Oatlands Golf Club must reflect the humanity shown by grieving parents

Like the Abdallah and Sakr families, who lost four children in a terrible accident last year, my family also had issues with the Oatlands Golf Course. I grew up next to the course, which was built in 1931, on land my family has farmed since 1938. Our problems, however, are pale compared to those of the Abdallah and Sakr families.

They were denied their request for a memorial garden in honor of their siblings Sienna, 8, Angelina, 12, and Antony Abdallah, 13, and her cousin Veronique Sakr, 11, who were killed in February 2020 when a drunk driver traveling at 133 km / ha plowed. on Bettington Road, a few yards from the golf course clubhouse.

Killed: Antony Abdallah, 13, his sisters Sienna, 8, and Angelina, 12, and her cousin Véronique Sakr, 11.Credit:

We have since learned that the club is planning to build 193 apartments right next to the crash site. I know this land like the back of my hand and I probably still have dirt under my fingernails from a childhood spent playing there. I walked the same path, until we called the “best shops” to buy ice cream, that the four kids walked that fateful day in February.

And I know the place the club wants to build is prime real estate; one of the highest points in the Sydney metropolitan area, with stunning views of the city and the south. It is so high that at the beginning of colonization, it was a signaling point between Sydney and Parramatta. The club will earn several million if this sale continues to enrich its abundant cases. They could surely find some space in their course and in their hearts to remember these children.

Our problems as longtime neighbors were milder. My grandfather grew peas and other animal feed which he shared on neighboring lands. He died on the eve of WWII in 1939, leaving my young widowed grandmother to watch the Australian Army requisition the golf course from 1942 and house the 1,000 members of the Australian Army Corps of Signals there. 2. In the spirit of good neighborliness, my family let the soldiers stationed there roam our land freely, trampling the crops, so that they could reach the clubhouse.

When the golf course was restored after the war in 1947, it received compensation for damage caused by the military at around £ 100 a hole. My family and all the other farmers in the area – mainly market gardeners and dairy farmers – received nothing. It was the first case of bad blood; neighbors felt that the golf course did not fight for their rights with the military.

Mother Leila Abdallah at the scene where three of her children died in Oatlands in 2020.

Mother Leila Abdallah at the scene where three of her children died in Oatlands in 2020.Credit:Edwina pickles

Over the decades countless golf balls landed in our backyard and often we would wake up to find a golfer who had scaled the back fence, looking for a stray ball. However, when I tried, insolently, to try to sell the balls to passing golfers, by diving to the bottom of our pool to recover them, I was threatened with intrusion. Ditto when we climbed on the old sheep that adjoined our fence.

When my dad, an avid golfer, retired, you would have thought that jumping the fence to hit a few balls would be the perfect retirement activity. But as far as I can remember the club fees were so outrageous that, like many neighbors, he joined a nearby but more affordable golf course.

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