Eugene Dimitriadis

I am one of many migrants who left Orange in 1963, after finishing my Leaving Certificate at Orange High School, to study and work in Sydney. There was little to keep us in Orange except family and we were a financial drag on them, so getting away for independence was important.

My parents stayed in Orange (Bathurst Road them on Dalton Street) until all the kids left home and then moved themselves to be closer to children and grandchildren in Canberra and to receive some family support. I know of others to whom this happened.

Dad worked at Email (Emmco then) as well as other factories, did some gardening and worked in Amoco Hall preparing seating for events. He rode his pushbike and cleaned windows of one of the large pharmacies (Baldwin’s) in town on weekends. Mum stayed at home, cared for the four kids, cooked, tended the productive garden (flowers and vegetables) and had her hands full. I have lovely memories of them both as well as our healthy lifestyle.

As Christmas approached, Dad and I would often go cherry picking which provided addition income, but that involved very early rises and often long bike rides to orchards, often far away.

I had a friend (Bill Allender) who lived near the top of the Pinnacle and recall riding there taking two hours, I think, to spend the long day with him, fooling with daring chemistry experiments. The trip home was exhilarating, mostly downhill. Bill now lives in Sydney.

The area where I lived was in Bathurst Road (opposite the motel) just up the hill from D’Aquino’s who had a wine shop and deli offering lovely European food. They were a vital food link to the past and Europe, where most of us came from. There were few Asians then. D’Aquino’s (I recall Zina) serviced the locals who consisted of Poles, Greeks, Ukrainians, Dutch, Germans, Latvians and Irish as well as a few Anglo-Aussies. Most have scattered by now but all would love to contribute their memories of being migrants. Perhaps my two sisters, Elizabeth and Annette, will, or maybe I will.

At the age of about 21, feeling very lonely in Sydney, I returned home to Orange and found work at Email in the lab. But most friends had scattered and I lasted two or three years before returning to Sydney rejuvenated and more confident after some essential romantic interludes. My visits to Orange thereafter were mainly for funerals and visits to the few friends who remained.

I sent the book Half A World Away – link to my Latvian friend (Andris Liepa) who lived a few houses away on Bathurst Road and who introduced me to chemistry all those years ago (we both have PhDs in that field now, although retired).

As kids we rode to Ophir by bike, past Narrambla mill and far away to find collectable rocks and minerals. In the back paddock there was open space and two dams where the local migrant kids mixed and played. We climbed trees, caught yabbies in the dam, raced billy-carts and tossed a discus, all self-made entertainment.

The kids all interacted and picked up phrases in other languages and minor romances even happened. So my friend Andris (‘Andy’ to Aussies) took great interest in the book link and asked for confirmation of the names of some neighbours he recalled and who made quotes. That was 50 years ago for him but still memorable and important to those who lived there.

Long after I left Orange (mid 1960s) White Russians from China came to Orange in numbers although I knew none. They opened a Pentecostal church in Orange.

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