The wild west of Balcatta

Born in 1926, Mr Cressall said his pioneer family was the first to be given a land grant of 40 acres in the 1890s.

“It was the horse and cart days back then and it was all bushland; our house was the only house around here for miles,” he said.

“In the 1930s, I had a horse of mine we used to ride from Balcatta out to Wanneroo where my grandmother lived and we’d go kangaroo hunting with my uncle.”

After living off the land for 45 years, market gardener Mr Cressall said the family was forced out when most of Balcatta was re- zoned as commercial.

“They (the council) couldn’t make you shift if you didn’t want to but you had to pay high rates if you stayed,” he said.

“They wanted smaller blocks to get more revenue. That’s all it was about: money.

“When they made me go, I said you must call one of the streets Cressall because we’ve lived here since the 1890s.”

Mr Cressall said he found it difficult to watch as the “outback” he once called home was cleared to make way for industry.

“It was all bush until they came along with bulldozers 30 years ago,” he said. “I saw it happening, that’s why I left here.

“There’s no good living here if they haven’t left a tree, so I moved to Waterman’s Bay.

“The trees were here for hundreds of years and they just went in and destroyed them in a day.”

Recalling a time before Balcatta had electricity, Mr Cressall said he had an idyllic life in the outback.

“When my older sister first went to school, my mother dragged a log behind the horse through the bush to make a track for her to follow,” he said.

“Lost was a foreign word to us because you’d look at a star. So long as that’s in front of us, you’d never lose your way.”

Mr Cressall’s daughter Sarah, who now lives in Sydney, said the Cressalls were a highly respected family in Balcatta.

“The Cressall name is synonymous with Balcatta; ask anyone around here and they’ll know the Cressalls,” she said.

“They were pioneers here and really made their mark on this area; they always cared for the community and helped people out.”

Mr Cressall, who is the last living member of the family with the famous surname, said his secret to living a long life was positivity.

“I wake up happy every day and I’m grateful every day,” he said.