Much of this post may be redundant and irrelevant, since my life in Australia occurred many years ago, (1968, 1969,1970, 1971). My children are now adults, with children and grandchildren of their own.
But my life in Australia is still vivid in my memory, and I am confident that writing a post about it will make it remain even more vividly.
My children and I were joined in the flight by my good friend (deceased) Jean Morley and her boys, Tom and Troy. The long layover in Honolulu was pleasant, and we spent it entertaining our children with sightseeing and shopping.
The 7 of us arrived in Canberra, exhausted, travel worn and jetlagged, to find that my husband, Bob, already had a long list of friends and a busy social life. Why was I surprised?
That night, (the night of our arrival) Bob had a dinner planned at the hotel where he had been staying. He had hired the chef from the hotel, Axel Nielsen, to be the office manager at the project. Axel and his wife Jo, became very good friends. I am now friends on Facebook with their son, Mark Nielsen, and we chat quite often.
I sort of “collapsed” during the dinner party and had to be taken go my room, due to exhaustion.
THE DINNER PARTY and my gaffe
After the first week in Canberra, I was settled enough to plan a dinner party for our new friends, and our old friends, the Morley’s.
Our conversation during dinner turned to plans for attending the coming rodeo. I made the statement that “I was going to the rodeo to ROOT for the cowboys.” There were giggles and raised eyebrows all around the table, and I was informed that “root” was absolutely the worst word that could be uttered in Australia. It was compared to the “f” word in the US. I was quite horrified and my husband was not amused. My first lesson in Aussie language.
By this time we were settled in Canberra and my children were settled in schools.
Canberra is (was) a beautiful city; it is the capitol of Australia, and it is well-planned and well-managed. As an example, when you buy a new home. you are furnished plants and shrubs by the government.
I am basically a confirmed conservative, but I will admit that the free schools, free medical and other socialistic offers, were rather nice. But, I remain a conservative Republican.
Our life in Canberra consisted of social gatherings with our friends, some nightlife with dancing, picnics, trap shooting and horse races.
NAIVE RACEHORSE OWNERS
We were part owners of a horse, “Chips” or “Woodcut” was his racing name. If I remember correctly, we leased him with 4 others. He was a great horse and he won some races, but we found out the trainer was rather shady and we were naïve owners. We had a good reason to have him lose his license, because he raced him in Sydney under his own name. but a lawsuit was expensive and the other owners declined to participate, so we let it go.
We still loved the horse races. We were members of the racing club and attended often. I always wore heels, a dress, and quite often, a hat. Those were the glamorous days!!
One interesting note about the jockeys in Australia. They are like movie stars or rock stars in the U.S. Everyone knows their names and most Australians seem to know their various “standings” in the records.
HAY THERE !
As we became settled in Australia, Dick Morley and Bob became very interested and quite proficient in trapshooting.
Arrangements were made for us to attend the Nationals in the outback town of Hay, and reservations were made for our families at a hotel. The trip to Hay was long, but interesting. We saw a few trees and quite a few kangaroos.
We were quite dismayed by the hotel. It was quite old and not very clean. The bathrooms were down the hall. We sat at the same tables for every meal and we were expected to use the same serviette “napkin” for all meals, no matter if it became soiled. I believe it was “The Commercial Hotel”.
BUT the 5 children loved the hotel. They could run through the halls with no problems and make all the noise they wanted.
At this time in our lives, we were heavily into playing bridge, and we spent many hours with the Morleys, playing bridge and smoking cigarettes. Note: I have not smoked for 40 years….just sayin’.
We spent our time at the lovely picnic playing bridge while sitting around a big empty spool, The chlidren were playing peacefully and life was good.
THE COMPETITION AND THE CAR
Bob and Dick Morley were entered in the trapshoot for the winning of a new car. They shot for what seemed like hours, and Jean and I were constantly buyinb and bringing them more shells. They eventually won the competition and I cannot remember the year or the make of the car. I do remember they sold it and split the money, and we all came out quite well.
We spent 4 1/2 years in Australia. We bought a home, started a rental business, became permanent residents, but homesickness for the USA prompted our return. The kids and I returned on a cruise ship (that is another story), and Bob and the dog came later.
We loved living in Australia and will forever cherish our memories of our time there.
.Thank you for reading my post.
Janice Gustafson , May 31, 2019.