PHOTOS | An Anzac centenary of family life and celebration

There will be a big gathering at the Nethery family home this Anzac Day as they celebrate 100 years of living in Anglo Square, Carlton.

Edward Nethery, a school teacher, and his wife, Mary moved into their home in Anglo Square with their three sons in April 1917 and raised a family that eventually grew to seven sons and one daughter.

Their daughter, Mary Bridges (nee Nethery), 88, still lives in the house, called Yeronga, which remains the social hub for the extended Nethery clan.

All seven Nethery sons, Cyril, Frank, Jack, Greg, Septimus, Ted and Bob, left home to fight in World War Two, serving in either the Middle East, New Guinea, the South Pacific, England and Northern Australia and all returning home safely after the war.

As the sons married, they established new homes with their own families but Anglo Square has remained the centre of Nethery family life.

Mary is the last surviving member of the original family and she her husband, Paul carried on the family tradition of living at Yeronga and making the home the meeting place for the generations over the years.

When her father, Edward, was transferred to the area in 1917 they bought the house in Anglo Square.

Her parents moved in with three sons, aged between one and five, a dog and a cage with chooks.

“Dad liked the home because it had the paddock outside and they had three little boys who would have somewhere to play,” Mary said.

“On the day they moved they came up from Helensburg by train where they had been living. They had hired horse-drawn removalists to bring up the furniture. Dad paid them in Helensburg before they left .

“The removalists decided to spend their hard-earned cash at the pub at Sutherland and didn’t arrive until the next day.

“Dad, Mum and the boys had to spend their first night here curled up on the floor waiting for the furniture to arrive.”

Mary said it was a lively childhood, particularly being the only girl and having seven brothers.

“My brothers said they knew I was a girl because when they tackled me playing football in the park I squealed,” she said.

All the Nethery boys were great sportsmen, playing at Kogarah Oval for St George Rugby Union, cricket for St George.

Frank played 1st grade rugby league for Sydney University, Cyril 1st grade rugby league and rugby union for St George. John, Greg, Robert and Septimus played grade ruby union, including 1st grade for St George.

From the front gate growing up Mary could see the railway line in one direction and Botany Heads in the other.

“That’s how the house got its name,” she said.

“My mother came from a little place in the Riverina called Yerong Creek. During the Great Depression, Dad was talking about having a name for the house when a salesman turned up at the front gate. The salesman saw the view and told us that the Aboriginal word for extensive view was Yeronga, so that’s what Dad named the house.”

When everyone was home the three bedroom house slept ten people with the boys sleeping on the verandah front and back.

“My father died when I was six but I can remember him so clearly,” Mary said. “He was the apple of my eye and I was the apple of his.

“He died of pneumonia aged in his fifties. Theirs was a real love match marriage. Mum was a very strong woman; she must have been for her to survive losing Dad and then to see all her six sons going off to war.”

Mary said that unless people had lived through the war years it is hard to understand what they were like.

“You would go to school and find your friend wasn’t sitting next to you in the classroom because their father was lost believed killed in action,” she said.

“They had pages of it in the Herald, notices from families whose father had been killed.”

Mary’s mother saw all seven of her sons’ return home.

Frank’s daughter, Frances said the family home was always a place of love and laughter, with their mother making visitors and those hard done by, welcome.

It wasn’t the first time that family members had returned home safely from war.

Mary’s brother Frank remembered standing at the front gate at Anglo Square as a little boy seeing two soldiers coming down the street. They were two uncles returning from fighting in France and Gallipoli in WWI.

All the brothers lived and thrived with two of them, Ted and Frank becoming teachers like their father as did Mary.

She met her husband, fellow teacher Paul Bridges when they were both teaching at Hurstville Primary School, where her father had also once taught.

Mary’s mother passed away at the age of 93 in 1978.

Four of her brothers lived well into their nineties. The last of her brothers, Cyril, passed away last year, and had a full page obituary in the Sydney Morning Herald recalling his time flying Lancaster bombers of Europe during World War Two, as well as his football career.

“The house has had a lot of gatherings over the years including Mum’s 90th birthday and my wedding reception,” Mary said.

“On Christmas night when everyone would come over there were kids sitting around everywhere.

“It took me a whole day to wrap the presents the day before because every child got one.

“There are 38 grandchildren and we didn’t even try to count the great-grandchildren.

“When I walk out of the house I still think that 100 years ago Mum and Dad walked up these steps.”

On Anzac Day, five generations after Edward and Mary Nethery first walked into their house in Anglo Square, members of the extended Nethery family will gather at Yeronga to celebrate.

“We are not sure how many people will turn up,” Mary said.

“Our motto is we have no printed program, just turn up.

“It’s always been a drop-in centre and the kettle’s always on.”


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