City of Cockburn’s Voices of Women project tells stories of market garden wives of Spearwood

Faye Gatti, Rina Loureta, Vini Kenda, Elsie Gasper, Anka Radalt and Donna Covich. Picture: Jon Hewson www.communitypix.com.au d477493
Faye Gatti, Rina Loureta, Vini Kenda, Elsie Gasper, Anka Radalt and Donna Covich. Picture: Jon Hewson www.communitypix.com.au d477493

MARKET garden wives of Spearwood have shared their stories as part of the City of Cockburn’s Voices of the Women (VOW) project.

As children of market gardeners and later market gardeners themselves, six women with Eastern European ties have recorded their memories of growing up and working in Spearwood and Hamilton Hill following the end of World War II.

Faye Gatti, Rina Lovreta, Vini Kenda, Elsie Gaspar, Anka Radalj and Donna Covich all volunteered for the project, which is the brainchild of Dalmatinac Club (SDC) and Historical Society of Cockburn member Joy Parnell.

The women and their families all hail from Dalmatia, former Yugoslavia and Croatia, with just two born in WA, including Mrs Kenda who was born in her grandfather’s Spearwood home on a hot day in February when the temperature reached 44C.

The unique stories were recorded by Hamilton Hill oral historian Denise Cook after Mrs Parnell and SDC member Pamela Baskovich received a City of Cockburn cultural grant which netted $4000 for the project.

City of Cockburn History/Museum officer Christine Elaine said many stories and memories came out very easily.

“Informal monthly meetings were fixed with the historical society providing the Azelia Ley Museum stables as an venue, until funding had been obtained,” she said.

“The ladies’ stories have been a delight, if sometimes confronting, to hear.

“Many were from different sides of the fence in their parents’ home countries but these communities all came together here under the united banner of the Dalmatinac club.”

Dr Cook said while each woman told her story during the recording sessions, the remaining women would listen in.

“When recording had finished, they’d talk like mad to each other because it would throw up other things they had in common and other memories of those times,” Dr Cook said.

The Voices of the Women’s hiStories are available to listen to via the Azelia Ley Museum, the Dalmatinac Club and Cockburn Libraries.

MORE: Northern suburbs resident reunited with paramedics who helped save her life

MORE: Here comes the rain again: Perth set for weekend deluge

MORE: Child sexual abuse Royal Commission to sit for final time