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Family familiar with Munibung Hill

On the lookout. A Powerful Owl perched in a tree across the street from where George Rumainek lives, is one of a family that is the subject of a series of photographs by a local neighbour. We will have more photos and a story in a future issue of MMM.  Photo: Eddie Bernard

A great place to raise a family
George Rumainek grew up at Cardiff South, back in the days when every kid had a slug gun and when every kid went shooting on the ‘mountain’ – as Munibung Hill was known to them. 

WITH FEWER HOUSES AROUND, it was a more prominent landmark, appearing more like a mountain than a hill for a bunch of kids. This was kids from the local street.

“We all knew each other back in those days. We weren’t sitting at home on electronic devices playing computer games. We were out and about, free-ranging, making our own fun,” says George as he reflects on his time living around Munibung Hill.

“Sometimes we’d go up Blaxland Road, but mostly it would be off Lawson Road into the bush and up the steep slopes and onto the ‘mountain’.”

“We used to slide down the steeper slopes on the northern side using folded up cardboard sheets or old car bonnets that had been dumped in the bush.  Even our kids did this when they were growing up,” said George. “Our visits were mainly at the weekend and school holidays. We’d head off for the day and so long as we were home by dark, our parents were happy.”

“Hawkins’ had orchards on the eastern side – mainly stone fruits”. George had mates whose job it was to scare off the bats and flying foxes. They’d let off crackers and used whatever they could to frighten the bats away.

George went on to marry Jan, and together they raised four children. They were living on Lake Road, at the time.

“It was busy and noisy and we decided it was no place to raise a young family, so we looked around for a quieter location and settled on Rutherglen Place”.

When George and Jan first moved to the area it was still being developed.  There were major changes made to the creek, for example. The steep valley was ‘re-engineered’ to allow for housing.  The creek waters were buried deep underground in pipes that now run under all the local houses and along under the bitumen on Lawson Road, not reappearing until the end, where it spills into a detention area before Mitchell Street, in the Cardiff industrial estate.

George would take the family dogs for a walk – sometimes with his kids in tow – heading off onto the ‘mountain’ from the end of Gelfius Street, Macquarie Hills. Other times from what is now Lucilla Ridge and on the odd occasion straight up from Rutherglen Place – the steepest slope, “but I was younger and fitter in those days,” recalls George.

“There was a dam on the north-west not far down from the top of Munibung Hill. We’d find wood ducks and other water birds hanging around in that spot”.

George and Jan’s children played up on Munibung Hill on weekends and school holidays, exploring the bush and doing what George had done, sliding down the slopes on cardboard sheeting.

“I remember we had a dog, a half poodle, and he came home one day with a goanna. Goodness knows how he killed it, considering the lizard was twice his size.”

“My visits to Munibung Hill are few and far between these days, but we still consider ourselves part of this bushland setting. We’ve had an Echidna in the yard.  We picked it up and took it to Hunter Wildlife Rescue”.

There are plenty of snakes around especially in summer, the Green Tree Snake being the most common.

“We were always on the lookout for snakes, but since I probably haven’t walked on a regular basis since my 30s and early 40s, can’t say that we’ve seen many”.

“There have been a few fires over the years. The biggest was in 1990. It came in from Argenton to the west and raced through the bush and within half an hour all hell broke loose. It was just before Christmas”.

“We’ve never actually seen any Bandicoots, but we knew they were around because of their diggings.  There aren’t as many these days”.

“Over the years there seems to have been a lot of orienteering groups* running across Munibung Hill. They would run from the athletics field, Neegulbah Park, at the end of Lawson Road, up along the north-western east-west ridge”.

“We don’t want to see any more subdivisions and development on the ‘mountain’. It’s a special place. We’ve got to keep some green areas for the next generation and corridors so wildlife can move about and eke out an existence,” George said.

“But since our move from Lake Road, I have to say, this has been a great place to raise a family, and stay connected with Munibung Hill”.

5 January 2024

*From Newcastle Orienteering Club notes:
Year       Venue               Boy Champion, School  (Score)         Girl Champion,    School  (Score)
1991 Munibung Hill         Peter Timms, Avondale   60           Jennifer Newton, Jesmond   24

MMM Issue 43, April-May 2024