By GISELA HORNER | Volunteer with Friends of Bella Vista Farm

Stephen Martin loves a chat. “I could talk to a tree!” He is a member of the Storytellers Guild (NSW), a community organisation which welcomes anyone with an interest in oral storytelling.

After two years’ apprenticeship he was awarded accreditation as a storyteller. The website lists him as one of their official storytellers.

Volunteering attracts him because he loves to wind a story around the places where he guides – Bella Vista Farm, The Opera House, Government House, the Experiment Farm, Fairfield City Museum, the Maritime Museum, Hambledon Cottage in Parramatta and at the Sydney Living Museum.

He brings places to life through storytelling and encourages visitors to imagine living in times past – his imagination has no bounds and he encourages visitors to question.

Stephen was born in Paddington Sydney 70 years ago. He never knew his father and was brought up solely by his mother until he was 8 when they went to live with Stephen’s uncle and his two sons.

This was a difficult time in his life adjusting to his new family life.

As a primary school student, Stephen loved school but when he moved to his uncle’s house in Granville and attended Arthur Phillip High School, he lost interest and left school at 16 and worked for some years in a dry-cleaning business.

Stephen always loved military history and thought about joining the army or the police force, but saw an advertisement for Customs and worked there for his entire working life.

In 1971, he went on a blind date and met Betty. They married two years later and bought a home in Seven Hills where they raised their two boys. They still live there today, 44 years later.

Work threw up very difficult and stressful situations for Stephen. On the wharves of Sydney and at Mascot, discovery of narcotics, stolen cash and occasionally animal smuggling was the norm, but his charismatic nature got him through many uncomfortable moments.

His attitude was “It’ll work in the end”. He chose to retire at 55 to pursue his historical interests.

Stephen’s volunteering has given him a positive and fulfilling life skill. He is good at it.

Growing up was a difficult time for Stephen. He considers himself a lucky man to have a secure and good family life and to be able to tell his stories of an earlier period.

Friends of Bella Vista Farm would like to meet anyone who has an interest in history and wants to serve the community and would like to become a Friend. Come and visit us at our next open day at Cnr Norwest Boulevard and Elizabeth Macarthur Drive, Bella Vista or send an email to [email protected]

Bella Vista Farm is excited to announce that it has opened its doors and will be open the first Sunday in December – December 6, 2020 from 10am to 2pm. The Friends are delighted to welcome visitors back to the Farm. There will be restricted house tours, tours through the grounds and tea and scones served in the garden.

All Covid-19 rules will be observed.


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