Norm, 96 years, one of the inspiring original founders of Warrigal
“It actually started as a Lion’s Club project. We had a Chairman who was doctor Peter Wilson, and he put it forward to the board that at that stage there wasn’t a nursing home between Wollongong and the Victorian border. So we decided to ask council if we could convert the old residence on top of Mt Warrigal in to a nursing home. And we had council agree to that.
We converted that to a 10 bed hostel. We found out what we needed to do to qualify for Commonwealth funding, which we did with a lot of help. We sought donations; the whole district was behind the creation of the place. That’s how Warrigal started. But it wasn’t commercially viable with 10 beds, so we extended to 26 beds.
At that stage we had a visit from the Commonwealth Health Fund who said because we had created this nursing home at no cost to the government we were entitled to double that number of units in the hostel.
Because Kiama had been involved with Warrigal Care since day one, the Soroptimists Club of Kiama had been trying to get a nursing home going for years without success, so they came in with us with and that’s how we got Warrigal Care established.
The idea was just to create something for Shellharbour, and since then of course it expanded throughout the state, which had to happen of course. It’s quite different now. In those days there was nothing available for sick elderly people, a nursing home was the answer.
I’m quite happy with my own life, I don’t want to change it. I’m very happy here and I hope I can stay here. I hope if I can’t take care of myself that Warrigal will take me in. I like my lifestyle and looking after myself, with a little help from Warrigal.
I go fishing. I have a lot of friends. I go to the bowling club. I still try to keep myself active. The trouble is I’m running out of hobbies. When you get to my age – I’ve made enough clocks on the wall, I’ve made enough tables. I’m cluttered up! If you’ve got any suggestions of new hobbies let me know!!
I love being on the water. See that boat up there – True Blue – a friend and I used to own that. We used to keep it up at Bowen, and we had some very good trips, and some very rough trips! We used to go from Bowen out to the Barrier Reef.
I used to get up in the morning – if there was any wind in the trees I’d go back to bed. They had a local fishing competition, and I used to win that most of the time, and I’d get up early and would be back in the harbour by 9 o’clock as everyone else would be going out – that’s the time to catch fish.”