Pat DeRango


Download the Transcript: FHS-Pat-DeRango-2016

Pat DeRango’s mother came from Tipperary in Ireland, and towards the end of their life her parents lived in Hanover Street where she was born. As a child she did not venture far from home and was forbidden by her parents to cross Brunswick Street or go to Gertrude Street due to particular tough men who frequented the Champion and Rob Roy hotels.

After marrying Louis DeRango, they spent a short time living in outer Melbourne. It made them realise that Fitzroy was their real home and they returned, initially renting, then buying, the house they have lived in for 47 years in King William Street.

Pat remembers many of the local shops and owners along Brunswick Street and the commercial shops/factories in Hanover and King William Streets (woodyards, a funeral parlour, a tailer, bootmakers, dairy’s, SP bookie and brothel houses). She remembers the changing ethnic groups that came to call Fitzroy their home suburb; Italians then Greeks, Vietnamese and most recently Africans. Mostly she values the sense of community despite this changing social mix.


Peter Williams


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Peter Williams speaks about the history of Moran & Cato’s manufacturing grocers and wholesalers located in Brunswick Street Fitzroy, which was the centre for a large grocery chain throughout Melbourne and Victoria from the 1880s to the 1960s.

Both his grandfather and his father worked there over a period stretching back to early last century. He describes his memories of visiting his father at work in the late 1940s and 1950s and other memories of a variety of Fitzroy businesses of the time.


Rose Chong


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Rose Chong describes herself as “a maker”. She studied dressmaking and then design at an art school in the UK, and opened her costume store on Gertrude Street in 1979, making costumes for the film industry, and for rental for parties or other occasions.
In 1979 the area was rough with both heroin addicts and boozy customers at local bars. That has changed, and new businesses have made their contribution and the demographic of the population has changed too. She is pleased that the area maintains its diversity, and the popularity of the Projection Festival (begun in 2008) is attracting more artists.


Rose Mary Brondolino


Download the Transcript: FHS-Rose-Mary-Brondolino-2015

Rose Mary Brondolino, who conducts a law practice in Fitzroy, talks about her very early years in southern Italy before she came to Fitzroy in the mid-1950s. She provides anecdotes and descriptions of her childhood growing up in Fitzroy as an Italian migrant from 6 years old, the traditional preparation of food, various festivities and celebrations and family views on politics and religion.


Sam Marasco


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Sam Marasco came to Fitzroy as an 18-month old from Calabria in the mid-1950s and has lived here ever since. He talks about his childhood, games they played, the street life and selling papers from the age of 6 or 7 and collecting beer bottles for money.

He was heavily involved with the local community and the football clubs and reminisces about his school days, the formation of the multi-ethnic Fitzroy Stars football club – which integrated migrant and indigenous players and later became a well-known fully indigenous team. He talks about the days when Fitzroy still played at the Brunswick Street oval, about the changing street-scapes and gentrification and about the origins of the thriving Arts and music community in the 70s and the interesting personalities who grew up in the area and later became well known in the Arts.


Sister Fidelis and Sister Amalia


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Sister Fidelis and Sister Amalia are Sisters of the Missionaries of Charity, part of a small group who came out to Fitzroy from India in 1970 with Mother Teresa to open a community house in Gore Street Fitzroy, at the invitation of Archbishop Knox. They talk about conditions in Fitzroy at the time and their charitable work in Fitzroy, mostly amongst the lonely, the homeless and alcoholic men. They provide many anecdotes of people they have worked with over the years and the changes they have seen, including the growing prevalence of younger people with drug issues.

They also talk about differences in working with the poor in India and the contrasts of physical and spiritual poverty.


Sister Bridget and Sister Rosina


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Beginning in 1972, Sister Bridget and Sister Rosina of the Sisters of Mercy have taught the waves of new migrant children coming to Fitzroy. The children may not have had any English, but they wanted to learn. “They were terrific.” Unlike the enclosed Sisters of old, they would visit people in their homes – with an interpreter if needed. At first they would then return to silence, but that is no longer the case. They were enriched by all the cultures and customs, and recount many happy memories of their time in Fitzroy.


Sam Stasinopoulos


Download the Transcript: FHS-Stan-Stanisipoulos-2016

Sam Stasinopoulos came to Australia from Kalamata in Greece as a young man. He saved his airfare after he left school at twelve by doing deals with tourists in Athens and landed in Melbourne where he quickly found work as a carpenter. He kept saving and started buying derelict shops and houses around Fitzroy in the sixties and seventies, including the house he still lives in with his son Nick. He married Georgia, a young Greek girl and they had four children. Georgia died three years ago and her massive funeral was a testament to the family’s standing in the Greek community.


Suzanne Dance


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Suzanne Dance completed her Architectural degree before working in the Government Architects office in Sydney where as a recent graduate, she worked in a team designing schools alongside several well-known architects.

Returning to Fitzroy in the 1970s, Suzanne became immersed in community life due in part to the Whitlam Government policies which allowed those on small incomes the opportunity to share accommodation and income and so devote time to community activism.
Separate to architectural design work in professional practices, along with her fellow professionals she fought against Council officers encouraging demolition of Fitzroy’s houses, and with like-minded Councillors, established the Urban Conservation Advisory Committee and the Historic Buildings sub-committee. This committee catalogued all the buildings in Fitzroy, setting up a rating system which the Council used when redevelopment was proposed. They also prepared submissions and appeared at hearings before Fitzroy Council on all redevelopment proposals that involved significant buildings.

To assist home owners with conservation of their homes, Suzanne and others then formed the pro-bono Architectural Advice Service publishing articles and advising on preservation of the houses.


Jenny Wills



Jenny Wills was Fitzroy Council’s first social planner from 1974 to 1981 and helped establish Council’s unique Social Planning Office. She describes the development of a unique and innovative approach to community services during the years 1974 into 1980’s. In collaboration with City Council a very specialised system of wholistic support to community members was established.

This was “one-stop shop” for Council’s staff e.g., in children’s services and aged care, community agencies such as the Fitzroy Advisory Service, Shelter, Vic, State and Commonwealth agencies and provided a bases for community groups, e.g., the Fitzroy Housing Repair and Advisory Service, and advocacy groups e.g., the Medibank Action Coalition and a free meeting place including out of office hours for local interest groups. She is co-author of the 1985 book Local Government and Community Services Fitzroy – A Study in Social Planning.

After Fitzroy she continued her career in local government as Director of Social and Cultural Policy at the Municipal Association of Victoria – a position she retired from in 2000.

Jenny was a foundation member of the Victorian Local Government Women’s Coalition. She was also the Australian representative from 1997-2000 on the gender equity task force of the International Union of Local Authorities.

In 2008 she was inducted to the Victorian Honour Roll of Women in recognition of her pioneering community development, social planning work and her contribution to women’s rights.

Jenny now lives in Geelong where she is convenor of WILD, Women in Local Democracy.


Download the transcript —>  Jenny Wills Transcript