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People of Cessnock is a blog by local resident, Rebecca Murray. The project seeks to value the people of her home town by sharing their stories value and raising the profile of people living outside metropolitan areas.



“I’ve lived here all my life. 42 years at the end of the month.

My dad’s side of the family has been here since 1889 and my mum’s since 1840.

Like, I might look like a homeless person but I’m not. I live in a house.

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I was working fitting truck tyres six to seven days a week. Since tax time everything’s gone quiet so old mate I was working for – I was only casual. 7 or 8 months casual – Well everything’s gone dead so they can’t afford to have me there so he laid a couple of blokes off.

Cessnock is an old coal mining town. My father is a coal miner. My grandfather was a coal miner. But my great-grandfather was a boat builder in Newcastle.

He came from Sweden in 1889 to Abermain and then moved to South Cessnock. He was in his late teens or early twenties when he moved. His name was Hans Heidelberg, or something like that, but when he came to Australia he changed his last name to Martin.

My mum’s mother’s maiden name was Carol. The Carols date back to the early 1800s in Australia. My mum started on the family tree when I was younger. And that was all old school in the 80s before any internet came along. She only got so far because people in the family had, like, paperwork and old photos and things like that.

She died in 2013.

I’m living at my dad’s at the moment, looking after him. It’s good to get away for a while. Give him his own time. I’ll go back and check on him later. Take him for a bit of a walk.

I’ve had dad in hospital. He’s 72 in November. My mum passed away in 2013 and since then he’s been drinking a fair bit of beer. He’s got something in his brain from drinking and he’s losing his memory.

He went back 12 years or so when he got sick. He didn’t know where he was at or what day it was. He’s talking to you one minute, asking you something, and then five minutes later he’s saying the same thing again. I say, “You just asked me that.” He knows who I am but -

He thought mum was still alive at the start … and I had to tell him. It was pretty hard. Cause I already had to go through it when she died and, cause he forgot everything, I had to retell him again cause he kept asking about her. Yeah.

Everyone’s got to go through it eventually in their life. Some people handle it, some people don’t.

When I was working he was in the lodge place and they were looking after him there. But he could only stay there for so long.

He’s still drinking. Because he’s getting older, he thinks, ‘I haven’t got much time so I’d better drink up while I can.’

That’s how some people get.”