Randwick Local Legends Episode 10: Sally Cogger

Born in 1961, Sally grew up in Clovelly, spending a lot of her youth on the beaches and in the clubs and pubs of the eastern suburbs. As an adult, Sally started work as a dental assistant, but more interesting was her weekend job working the door of the famous Selina's at Coogee Bay Hotel. Selina's, was a mecca of music and afforded Sally a chance to see some amazing bands of the time. Sally and her husband have “downsized” and now live in Maroubra with no intention of leaving the area they love.

About this episode

In Episode 10, Sally shares her memories of Clovelly and Coogee in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s:  learning to swim with Tom Caddy, Christmas Mardi Gras at Coogee, Randwick Girls High, and working at Selina's in the Coogee Bay Hotel.

Duration: 22min 24sec
Recorded: 2019

More information

Clovelly Public School, Primary Boys School building, corner Arden Street and Chesterfield Parade, Waverley - 1986. Corry, Marion. Accessed 10th August 2020. Waverley Library Image Gallery.

The Oceanic Hotel looking south-east - 1986. Accessed 10th August 2020. Randwick City Library Historical Images Database.

Coogee Bay Hotel looking north - 1986. Accessed 10th August 2020. Randwick City Library Historical Images Database. (Note that upcoming shows by Dragon, Party Boys and The Church are being advertised.)

View of Coogee Bay Hotel located on Arden Street - 1986. Accessed 10th August 2020. Randwick City Library Historical Images Database.

Mitsubishi Fork-lift Moving Cartons of Beer, Coogee Bay Hotel - 1980. Sharpe, Ray O. (Photographer, Australian Photographic Agency, 1977-). Accessed 10th August 2020. From the collections of the State Library of New South Wales.

Item 07: Coogee, 1980. Fokkema, Gerrit (photographer). Accessed 10th August 2020. From the collections of the Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales and courtesy Gerrit Fokkema.

Episode transcript


Jillian Lewis: Hi, you're listening to the local legends podcast that explores the history of Randwick City through the memories of locals who know and love the area. Today, I'm Jillian Lewis and with me is Sally Cogger, who's lived in the area her whole life and has lots of memories to share.

Hi, Sally, thanks for being here.

Sally Cogger: How are you?

Jillian Lewis: All right, we'll start at the beginning. Where were you born?

Sally Cogger: I was born in Crown street Women’s Hospital in 1961. And I grew up in Clovelly.

Jillian Lewis: Whereabouts in Clovelly were you?

Sally Cogger: We lived in Brook Street, just off Clovelly Road.

Jillian Lewis: And how did you live there for the whole of primary school?

Sally Cogger: Yes, I lived there for the whole of my life.

Jillian Lewis: Nice. And so, you went to Clovelly Public School?

Sally Cogger: Yes, Clovelly Public School

Jillian Lewis: And what do you remember about that?

Sally Cogger: It was a real community-based school. It was only small at that time. There weren’t too many children there. And there was the Catholic school up the road Saint Anthony’s, which I had to walk past every day, and a lot of my friends went there, and I would continue to Clovelly, it was a really nice school. I enjoyed being there.

Jillian Lewis: And what do you remember about being a primary school child, coming home after school? Did you play in the streets, what were the streets like at the time?

Sally Cogger: Yes, the streets were where we hung out in the front of our units that we lived in. And we all just used to get together after school and have fun or go to each other's houses and have afternoon tea. Some afternoons we would, when we're a bit older, we go down to Clovelly Beach and we swim down there. But, you know, usually when we're smaller, we just sort of stayed at the front of the units and just played.

Jillian Lewis: And after Clovelly Public, you moved on to Randwick Girls?

Sally Cogger: I went to the Randwick Girls High School. Some of my friends went to Randwick North. And most of my friends that I used to hang around with at Clovelly, we went to Randwick Girls.

Jillian Lewis: And did you get the bus to school or walk to school?

Sally Cogger: No. caught the bus caught the bus 639 I think it was.

Jillian Lewis: And what are your memories of Randwick Girls?

Sally Cogger: Randwick Girls was, it was a good school, but there were a few different sorts of types of groups of people that were there. Actually, there was the goodies and then there was the sort of in -betweenies and there's the baddies. And I was hopefully part of the, in-betweeinies, I was friends with the baddies and the goodies. And there was, actually when I went in year seven, some gang, sort of girls that were called the Sharpies. And they were a bit sort of rough, and they would have very spiky hair and took over the school a bit.

Jillian Lewis: And what do you remember about them? Do you remember being afraid of them at school?

Sally Cogger: Yeah, some of them did some bad things. But you just sort of got along with everyone.  And unless they picked on you, you were OK.

Jillian Lewis: And do you remember, what kind of activities you did after school when you were older?

Sally Cogger:  We went down to the beach a lot. We just used to walk down there. Some people did after school stuff. And I usually went home. I did gymnastics at the youth club down here in Market Street. And that was a Friday night.

Jillian Lewis: And some ice skating?

Sally Cogger: Yes, we went ice skating, but that was mostly on the weekends.

Jillian Lewis: And where would you do that?

Sally Cogger: That was at Prince Alfred Park. On a Saturday and Sunday. Had my own ice skates, used to going there? Yeah, spend a lot of time there.

Jillian Lewis: Now you've got memories of seeing Bluey the Groper at Clovelly.

Sally Cogger: Yes, Bluey was there. We used to all go and see him, we would be snorkelling, and he'd be swimming around in the bay and he’d been there for a long time. He was only little and then he became very, very big. And unfortunately, I think he got speared a few years back, a tourist speared him, and he died but he’d been there for a long time.

Jillian Lewis: There are other gropers in the water now but not bluey.

Sally Cogger: Not Bluey. He was a legend.

Jillian Lewis: Yeah, he's a legend. And what are your memories of Coogee at the time?

Sally Cogger: Coogee was pretty laid back then. There was the Oceanic Hotel and we all just used to hang down at the beach and we’d go swimming and take up banana chairs down there and lie in the sun at the north end or in between the little fishing boats. Yeah, Coogee was just fun. It was just a bit of a hard walk for me going back up the hill. Yeah, so I didn't really hang around there too much because it was a bit of a walk up that hill.

Jillian Lewis: Coogee is nothing if not hilly. You have some memories about Coogee Christmas Mardi Gras.

Sally Cogger: Yes, every year there was a Mardi Gras just where the bus terminal is now. And we used to all go down there, numerous times over Christmas. We would go on the slides and the dodgem cars and cha cha and they had clowns mouths and fairy floss and it was like a little mini Easter show sort of thing, but it was just so much fun and they'd have fireworks down there.

Jillian Lewis: And so that went for a few days did it?

Sally Cogger: It went for about two weeks over Christmas. Christmas, New Year.

Jillian Lewis: So a great place to hang out.

Sally Cogger: Yeah, it was great.

Jillian Lewis: And you decided to finish school in Year 11?

Sally Cogger: Yes, yes. I decided that I wasn't really that academic to do my Year 12 study, so I left, and I had an interview with a dental surgery in Maroubra, and I got the job out of 19 girls. I always wanted to be a dental assistant. And I started, and I’ve been doing it ever since. 42 years.

Jillian Lewis: And you've moved surgeries?

Sally Cogger: Yes. Yes. I went from Maroubra to Pagewood, and now I'm at Randwick.

Jillian Lewis: And tell me a little bit about the job that you had on the side. You took another job to make some extra money?

Sally Cogger: Yes. My husband was playing football for Terry Page, who owned the Coogee Bay Hotel. And he played with them for quite a long time.

Jillian Lewis: Were you married at this point?

Sally Cogger: No. Actually, yes. When he when he started playing football, I wasn't married, but then when I took the job, I was married. Okay. And I was working in the door at Selina's. So, I'd work Friday, Saturday nights, or Thursday nights or Sundays whenever we had bands on. So, I was the "Door Bitch" as they call them. It was very busy. We had a lot of bands on. We had a lot of international acts and people would line up hours to get. We had like 3000 people in there on big nights.

Jillian Lewis: Wow.  And tell me about some of the people that you saw come and play.

Sally Cogger: Well, we had Mental as Anything. We had a lot of Australian bands. We had Cold Chisel, Hunters and Collectors. Then we had all the internationals like one of the best ones I saw was James Brown. James Brown had an entourage of about 50 people. And in those days, the beer garden , there was … a you could drive through the beer garden and he was walking through the beer garden, to go to his room to get ready and everyone just started chanting James Brown, James Brown, so it was amazing. And then we had Bob Geldof and the Boomtown Rats. We had the Monkees. We had Meatloaf and he drove up on stage on a motorbike, which was fantastic. He did a few nights down there. And we also had Roxette, they played quite a few times. So fantastic as well.

Jillian Lewis: And did you get to watch all the performances?

Sally Cogger: Yes, yes. Because I was at the front door so I could see what was happening inside until later in the year when they put a curtain across, and you couldn't. But in early days, yes. The bands would start at like 10 or 11, and I'd finish probably about, you know, 12 or 12:30. And then I'd be able to go in and watch them. So yeah, yeah, it's fantastic.

Jillian Lewis: And what was it like working at the Coogee Bay Hotel back then?

Sally Cogger: That was fun. So, I've got so many friends that are still keeping contact, we used to work behind the bar. My husband worked on the security and some of the other guys that played football worked there as security. People that work in the office we're still friends with. So, it was like a little family of people.

Jillian Lewis: Lots of fun staff parties

Sally Cogger: Yes, we had lots of fun stuff house. After hours, we would just have staffies which was all free. Terry Page used to own the hotel in the early days and then the Chung family took over and we would have staffies but then that all sort of stopped.

Jillian Lewis: And tell us the story about the name, Selina's.

Sally Cogger: Terry Page. who was a bookmaker, and owned Selina's and owned Coogee Bay, he named Selina's after his first daughter, and Christopher Chung who his family bought the hotel off him, named one of his daughters Selina as well..

Jillian Lewis: And do you have any backstage antics you can talk about? Was there anything going on behind there with James Brown and his 50 entourage,

Sally Cogger: Who knows, he was probably having his hair done because he's pretty vain?

Jillian Lewis: He was arrested.

Sally Cogger: Yes, He was arrested not long after that for drugs. In those days, there was a lot of things going on, you know. Jimmy Barnes drinking all those bottles of scotch or bourbon, whatever he drank, and there was a few fights and things backstage and, it's mostly all fun. Everyone was just having a great time.

Jillian Lewis: And you could smoke at the time in bars and hotels.

Sally Cogger: Yes, you could.

Jillian Lewis: And there would have been a lot of smoke.

Sally Cogger: And we had a lot of people squashed in there sometimes in those gigs

Jillian Lewis: Not quite as many laws around there at that time.

Sally Cogger: But that was fun times, and everyone had a great experience.

Jillian Lewis: And tell me a little bit about what the beach front was like in Coogee. You know, when you were a kid and how it might have changed.

Sally Cogger: It really is quite similar, but obviously you know, the grassy areas are a bit better looked after now, and there was a playground just down at the end, where the bus terminal is, just opposite where the pavilion is. So, I remember going down there, but the oval was always the same. The palm trees outside the Coogee Bay, they did replace them sometime… but everything around there hasn't changed much.

Jillian Lewis: And what about Clovelly Beach?

Sally Cogger: Clovelly Beach has changed a lot. They did the concrete on the other side so that will wheelchair access could be used for the people, disabled people, which is really good. But the concrete was the same. And we used to all sit up against the walls and sunbake and go swimming down there.

Jillian Lewis: So tell me a little bit about learning to swim down at Clovelly.

Sally Cogger: Well, there was a man down there who was a fireman and his name was Mr. Caddy, Tom Caddy. And Mr Caddy used to teach all the kids in Clovelly to swim on his days off or on the weekends, and he would charge 20 cents for an hour. And he was a bit of a hard taskmaster. He would wear a hat and his swimmers, his budgie smugglers, and he would have these little boots on. And we would go where the first lot of steps are not in the swimming pool, but in the ocean, in the bay. And he would teach us all how to walk along the side and he would have a rubber tire around you if you couldn't swim. And he would teach to dog paddle and then freestyle and then he would do groups of kids training them and yeah, he was a legend.

I was probably about seven. My dad taught a lot of kids too so as well, because my dad loved the water. And Steady Eddie, who is a comedian and he's disabled, He lived two doors up from us, and my dad taught Steady Eddie to swim. We're still friends with his whole family, and Mr. Caddy used to teach him as well. So, it was a group, the older guys would help out with the kids, teaching them how to swim. The stairs at Clovelly are named after Mr. Caddy. They've named them Tom Caddy stairs.

Jillian Lewis: It sounds like you spent a lot of time down at the beach.

Sally Cogger: I did, my dad and I would walk down to the beach because we didn't have a car. And we'd walk from Brook Street all the way down to Clovelly. Then, on the way back, we would walk to the Clovelly Hotel, dad would get a middy of beer and I would have a red fire engine drink and then we would do the trek up the hill. So that was our reward to go back up the hill.

Jillian Lewis: And how has that hotel changed?

Sally Cogger: It's changed a lot. We grew up there and a lot of us Randwick Girls, we had our reunions there. And we all just used to hang there on Thursday nights, Friday nights. Clovelly was a very pumping place back in those days when we were teenagers.

Jillian Lewis: And did they have bands there as well?

Sally Cogger: Not so much, but they did have bands but just local bands, not big sort of bands like the Coogee Bay had.

Jillian Lewis: And you've lived in the area your whole life. So after Clovelly…

Sally Cogger: After Clovelly, my husband and I got married in 1985 and we moved to Coogee we were in Moore Street, we were renting for a year and then after that we moved to Matraville. We bought a semi for $84,000, and we were looking at a freestanding house in Coogee that was $100,000, but we couldn't afford that extra money. So, we moved to the other side of Anzac Parade, which my husband wasn't very happy with.

Once we move there, we loved it. We could go swimming in Yarra Bay, Little Bay, lots of beautiful spots around there, Maroubra Beach. We stayed there for 33 year and just last year we moved back to Maroubra. We're in Maroubra now.

Jillian Lewis: Sold your place there.

Sally Cogger: Sold our place and downsized in Maroubra and we're back in apartment living. We'd only ever grown up in apartments. And then when we got married, we bought the semi. My husband does miss the garden bit.

Jillian Lewis: And so you've lived in Clovelly, Coogee and now Maroubra Beach?

Sally Cogger: Yes, Matraville and Maroubra.

Jillian Lewis: When you were younger, did you ever go all the way to Maroubra to hang out?

Sally Cogger: Not very much. No, I didn't like to surf. I actually just went to Coogee, because I am not very strong swimmer and there is too much surf. I learnt to swim in Clovelly and there's no surf there. So Coogee, I just went there most of the time, but I do know lots of people from Maroubra.

Now I usually go to Mahon pool because it's a beautiful rock pool and it's always nice and clean when it's high tide, but I still go to Maroubra but only with my husband because I don't like to surf.

Jillian Lewis: What are your favourite things to do in this area? You've got Mahon pool.

Sally Cogger: Yes. I like going walking with a dog. We go to Centennial Park and we go to Heffron Park, we walk around there as well. We go out to La Perouse a lot. I love La Perouse. I go out there every weekend. Usually I take him out there and he just walks around, he likes, the bushes and everything. So yeah, just walking. I like shopping too, Westfield Bondi Junction, Eastgardens.

Jillian Lewis: Plenty of that in the area, which is nice.

And tell me a bit about your Early, late teens early 20s. What your social life was like?

Sally Cogger:  We went out every weekend. Every Thursday night, we would go to the Royal Hotel at Randwick, because that was where everyone went. Then we would go to the Bondi Tram after that. Friday nights, we go Randi Wixs, Saturdays we go to Randi Wixs. Sunday, we watched the boys play football. And then we would go to a place in Bondi Junction called the Star. And don't ask me how I got up to go to work on a Monday morning because we didn't get home until midnight.

Jillian Lewis: So tell me a little bit about the Bondi Tram. You mentioned that.

Sally Cogger: That’s the Bondi Hotel. The Bondi Tram was a place that we would all go to. It was in the hotel and had like a disco and disco ball on the lights and all that kind of thing.

Jillian Lewis: How would you get around?

Sally Cogger: We would drive, which was not a very good thing to do in those days.

Jillian Lewis: Not as many cars and on the road back then I imagined.

Sally Cogger: No, there was not, and in the early days there was no drink driving like now, and no seatbelts and things like that. So, we were a bit silly doing things like that. We'd squash people in the car, which was ridiculous looking back.

Jillian Lewis: You wonder how you made it through.  And I wanted to ask you a little bit about the streets. When you were a child in Clovelly. Nowadays, cars parked all up and down, can't get parking anywhere. What was it like when you were a kid?

Sally Cogger: Growing up in Brook Street, there was no cars hardly at all. And only one person really would have a car and because people had garages, we could just play on the streets and the roads. And now you can't even get two cars driving up there at the same time, in Brook Street. We felt very safe. And we would just all just cross the road, play on the road, play ball games.  It was completely different. Now, it's just so crowded.

Jillian Lewis: Do you remember unit blocks being built?

Sally Cogger: Yes. We lived in a little block of units. And I think there was about six in the block. And then I remember, my mum always went off at my dad because there was a block being built next door and they got first offers on buying one of the units, and he wouldn't buy it. And she went off at him. She wanted to move in there because they were brand new. She wasn't very happy until the day he died, they both died two years ago. She still would go on about that. We should have bought that unit. The builders and the owners gave us the first dibs on it, but we didn't buy it. It's all your fault.

So, they rented for 40 years. In the same block. And then when my dad retired… my dad actually worked for Randwick Council. He was a labourer for 50 something years. And he retired at 65. And as soon as he retired, he got all his super. He paid cash for a unit in Randwick just down the road in Frances Street. He was a believer of paying cash and no credit, no loans, no anything. So, they lived in Randwick for about 10 years. But my mum wasn't happy with the apartment that he bought. Their health was getting a bit bad as well. So, I sold that unit for them and they moved to Matraville just around the corner from us.  And they actually died in 2017, six weeks apart. And I'm an only child. It was very difficult, very sad. And now my daughter lives in that apartment.

Sally Cogger: My mum's brother and sister died a month before her. So, we had actually four major deaths in our family that year. So, 2017 wasn’t a good year.

Jillian Lewis: Did they live in the area as well?

Sally Cogger: My mum and her family were all on a poultry farm, up where the Eastern Creek Raceways is. And they sold that to the Raceway so they could build on there and thank goodness my Dad liked the beach and he moved to Clovelly.

Jillian Lewis: So, you were happy growing up in this area?

Sally Cogger: Yes, I was very happy growing up here. And so was he. A lot of people thought my dad was Aboriginal because he was so dark. He spent so much time at the beach, he had white socks were used to wear his boots to work for the working on the roads and things and his feet were just white but the rest of him was black. Everyone thought he was Aboriginal, but he wasn’t.

Jillian Lewis: You've stayed in this area the whole time because you love it.

Sally Cogger: Yes. We wouldn't move. I mean, even when we retire, why would I move away from all my friends and what I've known. I want to be able to spend all my life here. Yeah.

Jillian Lewis: And you've seen a lot of change over time.

Sally Cogger: Yeah, a lot of change. But that's life, it’s the way the world is.

Jillian Lewis: And you’re happy down in Maroubra. Are you near the beach?

Sally Cogger: We're just back from the beach, not far, we can walk, only takes 10 minutes. We love Maroubra as well, it's a bit closer to the shops and the beach and, just downsizing, we didn't need such a big place anymore.

Jillian Lewis: What do you hope for this area in the future?

Sally Cogger: I hope it stays. It was a very safe area when we were growing up. So I hope it stays safe. Even though down where the pub is, it was a bit of a nightmare sometimes, but I just hope that it's a good place for people to bring up their kids and they keep Centennial Park and never get rid of it. I know. Hopefully they'll never get rid of that. And all the beautiful things around the area, the beaches and the parks and beautiful walks. They are building a lot more walks now. So that's good for everybody.

Jillian Lewis: Well thank you for sharing all of your memories with us, Sally.

Sally Cogger: No problem.

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