Monday, April 18, 2022


Giovanna Carollo`s father Antonio, was born on the 26th of August 1898, in the village of Zugliano.  Zugliano is situated in the province of Vicenza, Italy.  He was 24 years old when he arrived in Australia in 1922.

Antonio came to Australia with his friend Mario Borgo who was also from Zugliano.  Three years later in 1925 their friend Giovanni Binotto would join them and call Australia home.  They were all good friends but Antonio and Giovanni were particularly close.

Antonio and Mario both came to Tarrawanna as the mines were close by.  Within a short time both men acquired jobs.  When the great depression hit in 1929, many miners were laid off.  

In the meantime, Giovanni Binotto had brought his wife and two children out to Australia.  Giovanni’s wife Fiore, was Mario Borgo`s sister.  By 1930 Giovanni and his family were living with Luigi Luccarda.  Giovanni was also laid off from the mine.  He would be out of work for the next 7 years.

It was a particularly hard time for so many back in those days.  With no work, many were living in boarding houses, sheds or garages that were `questionably liveable`.  It was all about sheltering people and giving them a place to stay.  Everybody worked together to make do, the best they could.  Being Italian, many were skilled in agriculture, so they were able to sustain themselves by growing much needed fruits and vegetables.  Even though it was hard, people were happy.

Giovanni was a very skilled handyman and gardener and he built the bocce courts and the grape vines at Luigi Luccarda`s house.  Luigi Luccarda`s bocce courts became quite the meeting and gathering place for many.  It kept them connected to their fellow countrymen as well as a place to go, when there was nowhere to go.  Mario and Antonio would also frequent Luigi’s place.  Having such a meeting place must have been a such a blessing for everyone.

In 1931 Antonio and Mario went into partnership and purchased a wine shop in Crown Street, Wollongong.  It was purchased from Lorenzo Filippi who had been operating the shop since 1929.  Mario had stopped working in the mine, as it was making him sick.  He found the work very heavy and hard on him physically.  Antonio was still working in the mine and together they had a plan for operating the store.

Mario would run the shop during the day.  As Antonio worked in the afternoon at the mine, he would schedule the mornings to do deliveries for the wine shop.  Antonio had his drivers licence as well as his own flat top truck.  This seemed to work out very well.  The business was picking up.

In 1938, Antonio married Agnes Dargan, who was the girl next door.   In that same year their daughter Giovanna was born.  Eleven months later, Antonio had an accident in the mine and on 20th September 1939, Antonio Carollo passed away.  He was 41 years old.

Antonio`s passing was devastating for everyone. Agnes had to now find work to support herself, as there were no widow pensions available at that time.  Agnes got a job as a hotel cook and she lived on site.  Antonio`s best friend Giovanni Binotto and his wife Fiore took in little Giovanna and raised her as their own along with their two children Luigi who was 16 years old and Caterina who was 14.  

Giovanni and his family moved into a house that he rented from the Crofton family.  The house sat on the grounds of the Crofton family property, that spanned across three street frontages. There was the main house (the homestead) as well as three other cottages on the property.  When Giovanni was unemployed, he would do the gardening, landscaping and maintenance of the homestead and the property itself.  The Croftons appreciated him and his work so much, that they did not charge him any rent.  The homestead was indeed huge, and needed constant attention.  The Crofton family grew to love Giovanni quite a lot.  

By 1940 the Croftons had both passed away.  Giovanni remained a tenant of the Crofton family, whose daughter, Kathleen Collier now owned the property.  Giovanni would eventually move into the homestead, renting it from Mrs Collier.  When Giovanni was renting the main house, there were still many immigrants coming and needing a place to stay.  Giovanni opened the house to boarders and sometimes entire families would arrive from Italy as well.  Word had gotten out about the homestead, because of it’s size, families were soon staying for extended periods of time, till they were ready to move on.  There could be up to 7 extra people staying at any one time along with Giovanni and his family at the homestead. 

In 1950 Mrs Collier wanted to sell the entire property and wanted Giovanni to have first preference to purchase it.  Giovanni didn’t have the money to purchase the lot, but he did express his interest in purchasing the homestead itself, that stretched across three blocks of land.  Mrs Collier agreed and sold the homestead to Giovanni.  She then sold the remainder of the property that was subdivided into many blocks.  During the time they were living there in 1948, Agnes Carollo (Giovanna`s mother) died at age 40. 

Giovanni eventually, went back to work in the mine and continued until his retirement in 1957, the same year that  Giovanna ( his step daughter) was married at the age of 19. Giovanni’s children Caterina and Luigi had moved out years before.  Giovanna and her husband Antonio Sandona, lived in the homestead with Giovanna`s parents.

Giovanna and her husband Antonio began building their first house on land given to them by Giovanna`s parents.  The plan was to build a new house and move Giovanni and Fiore in with Giovanna and her husband Antonio, as the homestead was in its original state but with no modern facilities.  There was no hot water, no sewerage and the house was way too big for Giovanni and Fiore.  Four years before, at the age of 15, Giovanna had left school to help care for her mother Fiore who became incapacitated, due to a brain haemorrhage.  Giovanna never worked as she dedicated herself to looking after her mother.  Giovanna`s husband Antonio was of tremendous support to her.  Having to care for both of her parents now (as Giovanni’s health was failing too), Antonio also would help Giovanna care for her parents. Antonio was working at the steels works at the time, and he was working hard to get the house finished for everyone to move into.  Unfortunately, Fiore never got to move into the new house, as it was still a few months away from being finished.  Fiore passed away in 1962.  Giovanni.  who also was quite ill now,  passed away a year later after a long battle with bladder cancer.  The year was 1963. For the past ten years from ages 15 - 25, Giovanna nurse both her parents due to their ailing health and basically did it on her own.  There was no outside help.

1964 saw the birth of Giovanna and Antonio`s first born child, Giancarlo.  That same year Giovanni’s homestead was sold.   Giovanna and Antonio now had their own family and in 1972 their daughter Fiona was born.

In 1978 Gina Borgo (who was Mario Borgo`s daughter) and her close friends Irma Calgaro and Rina Filippi, had a discussion about having a get together with some of the women who were the daughters of immigrants that had lived locally as children. As the children married and moved on, many moved out of the area, while others stayed.  Gina, Irma and Rina wanted to reconnect to their roots and to stay in touch with as many of them as possible.

The three women decided to form a group and call themselves `Daughters of the Italian Pioneers of the South Coast`. The original group of women were born from the 20`s decade.  Some came from Italy while others were born here.  They then made a decision to bring in the younger ones too.  The younger group of women were from the 30`s and many were born here. So approximately 64 women in total made up the combined group.

The first reunion was at The Fraternity Bowling Club in Fairy Meadow.  They had a magnificent luncheon catered for by the club and the women were just so happy to have seen their friends after such a long time.  The excitement of getting together, of sharing lost memories, was so heartfelt.  The majority of the women were from the Veneto region, but other Italian regions were represented too, making up the group.  With the older women, they shared their stories of hardships that they endured.  Many of these women married Australian men, as there were not many Italian men available at the time.  A lot still talked in their old dialect which was quite funny to them.

Each year the reunion would take place on the first Sunday in March.  No one received an invitation, they just knew where to turn up, back at the Fraternity Club at lunch time.  Often they would have photos taken and a story or a write up would appear in the local or Italian newspapers.  

Over the years the group has naturally gotten smaller.  Some have passed, some no longer drive, or some have moved to a different place.  In the last ten years the group reduced to about 19 people.  

Since the pandemic over the last two years, the group has all but dissolved.  There a just a few of them now, who are very close friends. Giovanna still keeps in touch with them and hopes that one day they can get together again for another luncheon.

Antonio Carollo at Luigi Luccarda`s bocce court.

Antonio Carollo on the right (hand on hip)

The group of older women from the 20`s era.  Including Gina, Irma and Rina.

The group of younger women from the 30`s era. Including Giovanna, front row left wearing blue dress.

All images from the collection belonging to Giovanna Sandona (Carollo)

Friday, February 18, 2022


Caterina Dalla Pozza began working at Luccarda`s boarding house and wedding reception centre at Tarrawanna, in 1965.  Caterina`s sister in law Giovanna Dalla Pozza, was already working there, and she  began in 1958.  When Giovanna left Luccarda`s, as she was expecting her third child, Caterina took over her role. Her role was helping in the kitchen as a kitchen hand as well as a house keeper for the boarders. 

Caterina and her husband Matteo, like many migrant families at the time, shared a house with Matteo's brother and his wife, and both couples had children. When Caterina started working, her sister-in-law looked after the children.  Both husbands worked long hours, double-shift and even triple-shifts if they could get them, so the house-keeping and baby-sitting was done solely by her sister-in-law, as there was no other support or network of relatives to call on in the new country.

Caterina`s work day started at 9 am.  She would attend to the house  keeping duties, washing and ironing the clothing for the boarders, as well as linen.  Caterina would was also tend to kitchen duties and food service.  Ida Luccarda was the one who did the preparation and the cooking of the meals.

The evening meals for the boarders always consisted of a `primo e secondo`, a first and second course.  First course was either a brodo or minestrone and the second course was a roast meat or small t-bone steak that was served with potatoes or beans.  Other times it may have been schnitzel, meat stew or pork chops. It was always a hearty dinner that the men sat down to at the end of their day.   The meals were all home made, `casalinga` style.

The menu changed daily, but the meals were the same dishes constantly rotated.  The menu choices were done solely by Ida, based on the dishes that she knew and what was familiar to her and also what she knew the boarders would enjoy. Caterina would serve the boarders their meals.  When Ida was very busy and the pressure was on her to get the food and plates prepared and served on time, Caterina would then help Ida with the cooking in the kitchen.

Caterina does recall there was `method in the madness` when it was particularly busy.  When both boarders and function attendees had to be fed, everybody would pitch in. During those periods, some staff focused on the meals for the boarders, while other staff concentrated on getting the meals out for the function centre.  As soon as the meals for the boarders were dispatched, the staff then helped with the catering for the function.  Sometimes, kitchen staff doubled up in duties to help out.  Occasionally, the kitchen staff helped with waitering duties, depending on what needed to be done.   

Caterina recalls attending a wedding reception herself as a guest, at the Luccarda reception centre, that started out with small numbers of people.  By the time Caterina commenced work,  those numbers had drastically changed.  Occasionally, they would hold two smaller wedding receptions at once.  Typically, wedding receptions were held on a Saturday.  Sometimes, but only rarely, did they hold a wedding reception on a Sunday.

The popularity of the venue was mounting and people were booking approximately six months in advance. Caterina worked a long day for a wedding reception.  She would start her day normally around 9 - 9.30 in the morning.  They would be prepping during the day and precooking many of the meals. Then in the afternoon Caterina would have a good break before getting ready for the reception.

Ida and Liugi organised the wedding receptions.  Ida was in charge of the kitchen and Luigi co-ordinated the wedding receptions.  Luigi would have a schedule that he worked to and timed the menu to be delivered accordingly.

The wedding receptions began at 6.00pm and Caterina`s day would usually finish between 12.30 - 1.00am, after the wedding guests had left and all the washing and clearing had been done. There were also casual ladies employed that would help with the washing of the plates and the kitchen clean up.  When Caterina worked a normal day at the boarding house, she would usually finish around 9.00pm.

The fruit and vegetable produce was purchased at the Pirlo fruit market, in Kenny Street, Wollongong and other supplies were purchased from wholesaler, Davis and Penny, at Fairy Meadow.  Frida Luccarda, who was  Arduino`s wife, did much of the ordering of the supplies on Ida`s behalf.

After several years that Caterina had been working, Ida Luccarda went to Italy for a much deserved holiday for three months.  In that time, Caterina and Frida, were the ones who took over the cooking duties for both the boarding house and the wedding receptions. Both of them knew exactly what to do and the business ran just as well.  Shortly after Ida`s return the business was sold.  

Around 1970-1971 the Luccarda business was bought by Bruno and Assunta Ardenti. The business would now become Bruno’s Restaurant Reception Centre. Part of the agreement for the purchase of the business was that the boarding house would remain, as well as the staff.  Caterina moved into the kitchen at Bruno’s. Whilst the new owners of the Luccarda reception centre were successful, it was noted by some that the generosity was not the same as that of the Luccarda family.

Bruno did some renovations, and a new bar was added. The main function room would be extended as well.  The business had now changed with the addition of a restaurant, as well as the boarding house. Wedding receptions were full and now Christenings were catered for too.  Bruno also introduced a Friday night dinner dance.

Caterina`s role at Bruno`s was essentially the same as it was at Luccarda`s, but she was given different responsibilities.  Aside from helping in the kitchen, she was now helping out with the Restaurant meals as well, for the Friday night Dinner Dances.  It was a la carte dining and Bruno hired a head Chef for the restaurant. The chef would cook the main meals while Caterina was responsible for the entrees` and desserts.  

Entrees` such as prawn cocktail, onion soup, varieties of oysters and salads and desserts like peach melba and bombe alaska.  Caterina often did the same for the wedding functions, which was where she assisted the most.  Occasionally, there would also be a small wedding function on a Friday night.

The boarding house duties were still very similar, only this time, the men had to wash their own work wear in a common laundry, and Caterina was still responsible for their house keeping, linen and the ironing of their dress clothes. 

As a child I can vouch for the weddings at Bruno’s.  Coming from a family of nine, going to a wedding reception was such a highlight for our family.  We didn’t have much, as many others families were in similar positions, but going to a function at Bruno’s brought so many members of the Italian community together.  So many paesane would come together time and again for those wedding receptions.  We would see the same people for the next lot of weddings that we were invited to.  We had so much fun as children there too.  Some of those weddings were huge.  I can vividly remember up to 450 people easy!  The hall was so big, and where we sat you could hardly see the bridal party.

As I spoke to Caterina about the wedding menu that I recalled at Bruno’s, it was very similar to what was cooked at Luccarda`s.  The menu at Bruno’s was as follows:  Antipasto followed by a minestra/soup, a pasta (usually ravioli with sugo) a roast meat with verdura/vegetables and finish with cassata ice cream for dessert as well as the wedding cake and coffee. The wedding receptions were popular indeed.  They could cater for large weddings, as well as smaller ones.  They had a concertina wall that could block part of the room off to hold a smaller function.  A large dance floor, internal bathroom facilities, a room for the bride and groom and a huge parking lot.  They catered very well, always having ample wait staff to serve at the weddings.

Bruno’s Reception Centre was sold in 1975 to the Capetta Family, retaining the name Bruno’s.  The boarding house was still part of the business, but eventually it would change.  Caterina`s duties remained similar with the Capetta family, such as Friday night dinner dances and wedding functions.  Gradually, her role changed to just the large wedding functions.  She worked for three individual families at the once place.  Caterina saw many changes over the years and was a part of the celebration of many a bride and groom.  Caterina finished with the Capetta family in 1981.

After having a few years break,  Caterina was asked to work at the Fraternity Bowling Club, in Fairy Meadow.  She agreed and commenced working in 1985.  This time, Caterina was working in the bistro.  This was different kind of cooking than she had done previously.  The bistro would operate on several shifts per day and the variety of the menu was much, much larger to that of the functions she was accustomed to.  Coupled with that were the methods of cooking, as patrons didn’t have to book at the bistro and people were ordering meals according to their preference.

Caterina said that within a few weeks, she became accustomed to the new and diverse set up and operation. Later on , she would eventually move to the front of the bistro, serving customers, as bain-maries had been introduced.

Caterina felt different about working at the club, compared to her days at the boarding house/reception centre, that were long and the work extremely hard. She enjoyed her time immensely at The Fraternity Club, she was paid well and felt comradeship with the other women who worked along side her.  

People who frequented The Fraternity Club knew her well and would look forward to seeing her at the bistro, and many spoke about the wonderful meals she cooked.

Caterina left The Fraternity Club in 2003.  In total she worked for 15 years combined with the Luccarda family, Bruno Ardenti and the Capetta family at the wedding reception centre at Tarrawanna, and 18 years with the Fraternity Club.  Quite the contribution it was, providing wonderful food for the Italian community and for many others.

Caterina Dalla Pozza at The Luccarda Reception Centre

Image from the collection belonging to Rosalie Pirlo (Luccarda)


Giovanna Dalla Pozza (front) with Ida Luccarda (behind) serving food for the wedding guests.

Image from the collection belonging to Rosalie Pirlo (Luccarda)

                                                                                                              Caterina in the Luccarda kitchen

Images from the collection belonging to Caterina Dalla Pozza

Caterina with her work colleagues at The Fraternity Bowling Club



Wednesday, February 9, 2022


Leaving the town of TorrebeIvicino in the province of Vincenza, Veneto Italy, Luigi Luccarda arrived in Australia in August, 1922.  He settled in Balgownie and five years later he would become a citizen, receiving his Naturalisation Certificate.   He purchased a home in Paynes Lane, Tarrawana, NSW.

Luigi was the first of four siblings to arrive in Australia. Two brothers and a sister would eventually join him.  Pio Luccarda arrived in 1938, Arduino arrived in 1940 and sister Ida arrived in 1950.  Soon the Luccarda name would be known throughout the Italian community of Wollongong.

In those early days, Luigi worked as a Miner.  He had a two person sulky for transport. Many of the roads were just dirt tracks. When his brother Pio arrived, he stayed with Luigi at his home.  Shortly after, brother Arduino arrived and traveling with him were Lucia (Pio`s wife) and their son Francesco, and they too stayed with Luigi.    

Back in Italy, Ida (known as Aunty Ida), was working for Marzotto. Marzotto founded a wool weaving mill and eventually a spinning mill, making combed yarn and fabrics.  Ida ran the office and she was very good at it.  The Marzotto group had become quite an entity and still are to this day, specialising in textiles. The company didn’t want Ida to go as she was an invaluable employee.  Ida was also an incredibly skilled seamstress.

When Ida arrived in Australia she lived with Luigi in his house.  Ida, like many women, was hard working with sheer tenacity.   Her talents and skills would become well known in the community. Ida wanted to open a sewing business.  She had made several garments for people.  Ida was hoping to acquire several sewing machines to start her business, but somehow, it didn’t eventuate.

At that time, many immigrant men, looking for work and looking for accommodation, were reliant on the boarding houses.  Not only did the boarding houses provide a place to stay, but for so many who couldn’t speak the language, the boarding houses with other Italian immigrants, became their refuge.

On Luigi’s property, there was an old cottage that had been vacant for some time.  Ida came up with the idea to make it into a boarding/guest house.  Even though there were other boarding houses in the area, the demand and need was there.  Another draw card were the bocce courts that Luigi built on his property.  They were frequented by many.

The boarding house became tenanted quite quickly and Ida was the person responsible for the cooking.  Ida would cook simple yet wholesome meals and was she very good at organising.  The boarding house serviced single men.  Ida wanted to make the boarders feel the comforts of home, as many were homesick and in need of familiarity.

All meals were provided as part of the boarding fee.  The meals were eaten in the main house, in a dining room specifically for the boarders, as the boarding house had no kitchen, just bedrooms and bathroom facilities.

Luigi would be responsible for making coffee for morning breakfast and for providing the boarders with their lunch as they went to work. For each person, it usually consisted of a panino, two pieces of fruit and a piece of cake or a pastry.  Ida would make the panini the night before as well as cook the main meal for the evening.

The boarding house usually accommodated 8 - 10 men at a time, but there were times when it would accommodate up to 17 men.  Some stayed for weeks, or a few months, whilst others stayed for years.

Quite often, people would call in for a meal, and Ida was very giving and she provided for them, even if they were not boarders.  The Luccarda place soon became a meeting hub.  It was place to gather together, have a home cooked meal, play bocce or enjoy some wine and life didn`t seem so bad.

By the mid 1950`s Ida and Luigi were offering small wedding receptions on the property.  Luigi extended his house and the first wedding reception happened around 1956.  Ida was the sole cook for the weddings and the boarding house.  She had help in the kitchen with aids and cleaners, but she was responsible for all the cooking.  She truly epitomised being hospitable, and Ida managed both sides of the Luccarda business.

The Luccarda Italian style wedding receptions were the first of their kind in the area.  It also became a big operation, as family members would help out too. It soon became apparent that the wedding receptions were becoming a big business to run.  More staff were needed and they were outgrowing their space.

The receptions had become so popular that Luigi would find himself extending his premises again and again, reducing some bocce courts to do so.  By the 1960`s they could hold wedding receptions for at least 200 people, and that number would only increase.

I spoke extensively with Rosalie Luccarda who was one of the daughters of Arduino.  Rosalie would work on the weekend helping out with the wedding receptions.  Rosalie and her sisters, would help set up for the function, wait on tables and help out in the kitchen.  It really was a family affair with the running of the boarding house and reception centre.

Some of the men who were boarding would help out too.  Some worked in the kitchen, some were waiters and others where they were needed.  The Luccarda family were well organised, creating memorable moments for the bride, groom, family and friends.

There was only one kitchen that serviced the meals for the boarders as well as the wedding receptions. Considering that it was only a domestic kitchen for the most part, and with no dishwasher, they eventually obtained two commercial ovens which were placed in another room outside, but close to the kitchen.  These ovens could cook up to 40 small chickens at once as well as large portions of vegetables.  What a godsend this would become.  It was Luigi’s job to cook at the ovens.

The setting up of the tables would start early morning around 9 am.   The wedding cake was delivered on the day, usually early.  The tables had to be clothed, chairs in place, napkins, glasses, cutlery, bread rolls, bottles of wine etc.  They would usually finish the set up by lunch time and then the boarders lunches had to be prepared too.  After the boarders were fed, it was back to more preparations and by late afternoon the first meal was placed on the table ready for the guests as soon as they sat down.  The Antipasto plate, covered in white paper.  Typically the plate would have Italian cold meats, gardiniera, anchovies, capers and olives.

Then there was always the serving of the second course that consisted of a soup (a light minestra), pasta was usually the third course (sometimes it was not even served) and the main course was chicken with rough cut baked potatoes and salad.  All served on one plate.  Every plate had half a chicken!  Finishing off was dessert, which was trifle.  The bowls of trifle were placed in the centre of the tables, approximately 4 - 6 serves per bowl.  Then lastly the wedding cake was served with coffee.  No coffee machines back then, lots of metal pots on the stove, with coffee poured out into espresso cups then served.

It would take a team of people to serve a wedding reception like that and they did it.  Without the equipment that is used today, it was certainly demanding work.  They did it well and were very generous to their guests.

The Luccarda boarding house and wedding reception centre really was a turning point for the Italians in the Wollongong area. Whilst many Italians lived further south, due to such a large work force at the Port Kembla Steel Works, the towns of the surrounding suburbs to the north of Wollongong such as Corrimal, Tarrawanna, Balgownie and Fairy Meadow, would become heavily populated with Italians, forming quite  a large band of community.  Soon, other Italian owned businesses would set up in those towns as well.  Tarrawanna, certainly did earn it’s nickname of  `Little Italy`.


 Images from the collection belonging to Rosalie Pirlo ( Luccarda)

One of the first wedding receptions at Luccarda`s. Feb,1955
 Image from the collection belonging to Giovanna Sandona ( Carollo)



Thursday, February 3, 2022


My name is Maria and I was born and raised in Wollongong, NSW.  Both my parents are Italian immigrants and for as long as I can remember, I was always curious about their life in Italy and loved hearing their stories.  So many people like them, left their homeland for a new life, a better life, reaching many corners of the world.   For my parents, and others, Australia would become their home.
Wollongong is home to many Italians, stretching from Helensburgh down to Kiama and even further south.  While there have been stories and books written about the Italians here in Wollongong and the Illawarra, I noticed that they seemed to be the same.  The same stories about the same people.  
 I wanted to do something different.  I wanted to go back as far as I could with those who are here now and who can share their stories or those of their families and ancestors.  Such a wonderful and large community of Italians that have laid foundations here in Wollongong, and I wish to share their stories and above all their contributions.
The Italian community of Wollongong have come from a diverse range of backgrounds and even traditions.  But it was the love of their homeland and what they left behind that formed a bond between them.  Many were labourers and others opened businesses, some were even professionals and highly skilled.  Yet together they formed the fabric of the Italian community in Wollongong.  The importance of documenting who they were and the legacies they left behind, is truly a gift for future generations.  You will enjoy reading about them and appreciate what it took to move forward.  How they really did create many magical moments!



Giovanna Carollo`s father Antonio, was born on the 26th of August 1898, in the village of Zugliano.  Zugliano is situated in the province of...