I’d hate to say – if only . . to our children in the future.

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All ready for a wedding.

The flight from London to Melbourne was particularly good considering the last time Maureen & I flew to Australia, which was not long after we were married in 1970, we were also travelling ‘staff travel’, and we were ‘off-loaded’ in Hong Kong and we were stuck there for about four or five days.
As a couple it was inconvenient, but with two children an ‘off-load’ would have been a problem.

The wedding went well, and we all had a great time, and the children just loved the beach.

After the wedding we stayed with Maureen’s aunt & uncle who had emigrated from the UK in 1951.  They were very hospitable and during one visit to the city via the old ‘red rattler’ we thought we would check something out.

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The above shows Chelsea station, although part of the Melbourne network living in Chelsea gave the feel that you were in a small town rather than a major city.
Note the level crossing to allow the train to pass through . . . it was quiet, and the beach just a couple of minutes’ walk from the station.

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Red Rattler 

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inside of a ‘red rattler – I think the red rattlers was discontinued in 1985.

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We arrived at the terminus in Melbourne, which is in the heart of the city.

Walking around the city we passed the Migration Services centre (I am not sure what the exact name was in 1978), but this was what I wanted to check out. 
From memory this office could give you permission to stay in Australia permanently. 

I queued and when it was my turn an Italian-Australian asked

‘What de u vant’

I said ‘I’d like to stay in Australia, please.’

‘What skil av u ?

‘I work for an airline.’

‘We don-t-a need you.’

‘But I can fly a B747!’ said, I lying to my back teeth.

‘We plenty pilot we don-a-need you – NEXT!’

A Vietnamese chap behind me with limited English was smiled at, and asked to sit down – PC had not been invented in at that time . . . 

After our holiday we arrived home in November 1978, and now I had to settle back into the routine of shift work and selling frozen food, and it was cold after the beautiful beach weather of Australia. 
To add to the cold weather mortgage rates were about to go up in early 1979 to just under 12%, we could no longer afford to live in our house or even in Congleton because of the cost of petrol and the proposed mortgage hike.

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In March of 1979 the Prime Minister, James Callaghan lost a vote of confidence in the House, and he was forced to call a general election.

As all this was happening Maureen and I were discussing our future and we both considered that since our last visit eight years earlier, Australia had change in a positive way.  The living standard of the average man had increased considerably, but Maureen & I had the feeling that we were going backwards in the UK, because we were being forced to move closer to work because of the high mortgage rate and the cost of petrol to get to work.
Discussion in Parliament anticipated that the mortgage rate in 1980 would reach 15%. 
By July 1979 petrol prices for 2-star petrol had jumped to £1.40 per gallon (£7.13 today). The fall of the Shah of Iran in 1979 caused oil prices to skyrocket.

Instead of moving closer to Manchester airport we decided sell up and migrate to Australia – if they would have us.
The decision was made easier for me than Maureen, because I woke up one morning and found myself looking forward to retiring, I was only 33! 
I had to do something!

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We booked a meeting with the Australian High Commission branch office in Manchester and arrived at the appointed time.

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Chatsworth House in Manchester, where the Australian Migration offices were located. 

The meeting started a little ‘coldly’ because the person that we were meeting did not like living in England and told us so.
He complained about the way the British park their cars on the wrong side of the road. In Australia one would not dream of parking a car facing the wrong way.
He then told us that he was being posted to Germany and he was looking forward to the Munich beer festival because he did not like English beer.

We did not feel as if the meeting was going well.

He then asked if I had a criminal record, and in a fit of trying to lighten the meeting I replied that I did not think that I still required one. There was a long, long silence.

At that time migration to Australia was based on a point system, the applicant had to reach a certain number of points in total.
Points were given for being able to speak English, the education level of the applicant, the number of children, the age of the applicant, job skills of the applicant, the amount of cash that we were taking and so on. 
He then told us that if it was up to him he would not allow us to migrate because I was unemployable and at the top end of the age group, and he expected me to go on the dole as soon as we arrived in Australia.
But, under the points rule he had to sanction our migration because we were paying our own way and did not require government support – at that time the £10 POM had finished, and it was now a £50 POM system, which was not available for us.

We had our interview on the 9th April 1979 and it was 15th October when we received permission to migrate. 

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On the 24th October, our passports arrived, which contained the visa to live in Australia. We had until 20th September 1980 to arrive in Australia, any later and we would not be allowed to migrate.

On the same day we put the house up for sale. 

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I took this picture in 2008, during a driving holiday in the UK.

When we lived in this house the front living room window was a picture window from ceiling to floor giving us spectacular views over the valley. The bow window must have been put in by the new owners.  

The house was sold in two days, on the 26th October 1979. We could start packing . . . Australia here we come!

The legal process began at the speed of a snail. 

Late November / early December the mortgage rate increased to 15% and our buyers withdrew their offer.  

A wide open sunburned country

Our next stop would be the Barossa Valley, which was a six hour drive from Broken Hill.

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As we headed south it was all open spaces.

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The pictures above reminded me of Jack Absalom’s paintings.

The Australian land has very distinctive smell,
for me it is the smell of Australia and I love it!

My Country  by Dorothea Mackellar

Words adapted from the poem My Country by Dorothea Mackellar, music by Tony Hatch and Vickie Trent, arranged by David Lawrence. Origin of audio track uncertain.

As we crossed the border from New South Wales in to South Australia we passed a warning sign that there was a quarantine border station 220 km south. Unchecked fruit was not allowed in to the area south of this border, because this area was one of Australia’s main wine producing area, and they were not taking any chances of fruit fly and contamination.

Two and a half hours after reading the quarantine warning all vehicles were stopped at a checkpoint on the outskirts of Ooda Wirra.

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The road was designed so that a vehicle had to pass through this check point. There wasn’t any way of getting through without being checked. The above picture is more of an illustration, because when we arrived the barrier was solid concrete and metal, and we had to zig-zag through to the other side.

As soon as the inspector (very polite and friendly) asked if we had any fruit it dawned on me that I’d forgotten about two bananas in our chiller bag. I exited the car and opened the boot (trunk for the US) and then opened the chiller bags so that the inspector could see all our food as I removed two bananas and gave them to him.

There was a large sign stating that any fruit found would not be allowed to be consumed by the owner – hence the warning 220 km, 175 km and 100 km earlier . . . . . we live and learn as I forfeited this pensioner’s lunch.

I didn’t object to handing over the fruit as we had been warned – several times. When I saw the picture of a bunch of bananas at the quarantine station,  that’s when I remembered about the forbidden fruit in the chiller bag.

They named them twice.

March, 2015 Road Trip
Sydney, Wagga Wagga, Beechworth, Hay, Mildura,
Broken Hill,  Tanunda, Adelaide, Robe, Ballarat, Albury, Sydney.
4305 km door to door.

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My wife and I have seen quite a lot of Asia so we thought it was about time that we saw some more of Australia.
We decided to visit Adelaide, which would also give us a chance to visit my wife’s cousin.
I planned the ‘Road Trip’, as it was now being called, to be basically anticlockwise – Sydney, Wagga Wagga, Mildura, Broken Hill, Adelaide, Robe, Ballarat, Beechworth, Yass and home – nine stops.
I checked each stop for local fairs, markets or festivals, partly for us to see and expereince, and depending on the size of the festival, could we obtain accommodation at the ‘right’ price. The one that caused me some concern was the Adelaide Festival, which is extremely popular, but not with me, because I was only interested in the nightly rate, and large festivals had a tendency to increase the nightly rates.
I worked out that if we left Sydney late February by the time we reached Adelaide the festival would be reaching the end, and perhaps the accommodation costs would not be too big of a consideration.
I contacted a B & B that looked attractive and asked for a booking. I was told that they were full until the 12th March, and they knew that other B & B were also full, if I wanted a similar standard as the one I’d picked. I knew we would be able to book hotels, but the price per night was more expensive than we were used to paying in Asia at five star resorts, so I balked at paying over the odds due to a festival. I had to re-think the basic plans to be in Adelaide no earlier than the 12th March.
Back to the drawing board and I came up with a cockeyed plan for ten stops and we would zig zag our way to Adelaide, and still arrive on the 12th as planned.
Our first stop would be Wagga Wagga, (NSW) and then Beechworth in northern Victoria. This zig would take us away from the main route to S. Australia, but we did wish to see the place, which is why it was at the end of our original plan. Now that it was near the beginning I had to find the best route from Beechworth to somewhere on the way to Mildura. I could have driven right through, but it was supposed to be a holiday and driving flat out for seven or eight hours was not attractive, plus I could be over tired and make a mistake. I was happy with a four hour drive so I researched the towns on the way to Mildura, which were between three and five hours drive from Beechworth. Eventually I found Hay a small town in southern NSW, and checked this place out for a night stop.
On checking various motels and B & Bs I came across ‘Interesting things to do in Hay’ on the Hay web site, so I clicked on this link and found the Dunera Museum!

In the mid 60’s I’d sailed in the Dunera as a cadet when she was a school ship. During the war she had been a troop ship, and in 1940 she was used to ship nearly 2000 German and Austrian Jewish internees to Australia.

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Many of the internees had fled Nazi Germany to the UK in the late 1930’s. Unfortunately many German & Austrian people living in Britain at that time were considered a security risk, so they were rounded up and placed in camps. The plan was to send them to Canada, but this didn’t work out and they were sent in HMT Dunera to Australia. The guards on the ship, and some of the crew, were not all that sympathetic to the internees, and the voyage became infamous, and the internees became known as the Dunera Boys.

I don’t think there were any women in the group, because wives and children were considered a lower risk, and were kept in Britain.

Knowing the history of the Dunera Boys and having sailed in her twenty five years after the fateful voyage, I just had to stop in Hay to visit the museum.

Our next stop would be three nights in Mildura, on the Murray River, followed by Broken Hill for three nights, and then Tanunda in the Barossa Valley for two nights, which was about a ninety minute drive outside Adelaide. These two nights in the Barossa would be the last two nights of the Festival, which would allow us to move in to the B & B on Saturday 14th March.

We would be in Adelaide for four nights, the longest time at any of the stops, after which it would be Robe, two nights, Ballarat for one night, and finally Albury for a single night before the last six hours drive home.

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Using the freeway the drive from Sydney to Wagga Wagga went well. We left home at 8.40 am, on a Sunday; the traffic was light, so we were able to make good time. We stopped for a picnic lunch at Bookham. The place was picked at random, because we didn’t know when we would stop or where. We felt peckish, so we stopped.

Bookham was ‘advertised’ as a rest stop and I thought it would be just a lay-by, but it was a small hamlet; very quiet with a small car park, picnic tables, a toilet block and a petrol station fifty metres from the parking area. Across the road was an old church with ‘character’.

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The above is the main street of Bookham . . . the traffic on the freeway could just be heard.

We arrived at the motel in Wagga Wagga at 2.00 pm. The bush areas must have something in the water when towns are given the same name twice. Just on the outskirts of Wagga Wagga we passed through Gumly Gumly, and later in our road trip we stood on a lookout point called Mundi Mundi.

For all our accommodation I used Trip Advisor as a guide to the standard of service, and cleanliness. Our first stop being Wagga Wagga, was the test factor of previous visitors’ recommendations. I’d booked us in to the The Junction Motor Inn  in Wagga Wagga, and I found that the web site was easy to use, and responses to my e-mails were fast.
Jill & Peter, the owners, were very friendly and helpful on our arrival advising us where to eat and how best to get in to the town centre and where to park.

Our accommodation was spotless and a good size, with plenty of parking right outside the door.

DSC03449rBecause it was a Sunday the motel was very quiet – on arrival we were the only car in the car park area. Later, a number of others arrived or returned from days out sightseeing.

After we’d unpacked the necessities, we drove the short distance to the town centre. Like many country towns on a Sunday afternoon, it was QUIET! The only department store closed at 3.00 pm, ten minutes before our arrival. I hate shops, so how lucky can I get?

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Sunday afternoon in Wagga Wagga

We walked the length of the centre and the one thing I noticed was that they had a beautiful memorial park for those who served and died in all wars. The roses, the fountain and the eternal flame made a big impression on me, particular for such a small town.

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The Eternal Flame Garden

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Memorial gardens

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In memory of . . . .

Running alongside the garden area was the Murrumbidgee River, which snaked and turned across the country to beyond Hay and eventually in to the Murray River. The Murrumbidge River is 1488 km long, stretching from the head waters in the ACT (Australian Capital Territories) to the Murray River, which forms the border between NSW & Victoria. If I’d have realised this I might have considered ‘boating’ instead of ‘roading’ because our plans would take us from Wagga Wagga to Hay and on to Midura, all place connected by rivers.

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During the afternoon we visited the local Club to check it out for our evening meal. The Club was a sporting club, but as I am not particularly sports minded I have no idea which sport the club followed. The system in Australia is that you can visit any club for drinks and a meal (you don’t have to be a member), as long as you are more than five kilometers away from your own home.

The restaurant looked fine, so we asked if we had to book for that evening, and the young lady that we spoke to told us that all should be OK if we arrived early, and that they started serving at six.

The club offered a courtesy coach to and from the club, and as we were not all that far from the club we booked the bus for a 6.00 pm pick up, from our motel. Using the bus would allow us to have a glass of wine with the meal and not worry about driving.

A few minutes after six the bus arrived and we boarded, only to find that there were quite a few people already on board. The larger than expected number of people impressed us, and confirmed that we had made the right choice for our meal, because it was obviously a very popular club.

We headed away from the club and I thought we must be picking up more people for the evening session. How wrong was I, the bus did a large circuit of the housing area dropping off the lunchtime members. My wife and I were the only passengers going to the club that evening!

On entering the restaurant about 6.30 pm we found that there were six or seven other people already eating, so we had a seating choice of between twenty and thirty tables!

 

Next stop Beechworth in Victoria.