Sunday 13 August 2017

I'm catching the Cobb and Co!

There was a time when my young life was one long endless holiday, punctuated only by the blur of food, bedtime stories, and Mummy’s cuddles, as the little human sponge that I was, meandered through a joyful unawareness of anything else but discovery.

Few things were more exciting than running after a Monarch butterfly.
“Don’t touch their wings or they’ll die,” Dad would say. “See that powder? If you get it on your fingers, the butterfly won’t be able to fly anymore”.

It seemed to be true too. Every time I caught a butterfly, it didn’t fare well. But how were they able to escape a spider’s web? Why were butterflies dying when I played with them and not when they got stuck in some elaborately woven stickiness? It wasn’t because of the ‘powder’ I would later learn. The ‘powder’ isn’t powder at all. The ‘powder’ is tiny scales that cover the wing’s membranes like roof tiles protect a house. Removing a few of them doesn’t kill the butterfly. After all, butterflies flap their wings against all sorts of things, like plants, other butterflies they frolic with, and the wind - just by flying the 4426 kilometers that a Monarch butterfly can travel. The butterflies I caught couldn’t fly anymore because I usually tore off their legs, or shredded a whole wing, or crushed their soft squishy bodies in the clap of my hands, with all the force of my jubilant ‘toddlerism’.

The Monarch death toll was too much for Dad. One day he bought me a butterfly net. That was fun, but not as much as using my own hands. So with equal zeal, I moved onto lizards, grabbing them by the tail, only to be left staring at a bit of it still wriggling in my hand, as if the lizard was still attached.
“Would you like it if someone pulled your tail off?” Dad asked me once. I didn't have a tail, but I thought he probably meant my leg, and I felt terrible, until Dad explained this was a deliberate strategy on the part of the lizard who was trying to trick me into thinking I had caught it when in fact, it had escaped, was feeling no pain, and was probably crunching on a grasshopper somewhere.
Spiders were an endless source of fascination. The St Andrew's Cross Spider was my favourite because she wove a giant orb web, the middle of which was stamped with a bright silvery blue silk cross - as in, X Marks The Spot for moths, butterflies, beetles, cicadas, and bees, to be lured to, injected with poison, and devoured. And instead of spreading her legs out all over the place like other spiders do, she elegantly and most unspiderly like, holds them together in pairs, using the cross threads as sexy leg extensions, as if she wasn't a spider at all.
St Andrews Cross Spider
I’d be watching her wrap up her victim while still alive, when all of a sudden the whole web would start vibrating so fast that everything in it, including the cross, became a blur: like the entire web was about to detach and take off, or as if it was about to shoot projectiles of something at me. It scared my tiny self to death, just as it was supposed to, even though I wasn’t actually the target of this agitating warning system. A wasp usually was. Because wasps love St Andrews Cross Spiders too, and they would raid their webs and fly the spiders and their eggs sacks back to the wasp's clay potted nests, to feed them to their babies. One day Dad dissected a wasp’s nest above our front door to show me what was inside. Sure enough, there were a bunch of St Andrews Cross Spiders in there, all curled up, quite very dead.
I was sad for the spiders. Like them, I wasn’t keen on wasps, because they stung, and it hurt, and they were always hanging around the house. They were always hanging around the house because we had so many spiders. We had so many spiders because we had so many insects. And we had so many insects because we had so much nature around us, as well as all the fruit, vegetable and flowering plants Mum and Dad were cultivating, some of which they planted specifically to attract insects.
Leaf-curling Orb Spiders were also lots of fun. They roll themselves up in a leaf with just their skinny lanky egs sticking out; the same way you might roll yourself diagonally into your doona covers, should you ever do something so frivolous. In an effort to coax the Curler out of its leaf, I would stick my finger or a twig in the web, and wriggle it around, pretending to be a fly. But the Leaf-curler was no dummy. She knew the difference between my finger and a terrified fly about to be mummified.
“Don’t worry Petra, Orb spiders don’t bite”, Dad told me the first time I ran through a web, as I leaped about screaming, pulling at sticky strands, and half-digested and still alive and wriggling insects, as if a giant furry eight legged monster would spread across my face like Facehugger in Alien does, and suck my eyes out. That they were harmless, spent most of the day hiding and so weren’t even in their webs when I usually ran through them, tempered my panic somewhat whenever I was not watching where I was going, and fell into one.
Famous Aussie Facehugger Spider
Where there were orb webs there were white bellied Willie Wagtails hopping around the lawn, twitching their long fantails from side to side, chattering away like a plastic shaker full of rice, looking for insects. Much like I was doing. Even more exciting than catching a Monarch Butterfly or a lizard, was finding a neatly woven Willy Wagtail’s nest in your garden. Their nests are wrapped up in an orb spider’s web and they are cushioned on the inside with soft grass, hair and fur.
Our Willie Wagtail valentines lived permanently at 40 Koala Road Blaxland. Not just because there was an endless supply of spider webs, or because dog Moggy, and cat Blacky, provided a reliable source of nest insulation, but also because they mate for life, and always return to the same nest.
Willy Wagtail in her nest
“Don’t touch the nest or the little Willies won’t come back”, Dad would say.
Of course I’d climb the tree, cup the perfect nest in my hands and lift out their cream-coloured eggs, speckled grey and brown. Who wouldn’t at five years of age?  It was like Easter and Christmas and your Birthday all rolled into one, to find a Willy Wagtail nest with eggs in it.

There were holes in the ground with a myriad of things living in them too, like bees and trapdoor spiders. When the trapdoor spider knows there's something rambling across her camouflaged trapdoor she leaps out of the ground to snatch it, then drags it back into her basement for a feast. Just as Willy Wagtails picked our plot of land for life, our Trapdoor Spiders lived at 40 Koala Road until their natural death too, which was for about twenty years. This was a good thing because spiders can eat between 440 million and 880 million tons of bugs a year. Imagine how many insects there would have been around our house without them!
Trapdoor Spider
“Don’t ever stick your finger in a hole in the ground”. Dad warned me once.
Naturally I stuck my finger in a hole in the front yard one day and was bitten. The pain was so intense, that while I am alive to tell the tale and have no idea what bit me, I didn’t do that again.
Spider enemy number one was the Red Back. If you got bitten by one of them, you could fall seriously ill.
“A little girl your age could even die”, Dad would say.
Red Back Spider
Red Backs do try to warn us to stay away. They wear a deep red zigzagging stripe along the top of their disproportionately fat bottom, as in “Danger! Do Not Approach!”  But then they go and hide in places where you can’t see them, and where you are likely to put your fingers: like under the armrests of garden chairs and tables, under the lids of garbage bins, and under outdoor toilet seats, all places that attract flies, which lay maggots, the Red Back's favourite meal. There's nothing much very nice about a Red Back's personality except it eats all those revolting writhing maggots: the females cannibalise their lovers after sex, Red Back children steal food from their mother who devours her own babies in return so as to teach them a permanent lesson. Not even other spiders like Red Backs because Red Backs eat them too. The Red Back isn't house-proud either. It’s as though she can’t be bothered putting a web together. The Red Back web looks like Christmas lights when you pull them out of the box after a year in storage. All tangled up and impossible to undo. Not even insects who truly believe that if they maintain a positive attitude and just put their mind to it, can escape the deceptive design of a Red Back Spider's web. 
Song: Slim Newton's Red Back on the Toilet Seat
Summer was full of exciting insect events: picking cicada shells off trees and marveling at how they got out of that perfectly intact carapace; finding opal coloured Christmas beetles in the lounge room with their barbs stuck in the shag pile carpet, or lying concussed on their backs on the cement veranda to where they fell, having knocked themselves out when they crashed into the incandescent lights that had drawn them in; watching ants of various shapes, sizes and colours file back and forth to some mysterious place in the ground, carting bits of food or body parts of insects they’d dismembered, thrusting my nose into all and every flower to find the most delicious fragrance, stumbling upon a giant stick insect or a smiley praying mantis and running them to my parents with a jubilant, “Look what I found!”. And generally just hanging around Mummy as things bubbled on the stove, and clothes flapped around drying on the Hills Hoist in a Blue Mountains breeze, waiting for Dad to come home and dig something up from the garden.

Looking for bugs in holes with Mum, 40 Koala Road, Blaxland
Everything under the timeless dome that encased the first five years of my life was indeed joyous and beautiful.
Then one day it all came to an abrupt end. It was time to go to school.
I cried. Mum cried. Mum cried because I cried. I cried because what school really meant, was the end of never ending early childhood holidays.
Suddenly your life is categorised. You were either at school, or not at school. If you were not at school you could only be at home, sick, pretending to be sick, or at the doctor’s. And sure enough the school would call home to find out where you were. When you weren’t at school for reasons other than illness, like wagging – which usually happened at High School - everyone knew it. We teens had a habit of dobbing ourselves in to our peers, who then told everyone else, including a teacher, and their parents, who would tell other parents, until the whole Lower Blue Mountains knew. And if we didn’t tell anyone, someone will have spotted you because by some innate sense of self-protection, or bravado, we made sure we were seen.
The only other time you weren’t at school was during “school holidays”. That’s when none of us were at school, all at the same time, like those days we used to have before we were sent to school. Only now we were conscious of time. There was a nominated number of days to rest and recreate. And the pressure was on to do something. For some kids at high school, this actually meant a trip away from home to somewhere else from where they would send you a postcard or a letter. For me, it mostly meant never going on holidays four times a year.
But it wasn’t always like that. We used to go on holidays when Dad was an English teacher and had almost as much time off school as we did. Once we went on a road trip to visit Dad’s sister, Aunty Laurel, her husband Clary, and my three cousins. They lived on many thousands of acres growing cotton in Goondiwindi, Queensland. Along the way we just pulled up on the side of the road and set up camp. Mum says the only reason we did that was because there was nowhere to stay that far out back. We had to camp on the side of the road. It wasn’t illegal to camp anywhere back then, except where it was illegal to camp, like, say, at Maralinga, where the British tested 12 atmospheric nuclear bombs on British and Australian servicemen and Aborigines, and spread 100 kilograms of plutonium, uranium, and beryllium all over the place, which along with 700 minor tests more, irreversibly and indefinitely contaminated the site with radiation. 

British testing nuclear bomb at Maralinga, Australia
And who'd want to camp there anyway...

Or Pine Gap, a joint defence facility partly run by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, the U.S. National Security Agency, and U.S. National Reconnaissance Office from where it intercepts information to feed into ECHELON, a no longer top secret global surveillance alliance between Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United States, and the United Kingdom. 

That place is on a real nice camping spot, where the night skies are so clear you can practically see TRAPPIST-1 from your back in your swag, without even using a telescope.

Pine Gap
Mum didn’t care where we went camping. She hated it. She felt claustrophobic in small tents, couldn’t sleep all night because the ground was too hard, she didn’t ‘know’ the other campers, and she was afraid of creepy crawlies making their way into her tent. Camping, says Mum, is for children, not for parents.
“Parents don’t have to like camping you know”.
Dad enjoyed a bivouac under the stars, but not the tent. Standing two meters tall, he was claustrophobic too. Camping reminded him of his threadbare childhood when he would hunt rabbit for dinner on the open plains of New England, in North West New South Wales. Dad was a man of the land. He could show you real camping, though he barely did. He preferred to read us the dictionary. At home.
We also had a caravan. We shared it with a chain smoker that worked with Dad. We took turns to go away with it. Mum hated caravanning too. It reminded her of her first year in Australia having to live in a caravan for a house.

Mum and her cousins Michael and John Young in Mum's Caravan in Moree 
“Why would I swap my perfectly big house for a tiny caravan too small for all of us to move around in?”
Mum didn’t like having to walk such long distances to toilet and shower either. And all those other women in the same shower room. It reminded her of Catholic boarding school. The flies and the mosquitoes drove her mad, as did the heat and humidity, the lack of privacy, having to hang her washing up with everyone else's washing, and just having to look at everyone else’s underwear on the clothes line; men's in particular. Although at least our caravan had its own stove. Caravanning, she said, is for children, not for parents.
Caravanning didn’t suit me”
Our caravan looked just like this
Mum didn’t like the places caravan parks were put either – on the beach. The burn of scorching hot sand stripping the soles right off her feet, and the wind blasting silicon particles up her nose, into her eyes, and all through her fine curly hair, and the harsh Australian sun toasting her snow-white body, was not her idea of fun and relaxation. The surf terrified her too. She was afraid of being dumped and drowned, or being under towed out to sea and served up to a shark for lunch. 

“I don’t like sharks”
And who didn't like sharks.
But caravanning, camping, and the beach suited us kids. We just loved running all over the place, tripping over guy ropes, making new friends and inspecting their tents and caravans. The constant euphoria of fun and relaxation, the unending parade of happy holidaymakers coming and going, the Bang! Bang! Bang! of pegs being hammered into the ground, the soothing mantra of waves crashing on the beach, the wet salty air on our sunburnt salty skin. The panaché of shampoo in the bathroom and the potpourri of clothes washing in the laundry. Ice creams every day, hamburgers and fish and chips. Feeding the pelicans, wallabies, and possums, and watching monitor lizards steal off with our eggs in their mouths without breaking them. The rising tide lapping against mangroves, the crackle of crabs scurrying across mud flats and the little plopping bubbles they make as they sink into the mud. Digging for yabbies, throwing in hand lines at any time of the day, hunting for shells and anything swimming or hiding in rock pools. The morning fetor of leftover bait someone forgot to throw out, the mouthwatering aroma of flamed grilled steak, and the homely fragrance of a hardwood campfire on which we’d toast marshmallows on sticks until they dripped, or the stick caught alight. Sleeping bags on a hard ground, staying up late and gazing into the deep dark universe exploding with galactic light trying to spot shooting stars, telling fantastical tales of aliens and UFO’s, wishing the holiday to never end and pondering on all the stories we would tell our friends when we got back home as we finally fell asleep. What more could a child want?
One day our caravan disappeared. The emphysema that was eating Mr Chain Smoker, ate our caravan too. We had to sell it for his treatment. And that was the end of our camping and caravanning family holidays. But tents and camp-fires continued to thread through my childhood via school, with friends, during netball tournaments, and camping out the backyard.
Much of my future school holidays, until I was old and trusted enough to take a bus or a train to a holiday destination unchaperoned, would be spent waiting for post cards from other people's school holidays spent in exotic, far away sounding places like Bermagui, Umina, Noosa, Ulla Dulla, or Tweed, Byron, Burleigh and Nambucca Heads, all places on the beach where every normal Australian would set up caravan or tent for the near entirety of their summer holidays.
Or so I thought. There were actually as many kids as me making the best of it at the Nepean River, Springwood Pool, Penrith Pool, Blue Pool, Jellybean Pool and other people’s swimming pools, along with a whole lot more who didn’t have friends and family living at a beach destination, or who didn't have a holiday home there, or who’s parents couldn’t afford to to go away because Dad had to work. Mum never came swimming with us though because she didn’t like pools either. Just the thought of kids peeing in them……
"Ugh", she shuddered, "Where there is a pool, there are kids peeing in them"

Jellybean Pool - because its shaped like a Jellybean
"Can we have a pool please?" I begged and harassed Dad one summer until he finally hand dug one out of the backyard. It was about five meters by three meters and had a shallow end and a deep end. When the cement finally dried, Dad put the hose in. As I sat on the pools edge, my excitement swelling in sync with the rising water, I noticed something was wrong.
“Why isn’t’ it blue Dad? I can’t see the bottom" 
Having used cement, the pool was dark slate-grey, like the eel filled canals in Enkhuizen. Our backyard pool, that Dad had laboured over for so long and that I just couldn't wait to leap into, now looked as inviting as Loch Ness. I was sure something had already managed to creep in there and make it home. How would we know for sure? You couldn’t see an inch down. The other problem was, it wasn’t oxygenated or chlorinated. And since Dad hadn’t mastered the then non-existent skill of cement polishing, going for swim was like having a total skin exfoliation. But we hesitated in there anyway for a few weeks, and it was fun, until it began to smell like a storm water drain on a low tide mangrove in mid-summer.
When the water finally turned into primordial slime, Dad filled the pool back up again, entombed whatever was living there with a cement slab, and built a pergola over the top for Sunday BBQ’s. Mum didn’t like that much either.
“Too many flies and mosquitos”.
So the pergola became Dad’s gardening shed. Then one day Oma arrived from Holland, and with my enthusiastic hands in tow, promptly set about clearing it out so we could eat in there again. Coming from a cloudy rainy country averaging a shivering 17 degrees celcius most of the time, Oma happily put up with flies and mosquitoes to enjoy an Aussie barbecue on a perfect Blue Mountain's summer afternoon.

The pergola over the cement slab that used to be our swimming pool
One Christmas, Dad presented us with a Clark Rubber above ground swimming pool.
“Even better than a beach in your own backyard!” the Clark advertisement invited all Australians, until almost every Aussie backyard had to have one.
It had an aluminum frame and blue plastic lining. When Dad put it up, and filled it up, you could see to the bottom. And the plastic lining didn’t rip your skin off. It came with a chlorination system: so it smelt like a real swimming pool too.
Swinging from the Hills Hoist
Dad put the pool in the best possible place for maximum fun: just left of the Hills Hoist, that fabulous Australian clothes line found in almost every Aussie garden since the 1950’s. Inspired by the efficiency of nature, it is designed like an orb spider web. The Hills Hoist was practically made of titanium then, so kids being kids, we climbed onto the red brick fence that terraced Dad's vegetable plot, leapt onto the corner of the Hills Hoist, and swung ourselves into the pool. Only the pool wasn’t made of titanium, and soon enough I crashed into the pool wall and came whooshing out with the water onto the grass. That was great fun too, although Dad didn’t think so.
“I won’t put the pool back up this summer if you do that again”.
Just whose job it was to keep the pool pristine was probably why it began to look not much different to our old cement pool. Our gum trees shed their nuts and leaves in it, and all sorts of things turned up to refresh themselves daily – beetles, snakes, mosquitoes, frogs, birds, and a panoply of wriggling and swimming things already dead or drowning, or intending to just live there and make babies. A type of creek bed could be seen building up on the bottom as nature made its way down there.
Then one day, after a big storm, one of the Blue Gums that didn’t burn down in the 1968 bush-fire, toppled over and fell on it, and on our house. The insurance company refused to pay. They didn’t consider our swimming pool either house or content. 

So that was the end of our Clark’s above ground swimming pool, and any other backyard pool. Although we did get a Slip N Slide the following Christmas: a long piece of PVC plastic you run the garden hose on, then slide on your tummy down. It took some painful trial and error to not over shoot the end and fall face first into a bindy patch.
Slip and Slide
Hardly anyone came to the Blue Mountains for a holiday. Who goes to mountains for holidays? I used to wonder. In winter it’s too cold, wet, and windy to do anything. In summer it’s too hot, with only municipal pools and nature’s waterholes to cool down in. If you were like my Mum, who did once enjoy a calm river – until she discovered a dead cow rotting around a bend in the Gwydir she’d been splashing in - swimming in rivers and fresh waterholes with all those dead animals, leaches, ticks, spiders, and snakes, was not for you. But plenty of relatives and friends trekked from faraway places to visit us and I supposed that they were on a type of holiday – a visiting friends and family holiday, like when we visited Aunty Laurel. They camped on the way up, and their kids loved swimming in bush water holes with us.  
Mum 2nd right, won't even put her feet in Gwydir after finding a dead cow in it.
In fact, our beautiful Blue Mountains was a hugely popular holiday destination once, when one day a week was all people were allowed to take off work, unless you were willing to take leave without pay, and could afford not having a job to return to.
Going away for ONE DAY was actually once considered a ‘holiday’!
To the mid-19th century, Australians were worked seven days a week and up to twelve hours a day. There was no law stopping this type of slave labour and no other way to access money. Unless you were like whom I am told, is some distant, yet to be verified, relative of mine, Captain Thunderbolt - gentleman bushranger. He just took things he needed, cattle mostly, in a nice courteous sort of way, with a “please", a smile, and a tip of the hat, before thundering off into the horizon like Zoro, except in a cloud of red outback dust, and on someone else’s horse.

Video Trailer: Captain Thunderbolt
Most people didn’t want to steal to for a living. They wanted to work and and do their bit to build our great nation. But they also wanted regular respite. On April 2, 1856, exhausted, and determined to get time out, stonemasons and building labourers on building sites around Melbourne marched to Parliament House, successfully demanding eight hours for work, eight hours for recreation, and eight hours for rest. 
Eight-hour day procession in Melbourne (1914) when Eight-hour Day became a public holiday in 1879
These Australians were the first organised workers in the world to achieve an eight-hour day with no loss of pay. Soon all Australians had one day off a week, and the rest of the developed world  would follow suit. 
However, it would take another 58 years, in 1914, before we would get Saturday afternoon off. 

With Saturday afternoon off,  the ‘holiday’ could now be ONE AND A HALF DAYS long!

Sheesh. Generous.

This meant you could now stay somewhere other than in your own home on a Saturday night - if you weren't playing or watching an organised sport, the other thing many people did with their newly won 1.5 day weekend. This was exciting because the hard to contemplate, 19th century ban on swimming in the surf during daylight hours, was lifted in 1902, and coupled with cheap railway fares, you could take a train to a beach destination, sleep overnight and go for a guiltless swim the next day. The Blue Mountains was also a popular destination within reach of a train for people who preferred mountain air, or who sought it for health or romancing reasons. Katoomba was especially popular: there was Lovers Walk, Honeymoon Point, Bridal Veil Falls, Mount Victoria, Wentworth Falls. By 1917 Katoomba had 60 guest houses and by 1930, the Hydro Majestic offered luxury. 

Bonne Accord Guest House, Springwood
Some people already had their holidays homes by 1914, but for everyone else, while a day and half off was great; having some money to go away with was quite another issue. In 1907, the Commonwealth Arbitration Court , through the Harvester Judgement of Justice H B Higgins, established  an international first notion of a 'fair and reasonable' wage, based on what employees needed to live beyond subsistence, not what employers were willing to pay (history has shown repeatedly, employers would pay nothing if they can get away with it). This included the ability with your wage to buy furniture, clothes, boots, transport fares, insurance, books, newspapers, alcohol, tobacco, school requisites, religion, and to give to charity. By 1920, it also included the provision to have enough money to go to the movies, and for women, being able to afford a swimming costume.

The right to buy a swimming costume. Imagine that ladies.

The Harvester Judgement also set double pay for Sunday, Christmas, New Year's Day, Good Friday, and the Eight-hour Labour Day. 

Putting a damper on the Aussie quest for holidays was the 1930’s Great Depression, followed by World War Two. In between these two global events however, the International Labour Organisation set 40 hours as the standard working week (in 1935), which the Conservative Australian government of the day refused to implement. But by 1940, Australia had a Labor Federal Government in power which would change this as they busily planned Australia’s post war reconstruction. Their policies included full employment, affordable home ownership and, in NSW, which Labor also held, paid leave. In 1944, the NSW William McKell government, passed the Annual Holidays Act, which legislated a 40 hour week and between one and three weeks paid leave, and by 1945, we had a full two day weekend.
The NSW Governor declared that legislating holidays was ‘a humanitarian act’ and that holidays were a ‘human right’

Both the former Federal Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, and the NSW Holidays Act, insisted that annual leave must be taken in consecutive weeks, so that people could have a real holiday – to zone out, do stuff, do nothing, do whatever they wanted to do to revive their enthusiasm to go back to work.
Employers did not agree at all, not even with one miserly day off a week. Kicking and screaming  all the way, they presented a truly bizarre and paternalistic case for slave labour. Businesses argued that workers lives would improve if only they could surround themselves with material things. To acquire those material things, workers needed to labor all year round, all day every day. Only then will they be happy. The people doing all the work in what was a mostly simple and often uninspiring employer/employee relationship, and who were not sharing in the profits, disagreed. They argued time off to rest, to be with family and friends, and to enjoy actually living their short life on earth, was what increased their quality of life. They would know what they want; being the one’s doing all the work.
While France and Scandanavian countries had forged well ahead of us by now and had already instituted three weeks paid leave, decency finally prevailed in Australia in 1964, and many Australians were also awarded paid leave.  How many weeks paid leave you were entitled to depended on the colour of your collar and whether you were a government servant or worked in the private sector. 

In 1974, Unions successfully campaigned for four weeks paid annual leave. 
So businesses that weren't reliant on Christmas sales, shut down over the Christmas period while a bulk of their staff loaded up the car, and headed off.  And therein lies the short lived great holiday boom and Australia’s summer holiday tradition, enabled technologically by the 1960’s democratisation of car ownership, and the development of seaside holiday guest houses and camping and caravanning sites, in response to this new freed up tranche of time.
Tuggerah Lakes
One of my most treasured holiday experiences during the great Aussie holiday boom time was with Mrs Corbett and her daughter Cindy. The Corbett’s lived at 31 Koala Road. They owned a holiday home on Tuggerah Lakes and invited me there. One morning we rose very early, before the sun itself, and took a little tinny out on the salt water lake to go fishing. It was the first time I had ever been fishing for anything other than fresh water yabbies using bits of vegemite sandwich on a string. 

The water in the lake looked like a still photo of the Evil Queen’s Magic Mirror. A haze hovered over the top of it, like it did over a parallel universe in the Anti-Matter Man episode of Lost in SpaceWith our reels in hand, a packet of thawing frozen raw prawns - and no life vest on - Cindy and I were like two great adventurers: alone in the world, alone on the lake, adult free, and with what we assumed was a million fish below us. And so there was! Within minutes we were hauling in Bream, one after the other. The exhilaration of that first ever tug on our lines, and the incredulity that there was actually a fish on the end, was addictive. Even though we felt the pain the fish must have been going through with a metal hook slicing through their mouth, or gills, or eyes, then being yanked out of water and being put into air, we kept hauling them in until we had enough to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner that day. Once our fated catch had suffocated to death, we chugged our trophies home and pan fried a few in butter and lemon juice. Those Bream were one of the yummiest things I’ve ever eaten because I caught them myself. They were flavoured with the primordial.
Sadly that memory was overshadowed by a less joyful one of Mrs Corbett and Cindy. One day I ran across the road to play with Cindy. Moggy, our golden Cocker Spaniel/Labrador cross, raced after me and was splat dead by a car.
Getting on the SS Oriana bound for South Hampton when I was 7, was not technically a ‘holiday– ‘an extended period of leisure and recreation, especially one spent away from home’. It wasn’t quite ‘travelling’ either –‘journeying, especially to distant places’ – because while we were 'journeying' to a ‘distant place’, we were going there to live. Dad resigned from work, and 40 Koala Road was rented out to English migrants. To Mum, even though she was excited to go home, it was like taking a train to Sydney, only a bit longer, and on a monstrous rolling angry ocean, in a big bobbing cork of a giant tinny that made her horribly seasick. But there was no other way to get to Holland in 1968: affordable flying hadn’t arrived yet.
We were on an “improved” migrant passenger liner. Early liners were functionally designed to cart migrants to and from the new frontiers. Men on one side; women and children and the other. They were overcrowded, hot, dirty, and exuded vomit. When migration turned profitable, shipping companies re-branded passage as something to enjoy along the way. The large, often infectious, dormitories were replaced with 'Tourist Class' cabins. Air-conditioning made an appearance; swimming pools, multiple dining rooms and bars were added, and the latest entertainment was scheduled. But one thing the liners couldn’t do anything about was sea-sicknesses, and the stench of it continued to infuse the corridors as passengers displayed their partially liquefied meals anywhere and everywhere.
In 1956, before I was born, my 17 year old mother and 769 other people travelled to Australia on the Johan Van Oldenbarnevelt, a ship named in honour of a sixteenth century Dutch statesman who took to the stage in the Dutch struggle for independence from Spain. He would later be accused of treason and executed following an ad hoc trial by his enemies, for attempting to extract the religiously tolerant States of Holland from the rest the more religiously dogmatic, federated Netherlands. Johan Van Oldenbarnevelt was reborn in Dutch history as the ship that introduced most migrants from the Netherlands to Australia. Launched in 1929, it was the largest diesel-powered ship the Dutch ever built. At the time it was to service the trade route between the Netherlands and Indonesia (formerly the Dutch East Indies). During World War Two she carried troops to and from Australia, and was nicknamed JVO. When Indonesian independence was declared in 1947, the Dutch all but stopped travelling there. Consequently, shipping to Indonesia became unprofitable, so the JVO was offered by its private owners to the Dutch Government for the purpose of exporting Dutch folk to Australia.

Johan Von Oldenbarnevelt
Over forty four journeys, the Johan Von Oldenbarnevelt, emptied the Netherlands of its extraneous peoples, and filled up Australia with them. She barely made a dint in their population though, when women like my grandmothers on both sides were popping out up to ten sustainable generations of children in one lifetime. In 1947 the population of the Netherlands was 9.5 million. Almost ten years later, when Mum left, it had risen to nearly 11 million, despite mass migration. And it is still growing.

Mum( far right) with her family saying goodbye to her brother Peter, who took the Johan Von Oldenbarnevelt, a year before she did. Half of Mum's above family migrated to Australia.
The JVO was a luxury liner. Most of her passengers were on a grand adventure. If others were like my mother, they probably never had a holiday before. In fact, my mother didn’t like any form of being away from her home that she had experienced because although her parents were very well off, Mum had never been on a holiday in her life. Holidays didn’t really exist in Holland when she grew up, a big part of which was during World War Two.

The little suitcase labelled "Sydney"
Mum didn’t know what a holiday was. But by necessity and circumstance, she was an accomplished traveller. Although always accompanied by a male, she circumnavigated the world on a passenger liner three and a half times, getting off at exotic ports for a little look-see, like Aden, the Suez, Panama, Capetown, and the Canary Islands. She trekked overland in rudimentary conditions from London to India, through Iran, Iraq and Turkey, and once in Australia, she managed the outback in 1950’s vehicles and on 1950’s roads and dirt tracks, to join up with relatives and find work, as migrants usually did when they got here.
Mum in the Middle East. Notice her clothes.
Mum in Egypt at the Pyramids and Sphinx
Mum with her brother and cousins in Collerenebrei. Yes, thats a gun she's holding. Pig shooting
While the majority of passengers on the JVO had chosen to travel to Australia, Elizabeth Catherina Margaretha De Wit, my mother, was like that other De Witt, on James Cameron's Titanic - Rose - who dreaded an arranged married life with Caledon Hockley. Honestly, this is terrible casting. Who wouldn't want to marry the tall, dark, ridiculously handsome, and smokingly charismatic Billy Zane? His money was just a bonus. He was hardly more arrogant, condescending, abusive and sexist than could be expected from any other man back then. And he was young! Rose's revulsion might have been more believable if Hockley was a repugnant, evil, old, wrinkly, media mogul type - like a certain Australian expat we all know.

Mum (centre between 2 men) looking brave, and brother Gus (left front of Mum) on deck of Johan Von Oldenbarnevelt
Anyway, no. Mum was not a voluntary migrant. It hadn’t even entered her mind to move to the other end of the world to some wild, dry, hot, flooding, bush fiery place teeming with ten of the most deadly animals on earth. But being a female, and for the sake of a male, she did what she was told. She felt abandoned by her mother, and resentful.

Friends and relatives wave Mum off as she sails involuntarily off to Australia 
Holed up in a ‘women only’ cabin, and a virginal 17 year old, Mum would wake up to find men in her room, not knowing what they were doing to the other women.
“I told my brother Gus, who told the Purser, who put an end to it”.
That didn’t make Mum very popular.
Poor Mum was miserable all the way. So in 1956, when she entered the superlative Port Jackson, etched out of the Land Down Under like a V-Neck jumper with an unravelling rib of emerald coves and sandy beaches sparkling away all iridescent and diamond like:

" I wasn’t the slightest bit impressed."

Mum just wanted to go home.
By 1958, after working as a nurse in psychiatric ward, and as a shop assistant at Moree’s haberdashery, ASSEF's, Mum earned enough money to buy passage back to Holland on the brand new Fairsky.

Mum, the nurse

Mum, second from the right with dark jacket on, at ASSEFS, Moree
Contrary to her involuntary trip to Australia on the JVB where she moped most of the way, Mum was now going home and she was happy. She ‘shucked the puck’ on the teak-clad upper decks, played tennis, quoits, and ping-pong. She decorated the deep swimming pool with her slim shapely body, feasted in the three dining rooms with her little pinky in the air, and swanned around the grand social hall, and the Fairsky’s bars. Young and beautiful, she partied until all hours of the morning with an equally festive bunch of Aussies going on their Grand Tour of Europe, like my Father to be had done a year earlier. 
Mum Partying on the Fairsky, 1958. Yes, thats a Leopard skin coat :-(
But Mum was still a virgin. When she was sat next to the Captain at his Welcome Dinner, she had to decline an invitation to a ‘special' celebration the Captain had organised for her in his cabin, because she was the only guest. 

Mum dancing with a very eager looking Captain.
The Fairsky shipwrecked in 1977, when it hit a submerged vessel.

After Mum and Dad were married in London, they returned together overland through Europe to Iran where they boarded the Dubai based MV Dara, in Khorramshahr, bound for India. When my parents disembarked in Bombay, the MV Dara about turned to the Persian Gulf. It had barely reached the Gulf when its’ engine caught on fire. The ship sank, killing 238 of the 819 souls on board. Everyone else had to be rescued at sea. Lucky for the survivors it was a warm sea, unlike the North Atlantic which was just below freezing when the Titanic sank.
Mum was pregnant with me.
“I’m so glad the ship waited until we got off before blowing up,” she recalled.

MV Dara on fire, 1961
So am I, I suppose, not that I would have known what I was missing if it hadn’t.
Either safety at sea hadn’t improved much, or there were just more ships out and about. In 1961 alone, 127 seafaring vessels found their way to a watery grave.
 ‘Take a ship, back to the home country’ was the popular jingo in the early days of the vamped up migrant liner, and that’s just what Mum was doing on the Oriana, with us tagging along.
It was an adventure of a lifetime for us children as we mounted the Oriana’s gangway. The Overseas Passenger Terminal was bursting with celebration. As the ship’s horn blew, and under a floating collage of colourfull paper steamers, friends and relatives waved tears of joy and sadness to their friends and relatives hanging off the port side railings, waving tears of joy and sadness back.
The Oriana, with its’ corn coloured hull and matching corn coloured funnel, the most recognizable funnel in maritime history, was the fastest ship in the P&O fleet. She could take 2000 people from Southampton to Sydney via the Suez Canal in just 21 days. The Johan Von Oldenbarnevelt took six weeks.

The Oriana
The Oriana was our own ultra-modern Titanic because when construction was planned in 1954 it was to be the ‘grandest, largest and fastest’ Orient liner ever to be built. I can hear Rose De Witt roll her eyes:
“Do you know of Dr. Freud? His ideas about the male preoccupation with size might be of particular interest “
In 1973, as was the fate of many passenger liners when affordable flying arrived, migrants didn’t have to travel by ship anymore, and passenger liners became unprofitable, the Oriana moved onto her next incarnation as a cruise ship, purely to holiday on and have fun.

Video: Memories of the SS Oriana, 1959 - 2005
While Mum and Dad did their adult things – playing cards and scrabble mostly – we were running amok on the ship.
“Half the time we didn’t know where you were’,  Mum absconded.
Thankfully we weren’t in the sea, given the Oriana’s railings were so easy to mount. No one fell overboard as far as Mum remembers (today 20 people fall off cruise ships every year even though ships are bigger and safer than ever). When I was neither seasick or in sick bay with so many other kids who had all infected each other with chicken pox, I was in the swimming pool, or helping Dad make costumes for my sister and I, or learning to sword dance which I then performed in a talent competition.
Dad, me and my younger sister in a dress up competition on the Oriana: signs says "More Lolllies"

Me in the middle in a talent competition

Me and my family in Capetown, South Africa, 1968
Gazing out onto an ocean that goes on forever every which way is something hard to forget when your norm is 360 degrees of trees, but crossing the equator is what impressed on my experience the most. In terms of celebration on a ship, this is like crossing from one year to the next, only you are crossing from one half of the earth's oceans into the other half of the earth's oceans – safely, without having been killed, shipwrecked, or sunk in battle, or having died of disease, or fallen overboard.
Crossing the equator is a ceremonial event that has its roots in ancient times when there was a high chance of never returning once you set off on the high seas. The one to blame for such low survival odds was the tantrum throwing Roman God, Neptune. King Neptune occupies the oceans all topless and muscly, with hair flowing long and wavy from his head and face. The lower half of him is some configuration of human, fish tail, draping robes and magical shapeshifting water. Thrusting forward a tall trident, he whooshes through the sea on a giant twirling conch shell drawn by whales, or, depending on how fast he wants to go I suppose, sea horses. He is trailed by a long train of lesser gods, sea-nymphs, dolphins and fish. Neptune was a giant, cantankerous, super fit, 
King Neptune
elderly man. When in a foul mood he would whip up the skies and the oceans in such a rage that, just like the St Andrews Cross Spider’s web in its vibrating warning state, the sea and the earth and the heavens above became a tsunami type blur, out of which would jettison new islands, shredded bits of ship, and many a dead sailor. Sailors were afraid of Neptune, and rightly so. If one hundred and twenty seven ships sank the year we took the Oriana, imagine the odds in ancient wooden vessels, with guesswork for topographic and bathymetric charting, no sonar, and no weather satellites to check if King Neptune was around or not.
The Equatorial Line Crossing Ceremony was once seen as a test of a sailor's ability to survive the sea. Traditionally, sailors who have already crossed the Equator are nicknamed ‘Trusty' or 'Honorable’ Shellbacks, or ‘Sons of Neptune’. Sailors who have never crossed the equator are called ‘Slimy’ Pollywogs. In its innocent form, the ritual is fancy dress-up occasion where Trusty Shellbacks must report to King Neptune and his court, which includes; Davy Jones, the deity of death who manages dead sailors at the bottom of the sea; her Highness, Amphitrite, Poseidon’s wife (Poseidon being the original Greek version of Neptune); as well other high ranking seamen often dressed in drag, to initiate the Slimy Pollwogs by putting them through difficult and usually insulting ordeals.
By the 19th century, the line-crossing ceremony had become tantamount to torture in many of the world’s navies, used to harass homosexuals, women and vulnerable sailors who were forced to endure acts of violence like being beaten with wet boards and ropes, electrified metal, and fire hoses, and compelled into performing humiliating and vulgar sex acts. They were sometimes thrown over the side of the ship and dragged through the surf from the stern. As too many Pollywogs died or sustained serious injury, this hazing initiation is now banned in most Navies.
But the ceremony has persisted on cruise ships as an excuse to party and pay tribute to a long standing tradition on the high seas. I had raw eggs cracked over me; butter rubbed into my skin and hair, and tomato sauce, spaghetti, squashed fruit and fish swill thrown at me. Then I was flung into the pool, which had a smell I will never forget. Simmering away in the equatorial heat, it was like treading water in a floating landfill. But I entered the warm, stinky, fatty, rancid, deck pool as a Pollywog - still slimy and in need of a turbo scented soapy wash - but as a newly certified seven-year-old, ‘Trusty Shellback’.

Crossing the Line ceremony on the Oriana
It would be a while before we travelled as a family again upon our return to Australia. Meanwhile almost all of our relatives, including the extended ones, lived on or near the northern beaches of Sydney in Avalon, Manly, and Seaforth, except for Uncle John who lived in Bondi. Mum would ship me and my sister off there because her idea of a holiday was not to have us around to cook for and clean after. I happily went because I had to keep my life exciting. Anything was more exciting than being at home.
But when no relative was available, local shows, family run pop up amusement parks, touring circuses or a day trip to a theme park would be the highlight of a school holiday - if your parents would take you. For most households in the Mountains, this usually meant Dad took the train to work and left the car with Mum. Except in our household, because Mum's parents bought her a car so she wouldn't be so isolated.
Finally something Mum loved: theme parks, circuses and zoos!
‘I love the Zoo! I had to cover your eyes once when a monkey started doing THAT to the other monkey
Theme parks were hugely popular in my teen years when we still had large tracks of cheap land for entrepreneurs to develop their fantasies on and engage a day trip market not yet enlisted into the mass tourism boom to come. A famous local theme park was the African Lion Safari in Warragamba. A bear escaped once, and when two 12 year old boys broke into it and left a gate open, several lionesses, including a pregnant one, also bolted. She killed a dog and together they terrorised the locals. The Park’s owner, Stafford Bullen, had to shoot the expecting Lioness dead. 

Video: African Lion Safari ad

The Bullens also ran a nearby circus style theme park in Wallacia called Bullen’s Animal World. 

Bullens Animal World

Then there was the 150 acre El Cabillo Blanco in Camden with a horse drawn omnibus, a scenic train, sheep shearing, horse riding, lake paddling, and dancing Andalusian horses.

Video: El Cabaillo Blanco Ad
And there was the Magic Kingdom in Lansvale, with its slides and rides and stage shows.

Video: the abandoned Magic Kingdom

The Penrith Easter Show was a usual must do Easter event, and there were attractions we went to during school, like the educational and historically themed but sadly now abandoned, Old Sydney Town. 

Video: Old Sydney Town Ad

Me and school friends on an Old Sydney Town School Excursion
The only theme park to survive Sydney's expansion, and the changing landscape of labour laws, rising incomes, and organised tourism, was the sweetheart of so many 1970’s teenagers, Luna Park. We didn’t need our parent’s to drive us to Luna Park. We could take the train. The now 82 year old year old Luna Park has had to fight to stay open. In 1979, in a tragedy that could have happened to any of us kids because we were there so often, six children and one adult lost their lives in the Ghost Train fire, forcing Luna Park to close. With the rush to profit from Sydney Harbour’s foreshore, developers unsuccessfully tried to grab her, and residents of new surrounding developments attempted to shut her down because of the noise of squealing children having fun. Luna Park made it through though, and is now only one of two amusement parks in the world that are protected by government legislation, while several of the buildings on the site are also listed on the Registers of the National Estate and NSW State Heritage.

Luna Park
When we were stuck at home because it was cold and rainy and there was nowhere to go; the house was spotless and we couldn’t weed the garden because it was too cold and rainy, we would knit or crochet, watch an old Hollywood Midday Movie on TV, or read a book. Sometimes our neighbours would come over and we would sew up a new outfit.  Or we would play scrabble, cribbage, canasta, euchre, patience, snap, solitaire, shuffle board, or monopoly – with Mum.
“Oooh. I just love to play a good game of cards”
And so it came to be that I learnt every card game known to women in the 1970's. 
By the age of 15 I am working part time, and that would be almost the end of my holidays. I have discovered money and opportunity cost of not working. Well, almost. While in Tangalooma in 1976, on our first family holiday since returning from Holland, I met Mandy Bull. She has invited me to stay for a whole two weeks with her family in Hamilton, Brisbane, and Mum and Dad let me go. Alone. Not that attached to Coles, I resigned and caught a Cobb and Co, a bus line named after the folkloric Aussie stage coach company which carried passengers, mail, and often gold, to regional and remote outback Australia, and which was regularly attacked by bushrangers, like my yet to be validated, somewhere connected relative, Captain Thunderbolt. He also liked gold.

Cob and Co Stagecoach
It was a looong, horrible trip. There was no air-conditioning and it was mid summer. We had to wait for a scheduled pit stop to go to the toilet. Smokers puffed away so much we could have been canned and sold as canapés. The roads were so poorly tarred and potholed that it wasn't much different to being on the Oriana. I was motion sick the whole way.

But once off the bus, I’m in for the teenage holiday I imagined – beaches, boys, parties, boys, shopping malls, boys, mud swimming, boys, summer ice skating, boys. Bean bag and pillow fights with boys, riding on the back of boy’s motorbikes, R rated scary movies at the Drive-In with boys, playing records at boys’ places, doing the Sunshine Coast beach crawl in boy’s Panel Vans. We went to RSL’s, pubs, dances and parties to underage drink with boys (I don’t turn 16 for another nine months). Not much didn’t involve boys, including getting into trouble with Queensland girls for allegedly looking at their boys. The only thing we did that didn’t directly include the opposite sex was calling up the local radio, 4IP, to request a song, swapping clothes, baby sitting, sunbaking, and writing letters and post cards about how much fun I was having with Mandy, and well, with boys.

By 1977, going on holidays was an expectation. It is amazing how fast things like rights and freedoms and technology become the norm, as if it was always thus. 

The reason we hadn't been on holidays since the Oriana was because Dad was now working in the private sector. He wasn't given enough paid leave to have a holiday. And he worked in retail, so he didn't want to take the Christmas season off. It was the busiest time of the year. When four weeks paid leave was legislated in 1974 however, Dad was suddenly off to New Caledonia, Fiji, and other coastal Australian resorts with Mum, and we finally had a family holiday on Moreton Island in 1976. 

I don't recall ever being explained when I was a teenager, how come we have holidays - long or short - unless it was the Queen or God we were expected to ritually celebrate in gratitude. Instead, Dad, who loathed both Queen and God, would moan "Bloody Unions" and vote Conservative.
Holidays, being allowed to have one, and being able to afford one, are a significant measure of a nation’s economic and political fairness and was long and hard fought for in Australia. It took 68 years to get one day off a week from the get go of colonisation: 186 years to win four weeks paid leave. But it took much of the western world, millennia.
Hunter-gatherers didn’t really need a holiday. Their souls were replenished by unadulterated nature that surrounded them and which they nurtured. As sedentary civilisations emerged, the dominant few, like Ancient Egyptian Pharaohs, worked out how make other people do the survival work for them.
Royal Progress
As did the Romans whose slaves afforded them the time to travel
around their empire for up to two years without working. Medieval nobility undertook “Royal Progress” from castle to castle, showing themselves off to their subjects, reminding the wretched who is in control. Other adventurers travelled to conquer, thieve, trade, explore, learn a craft or to scholar, while men of religious orders went off to evangelise, or “enlighten” themselves. It was high-risk voyaging. There was a significant possibility of never returning: ships would sink or be attacked by pirates, robbers would ambush and murder overland wanderers, and exotic diseases could strike. 
Gentlemen on Grand Tour
Between the 16th and 18th Centuries, young nobility - men mostly - along with a huge entourage of tutors, mentors, servants, equerries and other staff, would go on a tightly organised Grand Tour of Europe. They would attend princely audiences, festivals and parties as they moved from Rome to Paris, to Vienna, broadening their education and honing their social graces. Women meanwhile, were locked up in convents to learn to be demure in body shrinking bodices, to sip tea, and to keep their thoughts to themselves when men would, to quote Titanic’s Rose De Witt, "Congratulate each other on being masters of the universe”.
Botanist, Joseph Banks is the most famous of the leisure class to visit Australia. Inheriting his father's fortune at 21, he opted for an adventurous Grand Tour of the unknown with Captain Cook, paying for seven other people to join him. He could afford to. He earned 66 times what Captain Cook was paid to discover new territories.                                                                                                                       

By the early 19th century, industrialisation produced an entrepreneurial leisure class, which Rose de Witt's mother called “new money” when referring to Caledon Hockley's fortune. New money was appalling,  but the leisure class often lost their underpinning fortunes by being so idle and leisurely, and would need to marry "new money", which they would exchange a title for. The ability to travel was broadening beyond a privileged world, class categorised like the sleeping quarters on the Titanic were.
Except in Australia. Colonial Australia was 124 years old when the Titanic sank, but an English style class system had not yet managed to put down roots here. Joseph Banks, considered Australia a place to send prisoners, not a place the likes of his kind would want to live in. Plus nineteenth century Australia was work or starve. A colonial nation had to be built from scratch. There was no luxury to enjoy. And few wanted to replicate a system like the one they were lucky to escape from, one that placed little value on human life unless you were of the leisured class. The idea of  economic equality and  democracy became entrenched pretty much from the outset in Australia, even if it took a while to evolve.
Not so for Aborigines however, who were forced backwards a few hundred years into a kind of feudal relationship with landowners, writes Richard White in A History of Getting Away in Australia. Their children were stolen from them to ensure they had no one to go home to. Aborigines frustrated Europeans with their "lack of work ethic" because they would go walkabout to meet clans and clan groups. Ceremoniously travelling, initiating and ‘singing' country was essential to the transmission of Aboriginal culture and history because they didn’t write theirs down. And no idiotic English regulations and laws about labour would stop them. 
The first peoples of Australia had already worked out, as one might hope after 65,000 years on earth, that work for works sake – and generally someone else's sake -  is not the meaning of life. 
Most developed countries followed Australia's initial example in holiday entitlements, by mandating a minimum amount of paid annual leave. The exception was the United States which treats a holiday as an employment perk rather than a “human right” as our fine judges, arbitrators and Labor politicians saw it at the time. Twenty five percent of Americans get no paid leave. If your American employer has given you leave as an incentive to retain you, on average it’s 7.3 days. Telling of where American priorities lie, only the armed forces get paid holidays - 30 days a year.
By the time of my diaries, 1975 to 1979 the Australian holiday was at its most glorious. By the 1980's  the tourism industry took over and travelling en masse had arrived. At the same time, employers began their assault on our free time. The great long beachside summer has all but ended, not just because the coastal places once reserved for tents and caravans have been sold to developer barons but because Australians have been pushed backwards to working long hours, actually, the longest in the developedworld, with over a quarter us working 50 hour weeks.We have gone from leading the world in knowing how to live, to hurtling to the bottom of the the pile in terms of holidays.
While career opportunities have opened up for all Australians, and working for oneself is a choice many might not sacrifice, time set aside for actually living, time, that previous generations fought so hard for, has been eroded in a big way, and in half a generation. With contract labor, zero hour contacts, no paid leave, no long term employment, both genders working making it hard to coordinate time off, the cost of living rising faster than take home pay, the cost of mortgage or rent, and divorce for 50% of married couples with children, and a chasm that has chiseled systematically away at the foundations of the middle class, has seen the return of the holiday weekend like in the early 1900’s - with an extra 1.97 days. The average domestic trip has gone down to 3.9 nights a trip. 
When Australians were not entitled to a holiday or couldn’t afford one, they lived in more space than we do now. Houses were set on large blocks of land. We were surrounded by generous wilderness in which to re charge our souls, like back and front yards, gardens and acreage, crown land, state forests, and state and federal owned designated recreational land for national fitness and camping, and national parks. And there were less of us.
With the trend to box people up in tiny apartments in an all cement, metal and plastic environment, amidst building, traffic and people congestion, pollution, noise and lost quiet, the need to get away will become greater than ever. This brings us to The World in January 1977.
The World in January 1977
Qantas is preparing for next month’s flight over Antarctica, the stuff of every traveller’s dreams and the last frontier of the adventurous leisure and fortuned folk (not many people could afford to fly in
1977, much less over Antarctica). It was a 12-14 hour adventure, four of which were spent circling over the continent. Then in 1979, the fourteenth AirNew Zealand Flight TE-901, flew 257 passengers into the active polar Volcano, Mt Eribus, killing everyone. Air New Zealand had just computerised its flight systems. A programmer entered a 4 instead of a 6 at some computational point, sending the plane off-course. Flights over the Antarctic stopped immediately and stayed that way for 15 years.
When Captain James Cook circumnavigated Antarctica in 1773, he declared, “The world will
derive no benefit from it”. But then came the sealers and the whalers, the great adventurers, scientific expeditions, and mass tourism. By 1961, over 60 nations had established stations there. It was getting crowded and competitive, so the Antarctic Treaty was needed to prevent any one peoples from taking Antarctica for themselves. Soon large cruise vessels carrying over 950 people at a time began to converge on the Antarctic, until finally mass tourism on gigantic cruise ships was banned. Nonetheless over 30 private yachts and some larger expedition vessels, still carry 37,000 tourists to Antarctica every year.
And Antarctica has suffered. Some Antarctic animals have been taken to the verge of extinction, like various species of whale, seal, penguin, albatross, petrel and boobie. Soils have been contaminated, and persistently long-to-break-down rubbish has been left behind, dumped into that white ice blue sea, along with untreated sewerage, or into deep ice crevices, or burnt in the open spreading carcinogenic and mutanogenic dioxide across the polar region. Redundant and banged vehicles and aircraft were just left where they crashed, and oil drums are scattered all over Antarctica.
The good news is, that under the Antarctic Treaty, countries stationed there are required to clean-up abandoned work sites and take any new rubbish back out with them. Several bases now use wind energy including the Australian Mawson, New Zealand Scott, US McMurdo and the heavily insulated Belgian Princess Elisabeth which runs entirely on wind and solar energy. Large cruising vessels are now banned and there are limits to annual visitors. No vehicles or people are allowed at all in some areas.
This is what had to be done to protect Antarctica.
The impact of humans on Antarctica is small compared to what tourism has done to the rest of the world. Those remote places of beauty we yearn to holiday in and around - mountains, sandy beaches, lakes, riversides, rainforests, wetlands, mangroves, coral reefs, sea grass beds, and Antarctica, are mostly also species rich ecosystems: environments that spurt out life, making it possible for humans to exist. With the explosion of the world’s population and the increasing wealth of highly populous nations, the number of international air passengers worldwide rose from 88 million in 1972 to 3.6 billion in 2016.
In a mad rush to accommodate the global tourists boom of the 1980’s onward, a swathe of monstrous architecturally clashing facilities began to spread across the beautiful parts of the world. The resulting sprawl includes supporting infrastructure such as roads, parking, service areas, employee housing, and waste disposal sites. The sheer numbers of people and their demands, and the resources the tourism industry uses, is today greater than our environment's ability to cope. Tourism causes the same forms of pollution as any other industry: air emissions, noise, solid waste and littering, discharges to sea and waterways, releases of sewage, oil and chemicals, and visual pollution. Mass tourism often causes local shortages of water, energy, and food, like fish. Just as frequently, it leads to wide scale deforestation, sand mining and consequent loss of beach, loss of coastal wetlands which are often filled in to build resorts on, the suffocation of corals by algae blooms, soil erosion, habitat loss and increased pressure on endangered species. Some figures help to paint a picture:
      Golf courses in Thailand use over 1500kg of chemical fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides per year and as much water as 60,000 rural villagers;
      In the Mediterranean, tourists use double the amount of water what the inhabitants of an average Spanish city use.

      One trekking tourist in Nepal can use four to five kilograms of wood a day.
      Snowmobiles are heard between 70% to 90% of the time in much of Yellowstone National Park 
      In Yosemite National Park  (USA) vehicle smog is “so thick that Yosemite Valley could not be seen from airplanes", smothering plants and animals.
      Trekking trails along the Peruvian Andes and Nepal have been nicknamed the "Coca-Cola trail" and "Toilet Paper Trail” because of all the garbage these supposedly nature loving travellers leave behind instead of taking it back out with them.
      Every year in the Indian Himalaya, more than 250,000 Hindu pilgrims, 25,000 trekkers, and 75 mountaineering expeditions trample the route to the sacred source of the Ganges River, the Gangotri Glacier, causing severe erosion and deforestation.
      Cruise ships in the Caribbean generate 82,000 tons of garbage a year, nearly 4.5 times that produced by on shore locals, while globally, cruise ships dump a staggering 1 billion gallons of sewerage into the Ocean every year.
      In the Philippines and the Maldives, dynamiting and mining of coral for resort building materials has depleted the fisheries that sustain local people and attract tourists.
      Ninety of the 109 countries with coral reefs are being damaged by cruise ship anchors, sewage, tourists breaking off chunks of coral, and by commercial harvesting for sale to tourists. One ship can completely destroy an area about half the size of a football field. It takes 50 years for a coral reef to recover.
      On Mexico's Pacific coast, bright lights from beachfront hotels disorient female sea turtles coming ashore to lay eggs, often preventing successful reproduction.
       In Kenya, safari truck, planes and 4x4 encroachment and noise has led to animals becoming so disturbed that at times they neglect their young or fail to mate.

      And just look what what the world has managed to do to the completely uninhabited UNESCO listed World Heritage Henderson Island !
One could go on….but
What about Ecotoursim?
Runaway tourist developments has lead to the destruction of the very places they were built on to enjoy, paving the way for ecotourism.
The overarching principle of eco-tourism is to protect the integrity of natural systems with responsible low key travel while providing economic benefits for local communities who should then feel incentivised to protect their natural heritage for the long term rather than destroy it for short term profit. The win win is the conservation of nature and wildlife, while implementing sustainable economic development. Eco-tourism makes up seven percent of the world tourism market.
But it relies on developing the few wild places left on earth. In our Asia Pacific area eco-tourism is growing 25% a year.
Ecotourism in the Amazon
In some countries Ecotourism has worked, like in Rwanda's Parc des Volcans, whose visitors go to be with the Gorillás (in the Mist), generating US$1 million annually which is used to support the management and operation of all of Rwanda's protected areas. On the other side of the mountain, the Democratic Republic of the Congo's gorillas are being poached to extinction.
Lions in the Amboseli National Park are worth US$27,000 each in tourism income, while an elephant herd is worth US$610,000. There they have come to realise that extinct animals are worth nothing. The wildlife tourism industry in Kenya employs over 55,000 people. In Peru's biologically rich Tambopata Candamo Reserved Zone, the Ese'eja Indians provide labor and lodging for ecotourism in return for 60% of profits. Conservation International has also demonstrated that in Bahai, Brazil, eco-tourism provides more long term income over short term income generated by one off logging, grazing, mining, and even agriculture.

In all, the direct economic contribution from national park entrance fees are estimated to be between US$2 billion and US$12 billion annually in developing countries, excluding the US$93 to US$233 billion spent on hotel rooms, rental cars, and food.
Ecotourism hasn’t worked everywhere. In the Galapagos Islands, financially successful eco-tourism initiatives has seen an influx of itinerant workers needing infrastructure and waste management. In
A Nature Conservancy in Kenya
Kenya and Tanzania,
Masai herdsman, who have a high population growth rate, and who are herding cattle not just for their survival but for profit, have been pushed off their land to make way for conservation. Many are angry, accusing the international community of caring more about animals than Africans. But some have developed their own ecotourism on Masai land, in the form of short stay Conservancies, where the Masai allow both cattle and wildlife to graze on the same plot of land. The Conservancies are small. In a day, a visitor has seen every wild animal there is to see. A flight over a Conservancy reveals just how small and how threatened they are. Surrounding non conservancy Masai farmland is clearly overgrazed and desertified, compared to the greener pastures of Conservancies.
While tribes have been forced off their land in both Kenya and Tanzania to develop ecotourism, these measures, like those taken in Antarctica, were considered necessary in order to ensure the survival of animals which are vastly outnumbered by a rapidly expanding, self interested human world. 
For ecotourism to be real, regardless of country, resources must be sustainably sourced, renewables should fuel tourist facilities which should be constructed on the outskirts of park boundaries to minimise harmful environmental impacts. Local people, conservation groups, NGO’s, and other specialist bodies, should be involved in providing labor, accomodation, skills, knowledge, technical assistance and advice. And investment should be regulated to prevent profits flowing off shore. And the number of humans interacting with them needs to be limited. This means prices will probably become unaffordable to the masses and only affordable, ironically, to a resurgent hyper leisure class. 

If only a few wild, beautiful and ecologically imperative places on earth can’t just be left alone for the right of non-human species to a peaceful enjoyment of earth.

Australia in January 1977

It was a tragic month for Australia’s January. Colin Richard Forman, an sociopathic 23 year old tram driver who, disenchanted with Australia a few years earlier, was caught with a plane ticket he forged  to fly home to England. He received a criminal conviction for it. Stuck in Australia, he earned a commercial pilots license and got a job with Connair, a medium sized company flying people and freight around the northern territory. When Connair found out about his criminal conviction, they fired him. On January 5, Forman went on to steal a Beechcraft Baron and deliberately crashed it into Connair offices in Alice Springs, killing 6 people and burning four others. He left a suicide/revenge note on a shrine to his anger in his apartment confirming his intent to punish Connair for his lot in life.
Then, Suzanne Armstrong and Susan Bartlett, were stabbed to death in their homes on Easey Street in the inner-Melbourne suburb of Collingwood. A 16 month baby was left motherless. The murders were linked to the disappearance and probable murder of another woman, librarian, Julie Garciacelay, two years earlier. The savages who did this are unknown and are still among us to this day, unless they are dead.
Then, for many of our friends and families in the Blue Mountains, January 18 was a day that would change lives forever. A  peak hour commuter train that began its journey in the Blue Mountains town of Mount Victoria, derailed and crashed into the supports of an overhead road in Granville, killing 83 people and injuring more than 210. The whole Blue Mountains was traumatised because everyone knew someone who was on that ill fated train. 

Granville Rail Disaster

My Diary in January 1977

It's January 1977: a new year and a new diary. I will turn 16 this year. This month I am going on holidays to Queensland to catch up with Mandy Bull, a girl I met at Tangalooma Resort on Moreton Island last year during a family holiday. It’s a major milestone because my parents allow me to travel alone on a bus to another state, at the age of 15.

I am self absorbed and nervous about my trip. Everything has to be perfect. I need clothes and makeup, face creams, jewelry, and money, and I want some of Mum’s. But she won’t give it to me. I’m too self-centered to understand that Mum’s few precious things are hers, and yes I probably will lose or destroy them. 

When I get to Sydney’s Central train station, I assume a taxi driver who offers to drive me is Puerto Rican. But how could I possibly know what a Puerto Rican looks and sounds like? I’d never met one before, and we didn’t have any at Springwood High School. How many Puerto Ricans actually resided in Australia in 1977? I attribute this judgement to 1970’s stereotyping by American crime sitcoms in which taxi drivers were typically Puerto Rican. Nonetheless, and no doubt equally as responsible for my fear, when some dark skinned guy with a weird accent in an Anglo Saxon 1977 Australia, says, "Gaday beautiful, can I give you a lift?", it was dodgy. So I opt for a 'safer looking' taxi driver who promptly crashes us into a bus.

Clearly Australian geography and history lessons haven’t taught us much by age 15. The Queensland teens I hung out with thought we Blue Mountaineers lived in the Outback. And as I cross the New South Wales – Queensland border, I think the Gold Coast, the Sunshine Coast and Surfers Paradise are all in the one place.

Mandy and I swap clothes. I am jealous because I think one of my dresses looks better on her than it does on me. I'm staying with Mandy for two weeks but it costs money and I am running out of it. Mandy is baby sitting most nights and being her friend, I have to go too, which I’m not very understanding about by the end of the second week because Mandy is the one being paid, not me. I seem to have forgotten that her family were putting me up.

I was a participator as a teenager. I went into competitions, I wrote letters to editors and I called the local radio station to request songs. So in Brisbane, I call 4IP to request a song on the radio, and instead of being asked what I would like the radio host to play, I am told that I want to hear Chicago’s ‘If you leave me now’, because that’s what was scheduled to play. I played ball and said "Chicago" on queue, even though I hated that song. Since everyone listened to the radio in the 1970's, all Mandy's friends called Mandy to ask what I was doing on their radio. 

It was a small world. The radio host came from the Blue Mountains originally and told all Brisbane that (the natural waters of) Blue Pool and Jelly Bean Pool are ‘nice’, but a (heavily chlorinated) modern swimming pool is even better. 

My sister is four years younger than me. It's too big an age gap for the self absorbed bigger teen sister that I now am, and I'm not very tolerant of her telling Mum and Dad everything I do wrong. Boys are still doing their best, but I'm still very far from ready. I eventually turn away from the parent approved Jakaroo Dave, because he grunts when he kisses me, and annoyingly stroked my arm up and down. 

Saturday January 1 - "Well I’m catching the 3.59 train into Sydney this arvo"

Hi! Happy New Year! Well I’m catching the 3.59 train into Sydney this arvo. Mother is in a shitted mood with Dad about the party and all that but she does that every single year. Every time Dad wants to go out, Mum doesn’t and spoils it for Dad. She wouldn’t give me that purple top naturally, of course. She knew damn well she wasn’t going to let me have it but no, she had to say “I’ll think about it” and then she says, “No”. And now she won’t give it to me. The mascara either, or the cream. “It’s mine”. She says. She hasn’t worn the thing yet. God. It’s just gonna sit in the cupboard and mould. Well thank my darling Mother for you. She can’t stand me wearing anything of hers. I think she’s jealous. But of me? I doubt it. But there’s no other reason except that she hates me. It must be that then. Well I’ll go now and see you later. Ok, seeya.

Well Glenda walked me to the station and a guy a know and all his friends were there getting pissed. Then the train came. They were going to Blacktown and when they got off, Michael came to kiss me, but I turned away and he got the sh-ts. Serves himself right. Then we came to Central. I was a bit scared though. I walked out to the taxis and this guy goes, “Ga’ day beautiful”. 
Then he goes, “Can I give you a lift somewhere?”
I said “no”
I think he was Puerto Rican, if you can read that. They all looked the same to me.

The taxi I was in crashed into the bus.

Anyway, I was half an hour early. The taxi I was in crashed into the bus. I walked around Sydney then stayed in the lounge of Cob and Co and listened to the top 127 on 2SM. God it was hot. The bus was bloody awful too. My air conditioning didn’t work and my light didn’t work and the trip was really bumpy. I was really sick and tired. I didn’t get any sleep on the bus. There wasn’t anybody exciting on the bus either. There was this young couple and I was talking to them mostly. The time went so slow. We stopped somewhere at McDonalds in the middle of the night to eat something, then after that I tried to sleep but I couldn’t. Then finally it was time to have some breakfast. We had cereal, tea, orange juice. Then we went again and I felt really sick. I had such a bad headache. That’s how bad I felt. Finally we crossed the border of Queensland. Surfies everywhere. The beaches were absolutely beautiful, especially the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast and Surfers Paradise. I would have loved to stay there for a holiday. I think it’s really beautiful.

Then we finally came into Brisbane and I thought I was going to die

Thats how bad I felt. When I got off, the Bulls weren’t there to get me, so I waited a while. Then I rang them and they said the bus was due half an hour later. So they came and picked me up. When we got to their place I had something to drink and we talked. Then I went for a swim. Mandy phoned Greg (a friend of hers) and he came over. We went to the Pizza Hut but I pi--ed myself laughing and was spewing pizza all over the place. God it was funny. I wore my black dress. When me and Mandy went to the loo she said that Greg gave me 9/10 and said I was nice. When we were at Mandy’s, he thought I lived in the Outback. I was going on about how we have horse and buggies and square dances and all this. God it was funny.

After the pizza hut we came back to Mandy’s and got changed into my cream slacks and tie up top and we went to the Rugby Leagues Club. You’re supposed to be 18 but they’re in financial trouble and needed the money. Silver Studs were there. God they were
Silver Studs
so funny. They were hilarious. I couldn’t stop laughing. THEN I saw these spunks, especially the one with brown hair. SPUNK! Anyway, after Silver Studs had finished, Mandy wanted me to dance. I didn’t want to but I gave in. But as soon as we got on the floor, I left again and sat down to my drinks. Glen and this guy who liked Mandy was coming towards me so I got under the table and headed straight for the loo. When I got up, the spunk and his friend asked me what I was doing under the table. I finally got talking to them after spending the whole night staring at them. Then the
blond came over (Rolu) and invited me to a party but I didn’t believe there was one on, so I said no. He made a bet with me for $10.00 that there was a party on. Then Greg finally came introduced me to the spunk whose name was Tony. Every time he talked to me he practically kissed me. That’s how close he was. The music was so loud. That’s why. But YUM. 

Anyway, he said there was a party at his house but he didn’t know about it. We talked about things then we left. We were going back to Greg’s place which I didn’t particularly want to do, but we did anyway, inviting Tony and all them. We didn’t expect them to come along but they did. Tony came up to me and waved but then him and Robi went to pick up their car and came back about 5 minutes after we left. Damn it. Who knows what might have happened. I was too buggered and sick so Greg drove us home and I went to bed. That reminds me. Once I said I want to go to bed and Tony said, “OK Let’s go". I wouldn't have minded paring up with him but all he wanted was a screw so bugger you Jack. 

Monday January 3 - We all go over to Greg's place and played records and tapes, and talked.

We slept in today about ½ an hour. We got up. Greg rang and asked to come over - and he did. He stayed for a while, then we went to the shops to get lunch, and came back to decide what to do tonight. So Greg said he’d ring Colin and see if he could take us to the Drive In, but he wasn’t home so we ended up going to Greg’s place. But on the way we went to Robert's place (Mandy’s boyfriend). He’s OK I spose. He’s good looking when he smiles and laughs. But he reckons I’ve got a big nose and he wouldn’t shut up about it, so I had a go at him about his nose and feet. His friends were drips, though they were funny. Then we all went over to Greg’s place and played records and tapes, and talked. Me and Greg had a bean bag fight. Then we went to make breakfast for tea. Greg decided he couldn’t take us home because his parents might come home, but he still had more than half an hour before his parents came home. So we had to catch a taxi home and spend unnecessary money. How joyous. I was cranky because I didn’t want to spend the money. Mandy and Rob had a ganooky ganooky in the Taxi too. How disgusting. Humph. Tomorrow we’re supposed to see Rob off on the Greyhound bus. He’s going to Sydney. I don’t envy him.

Tuesday January 4 - Mandy wore my black dress and it looked better on her than it did on me 
Today we caught a train to where Rob lives and went to his place. Mandy wore my back dress and it looked better on her than it did on me. I guess I was a little jealous cause I was mad all day and when Rob kept saying my nose was big and my boobs were small, and I was flat, I was even more mad. I wore my white dress - nice and respectable. HUMPH. She’s still got it on. Karen just said Mandy’s dress looks good on her. Nothing looks good on me. After we said goodbye to Rob we walked around Brisbane and Mandy was getting all these stares with my dress on. Gee she’s pretty though. It’s not fair. I wonder what Dave’s doing. I wish I didn’t have to go away at that time, just as I was getting to know him more. Now he’ll meet somebody and have ganooky ganookies all over the place. Then we caught the bus home. Mandy left her bag on the bus so we were phoning everywhere and Mandy’s just gone to pick it up. Mark and Steve Bolten just asked us to come over and play records. So I talked to them. Greg rang and I mistook him for Mark. God it was funny. Anyway, seeya later.

Oh, Last night we went to Steve's place and watched TV till 10. Came home, watched the rest of Thriller, then went to bed. On the phone Greg said if he wasn’t going with Yvonne he’d have gone with me. Yes well. Seeya.

Video: Thriller, opening theme.

Wednesday January 5 - “You do that again and you won’t have a face to stare with”.

Dear Diary,

Today I woke up and thought I heard Greg outside so I went outside to see who was there. I had my hair in and looked terrible. I said, “sh-t” and raced off. About 11.30 he said he was going to take us to Bribie Island up the Sunshine Coast. We got half way there and it rained. He didn’t want to take us there in the first place but he knew what he was doing because he kept taking detours so just as we decided we weren’t going he was on the right road to go home. Then he took us to Toombull and said he was going home, so once again we were left stranded. So we walked around Toombul. I did some shopping. All I’ve got is $20.00 so I asked Mum to send me some money but she won’t. There was a spunk at David Jones, Toombul. His name was Michael, niceness. Caught a bus home. Just going to post some letters. I don’t know what we’re doing tonight. I hope we’re going somewhere.

Hi again. Well Mandy and I have just been ice skating. My God. It was so funny. At first I said I’d never do it again, but by the end of the night I wanted to go again. Mandy’s real good at it, so was mostly everyone else. But there was an awful lot who can’t skate either. I fell over quite a bit and my arms and shoulders are killing me from where I'd grab onto the rail when I started to trip. Then these guys kept watching me and Mandy and she would gallop off and leave me to pass them cause I had to go along the railing and she didn’t have to. One guy kept asking me if I needed a hand. But I’d say, “No, I’ve got two”. Then he came up and asked me if I’d pair skate with him. That's where you hold hands and trundle around but I wouldn’t, and then I did, and his friend helped me. Towards the end I was getting better but still falling over. Then this chick came up and said, “Why do you keep staring at us” and all this, and I’d never seen her. She reckoned I was staring at her boyfriend. Ha! Then she said, “You do that again and you won’t have a face to stare with”. Caught train home. Two guys (in two cars) asked if we wanted a lift. Seeya.

Thursday January 6 -  We drove on the motor bike. It was good fun but scary. 

We didn’t do anything much today. We tried sunbaking and oddly enough I got burnt. I was hardly in the sun. Went to Bill's (the people who live across the road from Mandy) and we drove on the motor bike. It was good fun but scary. Then we went for a drive to drop these chicks off and came back. Bill and his friend Geoff came over for a swim and stayed a while and talked. Then Mr Bull told me he was going to take me to the pictures. My God. Ugh. No thanks. Anyway, tonight we're going bowling. Hope we meet somebody. Mandy got a phone call from Rob at Wollongary but after that she had the sh-ts. I hope I haven’t done anything. Bob said Hi to me. Well I'll tell you more after bowling. Got all dressed up. Played one game which I won and came home. There wasn’t anybody there worth looking at. Caught a taxi and walked home. Watched a movie and went to bed. How exciting. Tomorrow we’re going to Surfers Paradise. Can't wait. Seeya.

Friday January 7 - Today we went to Surfers Paradise.

Today we went to Surfers Paradise. I slept in the car on the way up and so did Mandy. We finally got to the coast and it took us 15 minutes to find a parking space. Then we finally got down to the beach. I went straight into the water but Mandy sunbaked. Then I came out and sunbaked for a while. Then we went for a walk along the beach and got a couple of hellos and whistles. We passed these guys playing cricket and when we passed them on the way back, they asked us if we wanted to play so we did for 15 minutes. Then we went for lunch. Mandy and me went off and had egg and lettuce sandwiches, and a milk shake, then we went and bought some post cards. I bought a special card for Dave, and then 12 other postcards. Then I bought 13 stamps. Then we went back down to the beach. It was quite nice along their shops: crowded but nice. We met these guys at the loo. Mandy said the blond one was nice but I didn’t see him. Alisa  was the other one who wasn’t nice. 

Mandy (left) and me, a Surfie Chick at last

We got down to the beach and it started to get really windy. We got this guy to take some photos of us.  He was really sweet. He wasn’t really good looking but he was nice to talk to, so we talked to him for a while. Then I realised these guys were staring at me then they came down and walked past me. I recognised them from somewhere; I think they thought the same thing. Then they walked passed again. I called out and said I’d seen them somewhere, and they asked me if I came from Penrith. They said they’d seen me in Coles and that they were friends of Rosemary Callaghan’s. We talked for a while but it was nearly 2.30 and we had to go. So did they, so we went and said goodbye to the other guy. John came up to us later and talked. But that’s really a coincidence meeting somebody like that from where I came from at that particular place and time of day - and they were even staying at Surfers Paradise. They were just up for the day. Anyway, we came home, had a shower. I wrote all my postcards and waited and waited and waited for Greg to call cause he was supposed to take us to Nudgee dance tonight. So we phoned 3 times and he wasn’t there. I know where he’s gone. Bloody typical. Seeya.

Saturday January 8 - We played records and got a tiny bit merry. 

Today we helped Mrs Bull get ready for her party. Then I got out and sun-baked for a while but didn’t get anywhere. Then we went over and said hello to Bill and Mark, who, after a while, dropped us off at the Post Office so I could mail my letters. Then we came back and I got ready to go to Mark's. He’s OK I spose. Nothing special. Mark rang and said we had to meet him at the bus stop where he’d pick us up - and he did. On the way we stopped off at the pub to get some beer. Bill gave the bloke one jar full of one and two cent pieces. God it was funny. Then they forgot the rum and had to buy some more. Marita (Bill’s girlfriend) was there and later on Lisa and Brian came. We played records and got a tiny bit merry and I was pi--ing myself laughing. Next week Lisa and Sab (Brian) are going up the coast and we might be visiting them. I hope so. It was 11.10 when Mark took us home, and we trotted down to the party. Listened to a couple of records and then I went to bed. And Mandy came later. Tomorrow we are going to the coast with Leo and his friend. Seeya.

Sunday January 9 -  We finally got to some remote Sunshine Coast beach

Got up this morning and got ready to go up the coast. Mandy and I got up late as usual. Lea and his friend (Mick) arrived. My God, Ugh. All day I was embarrassed to be with them cause all the guys thought we were their girlfriends. Anyway, we slept on the way up and we
finally got to some remote Sunshine Coast beach. It wasn’t very crowded at first but after a while it was. There were only 1 or 2 decent guys there. We left about 12.20 from Noosa and the Sunshine Beach and went down to Coolum and had something to eat. Stayed at the beach for a while. Then Mandy called me over to meet some of her friends who were quite nice. I went into hysterics as usual. I wouldn’t eat my hamburger cause it was horrible. These two guys who were at Sunshine Beach were also at Coolum and they kept looking at us. Then we went for a swim. God it was rough. There were these guys and there and we talked to them for a while. Then we went to Caloundra (this is all on the Sunshine Coast) and I went for a quick swim. This guy kept putting his arms around me so I got out. Mandy and me had a cold shower and trotted over to the shops: on the way we were eying these guys. Then we went home and at the moment we are baby-sitting. We might go out tonight. 

Monday January 10 - “I’m from the Blue Mountains and I'm up here on holidays and I’d like to make a request.

Well we did nothing today, nor are we doing anything tonight. We might be going to the Bolton’s for a while but it’s up to me. Slept in until about a quarter to two and then went over to where Mandy is baby-sitting. Once again she’s baby-sitting, that makes last night, today, Thursday night, Friday, and also Friday she’s working for Karin’s, then Friday night again. And what am I supposed to do? Go along with her of course, while she earns the money, which the other day she said, “well its more money” as if it’s my money too. I sit and help her. God I didn’t go on holidays to baby sit. I might go to Tangalooma on Friday except it cost $15.00 or more and I don’t know if I want to spend that much. 

Anyway, to get on with the brighter side of things, while we were baby-sitting I rang up 4IP and the bloke goes,“Hello 4IP”

I said “4IP? Wow. I’m from the Blue Mountains and I'm up here on holidays and I’d like to make a request”
He said,“Oh, I'll play Chicago for you. Will you hold on?” So I held on and I heard the rest of the song and the ads and stuff, and then I was ON THE AIR (excitement). 
Anyway he goes, “Well Petra how are you?” and all this stuff. And he asked me what song he’d like me to play so I had to say, “Chicago, please”. 
Then he raved on about how he used to live in the mountains at Katoomba and how all the people raced up there when it was snowing and all this. He asked me where I was staying. 
I said, "Hamilton".
Then he asked me what I liked up here. I said, "There are so many places to go". 
I also said, "I like the guys", but I don’t really, they’re a bunch of drips. Mandy asked me to say that.
Then he asked me what part I came from, and he raved on about the pool in the Blue Mountains and all this. Then he goes, “there’s nothing like a bit of chlorine”, and I said I was having a great time and all this. 
He said, “goodbye” and so did I, and then they played Chicago's, ' If you leave me now'. 
After that I didn't know what to do so I just stayed on the phone. Then he got on and said, “Ok thanks”, so I just hung up.

Video: Chicago. If You Leave Me Now.

Then straight after that Greg rang and asked me what I was doing on the radio. He said that Colin and his friend wanted to meet me cause at first Greg just told him that I was really nice and he thought, "oh yeah”, you know  - bullsh-t. But then he said that when 50 other people told him I was nice he wanted to meet me. Isn’t that nice. It will probably be a big disappointment for him. Anyway we went down and read in the rumpus room, then I went upstairs and Mark came to the door (the Mark whose place we went to the other night) and he asked me what I was doing on the radio and how he pi--ing himself laughing when he heard what I was going on about. I was just sitting there going “oh yeah, yes, yes, yes,” and all this.  The Mandy came out and we went over and talked to Bill and Dave and Mark, and it was so funny. We are going to the coast on Sunday instead. We’d better be home before 7.00. He reckons we’ll be back before then. They said they’d take us out tomorrow night but they probably won’t. 

We might ask them to take us to the Drive-In tonight but Mandy reckons it’s too late, so I don’t know what we’re doing. Seeya. 

Well we ended up going to Bill's for the night. Well till ten anyway. Mark and Dave were there. And I was in hysterical fits. I couldn’t stop laughing. Then I had a drink of solo and said something dumb. And I spirted it out everywhere so I went across the road to Mandy’s to clean up and told Mr and Mrs Bull that I didn’t like Bill's parents cause they are always looking out the window swearing at us. They thought I meant tonight they were doing this so Mandy had to come home and explain, and later I explained too. We were going to the coast on Sunday the day I go home and not on Saturday now. They said they were going to take us out tomorrow night and maybe next Saturday they might take us mud swimming. I hope they take us. Seeya.

Tuesday January 11 - The Omen. I couldn’t believe it. It's rated R and we’re going to it

Did nothing again today. Sun-baked a bit and Mandy got a call from Robert. He’s coming back tomorrow. We’re supposed to be going to the airport to meet him.  But then she got another phone call from Rob while Mark Bolten was here. He was with Reedy and his ex-girlfriend, and she was laughing away in the background. Rob would hardly talk to Mandy and she was getting the real sh-ts and was swearing away, getting real upset. Then I got on the phone and swore at that Sue chick and called her a mole. Mandy said they’re all a bunch of sluts. Then they hung up and Mandy was ballen away but she’s alight now. Marks going to phone him and give him all these messages from us but he probably won’t tell them. God Robs a b'tard. Poor Mandy. They’re all going to the beach now. Isn’t that nice. Don’t know what we’re doing tonight so I’ll keep you in touch. Seeya.

Well Mark came around this arvo but then he rang back and says we were going to the Drive-in to see The Omen. I couldn’t believe it. It's rated R and we’re going to it!  Mark and Dave came and picked us up at about 6.30. I wore my brown and black and white striped dress, Mandy’s shoes, my choker, and Mandy wore my cream slacks and a really nice top, and she looked really good. She’s trying to crack onto Mark in case her and Robert broke up. I later found out that Mark likes Mandy so who knows what might happen. Anyway, it was at Redcliff. There’s a 2 or 3 mile bridge across to the place. When we got there I bought a cup of tea and some chips and tried to eye some guys but there weren’t any until interval. All night I was in hysterics. The first movie was quite good. Me being hysterical and all, then at the interval we trotted off to the loo and then got something to eat. These guys kept staring at Mandy and me. Then we got into the car and Mark said something stupid and I spurted my hot tea over Dave. He was herniating. God it was funny. So I went back to the loo to clean up, laughing all the way. 

Then the Omen came on. My God it was good. I was so scared and kept screaming cause it scared the sh-t out of me. Mandy was screaming too and Mark and Dave kept scaring us, so we killed their eardrums. It was a really good movie though and really scary. There was a part where all these dogs attacked these blokes. It was horrible and on the way home Dave and Mark were howling and barking.  On the way they drove us to a church then we went to Fonzies to get something to eat and this black dog howled and started barking. I was scared over nothing. Anyway we got home and said goodbye and went to bed. I enjoyed that night. Seeya.

Video: The Omen, trailer

 Wednesday January 12 - I went into the Ansett terminal and it reminded me of Tangalooma 

Today we went to Brisbane for a little while by bus. Then we came home. I bought some eye shadow, lip gloss, earrings. Didn’t see anybody wear what I wore last night. At the moment I’m watching TV and writing in here. Mark Bolton rang and told Rob everything. We told him to, and Rob told me to mind my own business cause I called Sue a slut. The poofta. I’m not talking to him anymore. Well I’ll tell you what happens tonight. Seeya.  

Well we picked up Rob. He gave me the usual nose remarks, so I gave them back. I went into the Ansett terminal and it reminded me of Tangalooma. Gee I wish I could go there again. Caught a taxi to Rob's place and waited while they had tea, then went to Mark Bolton’s place, where I went into hysterical fits. Then when it was time to go, Mandy went off her brain at me cause we were late. Then she and Robert spent 15 minutes (me waiting and growing mad), but then she told me she’s not going with him anymore cause he two timed her at Newcastle. So they broke up as well. Now she can crack onto Mark. Seeya.

Thursday January 13 -  Everyone kept telling scary stories.

Mark came around today and we organised going out tonight. We tried ringing everyone to come but nobody could come except Dave and Mark.  We went to Pinkenba’s for tea. It was OK. I had a fillet steak which was slightly over cooked but I still ate it. It all cost $3.40 including coleslaw with tomato, baked potatoes with this stuff on top and bread and butter. I ate everything but was hysterical as usual. But in a restaurant? It wasn’t my fault - they made me laugh. Mark bought everything including drinks. Then Bill, Mareta, Sue, Lisa, and Rata came down and we all went to a party which was up the salt so we went to a park and just talked. I was scared cause everyone kept scaring me and telling scary stories and the place we were was very scary. Gradually everybody left until it was just me, Mandy, Mark and Dave. Then we got home but we were early. Mandy and Mark had a ganookie ganookies, but she reckoned she wouldn’t go with him. We’ve been invited to a party Saturday. Seeya.

Friday January 14- The Cob and Co reckoned I never booked a return ticket 

Only one more day left. Then I go. I baby sat today for this really nice lady. I got $5 which is OK - from 12.30 to about 4pm. When I came home Mrs Bull had rung the Cob and Co and they reckoned I never booked a return ticket and that I had to pay $20 more and all this. I was getting really mad. But then she rang again and said she found I had been booked on a 2.30 trip and that it wasn’t even recorded that I’d come up, let alone was going back. So I had to go down at 6.15pm and sign a paper so I can catch the 7.00 o’clock bus which goes at 6.45. Talk about trouble. Tonight I was supposed to baby sit but Lyn Sanders came back. What a bummer. Mandy’s babysitting tonight. Seeya.

What a bore. We watched TV and ate some Jatz and cheese. The kids were OK. Slightly pesty but ok. Seeya.

Saturday January 15"These mountain people, NSW, I don't know" 

Well today was my last day here besides tomorrow, but that doesn’t count since I’m leaving tomorrow... Mother rang and I’m not going to Elsie’s anymore cause she’s gone back to her husband and all the furniture is out of the flat. Great I knew that would happen. So she’s going to see if I can go to Gus and Teena’s but I probably won’t be going there either, so bloody hell, I’ve got to go straight home. SHIT. Boy was I cranky and that was before we went to the party but I’ll tell you about that later cause I still have to tell you about what happened to us in the day. 
Mandy and me and Greg's panel van.
First of all we went to Toombul. We missed the first train so we had to wait for the next. I wore my white dress. When we got to Toombul, Mandy was saying hello to everyone and introducing me to them. We talked to these guys for a while. One of them was Greg’s cousin. He was quite nice too. They kept telling me to say Hi to some guy, Tony. They were carrying on and being real stupid. But Mandy said we had to do the shopping. But then we met up with Tony and his friends from Norths the other night and we stopped and talked to them. I was having hysterical fits. Then I had a really big one on the floor and everybody was going, "I don't know you". I was behind this little signboard and they were pulling it away from me so everyone could see me. God it was funny. They all got my address, so I got their addresses. Then Greg and Colin ( his friend who I didn't like) turned up and I got their addresses, but I'm not writing to Colin.

Anyway, Mandy had to get her shopping done, so Tony and all them came and shopped with us. Then we went outside and they said to meet them at the pub cause we invited them to the party tonight. They probably won't come. So we went back to Mandy's to get rid of the groceries, and tell Mr Bull we're going to the pub. So off we trotted to the pub. Colin and Greg took us. We went in and Tony and all them were there, as they said they would be. They bought me a drink ( advocate, cherry brandy and ginger ale). But I wasn't supposed to have one. Then I gave everyone a taste and they're going, "Oh yuck!" and all this. God it was funny. Mandy kept telling everyone how I kept spurting things out and I got stirred about that. Then Glenn turns to me and said, "You again. That's the third time I've heard about about you and everything you do". People go, "These mountain people, NSW, I don't know" and all this. God it was funny.

Then Mandy had to ring Mark, to see what's going on tonight. He said Tony and them couldn't come cause it was a birthday party, but Greg could come. But I still invited Tony.
We're going mud swimming tomorrow instead of today, so he said he'd meet us at Tony's place cause that's where we're going after the pub. Everybody kept looking down my dress all the time. Not that there's anything to see. So off we trotted to Tony's place and all these other guys came along. 

Tony and Glenn kept looking down my dress, and then Tony came up and put his hand on my boob and squeezed. I slapped him over the face. Then Greg came up and pulled my dress out and looked down, so I hit him in the balls. He said, "What did I do?

We were all drinking beer, then Greg and Colin went home', but bloody Colin threw my JC's on the roof and he wouldn't get it down. Then he got pi--ed off and I got really mad. Tony said he'd get it down but he didn't. I kept asking him to get it down but nobody would. Tony kept saying, "I will" and all this. Then Mook came and stayed a while and we went back to his place. Meanwhile I was cursing cause my JC was on the roof. Then we went to have a look at a car he's buying on Monday. He had to put a deposit on it. Then we went back to Tony's and he got on the roof and got my JC down. He kept saying, "What are you going to give me for it" and all this, but I got it off him.

Then we started talking about camera's. He is really proud of his cos it's a couple of $100's worth. He showed me some of the photos he took when he went on holidays with his Misses, as he calls her. He said he'd give me some photos to take back with me but he never did, so he said he'd bring them to the party IF he came. I doubt it though.

Anyway, I said bye and trotted off home. That's when Mum rang. I was really cranky so I took my time getting dressed, and having a shower, and washing my hair. Mandy was having a wet cause it was quarter past and I wasn't even out of the shower and that was the time we were supposed to leave. I'll have to get back to you later cause we're going mud swimming. I have to get dressed.

Mark came a bit late so we still had to wait half an hour. But it didn't really matter. I wore my black dress and choker. It looked OK. Finally we were ready. We picked up Dave and went to his grandmothers place. They had a couple of beers and I watched Countdown. Mandy and Mark left before us cause we had to get some stuff for the party. Mandy got my flashes and some bus-sick tablets which she gave to me at the party. Moreta said she liked my dress. Bill took us to the party driving like a maniac as usual, and on the way we picked up Sue. God she's pretty. Blond, slim. Her dress was OK too. 

We finally got to the party and these two chicks kept giving everyone dirty looks, especially me. Later in the night they kept doing things to start a fight. I didn't think Tony would come but he did. Bloody Mandy kept saying things like, "Come and say Hello to Petra" and "Petra wants to take a photo of you". I could have throttled her. Gibbs kept eyeing me, and Mandy told me that he kept saying I was beautiful and how come she's got such spunky friends. Then I took some photos and the camera wasn't working. I wasted two shots, then wasted another two shots before we realised there weren't any batteries in the camera. So I borrowed the other chicks batteries. I was sitting on Gibb's lap for one of the photos. He is the guy that came up to us at the Pinkenba place when we went for tea. 

Anyway, I was talking to Tony when these two chicks came. I stayed for a while then left, which is what they wanted, but I couldn't care. Then later me and Tony were under a tree just talking. He kept asking me to come for a drive with him, but I couldn't. We ganookied ganookied but only a little. Gees his hands were were always over my boobs but when he tried to get inside my dress I stopped him. I know I shouldn't be writing this in case Mum or Dad find it, but they shouldn't be reading private property in the first place!

He asked me how old I am. He reckoned I was built good, specially my boobs. But that's a lot of bull because everyone knows my boobs are as big as pin pricks. He said he'd write back but I know he won't. Then I went away for a sec and Mandy went up to him and was talking away. When I came back she was talking about Norths and how we were staring at him. I said cause we thought you were a bit of a spunk. Then she goes, "give me a kiss" and she pashed him off twice. God I was mad. Then she goes, "Now give Petra one" and he goes, "later". I felt so rotten. 

Then his friend comes up and says they've been kicked out. The bloke comes up and was babbling on about being fair and some other rubbsh. Then Tony goes, "I dont understand if we were invited by all these people, we bought our own booze, we haven't eaten any of your food and we haven't done anything wrong". Then the bloke called his son ( the one who dobbed Tony and Garth in) and he wouldnt stand up to Tony. Then the bloke started apologising madly ( to me too as I was being kicked out too!) and was telling us to go back to the party and have a good time. He was really embarrassing. So they came back to the party. 

Tony kept asking me to go for a drive with him. I kept saying there wasnt enough time for a drive. This was at 10.30 pm and we had to be home at 12pm. Then he wanted me to come back to his place but I told him I didn't trust him. Then that Tracey mole came up and started slobering all over him. So I told her to take him for a drive and walked back over to Gibbs and all them. I got everyone's address. They said they'd all write back but I bet they dont. Then me and Gibbs had a waltz and everyone was laughing and stirring and calpping when we finsihied. Then all these other people arrived. Colin and Greg came and we said goodbye about 3 times cause he kept leaving the party and coming back. He goes to Colin, "thats the black dress I was telling you about". I had some champaign and so did Gibbs, but no-body else did. I spilt a bottle of beer and threw some popcorn heads into Marks face. Serves himself right. I dont know why, but it does. 

Anyway as time goes on and more funnies went by, it was 12.00 o'clock and Mandy and Mark hadn't come yet. When they finally did they were telling me to hurry up. Some other guy, who was quite nice, offered to take me home but I explained that I couldn't cause Mandy and me had to arrive together. Anyway, I was saying goodbye to everyone, sob, sob, and they were all saying goodbye to me. Lisa and Sab were really stirred about last night cause they rented a caravan up the coast. Fun. They said they'd write. Then we got in the car. Gibbs came too. I saw Tony again and so I quicky got out and he gave me a goodbye kiss and a wave. I said, "Toodaloo", and got in the car. 

Gibbs had his arms around me and occassionally let his hand slip accidentally on my boob but he hardly touched me. That's good. We had to stop on the way and Mandy told her Mum about how Mark had a flat tyre again and all this. Somehow I don't think she believed. So we went up to a lookout like in Happy Days's Inspiration Point, to watch the submarine races. Gibbs pointed out the sights while Mandy and Mark ganookied. I'm glad Gibbs didnt try. Anyway, we went home. I gave Gibbs a quick kiss when he wasn't expecting it and got out of the car. We went into the kitchen and raved on about the flat tyre in case her Mum was listening. Then we went to bed and talked for ages. Mark asked Mandy to go with him and she said no. Well that was a good night. Tomorrow I go, sob , sob. 

Video: Happy Days. Saving Inspiration Point.

Sunday and Monday January 16 and 17 - Today we went mud swimming. Unreal!

Today we went mud swimming. Unreal! I got up and got dressed and did most of my packing. Then Mark rang and wanted to say goodbye to me. Then Rob and Denise, and the other guy with red hair (Scott) got on the phone to say goodbye all over the place. So I was saying goodbye all over the place. Meanwhile Mark Bradley was waiting outsdie in his car for us and herniating. Finally we got off the phone and went to the place where the party was and picked up Gibbs and someone else - the guy who had the party. Also there was some other guy in the car with us. Then we picked up Mareta and Sue, and met Gibb's brother on the way. He picked up Dave and all these other kids and we all met at the BP station somewhere. Bill was driving his bike in front, then there was Gibb's brother, and them lot. We stopped on the way to get food and drink. Finally we got to where the mud hole was, but we went to the creek first for a swim. I was the only chick to go in.  Everyone was watching me. UGH! I probably turned them all blind.

Me and the boys mud swimming in Queensland

After a while Mandy and Moreta came in. The water was really warm but all this seaweed kept crawling around my ankles, then somebody came under and grabbed my leg and I screamed up to the other end of the creek. It scared me. Finally everybody got out. Off we drove to the mud hole, skidding all the way, Mark being the driver. When we stopped we all ran down to the hole. Mark, Gibbs and some other kids went SPLAT, and again I was the first chick to go in. My God. I went SPLAT and got stuck. It was really thick and smooth and we all got stuck. God it was funny. I only got one photo though. What a  shame. 

After everybody got out and mucked around we went down to the creek and washed it out - well most of it. Then we went back to the mud and jumped in again. All got stuck again too. It was fantastic. I got it all in my eye, and when I went to rub it out, I put more in cause it was all over my hands. It was so thick. It was great fun. It really was. All these guys were watching and my costumes kept falling down. They go, "I think you better get another one. That one's not too good", and all this. Everyone was falling everywhere. 
Then we went to the creek again, but I came last and all these guys kept pushing me in every time I went to come out. They all said goodbye but then I did a smart thing and got my bag all muddy cause I was trying to get my camera out to take a photo of everyone. So I had to empty everything out of my bag and wash it down at the creek, where I talked to all these guys. One of them had his pants off and I had them. 

Then I left and said goodbye. After that I had all my stuff in Marks car. Then he started to drive off with me in it and he went so fast, I fell off and so did most of my junk. Anyway we finally left. I was in a hurry to get home cause my bus left, but Bill didnt want to go and we stayed around for 1/2 an hour deciding what to do. So we went home with Sue , Martia, Gibbs, me, Mandy, Mark, Sue and some other kid. Mark left later and rang up to say he can't take us to the bus, but he wanted us to pick him up. We didnt have time. We were waiting for Bill to ask if he can drive us. I nearly missed the bus after I had a shower and got dressed. 

We all piled in the car and I said goodbye to Mrs Bull, and then off we went. When we got there everyone stared at us. We had a cup of tea and went over the other side to take some photos - everybody watching. Then I had to go. Sob, sob, being dumb of course. I shook everyone's hand and when I came to Gibbs, Mandy goes, "Give him a kiss". So I did. Then I shook everyone else's hand and got on the bus. Then I raced out again and asked them all what my seat number was and went back inside. 

Then I came back out again to tell them where I was sitting and that I was sitting next to this guy. When they came to the window they raved about ganookies ganookies. Mandy's going, "Don't forget to write and tell us everything", indicating to this guy. Then his friends race over talking about giving them a ring and letting them know, indicating to me. God it was funny. Then the bus started to go and Mandy's yelling, "Don't forget to write!" and me to everyone yelling and saying goodbye and so were they. And then we went, sob, sob. 

I talked to the guy next to me who was supopsed to sit in the seat in front of me but instead he cluttered me up and allowed me no sleep. He kept raving on about the pub and drinking and TAFE. When I finally got to sleep for a weary while, I woke up and found his his head on my shoulder and he was rubbing my leg up and down - eh yuck! 

So I got up and asked him to move to his seat but the other bloke on his seat had spread himself everywhere. Then these other people moved so I got on the back seat. But before that he put his head on my shoulder and I just sat there - and then I moved. And he got up. We stopped at 1.30 at Scone and bought something to eat and got back on the bus. It was after that that I moved to the back. He bought me a hamburger which I spilt all over me. Stains everywhere and beetroot doesnt come out. 

After I hardly slept in the back. I woke just before breakfast which we had to buy ourselves. I had rubbery tasteless scrambled eggs with five oily horrible chips and a spoonfull of frozen vegetables  - UGH!! $1.90, that was including tea. Then we sat in separate seats. I asked him how his breakfast was. The same as mine - UGH! Then off went the bus, dropping people off on the way, till finally we came to Sydney. I got off and went to the loo, called a cab and waited. Didn't even say goodbye to that guy cause he wasn't around. 

Saw some kids I knew at Central - Jeneane Hookeville, Adam Croser, Margarette Bell. After lugging my case everywhere, I got on the train and off we went to Penrith. Went into Dad's work. Then into Coles, where Mr Roberts said he hasn't got a job anymore cause there's no room. Then I saw Greg and talked to him for a fair while. Nice to see him again. Talked to everyone. Mr Valenze and Kerry said I looked like. Now I'm home. My sister didn't shut up. Went to Glenda. Told her a couple of things. Dave rang last night. He must have left today. Bum. Thats about it. If something happens, I'll let you know. Seeya.

Tuesday January 18 - There was a big train smash at Granville from the Mountains and all our neighbours were on the train
Went to Penrith today. Went into Coles: went in one too many times and got virtually kicked out. Talked to Greg and Louis and everyone. Then Greg and I went to the news agent to buy a paper cause there was a big train smash at Granville from the Mountains and all our neighbours were on the train. And it got absolutely squished. Eighty seven people have been killed. How horrible. Then Greg and I went to a building society but I put my money in St George. $74.00. That’s all I have left. Then I exchanged my earrings cause they’re already busted. Put my film in to be developed, and there was this really spooky guy in Coles. He met this chick and there’s a federal case about it, and the husband came and smashed him. Dicks came up and talked to me at the station. Waited hours for the train. Talked to Greg on train. Trevor Anderson is on the train. Perved at my boobs. Seeya

Wednesday January 19 - Kerry Anderson's husband was killed in the train

Kerry Anderson's husband was killed in the train. God, poor Kerry just bought a new house. Phoned Debbie and talked about QLD and tried to organise a trip to beach but Mother kept making me get off the phone. Wrote all my letters to everybody. Bet nobody writes back. Mark Bolton rang from QLD to see if I was alright cause they heard about the train smash. He gave me some messages from Mandy and I gave her some and we talked for a weany while cause Mother once again made me get off the phone the $^%()*!! So I had the shirts with her and she hit me. Then I went up to the shops and posted my letters. Rang Debbie and talked and he said that her Coles needed someone but they got someone. But I might see anyway. I bet I don't get it. Might be going to the beach next Tuesday and seeing Devil’s Playground. Probably won’t. Seeya.

Thursday January 20 - Today I was supposed to ask for a job but I gutted out 

Penrith Pool 1970's
Today I was supposed to ask for a job but I gutted out so I went to Penrith pool. Spose I got a weeny bit browner. Anyway, I went for a swim, then sunbaked, then these two guys came up to me. One from QLD. Real drips. One only looks about 14, reckoned they were 16. Came up and talked to me and raved on about things. Then these other guys and a chick I later found out was one of their sisters, came up and talked to me, and others reckoned one of them asked me out tomorrow, and if I had a boyfriend. I said no. So did this tart. Both lots asked me if was coming down tomorrow. I might if it's hot and sunny. I’ll try for another job tomorrow. I’ll probably gut out again. Anyway, they talked to me, bought me a drink and waited for me to change. They were going to walk me to the station but I walked them to the pool hall instead. Went into Coles for a while, and then went home. Seeya.

Friday Saturday 21 - He's the sort of "sleep with me first" type and I don't trust him

Well I've got a lot to tell you today.I went for a job and have maybe two. First I went into New World and was turned down. Then I went into Red S and Franklins but couldn't find the enquiry office. So I just walked around trying on shoes and accidentally came across this shoe shop called Souls. Went in to try on some shoes, and I got talking with this bloke about my job and all this. Then he said they were sort of looking for someone. I might have pushed it a little bit, but he told me to come back at about 2.30, so off I went. 

I met Lex on the way and he came over and talked to me. Straight away he asked me out for the whole weekend, but I said I had to babysit for our friend who's husband was killed in the train smash. So he said, "fair enough", then introduced me to some of his friends as the "spunkiest chick in Penrith". They all agreed except me and I got mad, so I said I had to go. Later I was in Coles and he came up to me and just had to show me his van which is up the sh-t, except for the two leopard skin heads over the front seat. 

Finally it came to 2.30 and I went back into Souls. There were some people in there so I waited, and when they'd gone he said he's got some good news for me.  He raved on about having to be responsible and happy and cool and high and believe and all this. 

Then he asked me how old I was and if I was married, and asked what my boyfriend though about it ( in other words, have you got a boyfriend). He said I don't look 15, and kept perving at my boobs. He offered me a smoke but I said no. He said, "a joint'? Then he raved on about how I wouldn't be paid wages. I'd be paid what he'll give me and that I'm to tell everyone that I'm just helping out. He kept going on about not doing anything wrong. Then he asked me out, but I said I was baby sitting and gave the same reason I gave Lex. Then he wasn't sure I was working, he has to train me, and I have to come in and work, and he won't pay me. Then he said he'll have to take me to Sydney discos to get into the cool and all this. Then he said I'll have to be more high. It's cause I was tired, I said. He said "I've got a bed outside". I said, "I'll manage".  

My God! I don't want that job now. He's the sort of "sleep with me first" type and I don't trust him. In fact, he scares me. He kept forgetting my name so he wrote it down. He said he'd give me a discount on my shoes (these black lace up shoes I wanted to buy) but he'd only give me $2 off and if I waited until Monday he'd give me $4.00 off. So I went to get money out of the building society and came back. I saw him coming down, and then he went away (avoiding me) so I got lost too. I don't want to go in Monday but if I can get a discount on the shoes I might. I don't know yet. I don't like him. 

But on the way down this guy came running over to me and at first I didn't recognise him but then I knew he was from Mick Simmons. He was asking me if I wanted my money back now from the Jocari, so I went with him back to Mick Simmons. While he was writing out the petty cash thing he asked me if I was looking for a job. I said yes, and asked him how he knew. He said I was all dressed up. So I just accepted that. He said they might be looking for a casual in a couple of weeks, so come in, which doesn't sound too positive but it's better than Souls. So I said I would and thanked him very much and went back out again. God I hope I get that Mick Simons job. Then I can forget about that shoe shop. 

Anyway, I went to the station, and I heard someone say something about nice hair, but I don't think it was mine. Just look at it. I talked to smiley who's really nice. He's always smiling. And also talked to all the others. I talked to Rodney at the station. He reckons I should not take the shoe shop job either. Rung Debbie and she reckons I shouldn't take the job either. I want the shoes though. Don't know what to do. Well. seeya.

Saturday January 22 - He goes, “I know what I want”. Filthy b'tard.

Another thing I remembered from yesterday was that he wanted, "a girl not too young but not too old - if you get what I mean". Also, I was supposed to show him what I would do if a customer came in. I said, "You’d have to tell me what you want first". And he goes, “I know what I want”. Filthy bastard. 

Had a shocking day, everyone at my throat. My sister threw two knives at me. Mum and Dad had a go at me. God they shit me. I hate them. I hate home. I want to leave! Peter Hitchens just rang but I could hardly talk cause as usual Dad was sitting on top of me, telling me to get off the phone. By telling me to get off the phone they are depriving themselves of a good little listen. God I wish they weren’t so - God, I can’t even describe what they are. Strict or something, but always nice to my sister cause she crawls up their a-se. Seeya. 

Sunday January 23 - Did some typing, had fights.

Did nothing today. Read all, well most, of my letters, and wrote one to Joanne. Did some typing. Had fights. Played Mastermind. Watched a movie. My sister's a bi-ch. Seeya.

Monday 24 January - They're too high for me. I can hardly walk in them

Went to Penrith today. Was going to go to the pool, but it got cloudy so went into Souls, and for some reason I got really mad so I went out and got Sharon to get me some shoes. When she did I regretted it. Then I put them on at the station and regretted it. And wow I do. They’re too high for me. I can hardly walk in them. I wish I’d never bought them. They won't give refund either. SHIT!  Mum went off her brain and bloody sister won’t keep her nose out of my business. SHE DRIVES ME UP THE WALL. She crawls and crawls up Mum and Dad's a-se, then gets her way with what she wants and then dobs on me for one tiny thing I do. And I cop the lot. I hate her. Mum might take the shoes back but I bet she doesn’t. She’ll tell Dad too of course. Oh bloody hell. Why do I have to be me? I wish I was somebody else. I wish I didn’t have a sister. I HONESTLY DO

Tuesday January 25 - This guy came up and asked me if I’d come to the pub with his friends to have a drink

Today I went into Souls to see if he would give me a refund but he wouldn’t. I was talking to him about my parents, but he still wouldn’t give me a refund. Finally I told Dad, and he went down there but they were closed so he told me to leave the shoes there and he’ll try later. I bet he won’t give Dad the refund. I just bet somehow I’ll get in big trouble. I won’t be getting my endowment either. Went into Sharon’s work about 4 times today. There’s a real spunk who works in there. Yum, yum. I kept looking at him and he knew it. Gee he’s nice. Thought I saw him on the street too. At the station this guy came up and asked me if I’d come to the pub with his friends to have a drink. Refused. Talked to Smiley and this other guy at the station. Doug and his wife from Melbourne came up. They’re nice. God I hope Dad can get my money back.

Wednesday January 26 - They wouldn’t believe that it was real money

Went to Penrith today. Had to go to the dentist. Then I went into the bank where that spunk Paul works to see how much my Guilders were worth - $7.07. At first they wouldn’t believe that it was real money. Then they had to drag me into an office to prove it. My God. But I didn’t get it cashed. Then I went to the pool for a while. Dad got the money back. Well $30.00 of it. He kept $6.00 for his book workings and all his troubles. Humph. Went into Knock and Kirby’s for an interview but haven’t got a chance cause there were piles of applicants. Dad found out they had a couple of good applicants and they really want 17 year olds. Sh-t, I’ll never get a job. Seeya

Thursday January 27  Sat in the lounge room and played cards

Today went to Penrith again. Went into the bank to see Paul and get my Guilders cashed. Lex saw me and came up and talked to me and reminded me to ring him. I went away then went home and talked to the spunk inside ticket office. Niceness. Went to Penrith again with Mum. Caught train home. Got a postcard from Dave and also got a letter from Greg. Surprise. Then Dave rang and said he’d come over. And he did. I gave him a beer and we talked and then sat in the lounge room and played cards. Then my sister became a pest but got rid of her.

Then I sat down and he came over and put his arm around me, and we ganookied ganookied. My sister came in and so did Mum. At first there was surprise on her face but then she smiled and walked out, leaving the door open. I showed him the photos of Brisbane. Then he went home. I walked him to his car and he kissed me. But he grunts and I don't like that. Also he keeps rubbing my arm with his finger and things like that. I wonder if it’s supposed to turn me on. Well if it is, it doesn’t. Then off he trundled. He said he’d be around tomorrow between 1.30 and 2pm to go to Penrith

Friday January 28 - We went down to the Nepean River, and to the weir to look for mud puddles

Nepean River
Dave came around and we went down to the Nepean River, and to the weir to look for mud puddles but there weren’t any. Then we sat down for a while and ganookied. For a sec. But it was too hot. So I got up. I was dying to go for a swim but alas no togs. Then we went to a rowing regatta but left to visit a mate of his. Then we went to his mate’s girlfriend's place but she wasn’t home. So we went to his mate's work and talked to all of them. Then we went back to her place and they came too and we talked and we left. Then we went to Dave's place and I met his mother. Dave said she liked me but I don’t know. All the neighbours were having a good perve. Then he took me home and said he’d be around about 8. And he was. I gave him a beer and we went up to the Taylor's. As it turned out, Dave knew Mrs Taylor from Honda. Glenda says he’s nice. Sharon said he’s alright. Then we came back and finished our drinks and he went home. He kissed me in the car, grunting. He said he’d come around tomorrow but I told him we were having visitors – Lex. So he said he’d come around Sunday and we’d go to the Blue Pool. I don’t know if I like him or not. I can’t decide. I bet Lex doesn’t come tomorrow.

Saturday January 29 - Well today will be the last I’ll see and hear of Lex Nixon the spunk

Well today Lex came down. He phoned twice but the telephone booth didn’t work. But he came down anyway. We stayed in my bedroom and just talked. Glenda was here. Then she left. God he’s changed. For the worst too. He also needs a shave. He kept going on about 'I’m tough'. So it turned out I had to try and get rid of him. So I told him I had to work. He said he’d come around about 2.30 but I went to the pool. Penrith. Met some kids. Bored. Lex played my sister's guitar. He did alright but somehow I just didn’t like him. Well today will be the last I’ll see and hear of Lex Nixon the spunk (not anymore) from the Gub House. But I still haven’t made up my mind about Dave either. I just can't decide if I like him. Every now and then I do. Damn me. Came back from school, dropped into Cathy's and Sue was there. We discussed Lex and she felt the same way I do. Strange. Or is it. Must go. Seeya

Sunday January 30 - My sister and I went to Springwood pool

Today my sister and I went to Springwood Pool. God it was hot today. I’m still frying away. Mandy and Michelle were there so I stayed with them. Talked to some guys. These guys which I always see at Penrith were there, and the boyfriend keeps leering at me with this creepy grin on his face. He gave me the creeps. Got burnt. Will peel. Stephen Darcy was at the train station. He’s a bit of spunk. Well Seeya

Monday January 31 - We had to clean the cupboards and I watched TV for the rest of the time

Today Mum and Dad took Oma to the other Oma’s, and we stayed home. We we’re going to go to the pool but Mum reckoned it was too cold. By the time it was 11.30 it was very hot and sunny. But we had to clean the cupboards and I watched TV for the rest of the time. Seeya.