The 1st Wave
Vana Eestlased: Old Estonians 1924-1939
Arnold and Linda Kaljusto married in 1931 and took full advantage of government land incentives and leased a 42 acre bush block on Scroggies Rd, Thirlmere to start a chicken farm. They cleared the land and Arnold built their first home – a shack made of on-site timber and bark. Water had to be carried up from the creek and supplies had to be carried from Middleton's Store two miles away. There was no public transport and it was a few years before they could afford to get together with their neighbours and buy a horse and buggy. The land grant was conditional and permission to purchase the 17 acre lot was given on the 5th September 1935, the amount payable being £51. 3s. 9d. By this time the farm was up and running.
- Leila Kaljusto 2003.
Chicken farms were very labour intensive operations and involved all the family 7 days a week. Life was centred on farm work and the community took every opportunity to create fun. Celebrations often lasted several days, while the chooks still had to be fed and eggs collected – after which the party continued.
Hugo Silm came in 1925. His wife Marina and daughter Elfrida came from Estonia in 1927 when he found work.
He was a master pastry cook and introduced continental pastries at Repin's coffee house in Sydney. He bought land in Thirlmere to set up duck farm to supply eggs for his cakes.
Elfrida married Viktor Panov. Their chicken farm in Thirlmere supplied their 3 shops in Wollongong. Roland was born in Australia in 1927 and worked with his father until 1955. He decided to concentrate on growing apples on Cedar Creek orchard. Today the Silms grow persimmons and produce apple juice for export.
By the late 1930's they realised that another world war was inevitable and their remaining relatives in Estonia would be better off in Australia and several came between 1937 and 1939.
- Naomi (Norden) Pilt 2003
It was not an easy matter to bring a seven member family to a strange country with unfamiliar language. There had to be a sponsor to look after seven people's every need for five years. Dad and Mum (Alexander Amelie Norden) went to Thirlmere to establish a chicken farm out of a piece of forested land. They were some sort of pioneers opening up the country to produce an independent means of survival.
Endla (Norden) Sulaketku Leis 2003