Rainbow Bay, Gold Coast, Queensland, Aus.

Showing posts with label Terrible Teens. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Terrible Teens. Show all posts

Thursday, May 2, 2013


In 1961 I was working as a lab assistant. I saved my meagre wages, about 20 pounds a week from memory, to buy a Voigtlander colour slide camera. So now my life story will continue in colour. In a way I am sad because the old B&W photos did give the feeling of age about them and they are easier to scan. Also the colour slides have deteriorated more than the B&W prints. However, I thought I was lucky then to have a state of the art camera at 19 years of age.

I was still living at home in the house my parents built themselves in the early 50's.  Now they were repainting the weatherboards, changing them from varnished mahogany to a coloured paint.  We didn't like it as much as the natural deep red timber but it would be easier to maintain.

My mum was still working as a nurse and on her days off she enjoyed pottering in the garden. She grew a beautiful big succulent over the natural rockery. Its nick name was "Pig Face."

The car in front of the house was the one my brother rented to me for a year while he returned to TPNG for another year before he would return to do a 12 month course at the Australian School of Pacific Administration.  The rent was to be looked after by my Dad and used to pay for registration, insurance and services.

Needless to say I was thrilled to have a car of my own. Not many girls did in those days.

On the way to Newcastle to see my boyfriend LB but it was a disappointing trip. He didn't seem to love me any more.

So I enjoyed going out with my girlfriends in the car. We went to the Royal National Park and hired boats to row. I just thought that I was the "Ants Pants". 

Saturday, March 9, 2013


It was 1961 and I had been working as a Lab Assistant for two years but I was still applying and hoping to be accepted into teachers' college. I had holidays in winter and I wanted to show my family the Snowy Mountains where I had been on ski trips with my school. They agreed and off we went with my best girlfriend, Kerrie and her mother. My Dad drove us from Sydney to the Thredbo, a ski resort in the Snowies. I had loads of fun trying to teach the oldies how to ski. We laughed ourselves silly on the slopes. My mum and Kerrie's mum got along like a house on fire as you can see in the photo. Both of them have gone now but Kerrie and I have kept in contact occasionally over the last 52 years.
Kerrie, me, mum and Kerrie's mum sitting on a snow gum in the Snowy Mountains in southern NSW.
I recently rang Kerrie for her birthday. It was an interesting conversation. Her life is so different to mine now. She and her husband are caretakers of Landor Station in the middle of Western Australia. The station is 1 million acres and the homestead is 250 miles from the nearest town, Meekathara. The road is rough and it takes them over 3 hours to get there. There is no one else on the cattle station with them. There is no mobile/cell phone service but they have a satellite phone and an airstrip.
 I asked, " What happens if you need medical attention?"
"If it is an emergency we call the Flying Doctor Service otherwise we drive 3 hrs to town to the hospital."
"What do you do out there?"
"Feed the chickens, the geese and the rabbits and water the cattle."
"Where do you get the water from?"
"Under the ground, bore water."
"Do you have to check the fences?"
"Yes, but we haven't got around the whole station yet. We can drive for 200 miles in the Toyota farm truck before we come to a fence."
"Are you doing anything special for your birthday?'
"We were going into town (3hrs drive) but there isn't any restaurants just a grotty Take Away (Oz for To Go). So we decided to stay here."
"How do you get your groceries?"
"Once a month I ring through an order and it gets delivered."
 "Do you like it out there?'
"I love it!"

Monday, February 18, 2013


I found this old photo of me at the wedding  of a work colleague in 1961. It reminded me of the work I was doing then.
After finishing school in 1959, I desperately wanted to enter Teachers College but I was unsuccessful so I entered the work force as a Laboratory Assistant. The first job was at Sydney University in the Animal Husbandry Dept, where my boss was inventing a method of making sheep lamb more often. My job was to collate all his results and draw pretty graphs but I still wanted to be a teacher so I applied for college and again failed to be selected.
Elizabeth (the head girl) invited us to her wedding. I am far right.
I moved on to another laboratory. This time with Bonds Wear. Here we tested textiles and dyes before they were used to make undies and baby's clothes. The five of us worked for the chemist but he would give the list of tests to complete to the head girl, Elizabeth, and she would decide who would do which test. So it was important to be nice to Elizabeth so that you would get interesting work. However, the 'new girl' (that was me) would always get the worst jobs.
One of these delightful tasks was to check customer returns for faults and establish what caused the fault. For example was it a knitting machine fault, a sewing fault or elastic fault etc. There was nothing more exciting than scrutinising returned worn undies. Some had been worn and washed so often that they were just plain worn out but others had been worn and not washed and that was disgusting. We weren't given protective gloves in those days but we did use tweezers to try and negotiate between skid marks and pubic hairs.
I was glad when I was no longer the junior and I was given more interesting and responsible tests. The most rewarding task I was given was to do a whole battery of tests on a brand new textile that had been invented called "Bri-Nylon".
One day a junior was given the charming job of customer returns investigation and she didn't appreciate us sniggering at her. In revenge she picked up some pubic hairs in her tweezers and promptly chased us around the lab. Luckily the chemist wasn't in and he didn't witness this squealing and misdemeanour in his lab but the head girl brought us under control with threats of more dirty work.

Thursday, September 20, 2012


In 1961, when I was 19, my brother came home on leave from working as a Patrol Officer in Papua/New Guinea. He was home for 3 months and he bought a car, a Herald Triumph. When he went back to work he let me use his car as long as I paid for the registration and insurance and maintenance.

Well I was like the cat that ate the cream. Here I was, still a teenager and I had my own car. I enjoyed taking my girlfriends to the beach and to the Saturday night dance. Boys didn't believe us when we said we didn't need a lift home because we had our own car. If we fancied the boys we would offer to take them home. Role reversal was pretty rare in those days.

 When I was eight, my best friend, Kerrie, asked me to join the Brownies and later the Girl Guides. In our teens we belonged to the Sea Rangers. One weekend four of us went camping at Engadine. We pitched our little tent in the bush overlooking the river. We wore our camp uniforms. It was fun being independent. We went swimming and hiking.
Left to right: Kerrie, Jean, Jeanette, me.
 Left to right: Me, Kerrie,  Jeanette.

The next morning we got dressed outside as there was little room for four of us in the tent. Just look at those stylish 60's knickers, no g-strings or bikini briefs in those days, at least not in my world.

Kerrie was the chief cook. It is interesting that much later in life she was camp cook for her outback fencing contractors.

I remember we weren't that impressed with the meal but we were hungry enough to enjoy it.
Left to right: Kerrie, me, Jeanette

It was a great swimming hole and we had great fun that weekend. I lost contact with Jean and Jeanette but I kept in touch with Kerrie on and off over the next 50 years. Soon I would be leaving the Terrible Teens, my awful secret and my adopted country to fulfil my dream and embark on an exciting chapter of my life.

Sunday, September 9, 2012


Summer was coming to an end but it was still nice to visit the beach. My very best friend, Kerrie and her family invited Mum and me to spend a weekend at Culburra Beach with them. They had a "weekender" there, that is a a small house a bit like a big garage with lots of bunk beds for family and friends. Culburra is on the South Coast of NSW not far from the town of Nowra.

There was lots of fun things to do at this quiet isolated beach (It's not any more). There is a lake as well as a surf beach. We watched the water skiers but we didn't have a boat unfortunately as I would have loved to have a go. (I did a few years later)

However, we did have fun sand skiing/tobogganing in the sand dunes and 
clambering over the rocks at the water's edge.

Our mums enjoyed the sun and a break from work.

Sometimes we tried fishing in the lake.

We enjoyed bush walking and just for something different we climbed the flagpole. (Oh to be that slim again.)

Best of all was surfing, but I preferred to take photos as the water was very cold. Kerrie , her niece and Mum had fun though.

This was a great weekend to cheer me up and get me back on track after a sad experience the previous year.

Sunday, September 2, 2012


Horses for Courses is an English/Australian idiom with the following meaning:
Something that you say which means that it is important to choose suitable people for particular activities because everyone has different skills. 

Well this meaning suits me down to the ground as I am not suited to the activity of horse riding. When I was a child I had a best friend called Kerrie.  She and her family were a big influence on me when I was growing up. They were what we call"dinky di Aussies" and they taught me to be a tough Aussie kid except when it came to horse riding. They tried their hardest but never succeeded.

I was about nine years old when  Kerrie first introduced me to horse riding. I was at her house one weekend when she was minding a friend's horse. All the neighbourhood kids were taking it in turns to have a ride bareback. In her broad Aussie accent Kerrie calls,  "C'mon Diane your turn!"  I was a bit nervous but keen to do everything Aussie kids did, so Kerrie and the others gave me a leg up onto the huge beast. They gave me some quick instructions and said, "You'll be right."

The horse could obviously tell that I was sh*t scared and it decided that it wasn't going anywhere and just stood rooted to the spot. Kerrie and friends were yelling at me, "Kick it with your heels!" I gave a timid tap with my heels but to no avail. So then Kerrie and the others started giving the horse a smack on the rump and yelling at the animal to get moving.

Suddenly, without warning the horse took off and galloped across the dirt road and towards the trees. I was bouncing around on its back hanging onto the reins but didn't know how to use them. The horse made a sharp turn to avoid the trees and the last thing I remember was hanging on to its neck and sliding towards the ground.

When I woke up Kerrie's father was carrying me into the house while all the time berating Kerrie for causing the accident. Kerrie's mum put me in bed. She rang my parents who came to pick me up in Dad's work truck as we didn't own a car. Before they arrived I started throwing up, I was obviously suffering concussion. I had landed on my head but luckily nothing was broken. Unfortunately for Kerrie, she got a hiding every time I threw up. My mum being a nurse was able to mend me fairly quickly.

Every time Kerrie went horse riding after that she would invite me along saying, "You've got to get back on and keep trying or you'll never succeed." I did try a few times but I was always nervous.
Me, Jean and Kerrie about to go horse riding.

I'm not enjoying this.
When we were 16 Kerrie entered the work force but I continued at school. We didn't see much of each other over the next two years and I didn't go near a horse. She was socialising and I was studying but when I finished school we  started doing things together again. Yes, and the horse riding invitation came again.

I had just been tthrough a sad and traumatic experience breaking up with the love of my life and I was keen to put it behind me and get on with improving myself. So I was determined to become a horse rider. At nineteen I tried again. Have a look at the photo above. Look how Kerrie far right and Jean look so darn comfortable but me....I'm nearly wetting myself with fear, trying to smile and look confident.

The horse riding operator was aware of my fear and gave me the quietest horse in the stable.  I climbed aboard but the horse could sense my lack of confidence and just stood there and wouldn't move. My earlier experience flashed through my mind but the operator got the horse moving for me and she was a quiet mare. The whole time my heart was in my mouth and I was scared it would take off and I wouldn't be able to stop it. I didn't enjoy the ride but I loved my girlfriends for trying to help me overcome my fear. I even had nightmares about not being able to stop a horse that I was riding.

After this effort, I decided that I wasn't suited to this activity and I would develop other skills. I never rode a horse again until I was in my forties, when my daughters insisted we went horse riding while we were on holidays at Byron Bay. I must admit it was a lovely ride through the bush and along the beach. My heart was pounding most of the way but I was proud that I had done it. It is amazing how doing things for your children can make you overcome fears and just do it. However, I've never been on a horse again so these old photos capture a rare moment in my life.

Sunday, August 19, 2012


We had been in Australia for 11 years and life for my parents was pretty good after their struggle to get established in their new country. We were living in Sydney. My brother and I had finished school and we were working. My brother was a Patrol Officer in Papua/ New Guinea and I was a Laboratory Assistant but still hoping to be accepted into Teachers' College. My Dad had finished night school and had a better job working for the local council. My mother was working as a psychiatric nurse. 
 My dad traded in our old Zephyr for a newer model and he enjoyed keeping it looking clean and shiny. Notice the neighbours outside dunny toilet. We still didn't have the sewerage pipes in our street but my parents had invested in a septic tank. This was a bit better than the dunny can, which we had to endure since arriving in Australia.
 I still remember the horrible sight of the dunny man carrying the can on his shoulder,  running down our drive with a million flies buzzing after him. Worse still was the fear of having him burst in on you with your knickers around your ankles.

 My mum never learnt to drive but she enjoyed going for a drive in our new car.

Our road still hadn't been tar sealed and our garden was non existent then.

 My mum and dad had built the house themselves and made the furniture and curtains too. It took a while before we had a nice garden. After living in a tent and a garage for 6 years it was lovely to have a house.

In 2012 , when we visited Sydney, we drove past my old house. It looks a little different after 50 years, but the big Jacaranda Tree on the left is the same little one you can see in the earlier  photo. My parents had the brick veneer put on years later but I can see the windows have been replaced and the front entrance has been built by the new owners.

Friday, August 10, 2012


Me and Marie

I played hockey from when I started high school at the age of 13. When I left school I joined Port Hacking Hockey Club and played in a Sydney competition.

Over the Easter Holidays in 1960 I attended a Hockey Instruction Camp at Castlereagh near Sydney.  We wore light blue skirts , white shirt, and a royal blue blazer.
Us girls had fun in this cabin.  I can remember being woken up by horses puting their heads in the window.
Another team, Dover Heights, arrived on motor scooters we were impressed.
Practicing the game.
That's me, hockey stick in one hand and camera in the other at 17.
The weekend went too fast and soon it was time to say goodbye to our new friends after they had given us a ride around the field. 
Our transport wasn't so glamorous.

Saturday, April 7, 2012


In early 1960 I was working as a Laboratory Assistant at Sydney University because I had missed out on a place for PE teaching.  There was only one college in Sydney offering PE teaching and it was part of the Sydney University. One of my tasks at work was to take data from my boss, a research scientist, to "George". George was the name of the university's computer. Yes, that's right just one computer and it filled a whole building. The walls were covered with huge machines with wheels spinning and it all looked wondrous to me. I was one of the few of my peers, who had actually seen a computer.  A few days later, I would be sent back to George to get the results. I remember carrying spools of tape which had random holes punched into it. On the way to George, I had to pass the teacher's college where I sometimes I saw the students learning to play softball. I would slow down and dawdle past, wishing that I was one of them. I was sure I could do a better job than some of them, who were even overweight. I reckon they were taken on their brains not their ability in sport. I had a bad case of sour grapes.

The 'Orantes' a cruise ship of the 60's had arrived in Sydney. It was time for our English visitor to return home. Dad drove us all to the docks, which were at Pyrmont then, now they are at Circular Quay. We went on board to say goodbye to Mrs R and to have a look around the ship. We all wished that we could afford to go home to England for a visit. My parents hadn't seen their parents, my four grandparents for eleven years now. In fact, all except one had died by the time my parents could afford a trip home. 
My mum on the left was always dressed fashionably. She sewed her own clothes and mine too.

Mrs R waving goodbye. 
These ships were full of many migrants returning for a holiday or to stay. There were also hundreds of young Australians seeking fun and fortune in the old country. It was before affordable air fares. The trip took four to five weeks.

Lots of colourful streamers, cheering, shouting and crying farewell.
There she goes down the beautiful harbour back to our homeland. Maybe one day we will get there.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


from the web

As I have mentioned before, I got my love of photography from my dad.  Although my parents were not well off back in the forties and fifties, my dad did own a camera. It was one that opened up with bellows. He took photos of our Migration to Australia and of our Settling in Australia, which are in my first book.

At the end of 1959 my mum made me a new dress to wear to the end of year dance, which is now called the school formal. My dad took some photos of me. He made me pose this way and that and I was feeling embarrassed. I was happy when it was over.

Mum and dad on the ship coming to Australia 1949.
Dad has his camera case over his arm.

A few weeks later the photos had been printed. Remember those days when you had to wait ages  to get the prints. (My dad would have loved the digital age, he passed away in 1983.) We had a friend visit and my dad was showing him the photos he took of me, he was quite proud of them. Our friend, John, said that he could take better photos and so a friendly rivalry began. I was the guinea pig. So John asked me to pose this way and that and smile. Now I had just been told that I had missed out on a place in Teachers' College and I didn't feel like smiling and posing for anybody but I did.

Dads photo. Dec 1959 (17yrs)
John's Photo. Jan 1960, (17 yrs)


Monday, April 2, 2012


In January of 1960 we had a heatwave and a visitor from England. Mrs R was the mother of my  parents' friend, Ida from Mudgee. Mrs R was on her way back to England from Mudgee. She stayed with us for a while before boarding a ship in Sydney.

 In these days before air conditioning, we often went to the beach to cool off. This time we went to Wottamolla Beach in the Royal National Park just south of Sydney and not far from where we lived in Loftus. It was a beautiful spot, pristine.
 There was a lagoon , which emptied into the sea. It was a great place for swimming either in the sea or the lagoon. The little dots on the beach are people. I took this shot from the top of the waterfall at the beginning of the lagoon.

Mum and Mrs R sitting on top of the waterfall.

The waterfall was only a trickle as it had been a dry summer obviously. Often there were brave stupid people diving off the top of the waterfall.

It was very hot and I was miserable. The exam results had been published. I had passed the Leaving Certificate and qualified for teachers' college, which initially had me happy and excited. However, over 250 applicants had applied for PE teaching at Sydney Teachers' College and only 80 were accepted and I wasn't one of them. I was so disappointed but my Dad was very supportive and encouraged me not to give up. He even took me to demonstrate outside government house against the low number of applicants accepted into colleges and universities. It had no effect. We were told to try again the next year, when more places would be offered.

My Dad then helped me to look for a job while I waited for the next year's intake. With his help I decided on laboratory work. I applied for quite a few lab assistant jobs. After a few knockbacks I finally landed a job with the Animal Husbandry Dept. at the University of Sydney. Meanwhile, my snail mail romance continued with LB in Newcastle.
Wottamolla Beach today, still beautifully kept in its natural state. (Photo from the web)