“Fifty one years ago I arrived in Oz, definitely the best thing I could have done”
Fifty one years ago I arrive in Oz, definitely the best thing I could have done. I can’t say everything was perfect from day one, in fact the wheels fell off a number of times between arriving and joining the RAN. But that’s all in the past and helped me grow up a lot faster than I would have if I’d stayed home. Sadly I’ve heard a fair amount of whinging about the way some boys were treated and stories about a percentage of them returning to Blighty seems to be a common thing.
It’s a shame that we didn’t all accept it as an adventure, that’s the way I saw it, a real boy’s own adventure so far from home and on your own for the first time in our lives. I can even remember going ashore from the Castel Felice in Melbourne. We only had a few hours, but in that time I met a few real Aussie boys my age and all we did was talk. I learned a lot about Australia that day, some of it perhaps I shouldn’t have been told, but I soon found out how true those pointers were. When it was time to get back to the ship a couple of us decided to become accustomed with the good old Aussie milk shake and and a four’ n’ twenty pie. What an experience that was, one big bite and red hot filling shot out both sides of the pies and we made a real mess of the milk bar’s floor. Isn’t it strange how we can remember the little things so long ago? I remember it like it was yesterday. In fact whenever I have a pie or milkshake I recall my first of both.
The one BIG shock was the fact there was nobody to tell us what to do. As the street light came on back home and Mum shouting for us to come in for tea. Nobody telling you when you had to go to bed and nobody telling you to get up. Funny thing was we told ourselves it was time to go to bed, or in my case I was asleep straight after the evening meal. I was too knackered to stay awake. The morning was the same, staggering out of bed because I had to go to work, nothing to do with Mum at all.
I had to learn how to do my own washing plus do the ironing, actually I often cheated by bypassing the ironing, why iron anyway, you only crumple it back up when it gets so hot you have to strip down. I wouldn’t change coming out with the BBM for anything. It was Dad who thought it up, bugger, I just realised, he must have been trying to get rid of me. But seriously, it was a golden opportunity, a chance of a lifetime and to be honest it should be part of every 15 year old’s growing up, more so today I believe. Perhaps not with immigration but maybe National Service. Teach them discipline and responsibilities.
But back to our missing crew, where have they vanished to? How many are actually still in Oz? I really would like to know where those fellow adventurers who were game enough to give up everything and everyone they knew to come to a far off land of kangaroos and galahs. Friends keep telling me to write a book about my life in Australia, I would, but I’d be the only one reading it.
First off I’ll wait and see if any shipmates show up. It’s OK, all I want to do is say g’day and grill you for a few hours to find out where and what you got up to. So until someone shows up, it’s goodbye from me.
Castel Felice – 14/1/1965