Mike and Moya Aston were the second couple to establish their home on what is now commonly referred to as the Seebeck Estate. However, when it was first released to the public about 1960 it was known by the grand name of the Ashbrooke Highlands Estate. The undulating nature of the land with its good outlook across the valley of Dandenong Creek attracted Mike and Moya and they bought the block on the north-west corner of Bareena Avenue and Carrara Road. (The very first house on the estate had been built by Dick White in Seebeck Road directly opposite the intersection with Bareena Avenue.)
Rowville Cricket Club
Mike had lived in Dandenong since the age of 15 and became associated with the Rowville Cricket Club through his brother-in-law, Con Ruppell, who was that team’s wicket keeper and a good friend of Stuart Finn, the captain. On Saturdays another team member, Grove Judd, whose parents owned a department store in Dandenong, would pick up Mike and Con in the Judd department store Chevrolet utility and drive them to Rowville. When the team was playing away against Belgrave, Menzies Creek and Ferntree Gully, all of the team would cram themselves into the ute for the drive up into the hills.
The team’s home matches were played in Stuart Finn’s cow paddock on the east side of Bergins Road about opposite Village Court. Stuart had built the brick house on the south corner of Village Court and lived there with his wife and two children. On match days Mike recalls having to shovel up the cow manure from the “oval” before the game commenced. The wicket was a length of matting laid over a piece of levelled ground. The rest of the ground, as you could imagine, was very rough. However, despite the conditions, the team performed well and in the early 1960s won the premiership against Belgrave. Mike remembered the late Alec Simpkin hitting the winning run. Other members of the team were Denis Doolan and his son (also Denis), Ray Schmidt, Jim Miller and Jim Pumphrey. Mike said that there were several very good cricketers in the side but he himself claims to have been neither a batsman nor a bowler. “I won awards such as the Best Clubman trophy”.
The Rowville Drive-In Theatre
At that time, Stuart Finn was the manager of the newly established Drive-In Theatre that was partly owned by his father Jack. Mike, who was about 20 at the time, had made up his mind to go overseas for 12 months in the following year (1957), so he was keen to put away as much money as possible towards his trip. Through Stuart he was found a job at the Drive-In, directing the cars and cleaning windscreens. The cars entered in two lanes and Mike had to quickly clean the windscreens of each car in his lane. This was a pretty tiring job on busy nights when he’d have to wash and wipe over 100 windscreens. Mike was working in the city at the time so after arriving home in Dandenong by train, he’d snatch a quick meal then pedal his bike to Rowville. The worst part was having to wait until the film was over to direct the cars out the exit before heading home on the bike, often about midnight. Riding in winter down into the dip in Stud Road across the creek valley was “as cold as a witch’s kiss”.
The Move to Rowville
Shortly after Mike returned to Australia in February 1958 after a great 12 months in the UK, he met Moya Walsh at the wedding of a mutual friend. They became engaged six months later and were married in 1959.
After the birth of their first child Matthew, Moya and Mike realised that they needed bigger accommodation than a Dandenong flat and decided on a CHI home design for their Rowville block. The house was completed in time for the birth of their daughter Suzanne.
Life on the estate in the early years was pleasant but there were lots of shortcomings. Mike can’t remember the dirt roads ever being graded so they were very rough. All household waste water drained into the streets and lay in weed-choked stagnant pools beside the roads.
Mike and Moya remembered other early families who moved in: Sullivan, Repka, Hall, Steininger, DeGroot, Schmidt, Snoxall, Smith, Mynott and Hunter.
Moya was on the inaugural Rowville Kindergarten Committee and later the children attended Mulgrave Primary School until Rowville Primary School opened in 1973. In that same year, they sold their home to John and Pat Wilkinson and moved to Norris Road on the Twin Views Estate.
Matthew is now a teacher and illustrator and also the lead singer with the popular Melbourne band, The Glory Box.
Suzanne is a nurse and has worked for the last three years since 1989 at the Mount Sinai Medical Centre in New York. Her apartment there is a favourite stop-over for her friends from Rowville and elsewhere.
Interviewed by Bryan Power