In the Rowland Sinclair Novels Edit
Happy Valley really was an unemployed camp at La Perouse in Sydney during the 1930s. For food many of the residents had to make do with hand outs and soup kitchens. Happy Valley is the largest and best known unemployment camp, operating from 1930 to 1939, in the sandhills of La Perouse in South Sydney. It included 130 encampments and 330 people at its height. It was established on the banks of a gully that provided shelter from the gusty winds of Botany Bay.
The shacks and tents, built by the unemployed at Happy Valley, were constructed from scavenged scraps of corrugated iron, hessian, wood and even cardboard. Walls were often made of cloth flourbags that were cut open and resewn into squares to fit the timber frames. The ‘bag’ walls were painted with a mixture of lime and fat boiled up in salt water to make them weatherproof. The roofs consisted of corrugated-iron sheets and the sand floors were smoothed out and covered with more flour bags.
Happy Valley was one of the most well-organised and close-knit unemployment camps, with residents forming a committee to assist one another in constructing shelters and distributing donated food and clothing equitably. The local fishers and Chinese market gardeners regularly donated leftover produce, while the Dairy Farmers Co-operative gave 16 gallons (about 72 L) of milk a day to the camp.
Behind the Scenes Edit
In the Rowland Sinclair Mysteries Happy Valley symbolizes the Great Depression. This perhaps because it is the most well known of the camps. It is introduced early in the first novel and is contrasted with Rowland's memories of the optimistic 1920s at Ashton. This contrast is further heightened by the fact that is suspected that Archie Greenwood, a former student at Ashton, is now living there.