Two trips were made to Melbourne, the first when I was 3. We stayed with Ruth Meek, and all I remember was being sick with measles, so spent my time in bed, combing teddy’s hair. The iceman came, that impressed me, as we didn’t have an iceman in Tasmania. We were lucky enough to have a fridge.
The second flight at 7, I sat beside Christopher Pyett on the plane, we watched the wings shake, as our mother’s chatted together. Chris was on his way to Sydney to visit his Grandparents. I was going over to the dentist. We stayed at the Windsor Hotel with my cousin Helen and her mother, Auntie Judy. We were taken to the zoo and to visit Captain Cook’s cottage in the Fitzroy Gardens. Breakfast was our biggest treat, Helen and I, alone, went to the dining room where we thought we could order what we liked; we were soon informed of the restrictions. My eyes, as usual, were bigger than my tummy. The sausages were fat and filling. Afterwards, we had a race in the lifts, here again, to be reprimanded. ‘Lifts are not play things!’
The family holiday we had when Graeme was a baby remains vivid, as family holidays were rare. We went to the Marrawah Hotel to stay whilst my father went walking on the West Coast of Tasmania for a week, starting at the Arthur River. We took him to the punt to cross the river and got bogged in the sand on the way back to Marrawah. Grandma stayed with us and read Little Black Sambo and other books to us each night. As we were the only people staying at the hotel, the owners were very friendly; they would bring us red cordial when we couldn’t sleep at night. (That would be frowned upon today!) They served seafood, crayfish mornay and scallops, which Clive and I enjoyed; only later both of us became allergic to crustaceans. The days were spent at the beach playing, the trees protecting us from the westerly wind. The North West corner of Tasmania is isolated, but an ideal family holiday location.
The forties and fifties allowed children so much freedom. We were allowed to wander on the parade under the old pine trees with their swollen, rough, cobwebby trunks without parental supervision. The fine needles softened the ground underfoot and we would gladly collect the cones as they dropped, to take home to burn on the open fire. It was captivating when the sea was rough and the king- tide brought the water right up over the path. The force of the elements entranced me without being scared of the inherent dangers.
A stranger came along and asked me to show him the way to the Bluff. I just said, ‘Follow the path and you’ll find it.’ Perhaps there were paedophiles, but we were expected to use our common sense, and luck prevailed.
We could climb trees and make cubbies. The boys played a lot of cricket. In the summer there was a natural swimming hole where we’d swim. My mother did come when we were swimming. Collecting shells and odd shaped stones was a constant activity. I’d put them in a box under my bed, and they would disappear, nothing would be said and I’d go and collect another lot.