Malcolm Golledge

Ship name / Flight number: BA934

Arrival date: 22/05/1969

Left: Malcolm, 1969

I left London in May 1969,as a 16 year old, flying with BOAC with 9 other Little Brothers as one of the first groups to fly.

I had applied in April ’69 and was staggered by how quickly my application was processed. It was barely 6 weeks from first walking into Australia House to arriving in Sydney. The flight was nearly three days, stopping at Amsterdam, Zurich, Rome, Bahrain, Delhi, Rangoon, Hong Kong, Darwin and Sydney.

I was met at Sydney airport by a BBM representative who informed us that the bus which would normally have collected us had broken down and we were to be taxied to the hostel in Burwood. The hostel was only a house, possibly due to the downturn in youth migration. It was a cold(ish) rainy Thursday. The caretaker who administered the hostel was, I remember, a particularly unpleasant man who reeled off a multitude of do’s and don’t’s we were to adhere to whilst in residence at the house. There were three bedrooms each furnished with two sets of bunk beds which we were allocated, but first the caretaker demanded we all shower before we were to unpack and occupy a room. My memory doesn’t allow me to recall meals or hardly any aspects of my stay in Burwood. I do remember there was a pub next door where I consumed my first middie of Australian beer (despite being only 16) and a milk bar where I enjoyed my first Aussie hamburger, chips and a milkshake. My arrival at the Burwood precipitated several firsts as mentioned, but enjoying my first shower was a revelation, only having access to baths and kitchen sinks in the UK, I luxuriated in the shower, long enough to draw the ire of the caretaker who loudly abused me for wasting the hot water. I absolutely loved showering. My new best thing.

We were sent to Macquarie Place in Sydney to report to the BBM headquarters and met Sir Frank Mansell and a chap called Stenning. It was here I was given my bank of NSW bankbook which had been held for me by BBM. After the meeting we took the opportunity to explore the City of Sydney.

Left: Malcolm, at stairwell of the offices of the BBM, Macquarie Place Sydney, around 1969

After a few days in Burwood another 16-year-old chap, who’s name may have been Paul, and I were sent by train to Liverpool to be ferried to the BBM Fairfield Farm to learn the intricacies of dairy farming, as we were both only 16 years and we were considered too young to be employed outside of the rural sector. Clearly designed to accommodate many boys there was a dormitory with twenty or so bunks which we were asked to select one each and then taken to the kitchen and dining area which was huge, many long tables and a shuttered serving area occupied by the most personable chef who introduced herself to the two of us and gave us a mug of tea and some raisin toast for afternoon tea. The cook was a lovely woman who clearly missed having to serve dozens of children and overserved us at every meal. The food was spectacular, freshly prepared and massive portions.

We were instructed to shower and rest as we had an early start. I had chosen a bunk in the vast dormitory as far from the door as I could and close to the lavatory and shower (for convenience) and because I wasn’t used to having to bunk with strangers. Paul, a friendly but homesick young man who had (according to his story) had migrated purely to find Judith Durham (The Seekers- with whom he was infatuated) and marry her, bunked close to the door. We were in bed early, as the lights were switched off at 8pm and violently awoken at 3am by a loudly yelling Scottish chap who was the farm’s overseer. He led us out of the bunk house to the kitchen where we were served a hot cup of tea and then to the dairy where one cow stood eyeing us off apprehensively. As a city boy I knew nothing of cows, never met one, never interacted with one and barely knew what a cow was or what it was for. The noisy Scotsman introduced us to the cow saying “That’s a COO” pointing to the big brown animal steaming in the chill “Now we milk the beastie”. I was certainly put out by the smells, the size of the “beastie” and the intricacies of operating a milking machine. We were shown often, offered the chance to perform the tasks over and over again until the Scotsman was satisfied that we were able to accomplish the tasks unsupervised during the afternoon milking. We washed and disinfected the milking equipment and were ushered to the showers to clean ourselves and sent to the dining room for a massive breakfast provided by the happy, smiling and enthusiastic cook.

I decided that, even at that early stage, that I wasn’t ever going to be a farm boy of any success. But I didn’t have much of a choice. If memory serves, we were there for about three days. I learnt a great deal of things that I probably needed to know, such as the anatomy of a cow, how to drive a tractor, how to hand milk a cow and how to shovel dung, astonishing quantities of dung as it happens, even though (as far as I could see) there was only one cow at Fairfield City BBM farm, it managed to produce an unseemly amount of dung.

After a few days I was told to pack as I was to go to my first place of employment, shuttled to Liverpool station to catch a train to Bowral. Upon arrival at Bowral station I was greeted by my new employer, a taciturn grizzly dairy farmer and his very pleasant wife, Mr & Mrs Jackson. Taken to a country outfitters where I was furnished with a pair of gum boots and some overalls before jumping into the farmer’s ute and taken to the dairy farm, a property that was home to the very famous Bong Bong Picnic Races (not that I knew it at the time). I was shown to my accommodations, a bed and wardrobe on the enclosed veranda, and instructed to wash up as it was supper time. A substantial meal of lamb was supplied and I was instructed to turn in as I had an early start. Early was right, 3am, it was a bitterly cold June morning, I had been told earlier that it had snowed at Mittagong three days earlier. Oddly I thought that by arriving in the Australian winter I could acclimatise myself in the winter heat to assure myself of being comfortable when the ferocious summer sun arrived. Shows how little I knew of Australia’s climate.
I was allowed a cup of tea before Farmer Jackson led me down a rutted dirt track toward the dairy, there were 23 milking cows on the property and Mr Jackson knew them all by name and merrily called their names as I trudged, frozen, to the dairy. The herd dutifully followed us to the a where they were fed with straw while Mr Jackson and I prepared the Alfa Laval milking equipment, I say “we” it was mostly Farmer Jackson doing it and instructing me. He was an uncompromising taskmaster, loudly disclaiming my nous whenever I erred. Eventually the beasts were drained of their milk and released into the open paddock. The fresh milk was stored in a large stainless steel vat and my next chore was to heat water and clean all the equipment with disinfectant and hose away the substantial ocean of cow droppings.

Even though I was wearing gumboots and overalls, I was wet, cold, tired and miserable, trudging wearily back to the homestead my boots making unseemly squelching noises. I was greeted by a beaming Mrs Jackson who ushered me to the shower and a dry set of clothes belonging to a previous labourer and told me that breakfast was ready. It was about 6.30am and I was very hungry. After my shower I presented myself at the kitchen table to be served cereal, toast and tea. Mrs Jackson asked how my first day was progressing, I was truly exhausted, but pleased with my efforts. After breakfast Farmer J took me for a tour of the property warning me not to stray from the paths as there were several sink holes and wells that were a hazard. We stood on a rise and Farmer J told me about the racecourse and several other features of his property. I was put to work repairing a fence around a sink hole, loading hay bales onto a trailer and sweeping out an equipment shed. Lunch was delivered by Mrs J, huge, corned beef and pickle sandwiched which I devoured greedily perched on a stack of hay bales. More chores were completed before it was time for the afternoon milking. Farmer J whistling to his cows and calling them by their names, so it started again, feeding the animals, washing the udders, attaching the machines and draining them of their milk, cleaning the stalls and machinery. After we were finished Farmer J told me to wait for the local co-op truck to arrive to collect the day’s milk production, then to clean all the pipes, hoses and tanks with hot water and disinfectant. After I had completed these tasks I trudged back up to the homestead and washed up for supper. It was 6pm, I’d been on the go for 15 hours and was numb from fatigue. I sat with Mr and Mrs J infront of the kitchen hearth before sleep beckoned and I retired to my bed.

Day two was much the same, 3am morning milking, cleaning up, breakfast, more chores including chopping wood for both the homestead and the dairy which produced many massive blisters on my city boy hands, then afternoon milking and clean up, milk collection and the late walk back for a shower, supper and bed. Day 4 was almost identical except I was charged with painting the rails on the racecourse white in between milkings. Day 5 threw up a surprise as, after lunch and chores Farmer J told me I was to perform the afternoon milking on my own. This was a daunting prospect, but I gave it the good ol’ British try. I couldn’t whistle so just calling out the names of the cows that I remembered the farmer calling seemed to spur them all in the same direction following the well trodden path they had used for years, there were no recalcitrant cows, they were placid and happy to be divested of their loads of milk, none lashed out with their hind legs as I cleaned the udders and attached the milking cups. I tried to remember the correct sequence and was very pleased with myself that I forgot nothing and everything went very smoothly. It took a little longer than when I was being supervised by Farmer J, but I succeeded in performing all the tasks asked of me. Traipsing back to the homestead in a cold rain shower, looking forward to my supper and bath and bed I thought about how different my life was only 6 weeks ago in London. The next three days were virtually the same aside from the chores assigned to me, Mrs J had furnished me with an alarm clock so I could get myself up which allowed her to sleep in. Day 9 delivered another surprise as Farmer J told me to go and do the morning milking by myself. This was okay, but I stumbled down the track without the benefit of Farmer J’s flashlight leading the way and nearly came a cropper a number of times. I also had trouble lighting the boiler, a wood fired antique that supplied the hot water for cleaning up. Nevertheless, I got it all done, again much slower than when supervised by the boss but I got it done. Back up to the homestead for breakfast expecting a hearty slap on the back and a “well done” but, sadly, nothing. So, the days just melded together, 15-hour days, blisters and a sore back and little to no encouragement. The constant pong of cow dropping and pee, stings the eyes, but the milk was spectacular.

On day 15, a Sunday, at dinner, a lovely roast lamb (again) I approached the subject of wages with Farmer J. I might have just as well offered to burn the house down judging by Farmer J’s reaction. He coughed and spluttered and glowered at me and said “Oh you don’t get paid son, we feed you, house you, I bought your boots and coveralls and last Sunday I shared a bottle of beer with you”. I was aghast, I had worked over 200 hours on the fortnight I had been there half of it unsupervised, and I wasn’t comfortable with no salary. That which followed was what could be described as “a lively discussion” about wages and other subjects. This culminated in Farmer J saying that if I weren’t happy there was nothing holding me to the farm. I took this as gold and packed my meagre possessions and (in the dark) left the property, sadly with Mrs J’s protests and pleas to reconsider ringing in my ears. I got to the road, Kangaloon Road, turned left and headed, hopefully, toward Bowral. In the mean time Mrs J had called her son-in-law, an old BBM boy who had married the farmer’s daughter. This man drove and intercepted me on my plod towards Bowral and took me to his house in Bowral where he lived with his family. This gent tried to persuade me to return to the farm, but I explained that I deserved to be paid and I was no-one’s slave. Nothing he could say would convince me to return so he put me up for the night and took me to Bowral railway station, kindly buying a ticket for me to Sydney, telling me he would call the office at BBM to tell them I was on my way.

When the train arrived at Sydney, I was met by a very kind young lady who took me to the BBM office in Macquarie Place and I narrated my tale to Stenning, then to Mr Mansell, both seemed appalled that I received no wages for the work I had performed. The BBM arranged for me to go to Burwood Lodge overnight before assigning me my next place of employment. I was greeted with disdain by the angry caretaker. I was given a voucher for the railway I walked to Burwood station where I was given a ticket to Menangle via Central and Campbelltown, quite a roundabout route but I did like traveling by rail. Menangle is a small village in the Macarthur region of New South Wales about 70km from Sydney and home to the Rotolactor a modern marvel (in the mid 20th century) and Camden Park Estate where I was to be employed as a dairy hand.

Left: Rotolactor

Camden Park Estate was owned by the Macarthur Olslow family, pioneers of agricuculture in Australia during its formative years. John Macarthur even made it on the $2 note. This was dairy farming on an industrial scale, upwards of 1100 cows milked twice a day, a proper concern where two shifts operated this giant machine. It was basically a carousel where 50 stalls held the cattle and on a rotation of just over 12 minutes divested the cows of their milk. Several positions were needed to satisfy the machine’s requirements. There was a horse riding overseer urged the cattle into a pen where dairy hands ushered them up a ramp into a stall where a clamp held them by the neck and a measured amount of feed dropped into a hopper to feed them during there journey around. Another dairy hand washed and disinfected their swollen udders and the another fixed the milking cups to their teats. Around it went with another hand watching the cow’s progress and refitting the cups should one fall off or be kicked off by a recalcitrant animal. Most were relatively placid, knowing that, for the price of a small hopper of feed, they would be relieved of the burden of their milk. As the milk was collected it was pumped into an overhead tank and this tank drained into a much larger tank.

Camden Park milk was renowned for it creaminess and The Rotolactor was a major tourist attraction with many school excursions visiting every day, many of them drinking the thick creamy milkshakes and devouring the locally produced icecreams. After I was greeted at the train I was led the huge boarding house where I was allocated a bunk, furnished with a pair of gum boots, some gloves, and two pairs of overalls, one pair were white for afternoon shift when many visitors would be observing me and a tan pair for dayshift. It was shift change while I was being initiated into the workforce and I was told that I would be starting on dayshift the following morning at 4am, given an employee number I was now officially an employee of Camden Park Estates. I was told the rest of the day was mine to enjoy, it was around 4pm and was shown the company store where, I was told, I could purchase anything I needed to make myself comfortable. I wandered up to the Rotolactor to observe the goings on and was absolutely facinated by the industry of it all, all the boys were busy, heads down bums up on their assigned tasks, I spotted my Irish friend, Paul, from the BBM Fairfield Farm and waved a hallo to him and he beamed a smile back. I walked to the store, but had no money to buy anything then walked back to the boarding house to have a shower and check out the kitchen and dining area and the common room which had a TV and piles of books and magazines and tea making facilities. I made myself a cup of tea and looked through the books and found a musty copy of Samuel Pepys Diary and started to read. A couple of other boy arrived and introduced themselves to me and all were Little Brothers, they asked about me and where I was from, looking for a common link, and asked about England, I could furnish them with no news from home.

At 6pm a gong sounded and we all filed into the dining room for tea, although I cannot remember specific menus I do know that all the meals were freshly prepared, lots of meats and vegetables and huge portions, and seconds for anyone who needed them, I do remember, though, that dessert was a beautiful apple crumble with lashings of hot custard. Satisfied, I went to the common room to renew my historical journey with Dr Pepys and watch the ancient black and white TV. I was advised by all the boy there that I should turn in early, we were all on the dayshift which started at 4am so we would be woken at 3am. Sound advice, and I turned in around 8. Deep in slumber I was awoken by raucus shouts by the person tasked with getting us on our feet and dressed, cook had left a pile of bread and raisin toast, couple of toasters and a huge urn filled with tea for us to get a quick bite before we all paraded up to the Rotolactor in the dark (being midwinter it was brisk and a light mist rose from the grasses and steam poured from the cattle waiting in the pens waiting to be allowed into the Rotolactor for their free feed. The foreman wandered over and intercepted me and assigned me to an experienced hand and told him I was to be udder washer for the first two hours.

Seemed to me to be an easy introduction into the process, and I was quite enthusiastic about doing it. The other hand showed me how to do it several times then stood back to watch me, there was a large vat of warmed disinfected water and sponges and all I needed to do was thoroughly wash the udders and teats, which were often covered in dung, due to their proximity to the cow’s evacuation portal. Occasionally a teat or udder had a cut or infection which was treated with a pink salv which I administered after washing. Satisfied I could complete my assigned tasks the other chap wandered off to perform some other work. It wasn’t all easy going though, some cows lashed out with a hind leg while I was washing them, sometimes they were uncomfortable in the stall and sometimes they were just cantankerous. It was heavy going too as a cow filled a stall every minute or less, so it was pretty intense until I developed a rhythm. Backbreaking too as I was required to stoop to reach the udders. 50 stalls, a 12 minute journey. After a couple of hours the foreman came by and replaced me with another boy and took me to the end of the process when I was shown how to remove the cups, clean and disinfect them in warm water and hang them on a hook. It was all very interesting. The milking took about 3 to 4 hours by memory and at about 8am we commenced to cleaning all the equipment, as it was mostly stainless steel it was a relatively easy task, hot water was produced in huge vats by the use of steam generated by a boiler, a hose filled with holes was put in a vat and steam pumped into the hose heated the water up, much like the milk frother on a coffee machine. We interupted the cleaning process to wander back to the boarding house for breakfast, this consisted of cerials, toast, porridge and tea. We had half an hour to consume this breakfast and the afternoon shift introduced themselves to me and I reaquainted myself with Paul. Back up to the dairy after the feed we cleaned and cleaned, so many cowpats were produced they were hosed or shovelled into several huge settling ponds, later to be scooped out and used as fertilizer and also sold off to other farms for the same reason, later in the week I saw one poor unfortunate dairy hand thrown into the pond after an altercation with another much larger boy. I vowed to avoid disagreeing with that chap. The cows, after milking, escaped from the Rotolactor via an unrground race to an open paddock, this was where most of the cowpats ended up, due to gravity, a dairy hand was assigned the task of keeping the race relatively clean during milking so it didn’t turn into an evil smelling and turgid swamp, I hoped that task was never given to me. The smells and noises of the dairy will never leave me, from a distance the smells are not all that unpleasant but, close up, they are diabolical, huge sweaty and steaming beasts producing tonnes of dung and gallons of evil smelling urine that evacuated my sinusses and stung my eyes. Around 2pm our shift was over and we walked back to the boarding house to clean up for a cold lunch of corned beef sandwiches, gather clean overalls and spend the rest of the afternoon as we saw fit, I retreated to the common room to write a letter home to my family.

I had left my parents and two brothers and two sisters behind, I had written twice, once at Burwood and once at Bowral, but I hadn’t received any replies, but hadn’t expected any due to the fact I didn’t really have an address they could write to. I sat and read after finishing the aerogram and walked to the postbox outside the company store to post it. Back to the homestead I watched the afternoon shift wend their way up to the dairy for the later milking having been fed and watered in the early dinner sitting. I just wasted the rest of the afternoon reading and chatting to the other lads. Dinner was served at 6pm another hearty meal. Then another early night for an early start. Much the same as yesterday, I was very fond of the lemon spread with which I coated my toasted raisin bread and took a couple of slices to stave off hunger on the 500 metre walk to the dairy. Today my job was putting the milking cups on after the udders were cleaned. The overseer was pretty good on rotating the various tasks amongst the young workers so boredom or fatigue didn’t set in. After the milking was done and after breakfast the overseer told me I wasn’t required to help with the clean up but was going to paint some fences. The entire estate was fenced by white wooden post and rail fences, the overseer took me in his ute to a large shed where he issued me wth a bucket filled with large paint brushes soaking in turps and a large can of white paint. He drove me to a large paddock that was divided into six smaller pens each surrounded by these fences. Dropping me off near a gate and issued me with instructions to paint as much of the fence as I could, telling me to keep an eye on the weather and the time and to quit around 2 and repair to the bunkhouse for lunch. He checked in on me a couple of times riding a horse, I expressed a desire to learn to ride and he said that if I behaved and hung around long enough he might teach me. He told me to leave the paint and brushes there when I left, saying he’d collect them later. I did as I was instructed and wandered back to the big house around two, wearing almost as much paint as I had splashed on the fences and surrounding grass. Painting fences is a tedious and thankless task which I did not at all enjoy. I enjoyed a luncheon of cheese sandwiches and tea. Again Samuel Pepys entertained me until dinner. After dinner the boarding house manager told me he had recieved a message from the overseer that I wasn’t required at the dairy in the morning but could resume my fence painting at 8am, woohoo a sleep in, I was instructed to be ready at 745 as he would collect me and deliver me and the paint to the same paddock, the manager said a packed lunch would be provided too so I would’t need to return to the bunkhouse for lunch. All went well, I showered, stayed up a bit later, watched some TV, read my book and retired. At breakfast I was joined by the afternoon shift and chatted to my little Irish mate Paul, collected my packed lunch and waited on the veranda for my ride, he duly arrived and drove me to the same paddock, dropped me and the painting equipment off and disappeared in a cloud of dust. Oh what an odious task is painting fences, angles, uprights, undersides, after an hour my arms were perfectly painted as were my boots and most of the grass around the posts. But the actual fences had less paint on them, the horse borne overseer arrived after two hours to review my progress, when he saw the horrible mess I presented he laughed so hard he nearly unseated himself from the saddle. He asked after the amount of paint I had left, vowed to deliver another can and galloped off. I continued for another hour, wiped my hands and ate some of my lunch, huge doorstep sandwiches filled with cheese, corned beef and a yellow pickle. The overseer arrived again and told me that the supply of paint had not arrived so when the can I had was empty I was to leave all the stuff by the gate and head back to the boarding house to get cleaned up. I needed no further encouragement, slapped as much paint on the fences as quick as I could then trudged back to the bunkhouse around 230pm, it was starting to rain, so by the time I arrived I was sodden and white. The boarding house manager directed me to an outside laundry, giving me some clean overalls, a pile of rags and some turpentine to remove the paint from me and the boots, telling me not to try to clean the overall as laundry would take care of them. I did the best I could but still had paint everywhere. I went to the showers and washed up and the manager called me to his office. He had two aerogrammes that had been forwarded to me from the BBM, and also an envelope that contained $93, this money was the wages that I should have received at my first place of employment and I am forever grateful to the BBM for standing up for my rights and persuing the wages for which I was entitled. It was a significant windfall as I had been penniless for three weeks.

After thanking the manager I retired to my bunk to read my letters, each bringing a tear to my eyes. News from home was scant but I reread them a couple of times. Happier now with cash in my pocket I was tempted to walk to the company store to spend up, but the rain was heavy and it was cold. Acouple of boys came in and told me the new roster was posted. I knew nothing of the roster and made some enquiries and discovered that the roster for the next fortnight was posted on Thursday afternoon. It was pinned to the notice board where the mail was pinned and all the rules and regulations were displayed. I had a look, found my name and was pleased that I had been included, from Sunday 4 dayshifts and a day painting fences, three days off then 5 afternoon milking shifts and a day off. Seems well organised. So I plodded along, quite enjoying the task assigned to me, the overseer designating what position on the floor I was to occupy. I prefered the dayshift but it really didn’t worry me when or where I worked, except for fence painting, that was horrible but everyone got their turn at that, except some of the more seasoned workers. My first rostered fortnight passed uneventfully I generally kept to myself reading and writing home. I spoke often to the other 16 year old, Irish Paul, who always seemed disconsolate, was horribly homesick and decried the fact that he rarely heard from his family. Generally I enjoyed most of the milking tasks except the hosing of the leavings of the beasts and the painting of the fences. Afternoon milking proved interesting as a lot of tour groups and school excursions stopped by to view the operations of the Rotolactor and sample creamy milkshakes and icecreams, sometimes one felt like a goldfish in a bowl.On a day off, one of the older boys who owned a very old and rusty car, took a couple of other boys and I on a daytrip down the South Coast to Wollongong. This was a fascinating trip for me as it was my first leisure trip, we stopped at Bald Hill to view the coast at Stanwell Park and drove into the city of Wollongong, drove to the beach and the lighthouse, bought some fish and chips at a kiosk spending some time watching the comings and going at the beach, then drove back to Menangle. A thoroughly enjoyable day out. The next fortnight was eventful, during an afternoon milking I was rushing to replace some displaced milking cups and ran into the overhead draing spout of a milk collection vat. I absolutely cleaned myself up, severely cutting my scalp and knocking myself out. I didn’t wake up until I was being loaded into an ambulance to be taken to Camden hospital. Even though I was injured all I mostly recall is having my scalp stitched while listening to Elvis Presley singing “In the ghetto” after treatment the overseer, who was sitting in the waiting room, drove me back to the boarding house. Some of the other residents wanted to know how I was, how many stitches I had and if I would lose shifts. The overseer told me not to report for work for three days and that the company nurse would pop by daily to disinfect the wound and inspect the stitches. I would still be paid for the time off he told me. this suited me, being paid to idle my time. As promised, the company nurse showed up daily, after breakfast, chided me for my clumsiness and inspected the wound and pouring some fiercely stinging salve on it. I filled my days reading. On another day off the chap with the car took a couple of us to Campbelltown, the nearest large town. We wandered up and down the main street checking out the stores, one store, an electrical store, had a crowd outside so we stopped to find out why. It was moon landing day and the store had several televisions facing outwards so passers-by could watch the events as they unfolded. Sadly I only watched for a few minutes, not realising what a momentous and historic event I was witnessing. I wasn’t sure if it was beamed live to the TV or a taped view of the actual moon landing.

My third fortnight was also uneventful aside from my days off at the end of the fortnight when the owner of the car took a few of us to a village called Narellan and a pub called Donnelly’s. Here I sat in the beer garden to avoid being asked my age and, disastrously, over indulged in the strong Australian beer. Great entertainment for my companions, but even after a few drinks I quickly became innebriated. They piled me back into the car and drove back to Menangle with me hanging out of the window noisily regurgitating the beers. When I arrived at the boarding house I was ushered into the shower by the seriously disapproving manager to clean myself up. Things got worse from that point. I was so sick, I cannot recall being quite as ill, self inflicted as it was. The manager told me not to sleep in my bunk because he didn’t was to have to clean up after me, not to go to work in the morning and to report to him and the overseer at 8am the next day before breakfast. At this meeting I was still very ill. The overseer had in his hands a copy of the company rules and regulations and pointed out the rules associated with the consumption of alcohol by Little Brothers and the penalties ascribed for offenders. I knew I was in trouble, several of the other boys had told me others had been sacked for similar breaches. I was asked for my defence against punishment, but I had none and was summarily dimissed. It was a blow because I was thoroughly enjoying my tenure at the Rotolactor, but I had no means of appeal. I was told to pack my stuff and after lunch I would be taken to Campbelltown station with a voucher for my fare and sent back to Sydney and a meeting with the BBM, an uncomfortable meeting I expected. I was given my final paypacket and the travel voucher and I was driven to the station by the moody overseer, telling me often that he had better things to do. I had been given the opportunity to bid farewell to Irish Paul who looked heartbroken at my position, telling me he would miss me and that I should write him. The meeting with the BBM didn’t go well, but I suspect I wasn’t the worst recalcitrant they had encountered, but they berated me for my poor performance and sent me back to Burwood Lodge until they decided my fate and where they might send me next. I must point out that as I was only 16 and the age of majority was still 21 in Australia the BBM were my legal guardians and as such were responsible for my welfare.

The caretaker at Burwood Lodge took great delight in my return, again telling me that he had expected my demise and pointed out with great glee what a failure I was to the latest batch of Little Brothers. He really was a despicable individual. I had three days at Burwood and I busied myself avoiding the caretaker and exploring Sydney and its many beaches by train and bus and only making an appearance at the Lodge at meal times. Here I waited for the next chapter in my Australian adventure.

More to follow…

 

 

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