Memories of horse-back riding

Christadelphian Aged Care Homes

Riding bareback through the streets of Riverwood and milking cows in the backyard may seem unbelievable now, but for resident Nellie it was all part of her childhood.

Nellie is a resident of our Padstow Heights Home, just down the road from where she grew up in Riverwood in the 1930s, which was known as Herne Bay back then.

Herne Bay became Riverwood because of the unsavoury reputation from the nearby housing commission huts, which previously housed the US soldiers.

She was a twin in a family of five other siblings, and they all had their duties to attend to including collecting eggs and milking the cows from a young age.

They had several horses, some of their names were Dolly, Jacky Petal, Coy and Durbin. Nellie and her twin sister Betty would often ride their horses bareback around the paddocks and streets of Riverwood.

As a young child, Nellie loved to spend time with her grandmother who lived nearby at Salt Pan Creek. Her grandmother always made her and her siblings feel special and spent time with them, taking them to the zoo, Ramsgate Pool and other places.

The family never had much money, but Nellie and her siblings had a beautiful mother who always made sure they had a good Christmas and did the very best she could to make their childhood special.

Nellie went to work after her third year at high school at 14 years of age at the Berlei factory and helped her mum by giving her part of her wages.

Nellie met Des Renshaw on a blind date and they were married in February, 1952. She gave birth to a son, Alan, in 1952 and a daughter, Sue, in 1953 and later had two other daughters. Kim was born in 1960 and Linda was born in 1962.

After living in a few places such as a caravan and backyard garages, Nellie and Des rented a house at Sandy Point in NSW in 1955. They were the first family in the area to get a television and sometimes Nellie would walk into her lounge room and, to her surprise, it would be full of her neighbours who had walked in and sat down to watch TV!

Des Renshaw loved the bush and living in Sandy Point at that time was right up his alley, however with bushfires and snakes and with young kids, the situation was not ideal.

The housing commission happened to visit on one occasion when there was a snake on the front step and so they got approval to buy a house at Dundas Valley.

Nellie lived in Dundas Valley until around 1995 and then moved to Panania to be closer to her family. Her husband Des passed away in 2003.

Nellie has four children, nine grandchildren, 17 great-grandchildren and one great great grandchild.