At home with Ron, Melissa and Gypsy in St Kilda.
Just a day late and flying rather than ten hours on the train, we reached Melbourne somewhat fatigued and subdued. Martin must have been ill to pass up a long train journey! It was a nasty bug and took us several days to get back
to normal after we arrived in in St Kilda. That was a shame, because our hosts there, Ron and Melissa Denholm, are wonderful cooks and pride temselves on plying their guests with fine food and wine! By our last evening, we were just beginning to
Never mind, the company was what we were there for, and the sharing of memories from Goroka days, when Ron was Principal at the International Primary School where Liz worked. He managed to resurrect some old videos, which he has
had put onto discs and the sight of Liz, resplendent in yellow dungarees and and a curly perm, was something to behold! Ron and Melissa have three daughters, Andrea, Janine and Paula, all of whom were a big part of our lives in those days. They
all still live around Melbourne and it was fantastic to meet them all again, with their husbands and eight of their total of ten children. Given that we didn't feel up to much sight-seeing, we certainly managed to pack in a lot of conversation.
The best part about these conversations is not just the nostalgia, but finding out what people do and think now, about their own lives and about the world beyond. That's especially precious when you last saw someone as a child and now you are sharing
their adult lives.
We left Melbourne and drove to Mount Clear, near Ballarat, to the home of Ondria and Leicester, last seen in Queensland. Having spent that visit doing all the reminiscing, it was nice just to spend time with old friends
and we had a lovely couple of days. Before leaving Ballarat, we visited the new and magnificent Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka, which focuses on the story of the 1854 Eureka Stockade. This was the rebellion of a group of miners against
a huge increase by the government in the license fee paid by each person wishing to stake a claim for a gold mining venture. The story is similar to that of the Boston Tea Party, in that the demand was "No taxation without representation". Although
the miners lost the battle, they ultimately won the war, as the rebels were all found not guilty at trial and votes for all men came soon afterwards. But once again, as in America, we were struck by the fact that these righteous fights for freedom and
justice always seem to go just so far, ie - we demand freedom and justice for all, as long as you are male and white. At least this musuem acknowledges that the story is not yet over. It traces the history of "democracy" from Ancient Greece to
the Arab Spring and recognises that there is a long way to go, in Australia as elsewhere.
We drove on to Warrnambool or, more precisely, to Illowa, where Daryl and Marilyn Woodward live. They are also friends from Goroka days and we were god-parents
to their two oldest children, Nicholas and Elizabeth. Elizabeth has recently returned to Melbourne after years in London and Nick has moved to Warrnambool with his wife, Karen and their new baby, Jack, so it was great timing for us, as we had missed
out on seeing them on previous visits. Jack is Marilyn and Daryl's first grandchild and much doting was called for. (And richly deserved, as Jack is a fine, bonny and cheerful little person.) It was no surprise to see Marilyn's pride in the new
addition to the family, more of a revelation to see Daryl so besotted! When we visited in 2002, Daryl was planting an extensive orchard of numerous kinds of fruit trees and still works really hard, both on his own land and in other people's gardens,
but is now coming to terms with what to do with all the produce, now that his trees are mature! Apples anyone? Or pears, peaches, apricots, quinces or olives?
Not far on from Warrnambool is Port Fairy, the venue for a very famous folk festival,
where we spent one day wandering through the free events - stalls, music, jugglers etc. I bought a rather splendid pair of trousers for the princely sum of $10, but I'm afraid they will attract no attention at home, as they look exactly like something
from Totnes Market. On our other day with the Woodwards, we went for a drive along the Great Ocean Road, an obligatory outing in that area, even if you have been before. The scenery is so spectacular, it takes your breath away every time.
a six and a half hour drive from Warrnambool to Adelaide; we took a relaxed eight hours to arrive outside Hettie Tinsley's apartment, close to the city centre. Not that you would think you were in a city centre - the wide street was virtually empty of
traffic and we were able to find free parking (some of it Hettie's personal space) for the whole time we were there. Hettie's husband, Howard, was Principal of Goroka Teachers' College in the late 1970s and Hettie taught with Liz at the International
School. Howard died some years ago and we hadn't seen Hettie since 1988, so we had plenty to catch up on. Hettie is one of those people who could truly say in retirement that they don't know how they ever found time to go to work. She is
President of this, Vice-President of that, Secretary of something else, not to mention Editor, Team-Leader, etc, etc. The only thing is, she isn't retired either! She still teaches four days a week and undertakes Grandmotherly duties as well.
Just listening to her weekly schedule makes you want to take a lie-down in a darkened room. However, she is clearly thriving on it and has the energy of a woman half her age (the same as ours!). On our first evening, she took us for a "short
walk" (ha ha), round the city. As we were passing the Adelaide Sports Oval, we heard the most tremendous roar of triumph from within - we discovered next day that it was the sound of England being uncermoniously ejected from the cricket World Cup!
In addition to all Hettie's regular activities, we hit Adelaide during the famous Festival, and, being a real culture lover, she was out every single evening. The only thing to do was to catch her on the go, sharing some of her outings and meeting
some of her friends, which we enjoyed very much indeed. (Hot Tip: if you get the chance to see "Fela - the concert", take it; if you get the chance to see "The Cardinals", make sure you are busy doing something else.)
While in Adelaide, we visited
the Migration Museum, a fascinating display in a wonderful old building with a story of its own. Australia is, of course, a country literally full of migrants (although many Aboriginal people would dispute the theory that they migrated originally from
Asia or Indonesia). The story of how the country has developed over the past 250 years or so is imaginatively told, with plenty of emphasis on the devastating effect the immigration of this era has had on the earliest inhabitants. This appalling
story crops up wherever we go and while no-one seems to have an answer to the problem, it seems now that the injustices of the past and their modern legacy are acknowledged in a way that wasn't apparent to us the last time we came to Australia. A step
in the right direction, perhaps. Then again, there's the way the government treats modern asylum seekers - but that's another story....