It's true, it happened to a friend of a friend of mine...

A Voyage of Discovery

, posted: 13-Jan-2008 13:41

Christmas is over, I have been to Australia and back, and now I have to work very hard while Mr and Mrs Boss have their holiday. That said, I had a most interesting time with certain family members...

First off, my time with 'numero uno' was a disaster, and I almost wished I had never been there.

But my Aunty was very good company. In her early sixties, raised a family and went back to school. Qualified first in litigation in her law studies... No longer in law as there are easier ways to make money! Very trendy,  knowledgable, and handy to the airport. I will return to her later as I stayed there both before and after my visit to Adelaide.

Flight to Adelaide was good, two hours from Sydney. No complaints about Virgin except the name of their in-flight magazine. I am wondering if somebody did just know what 'voyeur' means. Two hours drive to Moonta , passing salt hills just outside of Adelaide, near the old tip (I am never eating aussie salt ever again), lots of olive trees, irrigated of course and sheep grazing off wheat stubble.

Moonta is part of what is known as the copper triangle, on the Yorke Peninsula. The other two towns are Kadina (the largest of the three) and Walleroo. It was very hot, up to 42 the day I drove back to Adelaide, and I was perspiring by 8am. Dad showed me around a bit, of course there wasn't time to see everything, and we didn't go down the last working copper mine. The mines must be pretty well worked out or else they would be reopened with the current copper prices! Cacti everywhere, including small stands of the dreaded prickly pear. Not so dreaded any more with the cactoblastus moth... So, the cactus gets too big and the moth finds it. Huge spreads of yucca-type plants, and an interesting cactus with a fruit at the end of it. Not sure of the name of it.

The miners were cornish, apparently they were very short and well suited to the mines. Hence the Cornish pump-houses. And Pasties.  And Piskies - Cornish for pixies!  Several of the Pump Houses remain. Similar to Waihi, but made of the local rock. All wrecked and Dad bemoans the fact that nothing was preserved at the time the mines closed down. Of course. (On both accounts.)

So, read this, and close your eyes and imagine. Hot wind, red soil, a few mulga trees around, a few crows going Arghh Arghh (with typical ausie nasal twang). Lots of flies. And the wind whistles through the trees and even though you are a km or two away from town, you feel a million miles away from anywhere, just as the first settlers might have. Plus more flies.  (Were the flies Always There?)

The town is full of heritage buildings. Plus newer ones, but the old ones are so beautiful.  Moonta bay is more modern, and you can see the remains of a lighthouse from the pier, out a bit, guarding a reef.

Well, Dad and I talked about life, as well as local stuff. Turns out Nana did speak to Dad about his father. Up until now, I didn't even have a name for his father. Now I have the tiniest bit of info, and hope to eventually find out more about him. He was a doctor, Nana was a nurse. They never married as the scandal of premarital sex would have destroyed his career. Nana went back home to her mum and dad and worked in their shop. Dad's dad paid for his education at a grammar school in Adelaide, and apparently died sailing solo off Queensland. Don't know when. If I can figure out which hospital Nana worked at it might help. She was a midwife. Plus I know when my own father was born... Dad was an only child as far as we know, at least on Nana's part!

Having all this stuff swimming around my head, I shared it with my aunty. We talked about why I thought my mother and father had split up when I was just a baby. (Dad told me about his side of the story while I was there, Mum told me her side a few years back.) We discussed my Grandparents taking over my upbringing and not giving me back when mum had legal custody. We discussed how mum had come and taken me (this aunty had been baby sitting me at the time) and how Grandpappy (his choice of name!) had taken me home again. That is my oldest memory, but I will talk futher about myself some other day.

Aunty then informed me that her other sister had given her a box of papers out of the workshop when my grandfather had died and the house was sold. The workshop was sacred, nobody got in there. The box contained all the letters he had sent to his first wife while incarcerated in an Italian POW camp. He had one letter a week for her, and the few we read that night were beautiful. Short and sweet, no wasted prepositions (or whatever). In one he instructed his wife to tell his mother not to be worried by letters from random men at the POW camp one was Billy Bells. He was acquiring extra note paper and sending letters to his mother as well.

We talked a bit about 'big al', the wicked stepmother. My mother's mother had died of heart disease when my mum, the eldest, was thirteen. The box of papers from the workshop also contained sympathy cards and telegrams. There was also a letter form big al written a mere three days after My grandmother's death, making a move on my grandfather. He was helpless with such a wicked woman, a compulsive liar, and quite cruel. The last paragraph of the letter offered my grandfather respite from the children; she would have the children for as long as he needed.  It was a horrible letter...

Short story from long saga, I ended up with my grandfather and big al, calling them mum and dad. (More of that another day, it's a long tale of woe) and big al did the disappearing act when I was eleven, as she only liked little children. I never saw her again.

So now I am coming down from my low-high holiday and not looking forward to working with all this extra christmas pudding on my hips. Hope you had and continue to have...

...good holidays.

Other related posts:
So, How's Junior?
Losing our sponsored child...

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Comment by nzbnw, on 13-Jan-2008 23:17

Well, I am still in Aussie (Gold Coast visiting the old man). I flew into Brisbane on the 4th of January. Tomorrow (14th) I am off to Melbourne before catching a flight directly back to Auckland on the 18th.

I will also be flying Virgin Blue from Brisbane to Melbourne, so It will be interesting to see how they are, having never flown with them before.

It's also rather nice here in terms of the temp, about 28c, but it's been a great summer in Auckland too.


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Linda George
New Zealand

Five Children*, Three Cats*,
One Husband, One of Me.
(Oddly enough...)
A few Aussie Accents,
One dedicated Kiwi,
Several ANZACS.
Go Figure.

*One Kitty Kat...

What I write from my life might just help you in yours...