THE Bink family, originally immigrants from Holland who came to Canberra in 1955, have seen and helped the city grow.
The original 10 has grown to more than 100, with most family members still living in and around the ACT.
“Our name grew up in Canberra and it’s a bit of an unusual name so people don’t really forget it,” says Jack Bink, the oldest of the Binks, who came with his mum and dad and four siblings (which later became seven – eight including him) to Australia in 1950 after World War II.
The family will gather, from as far as Brisbane and Melbourne, for a family reunion at the Hall showground on Saturday, March 23, to share their stories.
Jack’s story in Australia began at the age of 15 in Bathurst. His family was staying in an ex-army camp-cum-immigration camp for about eight months.
“From there we went to Greta, near Maitland, because it gets very cold in the winter in Bathurst,” says Jack, 84, of Cook.
The Binks had a background working on dairy farms in Holland, so when they moved to Greta they worked on a dairy farm there for about 18 months.
“Then we came to Canberra to work on a dairy farm in February, 1955,” he says.
They worked on a farm on Dairy Flat Road in Fyshwick for several years before Jack’s dad established “Bink’s Concrete” in 1961. The same year the family moved to Hall.
“That’s why we’re having the reunion there because the younger generation all went to school there,” Jack says.
Jack’s sister Jenny, the force behind the reunion, decided she wanted her grandkids and great grandkids to meet the family.
Jack’s wife Jean, 80, says it was easier to get together when the family was smaller but it got too big and poor old granny couldn’t do it anymore.
Plus, Jack says his Santa Claus outfit started to wear out!
“When we came to Canberra there were 25,000 people here,” he says.
“It was just like a big country town with fancy buildings like Parliament House (now Old Parliament House) and the shops in Civic.
“Fyshwick was only a couple of farms. Kingston was the home of the main shopping centre. Everyone went shopping in Kingston or Queanbeyan and the Cotter River was for swimming – there was no swimming pool.
“I met Jean in the shopping centre in Kingston.
“She was selling papers from the paper shop and I was buying them for the farm.
“She used to say ‘hello’ first because I was too shy. We married in 1959 and rented one of the first government houses in Dickson.”
But it wasn’t an easy journey for the Bink family, who persevered and built their own success regardless.
“It would have been hard for my mum and dad because they couldn’t speak English,” Jack says.
Jack, on the other hand, was 15 when they came to Australia and he had learnt a bit of English at school in Holland.
It wasn’t much but enough to give him a head start.
“I picked up English as I worked, I didn’t understand everything people were talking about,” he says.
Jack’s son John, 55, of Florey says the whole family taught themselves how to read and write.
John says as the family grew they had no choice but to expand and they started businesses in a range of areas.
“The family started in the concrete industry and then it was split up as grandchildren and nieces and nephews grew up,” John says.
“The family got too big to hold too many chiefs.”
John says one brother got into floor sanding, while another worked in engineering, another in mechanics, some stayed in the concrete industry (like Jack) and one of the sisters started a horse-riding school out near Hume.
“Even the nieces and nephews have branched out and have all their own businesses as well,” he says.
Jack says: “About 80 per cent of the family has their own business, they all have that drive in them.”
But it wasn’t all work and no play for the Bink family, with many of them involved in speed boat and speedway racing.
“From racing speed boats on Lake George to racing cars at the speedway at the back of Hume, a fair chunk of the family was racing,” John says.
“The grandchildren were the same, doing anything that’s likely to kill yourself.”
And they weren’t bad at it, either.
“My brother David was the Australian champ in cycling at the Commonwealth Games,” he says.
“He just cycles recreationally now.”
John says one of the grandchildren, Harry Bink, is world champion in freestyle motocross and others compete in equestrian competitions.
“It’s good to be part of a name that’s known around Canberra,” John says.
Jack says the Binks, who are mad Raiders fans, sporting fanatics and successful business people (“there’s something in our blood”) have cemented their name in Canberra and in some cases even helped build it.
“Every time you go to somebody’s home and they have steps, they’re all made by us,” Jack says.
“If you have a blocked up drain, it’s made by us!”