He was just a great person for Prospect Hill. He was a scout master, a church organist, played tennis, table tennis, secretary of various organisations and the RSL of course he was involved in. He was always busy at Busy Bees and he had the ability to see the best in people and to be available to help anyone in need. And of course he was also a music teacher and so there was a lot of the younger people who were taught music by Keith but I think of Prospect Hill I think of Keith.
Is there anything else you can add about Keith, some of his background, or earlier in life?
[Pause] Mmm. I suppose I really got to know him when I went to work. Umm, my mother and father always spoke very highly of him and umm, of course being, both my mum and dad were very musical and so therefore Keith’s interest in music was very interesting to them. He was an only child, so he didn’t have any brothers or sisters, but umm, no just a good fella.
No worries, so…I would like to talk about the Ash Wednesday bush fires now. So I know that you had moved away from Prospect Hill by the time the bush fires occurred but can you tell me where you were when the bush fires occurred.
We were living, Graham and I were living at Naracoorte at that time and we were very concerned when we heard that the fires were heading towards Prospect Hill. My mother was living at Strathalbyn at that time, so I, there were a number of telephone calls to my mum to check how various families were situated and it was very concerning for the people of Prospect Hill and a lot of damage was done, umm, of course there were other places in the area that the fires were also devastated, but it, umm, was a very worrying time. Mmm.
So can you tell me a little bit more about your experience with the fire? Or if, if that’s all, that’s fine, but I just wanted to—-?
No, well as I said my contact was made through, through mum and she would tell us that the various properties had been damaged.
But no I can’t really, other than that we were just really concerned for the people.
Yep. So can you comment on how much the fires impacted on Prospect Hill’s built heritage, so its historic buildings and structures?
Well, of course, the, the fire, the CWA hall to perhaps to me, was very sad, because a lot of work, especially with the CAW ladies went into building that hall and umm, then we used to have social evenings in the hall, kitchen evenings and things like that, that was our place of being able to meet because we didn’t have a bigger hall, and so that was, that was sad I felt when the CWA hall was built, and of course, was burned and then of course when the school was burnt as well, it umm, you think of all the years you that you attended school and that and of course I think Prospect Hill were very fortunate that more of the umm the sheds, the buildings and that around the post office and the museum weren’t damaged more, and umm, because a lot of memories had in that area. Mmm.
So where was the CWA hall located?
The CWA hall was located where the community hall is now, that’s correct for it, yes.
And that was obviously rebuilt after the fire?
As the community hall.
How many people would have been involved in the CWA at the time of your involvement and after?
Oh, that I might have to think might’nt I, err—I suppose I could name some people.
Yes, go on.
But then I might miss out somebody. Well, my mother.
And then there would be Mrs. Oakley and I would think probably Mrs. Palmer, Mrs. Vi Connor and Mrs. Rene Connor and Mrs. Claude Connor, Mrs. Mitchelmore, Mrs. Coad, Mrs. Harper, Mrs. Pike, Mrs. Gardner, not certain whether there were any Mrs. Harveys, and umm Laurel Millighan, she was very involved, and Mrs. Effie Stone, and Mrs. Lewis and another Mrs. Hazel Stone and they came from Mount Magnificent but they used to come and attend Prospect Hill CWA. Now I may’ve missed out somebody, I’m sorry but that’s just quickly thinking.
They used to, Mrs., oh Mrs. Griggs too, there was Mrs. Melo Griggs, and Mrs. Bernice Griggs and Mrs. Francie Griggs, oh yes, and of course the CWA ladies used to do catering for weddings. They catered for Grahams and my wedding at the Meadows Hall, so they were a very active lot of ladies
This was the Prospect Hill CWA?
The Prospect Hill CWA. Yes.
And does that still exist, or?
I don’t think.
So back to the Ash Wednesday bush fires, do you think that following the fires more efforts have been put into protecting and preserving the built heritage of Prospect Hill?
I would say yes, by what I have gathered, yes. Perhaps made people more aware that a fire can do so much damage and take away so much history, yes, yes.
Do you know how people have put more effort into protecting and preserving the built heritage, like are there…have people put systems in place to make sure that none of those buildings are destroyed in the future.
Well they have a very active community association at Prospect Hill now, and I gather they are doing more in this way to preserve things if there is a fire, you know with more equipment that can be installed these days, mmm.
Okay, and so for the people who were affected by Ash Wednesday, do you think that Prospect Hill’s built heritage and its heritage stories have helped them to recover from the fire?
Most likely…but I suppose then now that there a lot of people who have come into the area in later years…but…they all seem to be working together very well to try and preserve the history which is at Prospect Hill, yes.
So can you tell me your thoughts on Prospect Hill today? So what are the strengths of the community and what struggles does it face or is it facing?
Well, umm, the type of community which it is today things have changed, however, the Prospect Hill community association being well organised by a very enthusiastic committee and all the residents of the area seem to give their support it should and will continue to be a great place to live, I feel.
So do you have any closing comments that you want to make about Prospect Hill, Ash Wednesday or the heritage of the area in general?
Well it is very pleasing to see the way it has recovered from the devastation of Ash Wednesday, umm, but I am sure that there, there would be other people who could add more to that, who were perhaps living in the area when it happened, but umm, its good to see the way that they have continued to try to build it up again. And it’s a good place.
I have got one last question. Do you feel that even though you moved away when you were nineteen, do you still feel a part of that community, or?
I think you do, although I lived at Naracoorte for 26 years. I have lived at Naracoorte longer than I have lived at Prospect Hill, but you still come back that oh Prospect Hill is where you grew up, yes, yes.
No worries, alright so if you don’t have anything else to add then we’ll finish the interview.
No I, thank you very much.
No worries, thank you Brenda.