Clive (previously known as Clive Blundell) Waters

Ship name / Flight number: BA812

Arrival date: 19/04/1972

Left: Clive, 16 years old

My journey starts on the 20th of September 1971, just a few days before my 16th birthday. I had left school in August and was working in a factory for a company called Flexer Paper Sacks earning £8.20 a week. One of the last things I’d learnt in school was about Australia. Dad had left us & my sisters had already left home, Sandra to London for Teacher Training College. & Corinne to get married. I had suggested Mum & I consider emigrating to Australia but she wasn’t interested as all her friends etc were in the UK. So, on the 20th, Mum had come home with this clipping from the Evening Argus, that her friend had given her, the British Boys Movement were seeking boys between 16 & 21 to emigrate to Australia. Apparently, the Big Brother Movement UK entity changed its name to the British Boys Movement for Australia in January 1969. Mum said if I wanted too, I could give it a go. Having been in the Air Cadets (1440 Sqd) for a couple of years and made Corporal I thought my career would be in the R.A.F. so had previously applied to the Royal Air Force for a position (Radar Technician) that was well & truly out of my league & had failed the entrance exams. I then applied to the Merchant Navy & was offered a position I didn’t want (Engine Room). By now I’m thinking 3rd time lucky.

I rang the number supplied and few days later went for an interview in Brighton. I remember the chap asking if I knew where Sydney, Alice Springs, Perth etc. were and I proceeded to point them out on the large map he had on his desk. The interview went well & he told me I would have to have a medical & my teeth checked and if that all went well, I would be invited to attend a final interview in London. He asked what sort of work I wanted to do & if I wanted to continue working in a factory & if not would I be interested in farming? I replied that my father had worked on farms & it hadn’t hurt him, so why not give it a go. The interview in London went well & I was told I met the requirements but as I didn’t have a passport, I would be issued with a Document of Identity for one way travel.

On the 16th of April 1972 I caught the train from Brighton to London with Mum & my sister Corinne there to say goodbye. I’ll always remember Mum saying, “Are you sure you want to do this, remember you can’t just get on a bus to come home”. Well, I did, so on the train I got & off to London. The following day I got myself to Heathrow & met up with the other lads that were going. Once I was seated on the plane, I think I started to realise the big adventure I was about to undertake. I made friends with a chap named David Tait whom I sat next to on the plane. One lad was a Geordie & the poor bugger was everlasting having to repeat himself as most of us couldn’t understand a word he was saying. Still, we all got along just fine. One of the lads had worked in a boiled sweet factory in the UK & wanted to do the same thing in Australia, to me that felt like a waste of the adventure, going so far away to do the same thing.

At some point about halfway I decided to celebrate & had a small bottle of champagne & then took the photo below. I can’t recall all the stops we made, but the first was Berlin, then I remember we stopped in Beirut, Hong Kong, Darwin & finally Sydney, arriving at 6am on the morning of the 19th of April 1972. When we got off the aircraft in Beirut for a short period, we thought we were standing behind the jets due to the heat we were feeling then realised the jets were actually behind us & it was just the heat of Beirut we were experiencing.
Left: Beirut Airport, armed guards at each wing,
the nose & tail of the aircraft. flight BA812, 1972 

Seeing armed guards toting AK-47’s around the plane was a tad worrying. We walked down the steps & across the apron into the airport lounge where we saw a bevy of young ladies crowded around someone and everyone else crowded around the large fans they had in the corners of the room. Turned out to be the actor Peter Wyngarde who played the character Jason King on TV at the time, so some of us grabbed his autograph (I later sent mine home to Corinne). Hong Kong was a bit of an eye opener too, in the airport terminal was a female police officer carrying a machine gun, a side arm & very long night stick, I was used to seeing our Bobbies with their truncheons. We had a stop in Darwin and as was the practice in those days 2 guys from Aussie Customs, I assume, boarded the plane & walked the length of the aircraft spraying aerosols to kill whatever bugs we might have brought with us! Once we had landed at Sydney’s Mascot Airport, we were met by Mr. Hickey who then drove us to Gunning Lodge at Burwood and told us we were going to bed & he’d see us for breakfast tomorrow morning. The following day we were informed that we would be advised in due course as to when our jobs were ready for us & accommodation would also be arranged to get us started. Within a few days a number of the lads had got their jobs & had moved into whatever accommodation had been organised for them. As I was heading to a farm I was asked if I’d like to stay a few days longer before heading off. I took the opportunity to do a little sight-seeing. Like others before me I had been told to stay out of the local watering hole next door & be out of the hostel by 9 & don’t come back before 5. I remember walking down Burwood Road a day or 2 after arriving and smelling the aromas coming from the delicatessens down near the
railway line & it reminding me of the food we’d had on the aircraft and the smell putting me off eating for a day or two.

I was given my train ticket for the Riverina Express which had Narrandera via Morundah printed on it, had absolutely no idea where this was! Once we had left the outskirts of Sydney, I kept an eye on the stations we stopped at or passed through. After 6 hours I was really starting to worry that I had somehow missed my stop, a conductor came through checking the tickets & advised me not to worry he would let me know when my stop was coming up & I still had a way to go. I was beginning to think we would run off the end of this island, then after another 6 hours we finally arrived in Narrandera. I was met by a chap in a neck brace whose name was Maurice Cole, also a BBM lad. Unfortunately, Maurice had been involved in a serious car accident and was on a slow road to recovery. Recently I found a contact number for & spoke with Maurice about 2 weeks prior to writing this, 1st time in 52 years, it was terrific to speak with him after all this time & reminisce.

Left: May, Harold & Richard Heffer, 1972

Maurice drove for about an hour & we arrived at Farm 103 Coleambally, there I was introduced to Harold & May Heffer and their teenage son Richard. There was a shed opposite the main house & that was to be my new home. This was where the Heffers had lived when building their house. I was under the impression at the time that I would be living with the family in their home, so to find myself coming from a 2-storey semi-detached house in the UK to live in a shed with spider webs was a bit of a shock to say the least and the bed wasn’t anything like I had back in the UK either.

 

 

Left: My new home 

Still, we adapt to our surroundings & get on with it. I will say that after about 3 months I was very home sick but got over it pretty quickly, as Mum had said, can’t get on the bus & go home. I learnt a few things working for the Heffers, one being not to practice my tractor driving skills while the family were at a Gymkhana as tyre marks in the dust are a dead giveaway, lesson learned. I also got to ride their stock horse Joe to round up the sheep or cattle. Joe had been doing it for years & one day while bringing in the cattle one broke away & we took off after it, Joe being the smart horse that he was knew which way to go & unfortunately I went the other way & landed in gorse which wasn’t very pleasant. Joe just stood there waiting for me to remount & looking at me as if to say, you’ll learn, I was cheesed off at first but soon laughed, Joe was a damn sight smarter at rounding up cattle than I was.

Left: Me and Joe,1972

After working for Harold for about 6 months he advised me that I would be going to work for his son-in-law Bill Manning on Farm 194. Bill was married to Shirley & they had 2 children, Jennifer & Lindsay. Maurice had been recuperating at Bill’s but had now moved on. I moved to Bill’s and if Harold’s accommodation hadn’t impressed me Bill’s certainly didn’t. Now I had a room that was built into the work shed and a bathroom next to it & the “Dunny” (toilet) was a short walk to an outhouse in a paddock next to the shed. I stayed working for Bill for 6 months but had had enough of Shirley continually wanting me to do her gardening. It came to head when Bill had asked me load the truck with hay & take it to a back paddock as he had to leave the farm that day. Shirley came to the shed & asked what I was doing so I related what Bill had said to do. She said no I want you to do the gardening, I refused & remained in my room. Bill comes home late afternoon & immediately wants to know why I hadn’t done as he asked so I replied, “Go ask your wife” and also told him I hadn’t traveled half way round the world to be a bloody gardener. I still detest gardening!

After Bill’s I went to work for John & Merna Payne & their son Ian (a.k.a. Snow) on Farm 178. Luxury here, they had a proper toilet right outside their house with flushing water! Sometimes I would either hitch a ride or walk across the paddocks & canals to go to the Brolga.  Hotel in town and I would do the same to get home, John had a sense of humour, or at least he thought so, and if I’d come home & had a few too many he would take great delight in chucking a bucket of cold water on me the following morning to wake me. Not too sure how long I worked for John but it was for quite a while. I also worked for another farmer, Rex Boag for a short time. When I started with Harold, I was being paid about $12 a week of which 60c was tax, $6 was for board & lodging and the rest was mine, by the time I left the area in 1974 I was earning around $55 Being a city boy, I had decided by now that small towns where everyone knew everyone & their business wasn’t for me. I had a mate Ken who lived in Griffith & also wanted to leave the area so, we’ll say he  “borrowed” his dad’s car, I believe Ken did leave a note for his dad. It took us a leisurely 3 days to drive to Brisbane, stopping one night in Dubbo. Arriving at Ken’s grandmothers on the 15th of March 1974. I got a job detailing cars for a Holden dealership just up the road from where we were staying in Mt Gravatt. It didn’t take long for Ken’s Dad to demand Ken return home with the car and consequently for me to find new accommodation. I had quit the dealership and was contemplating what I was going to do and decided to apply to the Army. I was accepted & told to report to the train station to head off to Puckapunyal for training.

Left: Delivert Driver for Glamour Kitchens

As luck would have it I had secured a truck driving job for a kitchen cabinet company who were kind enough to assist me in getting my driver’s licence. The receptionist also connected me with a lady who had a room for rent. They certainly had a lot of business due to the horrendous floods Brisbane had just experienced. I decided to forego the Army. I still remember having to deliver some cabinets to a house in the suburb of Jindalee, I drove over the Centenary Bridge  & wound my way up the road to the client’s house. Sitting in some tree branches to one side & well above my head was a small metal dinghy that was left there after the flood receded. To stand there and look down at the bridge below & the river flowing well under that, it was incomprehensible as too how the water had gotten so high. After a few weeks I moved in to a house on Newmarket Rd, Windsor with four other guys, Jeff Hill, Peter Van Peer, Trevor Campbell & Bruce Russell. Fantastic people and had an awesome time sharing the house with them for a few years. Pete, Trevor & Bruce introduced me to surfing and we went to North Stradbroke Island for the Christmas New Year break. Back then you could camp on Point Lookout headland, nothing like opening the flaps of the tent in the morning & gazing straight out to the ocean & the beach stretching out to your right below you. This is where I realised surfing was not my cup of tea. The guys said to get out the back of the waves it was easier to go out off of the rocks rather than paddle through the waves from the beach. They then proceeded to show me how to do it. I did it & was immediately picked up by a wave and thrown back on the rocks taking out a rather large chunk of skin from my right hip. Now I had blood flowing into the water, what worried me the most though was the fact that the day before a large shark had been killed where we were & a couple more had been seen around the  head land. Not being a great swimmer to start with this sealed the deal, surfing was not for me! I had a number of other jobs in Brisbane, labourer for Thiess Construction, a licensed Backhoe operator, working for Brisbane City Council in the Parks & Gardens Dept driving machinery, a cleaner and as a barman.

In 1980 I moved to Melbourne and continued working as a barman in a pub in South Yarra & later becoming a waiter working in some of the best restaurants at the time, one being “The Willows” on St Kilda Rd where I made so much in tips, I just banked my wages & never needed to touch it. I also worked for the Melbourne city nightclub “Madisons” in their restaurant and on occasion as maître d’, again did very well in tips. For whatever reason I decided to make a change once again & applied for & received my Private Investigators Licence. I did this for a few years then moved into the Security Industry.

Left: Mum & I at William Ricketts Sanctuary in the
Dandenongs, 1988

In November of 1988 I was living with a girlfriend in Doncaster when a knock on the door interrupted my model building of a Viking longship for her daughter’s school project. I’ve got glue on my hands, matchsticks stuck to my fingers & thought I’d pretend not to be home but I didn’t, I got up and answered the door. A lady was standing there & asked in an English accent if I was Clive. I told her I was & because of her accent I asked if she knew my mother, she said no, asked her if she knew my sister, no not really she replied & then she said she knew Anne. Now I was legally adopted when I was nine but had been fostered since I was 5. I knew my birth mothers name was Anne so invited her in. My girlfriend had arrived home by now & had made us a cuppa, as I took it to her in the lounge I stopped, looked at her & said something along the lines of “Good God, your Anne, your my mother aren’t you?” Apparently, she had arranged a holiday in New Zealand and had decided that if she was coming down this far, she might as well see if she could find me. She’d managed to get my address through another person who in turn had got it from Corinne. I told her it was extremely brave of her to do that as she had no idea how I would react to her and that I had considered that if I went back to the UK & tried to find her, how would she react to me knocking on her door, embrace me or have nothing to do with me! She stayed for a week before returning to NZ & back to the UK. August 89, I changed by name legally back to my birth name, Clive J. Waters. Even though I appreciate and am thankful for everything my adoptive parents ever did for me Mum & I at William Ricketts Sanctuary in the Dandenongs 1988 I never quite felt right being a Blundell, once I’d changed my name back to my birth name, I felt I was at last who I should be.

Left: Receiving my Australian Citizenship
Certificate,  25th Mar 1990

In March 1990 I became an Australian citizen and by December I was living with my future wife, Christine. Anne came & stayed with us for about 8 weeks so we had a Christmas and some quality time together, Mum passed away in May of 91.

In 1989 I had started working as a Control Room operator monitoring alarm systems and this is where I met Christine, my wife. She was one of the 2 people that interviewed me for the position. We were married in 1992 & have 3 daughters, 2 grandsons & 2 granddaughters. As I like to say, she was my boss then & still is today!

Fast forward to the year 2000 and I’m at home having dinner with the family & the phone rings, Erica, our youngest, answers it &  says I think it’s your sister from England. Turns out it isn’t but a lady called Jill. Jill then proceeds to tell me that she got my number from the executor of my mother’s Will.

Left: Steve and I, 2002

She then goes on to tell me she’s the wife of my halfbrother called Steve. 45 years of age & now I find out I have an older brother, albeit half-brother, by 6 years. Steve & Jill came to visit in 2002 for a couple of weeks which was fantastic as we found that although very different people our lives and the courses they had taken were in many ways very similar. Unfortunately, Steve passed away in October 2021

While working in the Control Room I was offered a position with another, albeit smaller, security company doing the same work but with slightly better pay. This in turn took me to applying for and getting my handgun firearm licence. My job now was to fix ATM machines when they broke down due to cash malfunctions or cards getting jammed etc. It was my job with a partner to attend, open the safe if necessary & get the ATM back up & running. Other times I would be guarding an ATM technician if the breakdown was more serious, like parts need replacing or software updated. Further to that I would also do covert Cash-In Transit.

Left: ATM Servicing in uniform

I continued this until 2019 then worked for Aussie Broadband as a Customer Service rep before retiring in 2022. I’ve been back to the UK quite a few times & have visited a few different countries so I consider myself to have been very lucky, it’s been a quite a ride until now and I’m sure it will continue to be so. Looking back, I have from time to time wondered how my life might have turned out had I chosen to stay in the UK. I believe that life here in Australia has given me far more opportunities than I would have had back in the UK. Bottom line, one of the best things I’ve ever done, absolutely no regrets and what an awesome journey it’s been.

Left: When working covert C.I.T. my firearm would be hidden under a shirt, jacket or jumper

I would like to thank BBM Youth Support for firstly supplying me with copies of the documents that they have held onto all these years and also clarifying a couple of points for me. To the lads who were on flight BA812 with me, John Bennett, William Garriock, Richard Harrison, Paul Matcham, David Passmore, Kenneth Prescott, David Tyrrell and David Tait I hope that your adventures in this land have been as fruitful as mine.

A brother-in-law many years ago said that it was quite courageous of me going to a country on the other side of the world where I knew no-one, at 16 years of age & on my own. I’d never thought of it like that & I somehow doubt that any of the lads & lasses that came before & after me ever thought of it that way either, still in our own way we all were.

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