3: NEW YORK CITY
4: SUMMER ARMY
5: NASSAU AND JAMAICA
6: RULE BRITANNIA
THE SUMMERS OF '67 AND '68
10: THE NETHERLANDS
11: BACK TO GERMANY
12: FINAL YEAR IN DENTAL
THE SHORT HAIRED PART OF THE STORY
14: BACK TO MONTREAL
15: THE ROAD TO CYPRUS
16 CYPRUS / UN PEACEKEEPING
17: SIDE TRIPS FROM
18: CYPRUS WIND DOWN
21: ROAD HOME FROM CYPRUS
22: MEXICO Y ESPANA
23: AIRBORNE PARATROOPER
25:MOROCCO AND PARIS
26: THE END OF THE
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AUSTRALIA THE LAND DOWN UNDER
As I boarded the plane to Los Angeles for the first leg of my trip to Australia I had one fleeting concern. My passport was about to expire in three weeks. As I have mentioned I tried to renew it; but, I was told that it would take over a month to get a new passport. So I placed myself in the hands of St. Pesmo the Bewildered one more time. Los Angeles airport is very big, I believe there are seven terminals. I had to take a bus from one terminal to the one that was the terminal used by Qantas Airlines. The excitement began to mount as I realized I was but 24 hours or less from my dream trip. The first stop was Hawaii where we spent about two hours, then on to Fiji. I spent only an hour and Fiji ; but, I had a nice feeling about being in the tropical South Pacific. It is an area I would like to explore more someday. An hour at an airport isn’t quite Capt. Cook style J . The final stage was my trip from Fiji to Sydney. As we approach Sydney even the Australian crew members were looking out the windows. It is a beautiful city, right by the sea with a large inlet called Sydney Harbour. I recognize the Sydney Harbour Bridge on approach to the airport for our landing. Now my concern about the possible “renegade “ passport came back to haunt me. Technically the Australian authorities could have turned me back at the airport, as I planed to be in Australia for five weeks ; but, would an almost expired passport put an end to my dream. . As I was standing in line for customs clearance, a gentleman in the civilian clothes came up to me and said, “ “Are you Capt. ‘Pill-in” ? “ That was his pronunciation of my last name J . I must’ve done a double take as he immediately smiled and said follow me please. I was expecting the worst ;but , we went through customs rather quickly. In fact I was not even stopped. I saw the smiling face of my friend John, with whom I served in Cyprus. John was one of the federal Australian police officers on the UN peace force in Cyprus. He had arranged for me be whisked through customs as a courtesy. It was a gesture I shall never forget. Ah St Pesmo the Bewildered, he has international status and power .
So here I was in sunny Australia. So sunny in fact I think I saw one cloud in five weeks. I was a bit confused as to time I had left Sunday from Vancouver and here it was Tuesday morning. As we got into the car and exchanged pleasantries, John told me that seatbelts were mandatory in Australia. They had not become mandatory in Canada yet. This was 1973. I found many things about Australia that were way ahead of much of the world, this was one of them and something I approved of. Another was what I call ‘boxes of wine‘. Traditionally wines have always been in bottles but the Australians arranged for a type of wine box or container that was lined with a foil type of lining with a small soft drink type of open top. . It made a lot of sense . Experience has shown me that the wine does not sour nor deteriorate in these containers.
John arranged for me to stay at the Royal Australian Artillery Officers’ mess in Manly, which is across the harbor from the beautiful Sydney Opera House. It was around 10 AM when we got there and John introduced me to the people who were employed in the mess then excused himself to go to work. The wrod mess is from Latin meaning "Meeting place', in the USA it is called the Officers' Club. In my room was a large old English style bathtub. The porcelain covered type of tub that is on four legs and very deep. I decided that a nice hot bath was in order. I filled the tub to the top and is as is my wont, I fell asleep. I can sleep just about anywhere and I think I got a good hour-long sleep catching up on the transpacific airline flight. When I awoke I saw the largest spider I had ever seen. I sort of assumed he was looking down hungrily at me; but, I found out later that by Australian standards this was a house spider. I still smile when I think back on that.
I had arranged to meet John in Sydney near the opera house. I took a ferry boat from Manley across the harbour in a diagonal direction to an area called the Circular Quay. As good fortune would have it ,there were a couple of small pubs where the ferry landed. The ride was about 10 min. and it gave me a really nice outline of the city. I met John and he gave me a nice tour of one of the lovelier cities I’ve been to. If I were to compare it to a city in Canada I would probably say Toronto for the size of it and the proximity of Sydney to the water. It’s interesting how, through the eyes of a tourist, certain things stand out. One was seeing men in fine business suits carrying a briefcase with matching Bermuda shorts. In the very warm Australian climate this is of course a smart thing to do; but, to my ‘Arctic’ mind it was unusual
And as a single lad I must say that the ‘Sheila’s” were a welcome sight. Of course they all had tans as Australia has 12 months of summer J . In my trip I did meet many of them and I found the girls very delightful. In fact overall I would say that Australia is very much like Canada in our lifestyles of enjoyment of things ,that is a positive.
That first evening John took me to an art exhibit by his then fiancée and future wife ,Mary. She was an outstanding artist who specialized in country scenes. A lot of them were of small farmhouses from what I would call the outback. She told me that many of them were painted at their country home in a town called Dubbo. It has a very red earth that reminded me a lot of Prince Edward Island. The trees were a little bit different from what I was used to and I was very intrigued by what I was looking at. Later that evening John said Mary and her mother were going to be going to Dubbo and I could go with them. Mary seemed quite keen on the idea, I did not want to impinge on them; but, she insisted that it would be a good trip for me.
So the next morning we set off towards the Blue Mountains near Sydney, and across some beautiful countryside. We went through a few small towns that would’ve been nice settings for Crocodile Dundee, at least in my imagination. I have one photo of some older gentleman sitting on a bench, wearing what I would call country clothing. I would describe this as a ‘typical small town Australian scene‘. It is interesting what being a half a world away can do to perceptions J . I found the grass to be somewhat pale, almost parched ;but, Mary said that things were green this year. Canada is perhaps the country with the most fresh water in the world and Australia by comparison is quite dry. Again this is the sort of thing that always made travel a plus for me. Seeing differences and enjoying them in context.
Dubbo was a town of about 35000 at that time. Very lovely and one got a warm feeling just wandering about. Friendly, clean and they had a number of activities from a strong horse racing culture to local sports. It reminded me of Barrie Ontario in many ways. I was the guest of Mary’s sister and her family. They seemed very happy to have me as a guest and they made me feel very much at home. As in previous travels I always traveled with Canadian coins and once again they were popular. Canada was a world away for the kids so I told them a few tales of what winter is like J The thought of having to shovel snow from driveways, which I did as a job in High School, was quite fascinating to them , as it was something they could not identify with.
Mary’s brother-in-law was talking about “parading “ the following evening. I asked what type of parade…”A fashion parade” . Ah time to relearn my English J . A fashion parade is a fashion show, and they “paraded’ along a “catwalk” . Here we call it a fashion show on a runway. All the same , I just needed a translation . They suggested I be in the “parade” and I agreed. There were 4 men in the “parade”. And in fine Aussie fashion they kept bringing us cool beer…I of course refused, for 2 seconds . I was given a nice fashionable suit to wear and paraded before the 150 or so lovely women, I asked the announcer mention I was a Canadian visitor who was leaving for Broken Hill the next day. I had hoped to garner a ride; but, no one was heading that way…something not that uncommon as I discovered later J My second turn on the “Catwalk” was in sports clothes. I felt as chique as I had ever been. My wife would tell you I am not Mr. Fashion. It was an unusual evening and a unique experience. I was too “muscular” to have been a successful model but the thought did run through my head ..more to meet cute gals but hey .
Before I left Sydney John contacted me and mentioned that one of my Cyprus mates, Lan W. was stationed in Broken Hill . So again St Pesmo worked his magic to ensure I would not be left to my own devices J I got a quick lift from Dubbo . I was in the nearest town, Narromine in short order. It was an interesting small town and I enjoyed the walk through the area. The next ride was a bit more of a challenge. I was aiming towards Highway 34 which is the main Brisbane / Adelaide route. I figured that would be an open ticket…but things got slow. It took two rides to get to Nyngan. A lot of trucks ( Lorries shurely <sic> ) J went by but I later discovered they were not supposed to pick up hitchhikers ( Riders in local parlance). But I did get to Nyngan and it was late evening, I realized that this might mean a stop over. A first for me, not getting to a destination; but, I found the town was interesting and I was able to book a room in a small hotel with a bar ..hey every thing in Oz has a bar J . Again a few new ideas. I ordered a drink in the bar and I noticed a fellow had just had a top up on his beer and walked away leaving a pile of dollar bills. I said “Hey you forgot your change”. I got a rather strange look, later I found out that leaving one’s change is called a “swag”. People would come into a ‘local’, place a pile of bills and order, the bartender or waiter would take out the required amount and deposit the change. A friend later told me never to touch a swag. I , of course, had no intention of doing this ; but, an interesting local concept.
The next day I set out towards Broken Hill, a few cars stopped and told me they could take me 10-20 km . I thanked them for stopping ;but, I needed a lift to Broken Hill. It was a very warm day, 35C . Not tropical to the locals; but, I had been jumping out of planes at -10 c a week or so before, on my paratrooper course . I walked a shot way out of town to a spot near a service station. I figured this might be a good venue. As I stood by a field in the outskirts I notice flies landing on me. I guess it was the heat as they seemed lethargic. I could put a finger out to my arm and they would hop on it and I could carry them about. There was a funny Monty Python skit where three of the fellows at a table were called Bruce. They had corks attached by strings hanging from their hat rims. Apparently this was something done in parts of Oz to keep flies away from the face. I never saw this ; but, the idea did flash back to me J
After several hours humming “Waltzing Matilda” the prospect of a ride seemed to be getting slimmer and apparently there were not buses along this route on a regular basis. I went over to a “lorry” who was refueling and asked if he was going to Broken Hill, when he replied in the affirmative I asked for a lift. He told me he was not permitted to take “riders” . I explained I only had a few weeks in Oz and it looks like it would all be here J . He was a nice fellow and he smiled and said hop on board.
As I had again discovered , riding with a trucker was amazing. They knew little details of the route and made it very interesting. More than one might find in a guided tour. It was guided ; but, in real life fashion . After an hour or so we stopped in near a small town, Cobar. It was at a service station and I bought us both soft drinks. Considering how far it was from any major centers I was surprised the price was the same as in Sydney, for a Cola. They ran the station on wind generated power. The AC was stored in large batteries , and DC to AC converters ( No not the band J ) provided power for the station. Again, Australia was advanced in areas we are just starting to use. Behind the station was what the driver called a dam. It was an earthen mound that dammed a stream, forming a lake. This was the water source for the station. Considering how dry the land was it was an memorable site. There was a small drinking tap near the ‘dam’ and he invited me to try the water. He did so , therefore I figured it must be okay. I was quite taken aback at how sweet and clean the water tasted. It had as slight tinge of earthy colour; but, I reasoned it was not contaminated. I had no untoward effects. Anther nice event that was unusual.
As we drove along he was pointing out various turns and bends in the road. At one spot in the middle of nowhere he pointed out the “gum trees’ which we call eucalyptus. There was a long line of them separated by 50 or more meters. They seemed to go back a long way. He explained that this was in fact a river bed. He told me that every 5 or so years the river would in fact flood over. By the roadside was a 3 meter high flat pole demarcated in centimeters. Actually thinking back it was in feet as metric had just arrived recently in Australia so this remote sign was not yet changed. He told me how the water could rise to 10 feet, or 3 meters. I was a bit incredulous as it was very dry ..and had been for several hours. In fact since I had left Dubbo. He told me how Aboriginal people would camp near the river bed and for unknown reasons they would pick up camp and move. This move was usually followed by flooding. How they knew was of course a mystery. He told me some felt it was due to the signs from nature, birds flying, animals disappearing along the river bed. There is some speculation that many animals can discern low frequency rumbles before earth quakes. I am not sure if this is akin to that ;but, it was an interesting story. Again I seemed to have lucked out. As we drove I saw a couple of Emus running about. I also saw many kangaroos at the road side. They apparently are a night time road danger as they tend to stand in the middle of the road hypnotized by the approaching headlights. It was sad to see them by the road side, and he pointed out that many people had died due to crashes with these relatively heavy animals. An Australian had invented a type of pipe one attached to the front of a car that emitted a high pitch sound. They reportedly scared the “roos” away ( Note the word “roos” I was starting to fit in ;0 ). As well most vehicles that travel the outback have thick pipes welded to the frame called "Roo Bars".
Along the road we came across a young man who had hit a sheep while riding a motorcycle. Several cars had stopped and we got out. I explained I had some first aid training. An ambulance had been called and the lad appeared a bit shaken but nothing of consequence. I recognized his accent as being Irish. He was motorcycling across Oz so this was not a nice turn. The ambulance people arrived and the fellow was taken to hospital The attendants said all looked fairly good ; but, the precaution of a hospital visit was a good idea.
Near the town of Little Topal we stopped for a supper. I offered to pay and my offer was graciously accepted. It was a truck stop and the food was nice. My “driver” was a keen fisherman and he spoke of a trip to British Columbia some day. I was not into fishing but I did tell him of some of my experiences in Prince Edward Island fishing for Sea Trout. I also told him about a popular practice in parts of Canada called “Ice fishing”. For those in the tropics who are reading this J Ice fishing is quite popular. Fishermen set up small shacks on the ice, they use an awl to drill holes in the ice and hang a line into the water. In winter in much of Canada the ice gets thick enough to drive a car to the shacks. It is something those from warmer climes find intriguing. I have only tried ice fishing once. It was interesting to see fish come up to the opening of the hole and go for the bait.
We arrived in Broken Hill at around 7 PM. I bid my driver a warm farewell, he was going on to Adelaide. I thanked him for not only his generous offer of a ride; but, for his knowledge of the beauty of this part of Australia. Something that made my visit very broad in scope.
I went to a police station in Broken Hill and asked for Lan W. , the officer gave me a cool look and said , “And who wants to know” . I can appreciate that, police sometimes do have a hard time with some of the element. I told them of my UN duties and how he was a friend from Nicosia. They called him and he came over and we had a nice reunion. He had a spare room and I spent a few days with Lan . Broken Hill is a surprisingly nice town. Surprisingly in that it really is an outback town. It has mining as a major source of income and there are several sheep “stations” nearby. Near the town is a large reservoir, the Stephen’s Creek reservoir. It serves as a source of water; but, also as a recreation area where small sailboats and rowboats are found. It was a surprising find in such a dry area. But I have read where there is a larger Lake reservoir as well.
When we woke up Sunday Morning it was 25 March, my thirtieth birthday. I mentioned this to Lan and he informed me that bars are closed on Sundays in Broken Hill till noon…but, “Hey just outside of town they open whenever you want them to open J " So off we went at 9 AM . Had a nice toast and I met some sheep shearers …now talk about “Typical Oz “. It was interesting talking to them. They told me how the sheep on the various stations ( ranches) are given a colored paint dot on the back. The colour (s) is the brand of each station. The sheep are then turned out into open areas where they manage to wander about for close to a year. Then they are herded back to the shearing pens of the various stations.
They invited me to visit them at the "station" the following day. Again an offbeat treat one might not see on a “tour”. Lan was intrigued at my keenness ; but, as I explained sheep shearing was considered very “Australian”. We spent the afternoon taking in some of the local sites including the Stephen’s Creek Reservoir. In some ways it reminded me of Beaver lake atop Mount Royal in Montreal. Both in size and in the fact it was a nice family recreation area.
That evening Lan took me to the Returned Services Men's Club of Australia in Broken Hill. We had a nice dinner and reminisced about our time in Cyprus. I was impressed when at a given hour we all stood in silence. Lan told me it was in commemoration of the Australian involvement in Gallipoli in WWI. April 25th, is a major military Commemoration in Australia and New Zealand commemorating this battle. Anzac Day is their prime memorial day, superseding Remembrance Day in emotional and patriotic response. It was a moving moment that evening . I told Lan how my father had trained Australian flyers as part of the British Commonwealth Air training program and how my parents warm words , about the young pilots inspired my life long desire to visit Oz. As fortune would have it this was the 25th of March and my Birthday. So a hearty happy birthday was sung J
The next day I walked 4 or 5 miles out to the sheep shearing venue. As had been explained sheep were painted with a colored patch to denote which “station” they were a part of. There were hundreds of sheep at this station and sheep were herded by one of two Australian sheep dogs. They were not particularly big dogs but they were great at ensuring the sheep were in as small a group as possible and that none left the herd. The sheep seemed to have a great respect for the dogs as all it took was for him to bark a bit and step towards them to get them back in line. There was a watering trough where the sheep drank. It was interesting, as every now and then the dog would step up for a drink and the sheep would all shy away from the water with a leery look towards the dog. A real lesson for me in how animals can be workers for people.
Sheep shearing is literally a back breaking job. The shearers would isolate a sheep from the herd ( Some call it a flock of sheep, both are apparently accepted) . They would pull it back on its’ haunches so it was ‘sitting’ upright. Then I learned an interesting trick. They would grab a handful of wool and place it over the sheep's’ eyes. They told me the dark would fool the sheep into thinking it was night and they would stay still. I kind of doubted this; but, I watched this happen a few times, and sure enough the sheep would quiet down. Perhaps this is where the expression…‘pulling the wool over your eyes’ originated. It was not easy work and these fellow were adept with the electric shears. They would take off large chunks of wool. Now and then they might cause a small nick but they put an anti-biotic gel on such wounds. The cut wool was all placed in bins. The sheared sheep would be sent back to the yard. One fellow told me how one sheep was found with markings that showed he had not been sheared the year previous. He had quite a weight of wool sheared and when he was set free in the yard he did not have his balance as he had grown accustomed to the two year growth. They said he was quite a sight staggering about for a few hours. An interesting story . After a while one of the fellow suggested I give it a try. It was not easy, as I expected, in fact I could see some practice was necessary to be up to the level of these professional shearers. As with any task ,skill, practice and I think dedication make or break one’s level of competency. I left that afternoon at the sheep ranch with a feeling that I had seen another part of “The real” Australia and I was grateful for the experience.
The following day I bid Lan a fond farewell, to this day I still recall his kind hospitality. Instead of hitching I elected to take a bus. The hike from Dubbo was excellent full of memories and interesting sights but I had a time limit J It was a nice trip and I again took in the surroundings which again included a lot of the scenery I had seen. A red clay earth, small “salt bushes” and the occasional Eucalyptus tree which Australians call Gum trees. The salt bushes are an extremely adaptive plant that can grow in salty and alkaline settings. They were an artistic break to the red earth and added to the overall scenery in an unusual way for this Artic traveler
We stopped for a refuel and a snack in a small town of Peterborough. I find it interesting how many similar place names of British origin are found in Canada and Australia. Perth, Sydney, Peterborough are just a few ….The next stop was Adelaide. I called my friend Peter M when I arrived but he was not home. So I found a hotel and stayed the evening. The next day Peter and I made contact and he came and brought me to his mother’s home They had a nice guest room. Peter’s mother was another warm host. She seemed intrigued by this strange fellow her son had brought home. J
Peter was most generous in that he was working night shift yet he always took time to show me around during the day. I told him to sleep as he had a busy schedule. I enjoyed walking around Adelaide, it is much the same size as Ottawa with a number of fine buildings and attractions. One was St Paul’s Church which had two wonderful Tiffany glass windows. They have since been removed and are in the South Australia Art Museum. As I have said places of worship can be warm and marvelous sites as they convey a deep spirituality .
Surprisingly I was walking along one of the main streets in the city and I came across an indoor skating rink. It was closed but I think it might have been a bit of fun to put on the ‘blades’ in Australia.
Peter brought me to several pubs where he introduced me to some of his fellow police officers. Peter had to excuse himself as he went off on duty but his friends saw to it that I was well taken care of . A couple of them had served in Cyprus, so they understood the bond Peter and I shared, as they too had made life long friends from their service there.
One evening Peter and his partner took me on patrol. It was of course under the proviso that they may have to let me off if they were called to serious duty. We stopped on fellow who had raced through a stop light. It was interesting to see their professionalism and serious attitude. A call came in and I was asked to hop out. But no major problem as I was able to make my way back to Peter’s home by bus.
Peter was a very active in the Adelaide “lifesaving” society. With a country surrounded by beaches the need for properly trained lifeguards was obvious, and the various life saving societies were well up to the task. Peter told me how one fellow had been swept out to sea by an undercurrent and he was caught some 200 meters from shore. Although the water seemed hot by Canadian standards it was below body temperature. This fellow as saved by a helicopter, and apparently just in time. So despite the warm climate the water could be deadly. And of course now and then sharks tend to snack of some who venture from shore , in some places. Peter told me that wasn't a major Adelaide problem but one had to be aware of the possibility. We went down to the beach and I remarked that there were not many people about. He reminded me that their season is close to 10 months long and we were at the end of it . It was a “Spot the Canadian” event , I imagine , as I was regaling in the “heat”. Peter showed me how to body surf. I watched a few real surfers on boards and decided to pass on that . In all it was a fun time as in Canada we often associate Australia with surfing and from what I had seen the beaches were everywhere, on the coast that is
That evening we went to a small bar . Peter was off that evening so he and I could swap tall tales etc… Of course there were some Sheila’s there. We were chatting up a couple of cute gals and I was going on about something and I got stuck on the French word , "Dénouement”. It means roughly the unfolding or progression of events. I explained I couldn’t think of the English word for "Dénouement”. They both looked up and smiled saying , “Oh do you speak French how sexy”. Yes my English was lost a few times the rest of the trip .
Now there are some 7 billion of us running about the planet so I figured it would be tacky and irrelevant to go into “close encounters” of the sexiest kind; but, I did find that the Australian women were not only attractive but “warm” as it were .
Peter arranged for a gal friend, not related to the above J , to bring me on a day trip to the famous Barossa Valley wine country. It is a 90 minute drive from the city. I had seen vineyards in Cyprus and Southern Germany. At this time Canada had few such resources, something which has changed. It was a really fertile area about 50 by 60 km. The fields were lined with vines. We stopped at the Penfold’s estate winery. We were given a tour starting at where the grapes arrived by truck. I was a bit taken aback by the fact they they just dumped them in a below ground level vat. But it made sense, in that the quantities were big. The grapes were then moved by a conveyor belt system to crushers and the fermentation process took place. We were shown the bottling area and I noticed the English / French labels and I mentioned they must be headed to Canada. The fellow at that station seemed surprised, I didn’t do my James Bond accent J but I was tempted. I explained I was from Canada where labels are in English and French. I also told them I had enjoyed their wines on many occasions.
It was a kind gesture of Peter’s friend to take me on this tour as it was another unusual part and experience of my visit to Australia. The following day I bid Peter a fond and thankful farewell. I bought his mother a small token of appreciation, some flowers. As I bused to Melbourne I looked back on this part of my visit to Oz as having been very warm, educational and friendly
The bus was about half full, I noticed a cute gal near the middle section so I casually sat there …As we progressed on the trip I asked her how long it would take to get to Melbourne. She said about 4 hours. She also told me she was meeting her boyfriend …gad no need to get into any , Dénouement”. But hey a guy has to try J
The ride was interesting as it was along the famous sea coast. We passed one area of particular interest, Cheviot Beach where Prime Minister Hold was presumed eaten by sharks in 1967. I recall hearing of this on the news a few years previous. We also passed by Mount Gambier, it was not of note to me at that time but a few years later I contacted a ham operator from that region , a few times. We also passed near Geelong where my Melbourne long time Pen Pal Tony M went to horticulture school . It is always interesting to put a “face” on places, as it were. Tony and I had met though short wave and we shared many details of our lives. So to be near a place where he had studied was interesting for me. When he visited me in Ottawa I was amazed at his knowledge and obvious love of horticulture. I can grow anything but I generally don’t know why J . After a log term friendship we now talk on Skype regularly.
I arrived in Melbourne at around 9 PM. I had Tony’s address from the many letters we had exchanged. I had written him before I came but apparently it was his parents address I had used, so he was surprised to hear from me ,as his parents had not forwarded my arrival J I was planning to stay at a hotel and we decided to meet the following evening. He invited me home to his place in North Melbourne. A nice quiet area. He showed me the various plants etc around the area and I was intrigued . His wife Helen and daughter Catherine were very welcoming. I think Catherine was a bit intrigued by my accent. She was only four and a cutie .
I took a bus downtown the next day and wandered about . Tony was working; but , he and Helen were more than amenable to him showing me around after supper. Melbourne reminded me of Montreal. There were many sections with Victorian era housing. I also was able to take a day long bus tour and the guide was particularly proud of many of the fine estates we visited. Several had large garden areas and the occasional Palm tree added to what I took as a “tropical " look.
Tony also took me to a few clubs, one had a nice open stage presence. He asked if I wanted to sing a song or two. Singing is not a forte of mine but I have made my son promise me that if his music career ever leads him to Australia, he will take the occasion at an open stage and do what I could not do ..sing .
The Melbourne Art gallery was also a nice touch, outside I still recall a fountain that consisted of a stream of water about 10 mms thick running down a window. I had never seen anything like this, so it was appreciated. I stopped off for a lunch in a nearby café and I ran into some young French tourists. They were intrigued by my French Canadian accent J Something I would experience later in life ..all good fun.
Tony and Helen were gracious hosts and we spent a lot of time discussing , and of course solving, the problems of the world. J Melbourne is a city I would recommend. It had some great examples of older architecture. I have heard rumors of some of it being taken down, one hopes not too much. Montreal went through a period when the “developers” chose to put up high rise 'vacuums'. As fortune would have it the economy in Quebec was weak in the political turbulent times in the 70s; when the ‘Separatiste’ sentiments were running high. This was a blessing in disguise as a lot of new building was put on hold. The new buildings in Montreal are excellent and much of the Victorian era heritage sites have been reserved and in fact gentrified.
Tony let me use his bike and I pedaled downtown. Cycling is really a great way to see a city, it is fast , convenient and one gets the total feel of a milieu. I recommend it. One day I went to a skating rink. This time it was open and I was able to rent skates. Some kids skating caught site of the fact that I knew how to skate, so I became a temporary instructor J Tony told me he had a Canadian friend who played in a Melbourne hockey league. I also had a friend who worked in Johannesburg who played hockey. Ah the Canadian invasion for sure J I still find it fascinating that I could skate in the Southern Hemisphere while it was about 25 c+ outside J One of those little juxtapositions I always found interesting in my travels. I have heard that this area is no longer in existence.
I went on a lovely tour of Melbourne by bus. We stopped at a lovely estate whose name escapes me. It was apparently donated to the city as part of their heritage program. It was on a bit of a rise and was a wooden home with what I might call “Victorian” architecture. Most of the people on the tour were Australians and I felt this added to the atmosphere as it gave me an insight into how people from other Australian centers saw this part of their own country.
Back at Tony’s, he introduced me to his garden. Tony is a horticulturalist and I learned a lot from his explanation of his compost pile. It was fenced in by a chicken wire arrangement. I have had such pieces in my gardens ever since. My parents also had one and the two influences have had a good and positive effect on my “green” side.
I bade Tony, Helen and Catherine a fond; but, a sad farewell. I had known Tony through the pen pal route for almost 12 years. I was an avid short wave listener, which I feel was a forerunner of the internet. I had tuned in Radio Australia late one Friday evening,. I wrote them and included my address which they read over the air. Tony was working building schools in the New Hebrides . He copied my address and wrote me a letter. Thus began a long distance friendship that is still active almost 50 years later. In fact I now SKYPE Tony on a regular basis and he visited Canada in 2008. Visiting him confirmed that he is a genuine warm hearted and multifaceted person. The trip from Melbourne to the Airport was, in a small way, like leaving home. A home I had just discovered .
Back in Sydney I again got in contact with John M. While he was at work I explored the city by bus and foot and again I felt at home. Sydney was more vibrant that Melbourne, and I say that in a neutral way. Lots to see and even visiting a shopping Mall was interesting. In Canada Malls are usually closed in due to our climate some 6 months of the year J . In fact as I type this it is -20 C in Ottawa . John also took me to a trendy area, I seem to recall as being Darling Harbour. There were a number of appealing sidewalk cafes along this area. And of course the weather was again great (Hey it’s Australia J ). Montreal had a number of such areas but in English Canada things were a bit slower. Ottawa now has a nice outdoor patio scene in summer but not in 1973.
On the weekend John took me to “Founder’s Day” in the Rocks district of Sydney. He also introduced me to a Royal Australian Navy Dentist named George B. The three of us proceeded to take in what I could only call “My kind of party” J One of the interesting aspects was a card each participant in the event received. There was a list of pubs, one could enter a pub and get a stamp with the time on one’s visit. At the end of the day there would be a draw based on whether you entered the pubs in the order determined by a draw. Of course at the bottom there was a strong advisory that one need not drink at the pubs. As the day unfolded it became apparent that no one had read that part. All good fun and I saw no rough housing going on. There were a lot of noisy Canadians around that day. As I may have said, Canadians are noisy but not loud ..J And we all fit in well with the fun loving Australians. A great time indeed. My dentist friend was a good looking tall blonde lad. His main complaint was that he was getting hit on by gays after him and he took care to point out he was straight ..J .He said this with no rancor; but, more in frustration . He was very interested in dental oral surgery and he had plans to go on and specialize in Oral Surgery. We had some good professional discussions between the ales. He also had an ambition to cycle from the tip of South America to Alaska. I was intrigued by his plans and impressed with his enthusiasm. On a sad note, a few years later I was playing on my ham radio set and spoke with a former Surgeon General of the Royal Australian Navy. I mentioned I had met George and he informed me that he had had a very unfortunate water skiing accident. A rope got caught around his hand and maimed it so that he could no longer practice. This news was shocking as he was so enthused about our profession.
As the evening wore on I met an Australian girl who had lived in Canada. She recognized my accent. As I was chatting her up, John told me he had to return home as he was working the following day; but, he winked and told me he would not be overly annoyed if I stayed on and played my cards, as it were. The attractive lass invited me to a party and we crossed the well known Sydney Harbour Bridge to get to the party. As we crossed the bridge in a convertible the radio was playing , “The Last Song”, by Canadian group Edward Bear . I of course pulled the old , “Hey that is a Canadian band” routine J Every time I hear it I recall that great trip across the world known bridge .
It was a nice party with most people being my age. I told them a bit about Canada and I learned more about Australia. But, as with all good things, the night came to an end. My friend drove me back to John’s place. A memorable last night in Australia.
The next day John brought me to the Airport and it was with a lump in my throat that I bade him and Australia farewell. It had been greater than I had expected. The people, the sites, the landscape, the wild life and some unexpected events such as the sheep shearing were memories I still treasure. When I got to Montreal I shared my trip to Australia with my parents. They both smiled in remembrance of the Australians dad had trained at pilot school in Fort McLeod Alberta.
|SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE
|RAAF CLASS MY DAD INSTRUCTED IN WWII
|SILVERTON VIC. ME SHEEP SHEARING
|CLAY QUARRY NEAR DUBBO
|DINGO ADELAIDE ZOO
|DRY RIVER BED BETWEEN NYGEN AND BROKEN HILL
|SHEEP DOGS, SILVERTON
|MOTHER KEEPING JOEY IN LINE
|COLOURFUL MELBOURNE TOWNHOUSES
|OUTBACK SERVICE STATION, NOTE THE WIND GENERATOR
HIS IS THE PROGRAM FOR THE PUB CRAWL IN THE ROCK DISTRICT OF SYDNEY.
THE PORTION ON THE LEFT
SHOWS WHERE WE HAD OUR
PASSES STAMPED. APPARENTLY
AT THE END OF EVENT A
RANDOM LIST OF THE ORDER
IN WHICH ATTENDEES HAD
THEIR PASSES STAMPED
WAS COMPARED TO
ATTENDEE ROGRAMS. PRIZES
WERE AWARDED IF ONE'S
ORDER MATCHED THE RANDOM
LIST. THERE WAS ALSO A WAIVER
PAGE WHERE ONE SIGNED TO
PROMISE NOT TO HOLD THE ORGANIZERS RESPONSIBLE FOR
ANY PROBLEMS. SURELY NOT
OVER INDULGING :)
|Another shot of the servicecentre in the Outback on the way to Broken Hill