Etracts From
"AN AUSTRALIAN'S PERSPECTIVE"

For the last couple of days it has been raining. When it rains here the mist floats in around the sandstone cliffs of the Conglomerate Range, from where we see cascades of water crashing from ledge to ledge down the cliff faces and into the Orara River below.

The Orara actually rises in the range of hills which hem in Coffs Harbour, but does not run down to the sea, but inland, running west to join the Great Clarence River which reaches the sea through a large delta further north. It has been said that the Orara River is the only river in Australia that runs inland. It runs through Coramba, Nana Glen and Glenreagh, before reaching the Clarence.

This whole area was once rain forest where the treasured cedar trees were cut and floated down the Orara in flood times, into the Clarence, and the barges which transported the valuable timber to the ships in the coastal Harbours.

A lot of timber used to be shipped from Coffs Harbour, in the "Able Tasman" loaded from the jetty, which is still there, with its rail tracks, but is now used to fish from and attract visitors.

To approach this region from the sea, one does not view, the high rise buildings that we see in most cities, but rather the coast looks wild and desolate, its forest and banana covered mountains standing out over the low building of this rapidly growing city. The harbour and beaches are delightful and the beauty of the area is equal to any in the world.

I live 30ks north-west, over red hill, following the Orara River through small villages and rich farming and forest country. Glenreagh is really a Timber town, but was in the past a gold mining area. The post office is the smallest still operating in the state, and the "General Store" has been here since the miners first came. This is a pleasant quiet place to live.

A branch runs of the main northern rail line, where two Locomotives used to operate meandering their way up and over the mountains to Dorigo, where many different types of mining material was shipped out to Sydney and Brisbane. The line was closed some years ago, but a group of enthusiasts have gathered a few steam locomotives and have maintained a short length of the track and is now a growing tourist attraction in the area.

When our family arrived here in 1952, by way of the North Coast mail train, which because it stopped at every little station on its way from Sydney to Brisbane took 12 hours or so, to reach Coffs Harbour, we were met by cousin John, (who was later killed in a vehicle crash) who drove us up Bruxna Park Mountain in a Singer Utility, to their little home clinging to a cut out near the top. The trip was about four miles. The slopes were covered with Banana plantations, and rocks and boulders, with forest gum trees along the ridge tops.

Looking east the panorama view of the ocean was something to behold, though it was so hot that the heat waves tended to distort ones vision. Evident was the constant din of the cicadas and the "rattle" of the leaves of the banana stools, some of which hung down about the stems and rustled in the wind.

There was nine in our family, (Bruce had not yet been born) ranging from Guy, still a baby of less than a year old, to Barry the eldest who was 14. It was August/September and already, for us, very hot. In fact the bright light effected me greatly and I suffered regularly from migraine.

Mmmm... seems I have gotten carried away here... sorry about that...

Love,
Col
October 21, 2005


Oh Col, you have not gotten carried away, I loved reading this very much. I think there is no greater gift that one can give to each other than to share their land. In a way it satisfies my hunger to see the world, which I most likely will never do. I hope you will continue on. You have a great gift of being able to paint a picture with words. Thanks for sharing this.

Love to you,
Mary
October 21, 2005


Dad only had 50 pounds left, so needed to quickly get started doing the job he had been promised would be waiting for him, and to move into the house that also had been promised. Our Uncles house was small and he and my Aunty had four children of their own John, David, Joan, and Robert. We slept on the floor overnight, and it sure was crowded but when morning arrived it was obvious we need to move out.

Move out we did, but it was all lies about the house and job, they were just some of the carrots dangled in front of my father's nose to entice him to migrate to Australia.

We moved about 300 yards down the road and into an empty banana packing shed. I say empty, but actually it was filthy, filled with dust from the road, old packing cases, pieces of banana stems and rotting bananas, and tubs of "dipping mixture" where the bananas were "dipped" to rid them of any bugs. This was just a little different to our two story brick home set on the beautiful Kirkleys Avenue back in England. Just a little bit different.

For my Mother the task was heartbreaking, cleaning the filth from the cracked floor boards. There was no glass in the windows, which had shutters made from banana case boards, and hinged with pieces of fabric cut from the used belts of water pumps. These being tattered and some broken, that the shutters hung by a single hinge or lay on the floor below. The walls had gaping cracks all around, and every time a vehicle passed on the road just below and to the front of the shed, the dust billowed through every orifice to cover everything and person with a coat of grey. The door hung from a similar single hinge, on the western side where the Metter's fuel stove sat in its black cavity, in the corrugated iron protective wall, still with used iron saucepans, decorated by spider webs, soot and grime standing on the cast iron top. The roof was corrugated iron, full of holes due to trust, and loose enough to rattle in the wind, and leaked profusely when it rained.

The first night was a nightmare. We slept on the floor, with a blanket and sheet each. What English person would sleep without white sheets? The blankets were the grey army type and the sheets really were about as white as we thought our skin was. First we were bombarded by waves of mosquitoes, peeling off like Japanese zeros with kamikaze intentions, blasting away at our soft white skins and ripping all that blue blood from our veins as fast as they could. Then in evidence were the fleas. Thousands of them, hopping out of the cracks in the floor boards, and dining with relish on our vulnerabilities. This was to be the first of many such delightful nights.

Love,
Col
October 22, 2005


This is an extract from part two, describing how we got to where I am currently referring

THE LAND OF OPPORTUNITY

While the land of opportunity waited In 1952 we departed the Southampton docks to sail for Sydney Australia in the good ship HMS New Australia. This ship had been a troop carrier during the war years, and though quite fast through the water, tended to roll, somewhat in the big swells. The ship was packed to capacity with all manner of emigrants, of British and European stock.

Because we were a large family we were separated thus occupied various cabins on different decks, the girls enjoying one of the upper decks while Barry and myself enjoyed to a lesser extent a cabin on the very bottom deck, where the port holes of the small cabins, barely above the water line, were submerged when the sea was anything other than smooth, which was unfortunately, most of the time, therefore could not be opened.

The cabins contained two sets of bunks, each with an upper and lower and Barry & I, shared a cabin with two other boys who were brothers, that by the cut of their dress and their rather, high nose attitude, were not of compatible 'class' with us. In fact it was inevitable that conflict would be forthcoming, and it was in the form of me reacting to some rather overbearing comments from the younger of the other brothers, in a threatening manner of intent, rather than one of actual infliction. This however was enough to disturb, the other, who cultivated tears, that trickled over his flushed cheeks in gay abandon, much to my surprise, and delight.

Elder brother arriving on the scene, made terrible attempts to phrase, words of a vocabulary unbecoming of him, (that would have distressed his mother), until Barry arrived on the scene, making gestures that indicated that the other may soon find himself, thrust headlong through the porthole, closely followed by his 'horrid' little brother if he did not soon refrain from his 'snobbish' attempts to appear physically capable of contributing to his indicated intent.

The poor fellow, quite taken aback, could but manage reference to 'the likes of one's kind', which was not necessary a wise statement to make to Barry, that it was perhaps his good fortune that the adults arrived, 'in a nic of time', to preserve his rather sallow profile.

A cold relationship continued between us, relieved later by the tropical climate forcing evacuation of the cabins for residency on the swaying decks, Prior to which I had convinced my brother that he was more suited to the upper bunk, having stepped out of bed during one night, from the upper bunk and found my legs a little short, and the deck rather solid.

My vaccination had not healed and was quite uncomfortable thus I was denied, access to the inboard pool, as indeed were the girls. I could not of cause, swim a stroke, and was in fact afraid of water; it was only the fact that one was denied access, that contributed to the stimulation, which urged one to complain, and feel unjustly deprived.

But soon it was that every deck, and galley had been explored, and the tropical heat and the first strains of boredom began to set in.

The departure of the Jones family had not gone unnoticed, and the local and Derby newspapers had flavoured their pages with a photo of the 'scrawny lot', attired in their usual 'rags' lined up in front of the (broken) window of their council house.

Actually we were rather well dressed, for we wore the clothes which we intended to wear for the departure, but another photo, taken of the children sitting on the back lawn hugging their Springer Spaniel (Jane), displayed, the ragged clothes, and toes protruding from worn out footwear.

The ship arriving at Port Said, provided a welcome relief, and with renewed interest, we boys hung from the deck rails, observing proceedings as the ship docked.

The local inhabitants, invaded the surrounds of the ship in little boats overloaded with goods of all kinds, and much 'bartering' and trading was conducted with the passengers. Barry, and myself both purchased a knife each and a coconut. One or both of the knives were later to disappear, but the coconut was eaten, making both the consumers quite sick. We were able to go ashore for a short while, but were not very impressed by the harsh sun, clay houses and desert sands.

We children were quite surprised to see Sikh Warriors moving about the streets with large knives thrust through their sashes, rather like it was at the Pictures.

We waved to the British troops who lined the Eastern bank of the canal as our ship sailed through it and out into the open sea. The ship struck heavy weather after leaving Port Said, and sea sickness, combined its awful influence with that of the coconut, and life became rather miserable.

However all storms were weathered and at Ceylon (Sri Lanka), much entertainment was had throwing pennies to the divers, who swam, 'right under the ship to retrieve the pennies, which they carried in their mouths' as they swam. With bulging cheeks they continued to dive, until the good folk enjoying the experience realised that they were actually throwing away their money, and promptly ceased their charitable operations.

Frank took many photos of the 'Rock of Gibraltar' with his 'box brownie', and a few of the family aboard the ship, dressed in their wide sun hats, and pleasant smiles. The ship reached Australia in August, and the passengers and crew went ashore at Adelaide, where I spent my Australian shilling given to me by Laura, before leaving England. Of course, it was spent on a comic.

Allowing the crew ashore was a mistake, for they all became quite intoxicated with beer and their antics in the dining room when serving the meals, were hilarious to say the least.


This is a general history of the years just after WW2 which may have some interest for readers.

In the 1900's economic trouble had begun for Britain. The demand for British products dropped off as other nations became industrialised. The Second World War had depleted Britain's power. To raise cash Britain sold off four and a half billion of its overseas investments and borrowed money from other countries. By the mid 50's the nation had recovered enough to end most wartime controls.

Britain emerged victorious from the 2nd World War, but impoverished. During the years of conflict her pre-war social and economic problems had become even more acute. When the wartime coalition government broke up, all the political parties put forward their promises of an energetic plan of reconstruction.

Churchill confidently expected to win the 1945 general election, but the voters turned to the promise of a far reaching fairer, more equal society, which was offered by the Labour Party. Labour won a landslide victory and Clement Attlee became Prime Minister. Over the following six years a welfare state was created, designed to look after people in poverty, old age and sickness; free medical treatment for all British people.

Recovery was very slow in the early post war years ('Austerity period') power cuts, rationing and other discomforts causing discontent, although like other European countries Britain did benefit from 'Marshal Aid' provided from 1948 by the United States.

In 1951, the conservatives won a narrow victory, and promised to end many of the controls and restriction imposed by the Labour Government. Helped by an upswing in the world economy the conservatives introduced the 'age of affluence'. During the 13 following years TV, washing machines and cars, former luxuries, became commonplace and the Prime Minister Harold Macmillan told the people, "you've never had it so good". This however, would later be viewed as a period of 'Consensus'. (both Major parties were agreed on fundamental issues) Few of Labour's important measures of 1945/51 were reversed.

The Conservatives maintained, (in essentials) the Welfare State and the mixed economy (mixing state and private ownership and control), subsidised unprofitable concerns that were regarded as socially or economically important, and continued to pursue the policy of full employment, keeping trade unions strong and wages high.

Surprisingly, the Conservatives, traditionally the party of Empire, kept up the process of decolonization, almost all of Britain's colonies, including vast areas in Africa, becoming fully independent.

On the other side of the world in December 1949 Chifley's Australian Labour Government lost office to the Menzies Liberal-Country Party Coalition. The election result heralded a swing to the right in Australian politics as the coalition parties began an immediate dismantling of a lot of the controls the Labour administration had placed upon the economy.

The media became convinced that Labour was too soft on Communism and it was the beginning of the 'cold war'. Socialism was the prime objective of the Labour party, and according to Arthur Fadden, (and in my opinion his view was correct), the Leader of the Country Party, 'Socialism was the 'Twin' of Communism', and was therefore a threat to Australia.

In 1950, the English Cricket Captain Douglas Jardine remarked that "Australia is.... a nice place save for two things, the climate and the inhabitants." Elizebeth Webb, of Brisbane remarked that, "When it comes to the Australian way of life every foreigner I have met is completely at sea. To quote one - 'What is this way of life? No one tells me what it is! Yet always they tell me I must adopt it.... perhaps I begin to behave like you behave in pubs. I drink beer until I am stupid. Or I learn to 'put in the boot' and bash the other fellow with a bottle... is that the way of life I must learn? Thank you no. I stay a bloody Reffo!"

Fear and insecurity resulted from the cold war atmosphere, leading to the acceptance of the re-introduction of compulsory national service. From November 1950 all 18 year old men had to undergo a three month period of basic training and thereafter attend month long 'camps' over a period of three years. The name 'Nasho's was soon adopted for these part time soldiers. Many complained that they were not old enough to vote but were old enough to go to war, which was a point with some relevance.

In 1949/50 nearly 240,000 'New Australians' received assisted passages to Australia in an effort to build the country into a strong an independent nation.

The Government introduced a law providing for the dissolution of the Australian Communist Party (April 27, 1950), which meant that under the law Communism would be illegal. Any person 'declared' to be a communist - or a sympathiser - would be excluded from holding official positions in Unions or in a job in the public service or essential industries. It seems to me, that although this was a good idea, it questioned the principle of 'Free Enterprise'.

In June North Korea invaded South Korea and the United States went to the aid of the South, hoping to hem in communist China. Australian armed forces were also sent to the region. The war proved to be a boon for Australian farmers for the price of wool rose dramatically. Restrictions on Petrol sales were lifted and the end came for butter rationing. In July tea rationing was finally lifted. The rationing of food had continued since the war in order to prevent price rises and also to allow food to be exported to Britain, or so the people were told. However a prolonged stretch of dry weather was destroying crops and killing livestock on the farms of eastern Australia. Bush-fires raged and the losses were enormous in Queensland and NSW. Farmers lost more than 16,000,000 pounds worth of land and stock.

1952

In 1952 Australian's were elevating their status in the world through the sporting arenas. The Australian boxer Jimmy Carruthers had become the first universally acclaimed Australian World bantam weight boxing champion, defeating Vic Towell in Johannesburg South Africa, landing 147 punches in 2 minutes 19 seconds, which was how long the fight lasted. Towell had managed to throw one punch, which had missed.

Also in South Africa, Australian batsman and spin bowler Ritchie Beneaud had made his highest score of 122 runs, in Johannesburg. Beneaud would be the captain of the Australian cricket team for many years, against England and other countries in test matches. He was the first player to take 200 wickets and score 2000 runs in tests scoring 2,201 runs at an average of 24.45 and taking 248 wickets at 27.03 each. He played a total of 63 Tests between 1952 and 1964, being Captain of Australia on 17 occasions losing only four of the matches played.

Politically it was a sad occasion, when the 'little digger' Billy Hughs died, and perhaps ironically, a future Labour Prime Minister who would be involved in much controversy in future years, Gough Whitlam, was elected into the House of Representatives for the seat of Werriwa in NSW. Another man destined to play a future role in Australian politics, Bob Hawke, left for England, a Rhodes Scholar, to attend Oxford University. (1952-1955). A future entertainer of stage and television Rolf Harris also left for England to study Art.

The book "The Ridge and the River", written by Thomas Hungerford was acclaimed the best Australian novel written about WW2. In the world of literature Australia in the early times, took the form of letters and reports giving accounts of life in a strange and desolate land. To a great extent the writings were factual and designed to 'astonish but also to inform those back home.

Most of the early novels were similar in form. The first, "Quintus Servinton", written by Henry Saveray in 1830 was largely autobiographical, but was and is valuable as mainly a first hand account of the transportation system. Many 'visitors' from England wrote most of the other books, which were given imaginary accounts of strange adventures in a new land, about which they knew very little. They were in fact English novels, which were set in Australia. Two prominent examples of this were "The Bushranger of Van Diemen's Land" by Charles Rowcroft (1946) and "Geoffrey Hamlyn" by Henry Kingsley (1859).

Many of the works of early writers came out in serial form, perhaps the two best known being, "Robbery Under Arms" by Rolf Boldrewood, and the Melodramatic tale of convict life "For The Term of his Natural Life", by Marcus Clarke.

Most Australians considered England as 'home' and the early novels reflected this attitude. Indeed women such as Mrs Campbell Praed, Ada Cambridge and 'Tasma' wrote with nostalgic yearning for the greater refinement and culture of England.

With the development of new nationalism in the 1880's Australian writers found a new outlet for their work in the Bulletin which was established in 1880, it's editors, J.F. Archibald and A.G. Stevens becoming very influential. For the first time Australian writers began to feel proud of their distinctiveness.

Henry Lawson wrote stories and Ballads, including 'Them Geraniums' and 'The Drovers Wife', also Steel Rudd's well loved 'Dad and Dave' stories were collected, in 'On our Selection' in 1899. Miles Franklin published her sensitive account of growing up in the bush, my Brilliant Career, in 1901, and Joseph Furphy published his offensively Australian anecdotes in Such is Life, in 1903.

After the First World War, Australian writers began to widen their range and establish reputations, but for almost fifty years their was the feeling that Australian writers were somewhat inferior, and they had to go over seas in order to prove their worth. This in fact was true in all other areas of the Arts.

This phenomenon has been called the 'cultural cringe'.

Many Australian writers established considerable reputations remaining in Australia, such as, Katherine Prichard (Coonardoo 1929), Vance Palmer, (The Passage 1930),Kylie Tenant (Ride on Stranger, 1943), Eleaner Dark, (The Timeless Land, 1941), Xavier Herbert, (Capricornia, 1938), Frank Hardy, (Power Without Glory, 1950). Others of the near future being Patrick White, (Voss, 1957) and other's who spent most of their time overseas, such as David Malouf, (Johnno, 1972). Earlier writers who spent most of their time overseas were, Martin Boyd, (Lucinda Brayford, 1946), Christina Steed, (For Love Alone, 1944), Henry Richardson (The fortunes of Richard Mahony 1917, 1925, 1928).

In the early seventies a new wave of nationalism swept the country bringing with it greater confidence in and recognition of the value of Australian artists. In 1973 Patrick White would be awarded the Nobel prize for literature and Thomas Kenealy, widely acclaimed continued to publish a steady flow of novels set in a variety of locations in the world. The new writers would not be concerned with nationality, nor with being 'Australian' perhaps indicating that Australian Literature was coming of age.

The Early Australian Poets doted on the traditional forms and styles of the English Poets, simply adapting them to Australian subjects. There was nothing 'original' about their style. Many tunes were adapted from English and other folk songs. Among these was the song "Waltzing Matilda" said to be written by 'Banjo' Paterson. The tune is an English adaptation, and despite the general desire by Australians to establish that the words were written by Paterson, there is no proof to substantiate it. Indeed it seems strange that Paterson should write a verse to tune, for in all of his other works this has not been the case, and the style and rhythm of the song, does not fit with his established mode of writing.

The Australian Encyclopaedia, however states the following on the subject of Andrew Paterson: In 1895, he (Paterson) spent some time in Queensland, and at a station, Dagworth, near Winton, wrote the Ballad "Waltzing Matilda" to the tune of an old English marching song; this was to become a national song of remarkable popularity, almost an unofficial national anthem.

And on the subject of Waltzing Matilda: Waltzing Matilda, a song with words by Andrew Barton Paterson which has become extremely popular, both in Australia and elsewhere. (Indeed we sang this song often at Spondon House High School in England, where in fact I learnt the words prior to arriving in Australia)

Dr Thomas Wood, an English musical authority, in his book "Cobbers" (1934) says of "Waltzing Matilda", "Here is a real folk song" This is not strictly true, for "Waltzing Matilda" is not a product of the people, but a clever pastiche of the folk idiom by a sophisticated town dweller who had a keen love of the outback.

Although "Waltzing Matilda" was written as late as 1895 there has been a considerable amount of controversy about its arriving. The most plausible version seems to be put forward by Sydney May, in his book "The Story of Waltzing Matilda"

He states that while "Banjo" Paterson was visiting Dagworth station, near Winton, Central Queensland early in 1895, he heard Christine Macpherson, daughter of the manager of the property, Robert Macpherson, playing on an old autoharp a tune she had heard at Warrnambool (Vic) races in the previous year. This has been identified as a march "Craigielea", arranged from an old Scottish ballad. " Thou Bonnie Wood of Craigielea", which in turn was an adaptation of "The Bold Fusilier", a song that was popular among Kentish soldiers going to Marlborough's wars. Paterson was so taken with the melody that upon learning that no one knew any words to it, he began to think out lines of his own in order to keep the tune alive.

I am personally not happy with this account of its origin, for to me there are to many postulations.

In 1826 the first book of Australian verse was published, it being by Charles Thompson and entitled 'Wild Notes from the Lyre of a Native Minstrel'. There were better known early poets such as, Charles Harpur (The Tower of the Dream 1865) and Henry Kendall (Leaves from Australian Forests 1869).

Ballardists such as Adam Lindsey Gordon (Bush ballads and Galloping Rhymes 1870), A.B. 'Banjo' Paterson (The Man from Snowy River and Other Verses 1895), Edward Dyson (Rhymes from the Mines 1896), Roderick Quinn (The Hidden Tide, 1899) and John O'Brien (Around the Boree Log 1921) wrote the frolicking verse of the outback towns and people that were easy to understand and were very popular.

In 1915 C.J. Denis wrote "The Songs of the Sentimental Bloke", which sold 50,000 copies in nine months. It was later published in England and America. Poets Christopher Brennan (Poems 1913), Bernard O'Dowd (The silent land and other verses 1906) and Dame Mary Gilmore (The Disinherited 1941), were all aspiring writers of the early twentieth century.

Most of the early plays written in Australia were imitations of British plays, comedies and melodramas not really the kind of work one classes as Literature. The first play with an Australian setting was 'The Bushrangers' in 1829 and was written by David Burn, a Scotsman living in Tasmania, and was produced in Edinburgh. The more Literary verse drama by Charles Harpur, also called the 'Bushrangers' was published serially in 1835.

Many of the plays were commissioned or even actually written by theatrical entrepreneurs and showed stock characters such as the rugged pioneer facing the predictable hardships of floods, droughts and bushrangers. Cooper's Colonial Experience and Sutherlands Poetical License followed the same pattern.

The formation of small experimental theatres after about 1910 meant that drama began to be written which appealed to a small section of the educated middle class. In Melbourne, William Moore held 'Australian Drama nights' between 1909 and 1912, and between 1922 and 1926 the Pioneer Players introduced the works of Australia's first serious dramatist Louis Esson (The time is not yet ripe 1912). Other playwrights to follow included Sidney Tombolt, Leslie Hayler, A.H. Adams and Catherine Susannah Prichard.

In the 1930's radio provided a new outlet for serious plays. Many competitions were run and the voluntary playwrights Advisory Board was set up. This assisted in encouraging better craftsmanship and also fostered experimentations with new techniques. Douglas Stewart's well known verse dramas such as The Fire on the Snow (1941) and Ned Kelly (1943) date from this period. Dymphna Cusack (Morning Sacrifice, 1943) also began writing at this time.

Approximately 450,000 people lined the streets to watch the funeral of William Morris (Billy) Hughs, proceed to St. Andrew's Cathedral and then to the Northern suburbs cemetery where he was buried. Floral tributes arrived from all over the world. He had died at his home aged 88, in Lindfield Sydney. The man had been prime minister of Australia between 1916, 1922.

Evidence of change after the war years was becoming widespread. Whereas people previously had the money to purchase a car but had to wait up to five years to get it, could now receive it immediately but had no money to buy it. People, who had the money to buy bricks to build with but could not purchase bricks, could now acquire bricks but lacked the money to buy them.

Night clubs, in the past a part of accepted life, were now in difficulties because people could not afford to visit them. On a brighter note, blackouts, which had been most frequent, were now less frequent and rationing was beginning to ease. The toll had been lifted on 'Tom Ugly's bridge in Sydney but the abolition of late transport on Sunday nights was causing great inconvenience to shift workers.

©Copyright October 2005 by Colin F. Jones


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