This is an edited version of a conversation between Dino and Pam Coiacetto and Jo Kijas on November 15, 2012 at their property on Tuntable Creek Road
It contains reflections on Dino and Pam: family backgrounds | The original farm | From dairying to mixed farming | Weeds to lifestyle blocks | Beans, cucumbers and a lot of bananas | Cyclones and the Tornado | Resumed land, sales and policy changes | Peas, lychees and pumpkins | Bananas in the 1930s | Neighbours | The Future? | Working the farm today | The changing community | Italians and Australians | The growing family | A partnership
Dino and Pam: family backgrounds
Dino: Well Dad’s name was Beniamino Coiacetto and my mother was, she was a Bazzo. Maria Assunta Bazzo.
Pam: Double “z”.
Dino: Some people get it mixed up with the double “s”, but it’s a double “z”.
And were they the Bazzo’s that came from New Italy or…?
Dino: No, no.
Different Bazzos altogether, ok. And do you have brothers and sisters?
Dino: Yeah I’ve got a sister, Luigina, she’s at Brooms Head and I’ve got a brother Eddo, he’s up in Brisbane, Mt Gravatt.
So where did you grow up?
Dino: Well I was born in Nimbin, Crofton Road, godforsaken country. We took the kids for Father’s Day a couple of years ago up that way. God, you can’t recognise it.
What is it that you can’t recognise?
Dino: Well you go to the end of Crofton Road, have you ever been up there? You go right to the end of Crofton Road, it’s bitumen now but it was gravel when I was born. And then we had to cross a creek four times within a kilometre. Well you can’t get into it anymore; it’s closed off, private. And they just leased the land there, Dad leased land off Latimers. They started with bananas, that was back in ’39, then in 1948 we moved. My sister was born in ’47, so 1948 we moved out to Georgica and made sure we had a block close to the school because neither of them could drive and the school was only about three or four hundred metres from their land. Then in 19…
Dino: Nah, 1957
Pam: Here? I always thought it was ’59.
Dino: Nah 1957 Dad bought here. In 1958 I went half way through fourth year in high school and I got sick of it. We got our intermediate at three years not four years like they do now. It was half way through fourth year and I left school and started planting bananas. I’ve been here ever since.
So what took your parents from Crofton Road to Georgica? Was it just the school or did they get to own the land?
Dino: Well they were leasing land at Crofton Road; at Georgica they bought a thirteen acre block off a farmer, people by the name of McKinnon and bought thirteen acres off them. And they grew vegetables and bananas from there – saved up enough to put on a deposit on this place here and … still here.
And do you know anything about the history of them leasing bananas?
Pam: Excuse me but can I just say, you didn’t lease bananas. They cleared the ground and then planted, did not lease bananas.
Dino: No they leased the ground.
Pam: Land with trees and … rough country.
Dino: Yeah usually the farmers that owned the land give them twelve months with no lease…
Pam: No rent.
Dino: No rent, and then they just paid the lease after that. And when they left the farmer had ten or twelve acres of cleared country. A lot of them all went back to rubbish anyway.
Right, because it was land that I guess you can’t get a cow on?
Dino: It was, it was level ground, I mean it was steep but a lot of it was … they just cleared it. But they always grew vegetables in the winter. To make a dollar in the winter, it was… bananas usually come, the bulk of them, in the summer.
And do you remember that place?
Dino: I remember, but I was a little kid.
But you were old enough to remember the five creeks …?
Dino: Yeah, yeah.
And would you come in often, what town would you come in to?
Dino: Oh Mum and Dad used to go to town on the bus. They’d have to walk across the creek; you couldn’t get across in a vehicle unless you had a truck. And then there’d be a bus, it wasn’t a …the bus was at Nimbin. They used to come and pick you up there at the end of Crofton Road and take you down to the bus and the bus …and then go to town.
Pam: Into Lismore.
Dino: Into Lismore. But they’d go probably once a month, once every six weeks. They used to grow their own chooks so they had their own eggs.
Pam: Powdered milk.
Dino: Powdered milk.
Pam: Make butter and cheese.
Dino: Butter and cheese. No fridges, no electricity, just a kerosene lantern, that’s all it was.
Yes, and then at Georgica, how many years was that?
Dino: There? Ah…from 19… well we moved there in 1948.
Pam: That was the year you started school was it?
Dino: No, 1949 I started school, 1949 I started school. Then Dad came here in ’58, bought in ’57, about October I think it was in ’57, Dad bought it October, November, I forget now. And then we came over, Dad and I, and we stayed here the following year. We just ploughed with the horses.
And what was it about this land that attracted your dad?
Dino: Well it was bigger than what we had, we had thirteen acres and this one here was a hundred and forty five.
Pam: And didn’t the school come into it again?
Dino: Yeah and the school again. Eddo went to school here. See I went to school at Georgica and went to high school from out there and Eddo started school here, it’d be thirteen years, the gap, you know. Because he was born at Georgica but went to school here.
Right. And Pam can you just tell me a bit about your background in this region? Your family are around here I gather?
Pam: Yeah, yeah. I’ve always lived around. Dad … he always worked out of the house. We rented homes when I was growing up until? – and then we worked for share farmers when the family grew and then Dad and Mum got the lease from Goolmangar didn’t they? Pinchins Lane, yeah. And then they dairied, but Dad would work on the council as well and Mum and us kids would milk the cows and feed the pigs and whatever.
And who were your mum and dad?
Pam: Marie and Denny Daly. Mum was a Youngberry and Swedish Irish parents yeah.
And did you say you had twelve brothers and sisters?
Dino: Twelve altogether.
Ok, twelve of you. And when did you two get married?
Dino: 1964, 5th of December this month, now it’s forty eight years of…
Pam: Pain and suffering (laughter). But my brothers and sisters, there was Mary and Errol, myself, Stephen, Ross, Maureen, Jennifer, Gavin, Paul, David, Christopher and Anthony. And Anthony’s actually twelve months younger than our eldest child. His uncle’s younger than him. Yeah. (laughter)
And your children, how many do you have?
Pam: Three, Warren, Lisa and Rodney.
Dino: Three headaches.
Pam: Yeah, yes.
They’re going to listen to this!
Dino: Yeah they might! (laughter)
So you and your family get here in … I really was listening… you bought in ’57 in October. When did you actually move? You were here by…?
Dino: Well Dad and I started setting up in ’58. Mum still stayed out in Georgica, she was trying to run out there while we were getting this established. Dad and I lived in a garage down there which, when it rained, it used to come straight through.
Pam: And then you built the house.
Dino: Built the house down there in ’61 I think it was, ’60 or ’61 and that’s when Mum moved over from Georgica.