Ship name / Flight number: Aurelia
Arrival date: 18/04/1964
MY BIG BROTHER EXPERIENCE
Hi, My name is Robin Clive Reed and I arrived in Australia in April 1964 on the MV Aurelia under the Big Brother Scheme. After weeks at sea, along with many other Little Brothers, I finally arrived at the farm on Cowpasture Road near Liverpool. To be honest I was scared stiff about this adventure and excited at the same time. Milking cows in the early morning and late evening dark was certainly not what I had expected so when offered a choice of a dairy farm at Camden or a sheep and cattle property near Canberra I chose the latter. A lad, that I had befriended, by the name of Les wanted the dairy job so we were both happy.
After a night in the Peoples Palace run by the Salvation Army I walked to the Central Railway Station to catch a train to Queanbeyan and then on to Lanyon Station near the village of Tharwa in the ACT. This is where I experienced my first real problem in Australia. Nobody spoke English the way I did! I was raised in an orphanage in Newcastle and then lived in the then North Riding of Yorkshire in the town of Thirsk. My North Yorkshire/Geordie accent was pretty much foreign to the porters on the station and I could not pronounce Queanbeyan if they had paid me. Still I managed to board the correct train and then was ready to get off at every stop. No one had mentioned that it would take five hours to get there. The second problem had arisen: Australia is much bigger than I had thought it would be.
Finally arriving at Queanbeyan I was met by the strangest person that I had ever seen. His name, as I heard it, was Bunny Ooze (later corrected to Bernie Hughes) His hat was held together by the hat band, his elastic sided boots looked as if they would fall off, and his pants were held up by a belt the end of which hung down his front. Fairly standard stockman garb I was to find out. He probably thought that my hobnail boots, pinstripe jeans and Newcastle football jersey was different and quite strange.
I spent the next four years at Lanyon Station and they were the best four years of my life. I met an ex Little Brother and we became good friends and remain so today some fifty plus years later. A family took me under their wing and I remained close to them and in fact married their daughter and we have shared fifty years together. I have learned to speak Stryne and would have stayed on the land had I not been called up for National Service and sent to S Vetnam.
I have never regretted the decision of a then fifteen year old lad to go to Australia and thank the BBM for getting me here and finding me such a wonderful start to my Australian adventure.
MV AURELIA AND LANYON
The sea voyage with our Big Brother was an amazing adventure which started with five days of seasickness to the point where I was becoming horribly dehydrated and needed attention in the sick bay. They administered a needle in my backside which was huge and the doctor advised that if it didn’t stop the seasickness I was to have another. There was no way I was having another and was soon up and about doing what I and the other Little Brothers did well. We learned about Duty Free and red wine with pasta dishes and absorbed everything new and exciting. Apart from some attempts at PT in the mornings our Big Brother didn’t rule our lives but rather guided us through the many traps that could befall young lads set free. The equator crossing, Suez Canal and finally sighting Australia are things that I will never forget.
I have mentioned that Lanyon was the best four years of my life and should qualify that with, “life to date”. My life so far had been missing something and I learned what it was at Lanyon. It was simply being part of a family. Instead of being 12.000 miles from home I was made to feel at home. They were not vastly different from other country folks: they argued often, partied often, went to work or school, went fishing and a myriad of normal things. But they were a family and they included me in their group.
The work on Lanyon was hard and varied. Each day was different and I looked forward to each day. I felt a belonging that I had never felt before. I became a stockman and absorbed everything that I could. It is difficult to express the affinity that people have with “the land” but I had it and had I not been called up for National Service I would still be doing the same things.
When I got the notification that I was eligible for National Service I had the opportunity to fly back to England cheaply through a cousin who worked for Qantas. It was a no brainer and there was no way that I was leaving Australia. I was engaged to be married to a lass from Lanyon and my home was now Australia. I would accept what my new country required and so I ended up with 5RAR in South Vietnam. I could never grasp the Domino Theory or the imminent threat of the spread of communism. The only Asians that I knew ran restaurants and I couldn’t see them being a threat to national security.
Anyway, here I am fifty plus years later with four children, thirteen grandchildren and ten great grandchildren. Thankyou Big Brother Movement.
Robin has published his biography “I thought I spoke English” 02/2023 and it can be purchased at Dymocks for $31.75 here:
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