64. Carnage, Dog vs Ducks – Journal Entry 26th Feb 1981

Made oatmeal crunchies for Nathaniel’s playgroup, with extra for the family, and a salad for my lunch. After a little bit of tidying, I took Monika and Nathaniel to Yeppoon and then called on Linda. The Rover was spluttering somewhat, so I looked under the bonnet but couldn’t locate any obvious defect. Had coffee with Linda and we talked about being in our forties, feeling inadequate and frustrated, feeling one has missed the boat and wondering about one’s marriage. We discussed what skills to acquire, at this late age, in order to earn a living.

Made a chilli and coriander omelette for lunch with cold duck, brown bread, carrot salad and cider, put everything onto a tray, and ate outside at the barbecue table. After I had coffee in the kitchen and talked to mum, I managed to collect a few herbs and guava seedlings.

On the way to pick up Monika and Nathaniel, the Rover came to a standstill outside the Island View Caravan Park. After cleaning two spark plugs, I was able to drive off proudly.

When I returned, the family were back from school and work, so I read for a while and then made noodles and liver for dinner.

Johnny rang to say the moke was not back from the garage; he suggested I drive the Rover in the daylight to Rocky so I wouldn’t have to worry about its faulty light switches. Managed to get to CIAE to pick up Johnny, the Rover only “coughed” once or twice. The light, although brighter than twilight, was strange and heartbreaking and the countryside looked bright green. After the rains, Cawarral Road was lined on both sides with tall grass with delicate blades.

27th Feb 1981

A cyclone is heading for the coast, 300 km north of us. The rain is already falling steadily and the wind is very gusty; our chooks and ducks are drenched. The chickens must feel miserable in this weather without adequate dry housing.

11th Apr 1981

Poor mum cried when she saw the carnage in the duck pen. We lost eight ducks, many ducklings and two young Australorps. Another duck carcass was found inside the shed. Later I found a young injured drake that had tried to escape, caught between a sheet of iron and the wire fence. It had managed to stay alive, hiding from the dog that mauled its leg. Marcello’s ducks were safe and another young duck and some of our ducklings crept out of the bushes later that day. However, the next day, the rogue dog, a blue heeler, returned to Marcello’s pen, chasing his bantams around with great leaps. Dusty, our own dog, was encouraging it and, in fact, she nearly joined in the game! We found out who owned the dog and had permission to beat it (which I did) with a hose and a dead hen. Neither hurt the dog and it was glad to get away under a nearby caravan; I was upset and breathless from the effort. One of our other neighbours told me he had seen a few dogs over the weekend, one of them with a brown duck in its mouth.

It was so good to see Hamish. He called in for a visit with an American lass who was studying for a Master’s degree in Zoology at the University of Queensland. She told me the members of the Zoology Department’s Coffee Club owned a Jersey cow. They sold the surplus milk, far too much for their club, to the other department coffee clubs. They also had an egg cooperative, started by an adept member, who was told he could not exceed the limits of hens allowed for any one household. He consulted Legal Aid, then formed a cooperative and now looks after all the hens; the Egg Board can’t do anything about it.

“In true hegemonic style, the locally powerful were busy blaming their victims rather than themselves.” Colin Bell

KarenProfileCircle120Notes and Links

  • This journal entry is part of the My Mother’s Voice – Journal Series and based on the journals of my mother.
  • These posts are meant to be read in sequence and the Preamble post marks the beginning of the journal series. Refer to Archived on the Home page and scroll through to the bottom.

42. Life Rebalancing – Journal Entry 8th Dec 1979

A warm morning. The black cockatoos are doing the rounds of the Queensland hoop pine trees. The nuts are ready for eating. Their harsh cries seem to have stopped. They must have settled down to feed.

It’s been a month since I wrote in this pad. What has happened until now?

P-maths, that almost constant influence in my life, is over. Now I can start revisiting it and have been doing that since the end of November.

Had ten whole days with Johnny at the end of the semester. We walked up hills, up and down the railway tracks and under the bridge, went to the beach and lived off eggs, cheese, bread and olives. We drank much rum, brandy, wine and creaming soda. There was much love and we talked and discussed many things: adults in education and their transition, urban Aborigines and manipulation/facilitation.

The family was so good while we were on holiday.

I’m back in gear, doing a few things I didn’t have time to do during study time and we’ve made several family shopping trips to Rocky. We’ve planned more. Johnny invited me to join the CIAE search group and it could be the most exciting happening in my life. I attended a few meetings and enjoyed them very much. They were intellectual and stimulating.

I seem to have time to read and think because the big ones take turns cooking. My cooking day is Friday and Johnny takes the weekend. As for gardening and chooks, I’ve just about retired completely from those two activities, but will take the time to plant banana and pawpaw trees – they look after themselves. Late night shopping on Thursday was fun and we are going again next Thursday.

22nd Dec 1979

The lass who is looking after Cassidy’s house is a Finn, reads about Kundalini and is only interested in that type of reading – Rama Krishna, etc. She has two boys aged 7 and 12. Presumably, she knew Connie because of a common interest in the occult. The Cassidy’s dog has a spear grass thorn in its eyeball and Herbert has taken it to the vet. Poor Herbert and Marian, they have many dogs of their own. They also have Ellen’s dog Sugar. Neurotic Sugar, who bleeds a lot when she urinates, then squats in it and shakes herself. Unfortunately, she will probably die soon and her mistress is in hospital too. I wonder who has that poor Persian cat that was kept chained all the time. A beautiful, frustrated cat with matted fur.

So many good books to get acquainted with. Read Graham Greene’s In Search of a Character, two journals about his books: A Burnt-Out Case and The Heart of the Matter. He wonders, in the first journal, what makes so many people want to become writers: “Why should this dream of writing haunt so many? The desire for money? I doubt it. The desire for a vocation when they find themselves in a life they haven’t chosen? The same despairing instinct that drives some people to desire rather than to experience a religious faith?”

Re-read Lady Chatterley’s Lover for the fourth or fifth time. Lawrence is such a good writer. Nothing yet to touch this love story – rather the telling of this common theme – love between a man and woman.

Why are Johnny and Gita lucky to have each other? I think it is because each has what I call a ‘generous heart’. A giving, in spite of high cost, and it’s rare for two such people to be together. Looking around, there seem to be many couples where one partner is generous and the other is not. Such a loss it seems, though the couples seem to make a go of things without feeling anything is missing. Social Anthropology in Perspective by Lewis is most enjoyable and sets me thinking. I had better start re-reading Emery’s works for the Canberra trip.

The relationship with my Johnny is good but runs into trouble sometimes because of my moodiness. But I am learning to control moodiness. Life is so good – the only life one has and Johnny says we should do something substantial to merit this life we have together.

Last night was such happiness. We decided not to use the word happiness, overused and ambiguous, surely we mean ecstasy or rapture.

KarenProfileCircle120Notes and Links

  • This journal entry is part of the My Mother’s Voice – Journal Series
  • These posts are meant to be read in sequence and the Preamble post marks the beginning of the journal series. It can be found in Archived on the Home page.
  • A map of where we lived and a family tree are also at the bottom of the Home page, click here.

32. The Causeway – Journal Entry 20th Dec 1978

The water is warm and still, just right for swimming.

It’s 12noon at the Kinka Beach end of the Causeway. For the past 40 minutes I have been teaching myself to swim. Marcello, Karen and Gareth were instructing me and laughing at my attempts. Twice my left breast hung out of the bra top to the immense amusement of the kids, and myself. Poor, poor Hecuba.

The Causeway is not aesthetic in the slightest; Perhaps I’m very uneasy about it because Dusty was hurt by a car here several years ago.

There’s no clean sand around. This muddy sand looks ugly. The numerous dogs swimming around makes one reluctant to play in the water. There was one persistent pug-like dog that kept swimming out to us and yapping in a slightly distressing manner. He wouldn’t get out, even when we encouraged him by carrying him to the water’s edge. Later we met the confused little dog on the causeway bridge and he was intent on some errand. It seemed to be of somebody else’s making or rather his pursuit or search was for someone who wasn’t thinking too much of him or his whereabouts.

Barbara enjoyed herself in the water. At home she was in a bad-temper and told my mother that she was not going into the water and so did not need to put on her swimsuit.

“Put on your swimsuit Barbara,” I growl firmly, overhearing the argument she was having with my mother. At the Causeway she wrapped a towel round her waist sarong-style and sat glowering on a bench. I waited until the rest of the family were in the water before approaching her.

“Let’s go into the water, Barbara,” I invite her.

“Noooo, I don’t want to get into the water,” is her reply.

“Ok,” I say quietly but with a grim note in my voice. “You can come in by yourself or I carry you into the water.”

She came in but sat at the edge of the water.

I went into the water and a little later Gareth lent me his air-mattress. Without a clear idea of what I was doing, I took it across to Barbara and encouraged her to hang onto it with me, to paddle in the shallow water. Barbara loved it. We spent a long time paddling, floating, kicking and moving around in the water. After a while I was able to leave Barbara on her own with it and she seemed contented and occupied.

Activities for Barbara:

  1. Getting grass for the garden, chook pen, outside
  2. Getting pine leaves and cones for the garden
  3. Making things
  4. Glass polishing
  5. Visiting the beach, causeway and shops
  6. Cooking
  7. Drawing
  8. Sticking pictures
  9. Being read to (tape reading onto Barbara’s tapes)
  10. Reading
  11. Learning sums – games with cards, dominos, dice
  12. Tidying rooms
  13. Sweeping and mopping
  14. Cleaning the cars
  15. Washing up
  16. Laying the table

21st Dec 1978

It rained half the day. Sewed bikini tops most of the day. Karen cooked the evening meal, a fragrant brown stew; the smell made us all look forward to the meal. We had carrots in the stew and brown rice and peas served separately.

In the afternoon we cleaned Rolf’s garden in preparation for some temporary tenants. Like Rolf (but in a mild way) I didn’t want to hang around too long, nor did I want to see the inside of the house. All the parties that were held there, all the people who had come to that house, nostalgia, memories… the older one gets the more sentimental I suppose.

Gareth’s friend James was over this evening to help Marcello shoot toads. Gareth and James took an old plastic camping bucket, one that is made from flexible plastic, to put the dead toads in. Saw James much later. He was determined to stay at our place until midnight but Gareth wouldn’t invite him to sleep here. I told James he could sleep near Karen if he’d bring his sleeping bag from home. Off he went with the torch strap over his arm and our new torch in his hand. Gareth finally invited him to his stay in his room, so all was well for James.

Wore a special red bikini top for the date with Johnny. There were pistachios, rum and tang. We didn’t get too far in our discussions on what attracts certain women to certain men and vice versa.

A very good evening.

23rd Dec 1978

Let me list the jobs to be done today:

  1. Cakes to be wrapped and delivered as presents
  2. Candles to be finished and delivered
  3. Meal to be cooked
  4. Buy curry powder
  5. Deliver M.O.W. rosters
  6. Get plants together for Mirium
  7. Car maintenance
  8. Write journal
  9. Tidy desk
  10. Pay bills and keep ready

KarenProfileCircle120Notes and Links

  • Click here to go to Home
  • This journal entry is part of the My Mother’s Voice – Journal Series
  • Barbara, my mother’s youngest sister, suffered from a number of mental health issues and was cared for by our family. My grandmother was always very protective of Barbara.
  • Dusty was our much loved blue cattle dog. She had been run over by a car at the Causeway and suffered a broken hip. After her operation and recovery, she could not sit properly and walked with a limp.

31. Miss You Johnny – Journal Entry 13th Dec 1978

Yesterday was so good. The cakes were made. Not as good as Johnny’s. I hope they’re good to eat, they’re going out as Christmas presents. Camping gear and shopping list were sorted out.

Read a bit, wrote a bit and saw three TV programmes.

Barbara didn’t eat her egg at breakfast, said she had a stomach pain. She ate only half a slice of bread and threw the crust in the bin. Tiresome girl, she can’t believe she’s going to be kept at home today because of her behaviour. Perhaps the message will get through. Kept Barbara in her room until 3pm. She had lunch in the kitchen. She seems reasonably happy.

Lots of cleaning of walls and glass.

We picked up Monika’s bed from Yeppoon. Had a chat with her mother who said there are strong rumours that Yeppoon will grow big very rapidly, so if any business is to be started it should be done as soon as possible. The Council is putting a restriction on the animals and birds that people can keep in their yards. A licence will be needed for more animals or chooks.

What a beautiful coast we live on; the drive to Yeppoon never fails to delight people, whatever the weather.

Island View Caravan Park had an emu and five chicks in front of it. The chicks looked so fluffy and cuddly. I tried to get close. The mother emu came up to me, paused to take note of me and then turned and joined her chicks. The chicks were pulling at leaves and grass. I was tempted to walk off with a chick under each arm.

Monika and Marcello made dinner today. Karen advised them on the amount of herbs and wine to use. We took the meal to the Causeway and ate it after the children and Gran had played in the water for about an hour. The stew was delicious.

I miss Johnny.

A dog came up to Barbara and me and begged us to throw a stick for it. It had brought along it’s own stick. I tricked it several times by pretending to throw it in one direction, whereupon he raced off in that direction, but then I threw it in the opposite direction. He soon learned and refused to move even when I pretended to throw it. Funny dog, he chased off the pelican that was in the water nearby. The dog seems to understand very well when he’s told to find a stick.

14th Dec 1978 11:10am

At the airport. I may well have long to wait because of the weather. There’s plenty to do, at last I might get a few hundred words down.

These modern toilets are stifling with their airless, hot atmosphere of pseudo-class and cakes of air-fresheners. The writing on the doors are so dull too; are men more naturally pornographic than women? All I found today was an insipid list of who loves who, mostly initials at that, only one said that Karen loves Darryl. Best of luck Karen and Darryl.

We’ve been round the toy shops because it’s Gareth’s shopping day today. I left a long list with the big kids before leaving. They had to mind the drake roasting in the oven, prepare the roast for this evening and clean the kitchen, laundry and bathroom. Oh yes and make a goulash for Sunday. The duck is for our camp. Gran was to make the rye bread.

This evening those who want to go to the library will be dropped off there on the way to pick up Rolf. At breakfast it seemed as though only a few were going to the library – Gran is going to church with the Benedictine nuns, Marcello decided to stay at home and Monika seems uncertain.

It’s good to be back in jeans again. I swapped one for two with Monika. Had a look at some Levi’s at Weiners and yet again postponed the purchase of a pair, maybe sometime in January.

Don Juan’s philosophy appears more forceful than Persig’s – life is short, it may be cast off at any minute so be impeccable, there’s no time for crap or petty moods. An intensity accompanies the actions of a person who behaves as though he’s fighting his last battle on earth. Choose a path with heart and follow it. Take responsibility for your decisions. When a decision is taken, act calmly and fearlessly for there will be many more decisions cropping up.

16th Dec 1978

At The Three Rivers. We arrived at 8am after leaving Emu Park at 5:15am. We went to Bernie’s to pick up fruit buns. The drive was straightforward, no major stops.

We caught a lot of fish; and while cleaning them we talked of salting them to take home. Alas, we forgot to pack the salt. And we didn’t bring oil.

So the first thing to do is write a checklist:

CampingChecklist (1)
Camping Checklist by Gita 1978

KarenProfileCircle120Notes and Links

  • Click here to go to Home
  • This journal entry is part of the My Mother’s Voice – Journal Series
  • Don Juan teachings and philosophy are contained in Journey to Ixtlan by Carlos Castaneda, 1968
  • Robert M. Persig (1928 – 2017) was an American writer and philosopher who wrote Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
  • Added dedication postscript to Preamble post. View here.

 

29. Crows and Cane Toads – Journal Entry 6th Dec 1978

The weather has changed, my skin feels cool, dry and slightly uncomfortable. A storm? The winds for the past few days have been strong. It was difficult using the gas stove because of the strong draughts through the house, especially the kitchen.

Last night was very pleasant.

First before dinner we packed a forequarter of beef into the freezer, a slightly tedious job, cutting up, sorting, weighing and packing. Meat prices are going up, so we must be more restrained in our eating habits.

Then dinner, which was good. Marcello and Monika are away. Gran talked of her National Fitness Christmas party. We talked about the trip to the dentist and so on. Immediately after dinner Johnny made two fruit cakes with Karen. I offered light relief and very little help. Then went to read The Lord of the Rings. After that I sat at my desk for a while, sulking a little and then told Johnny, rather dramatically, that I would have to rearrange my life. We sat in the file room and had a glass of whisky and coffee and talked – with me getting quite giggly and amorous after another half glass of whisky.

This pen is so fine I could go on writing and writing words, lots of words.

It was a reasonably good day today. I spent several hours getting the Meals on Wheels (M.O.W.) papers in order and writing up the minutes of the last meeting and typing the Treasurer’s financial statement.

Monika rang wanting to know when Marcello wanted her to come back – this afternoon or evening. I gave her the Svendsen’s telephone number. By about 10am Marcello rings in to get a lift home and to ask for the drill and sanding disc. So I put together some strawberry jam, marmalade and empty egg cartons for the Svendsens as a small thank you for putting up Marcello for a couple of days. Mark and Marcello load a lot of gear into the Rover, give me some fish that they had caught and suggest I come later in the afternoon for Marcello.

I drive home and head for my desk, switch on the cassette tape recorder again and continue working for a while.

No, I’m wrong. What I actually did was fry some fish as soon as I got in and served lunch. It was a gorge of crisply fried fresh fish. I then went to my desk, switched on the cassette tape recorder again and continued working until midday.

After a small rest for about 60 minutes, I mix a bowl of pikelet batter and get the roast in the oven. While putting herbs on the roast and sticking garlic in the meat, I tell my mother that perhaps the chickens have chickenpox. I had observed a very small chick sitting with his head smack on his shoulders and beak pointing at the roof. He then woke up, made a few pecking motions and then settled his head back again into hunched shoulders with the same strange beak-up pose. A little while later, mum came in to say that not only was this chick missing, another like him in size and behaviour was also missing and would I creep into the pen and search for them, please.

“Do you mind if I went later?” I asked. “I’d like to get this finished. If I went now I’d come back with chicken pooh on my hands and knees from crawling through the low chicken coop door.” Mum agreed, so the pikelets were made first and the tea tray prepared for Gareth’s ‘Jaguar’ friends who should race to our kitchen this afternoon as soon as school is over.

In the chicken coop, I couldn’t find the missing chickens or their carcasses. Trying to count thirty fast-moving chicks and three ducklings was difficult, but fortunately those nursing chicks were much smaller than the others.

Then I went looking for cane toads. They have been known to eat very young ducklings. There was one toad, which I killed. Next, I checked for holes or gaps in the wire netting overhead that would allow the crows in. Recently, large numbers of crows moved into the neighbourhood and one large family was nesting in the tree in the poultry yard. I found a large gap and fixed it with a piece of wire I found lying in the coop. We removed the Rouen ducklings because they foul the chickens’ drinking water.

Back inside the house, I clear the sink and get ready to go pick up Barb at the Yeppoon bus stop. I write a little while waiting for her. While driving back up Phillips Street, I see an embarrassed S talking to J O’D who is holding a mangled white Leghorn hen. He has it by the feet and it’s bloody neck and head dangle while he talks. Good, he has evidence I think – he must have caught the Dean’s two dogs while they were attacking his chooks. They have killed over 17 of our birds within a few months. I should have stopped to add my complaint too, but I continued home.

After dinner Marcello and Gareth shot a crow. We have a large family to feed too, the crows can search for carrion (there’s plenty on the road), instead of stealing our eggs and chicks. The kookaburras are a bit of a pest.

The day was not yet over. I leave at 7:15pm to say hello to the Batik class and say how sorry I am that I can’t join them because I have a M.O.W meeting at 7:30pm. The M.O.W. meeting was short and lively. We’re having problems getting volunteers. One woman is terrified of a M.O.W. recipient dying while being served a meal, another is alleged to have said she was not willing to be a servant to anyone. Pearl is having to do 2 hours a week.

Back at the desk, I’m writing in this notebook and drinking black coffee. The red Japanese clock strikes ten. I’ve just challenged Johnny to a game of chess. Karen has made a row of greeting cards with pressed flowers and Monika is making hers. The two lads were hunting cane toads. Death to cane toads and crows. Sometime last fortnight there was a very bad smell just near the rose bush. After a bit of a search we found a small galvanised bucket full of dead, bloated cane toads.

I must remember to separate the Rouen duckling from the geese. Her companion gosling is missing and she is being picked on. How she quacks; if she didn’t make such a noise and if she were white instead of chocolate brown, she might lead a less stressful life among the geese. I hope she takes to the spare Rouen drake we have, but he may not make the right noises; she thinks she’s a goose.

There’s a moth on this page as I write, a greeny mother-of-pearl creature, slim and long with flowing antennae. Now he is still, but for quite a while he would flutter, rise and jump or fly backward to land on his feet with a slight noise; curious movement this hopping backwards and landing with a thump. There’s another like him now flying around the lamp. He won’t last long.

CicadaPoem
Poem by Gita 1978

KarenProfileCircle120Notes and Links

  • Click here to go to Home
  • Click here to go to this post online
  • This journal entry is part of the My Mother’s Voice – Journal Series
  • Marcello’s girlfriend Monika came to live with us in May 1978 and she has been added to the Emu Park Family Tree

26. Endless Waiting – Journal Entry 18th April 1978

I’m in Yeppoon, sitting at a table in front of a small cafe that’s shut. It’s rather dark here, a few metres away, maybe 10 or 15, a hot bread sign keeps flashing, giving the illusion of movement and the bulbs make a clicking sound as they go on and off. Around and around the hot bread, hot pies, cakes and pastries board they seem to move. Click, Click, Click, around and around. I’m using the light from the sign and also light from the glassed and refrigerated drink stands in the shop at the back of me. The headlights of passing cars occasionally flash in my direction, brightening the table for a few seconds. There are two young girls sitting at the next table. It’s very quiet in this corner. The Strand Hotel Motel across the road has a few drinkers. I wonder who bought the hotel at the auction a couple of weeks ago?

As usual, patients are hanging around waiting for the doctor to arrive; and, as usual, he is late. How long will his patients remain his patients? Especially when there are more punctual physicians in town.

Quality is an interesting concept. The Bororo people of Brazil, according to Levi-Strauss, have it. Quality in cooking, yes, but what about the kitchen? Should that be tidy and aesthetically pleasing before one starts or can one produce good food on the one hand and have a mess in the kitchen while producing quality food? No. Quality does not or should not occur in patches.

The garden is taking shape. What do I have to do tomorrow?

  1. Plant zucchini – the plot is ready
  2. Finish removing the grass from the path
  3. Tackle the strawberries
  4. Plan the plots near the duck pen
  5. Peas – plan their plot

There’s too much on the list for tomorrow.

We’re sewing too. List of sewing jobs:

  1. Cut out hats – D-hats
  2. Patchwork for blankets
  3. Make some green hats

15th Jun 1978

Thursday is People’s Day at the Rocky Agricultural Show. It is about 12:30 pm and I’m sitting near the Radio 4RO booth. Mum and Barbie are playing the lucky envelope stalls. Lots and lots and lots of people at the show today, such a collection of humanity, but mainly homogeneous because this is the heart of Central Queensland. A country town. A few foreigners are around and one Vietnamese family obviously enjoying themselves. First, they had a hot drink. Two rows of stalls later they were buying pluto pups for the kids. Money is changing hands very fast at some stalls. One-way traffic from people – mainly children – to the stall holders. Actually, most of the stalls seem to be doing well, except perhaps the ear-piercings and some of the religious stalls.

I would have loved to have spent more time at the poultry section. I always get carried away by some of the beautiful birds – this time by Doblo’s Indian game fowl and some bantams. Maybe in a year or two, we’ll have a few different breeds. I must find out the name of the largish bantams that looked like Doblo’s birds. People and paper are littered on the lawn about me. It’s lunch-time so more and more people are dropping on the grass, more chip bags are flying in the breeze.

The show seems to offer everyone something to their liking. Competitors get competition, young lovers get excitement and fun and children seem to enjoy themselves the most. The high cost of rides and darts don’t seem to worry them and neither do the plastic prizes. The wind has come up again, cold and biting. The man at the kite shop is flying an eagle kite made from black and white plastic. It looks pretty from here. All the children watch. Nice smell of steak somewhere nearby. A loudspeaker calls people to try lucky envelopes at the sub-normal children’s stall. Suddenly people are rising from the grass, they all dust off their bums before heading off.

17th Jul 1978

At last, a place in Yeppoon where a person can sit on a Monday night and enjoy a hot cup of tea or coffee. I’m having chips with my cup of coffee. Can’t decide whether to put sugar in the coffee. It’s dog obedience night. Dusty went without a backward glance. She was either eager or resigned. No use struggling.

KarenProfileCircle120Notes and Links

  • Click here to go to Home
  • Click here to go to this post online
  • This journal entry is part of the My Mother’s Voice – Journal Series
  • Added my mother’s sister Barbara to the family tree. As Barbara was dependent on my grandmother, both Barbara and Grandma joined the Emu Park Family.

25. Cyclone David – Journal Entry 12th Dec 1975

Dear Jean, here at last is my letter as it was written before and after your telephone call.

Thanks for your letter. We will not be coming to Melbourne for the Christmas holidays, Johnny cannot get away, though we may manage the odd week or weekend in the bush. Sayang*.

I was looking forward to visiting Melbourne for several reasons – the main one being because it contains your family. There is a paper mill I would like to visit and learn to hand-make paper. Actually one buys a kit (you may like to get one for the kids: The Mould & Deckle Papermill, 221 Canterbury Road, Heathmont VIC 3135). And, of course, I wanted to see the shops. Heard a lot about them.

After minding our own business for two years, Johnny and I are right in the middle of community participation. He is out tonight attending an A.A.P.** meeting, to get the best deal for Emu Park in particular and the Capricorn Coast. Last night he attended the Emu Park Progress Association meeting where he was told that we would at last be getting a community hall. Emu Park had been without a hall for many years. The old hall was burned down by a firebug. This firebug had a temper; whenever someone insulted him, he burned a building or two. He set fire to the school. They caught him one day with a stolen bicycle in hand and lots more under his house. They tell me he was Welsh and an incorrigible thief. He died in a road accident and his body and car were stripped before the police got to him.

We’ve started Meals on Wheels (M.O.W.) In the beginning we thought it was all a big mistake; we only had two customers. However, when we served our first day’s meal, we had seven customers. In a month’s time we were up to ten and then sixteen, by which time we wanted to drop some. Now we are at a manageable amount.

We’ve also started a group called MATTARA to keep an eye on people, especially old and sick people living on their own. We get taps mended, supply transport when needed, look after gardens, etc. Yesterday we had our first social afternoon-tea and sing-song because of Christmas. Sounds dreadful, but we all enjoyed ourselves, and the homemade cakes and jams we offered as prizes were really appreciated. Some of our clients were housebound and had not seen their friends (also housebound) for a long time. By bringing them together, they were able to catch up on news and gossip. Our oldest person there was 82. She had been in a home for over 15 years. As she wanted to spend time here, the Community Health people boarded her with a woman in Emu Park. This was her first two week holiday.

Our most dramatic case to date has been cleaning an 82 year old German man’s house. His house was condemned long ago, but the Council won’t pull it down until he dies. A strange man Fritz. And Emu Park left him alone. He was a first class carpenter and boat builder. He drinks, is excessively independent and has an enormous golden Labrador which knocks him into hospital at least once a month. When in hospital he accuses the staff of keeping him away from his dog. To get back to the house cleaning: the M.O.W. volunteers complained about the overflowing urine bucket in the kitchen doorway and maggots on the floor, not to mention the egg-smeared dishes laid ready for the day’s meal. So on Sunday, four MATTARA women gird up their loins, put perfumed masks over their face and attacked Fritz’s house. Fritz helped by burning the rubbish. He only cooperated because he had been told to do so by the Community Health Nursing Sister. To give you an idea of Fritz’s present state – he doesn’t know what day of the week it is, forgets to switch off his kettle, lays lighted mosquito coils on boxes of matches and lights a pipe that is not there.

Back to the housecleaning for Fritz. Right in the middle of all this filthy, stinking, dusty and seemingly hopeless job, a neighbour (who bought Fritz’s house and land) came in to tell us what interfering do-gooders we were and why the hell hadn’t we asked her to help. She continued to tell us that everyone knew she helped Fritz, that Fritz wanted the house filthy anyway and why couldn’t we leave it so. We apologised for not knowing she helped Fritz. What else could we do? She went to meet with the President of M.O.W., who was mowing his son’s lawn at the time. The President had seen her going into Fritz’s house so he was ready and pointed out that Fritz was a health and fire hazard! To do the woman justice, she returned to us and apologized.

Much later, Fritz was asked how his rooms came to be so clean and with eyes twinkling behind small, round, steel-rimmed glasses, he replied, “It rained.”

CyclonePic

19th Jan 1976

Today we are expecting Cyclone David. The wind is blowing at about 60 knots. The trees are trying to touch their roots.

The M.O.W. President and I delivered the meals because we wanted to warn the clients that we might not be able to get to them tomorrow. We offered to do any shopping they might need. All of them were prepared except old Fritz. He was in bed when I went in. The Blue Nurse was there and also the woman who cleans the house. The women were worried about him as the wind was blowing the rain right across to his bed. Fritz wasn’t bothered, he was hungry and wanted to be fed right away. Couldn’t get out of bed, he said, because he had no pants on. That was true, I saw that a couple of pairs of dirty shorts were soaking in a bucket in the kitchen.

This afternoon, a MATTARA volunteer will check on Fritz and take him to her house if necessary.

22nd Jan 1976

Very few people on the Capricorn Coast slept on the night of the 19th. The winds at our place were horrific because of the pine trees; and we were well away from the eye of the storm. Very little damage at Emu Park, just a few old, unused houses had the roof ripped off, and some toots (lavatories) found their way to the middle of the street. Had the wind been just a little stronger…

Apart from a wet study and a few broken branches, we thrive at Phillip Street. The kids are getting ready for school – which starts again next week.

Christmas was very wet, but most pleasant, playing with the kids’ toys. New Year or thereabouts was hectic because of visitors. We haven’t been on camp as yet; much too wet where we want to go.

Lots of love and a great good 1976 to you all.

Footnotes:

*Sayang means ‘Too bad!’ in the Philippines.
**The Australian Assistance Plan (A.A.P.), provided regional funding for local projects and social welfare programs. Ref: Local government and the Commonwealth: an evolving relationship, Research Paper no. 10 2010-11, Dr Lyndon Megarrity, Politics and Public Administration Section, 31 January 2011, Ref. The A.A.P was set up by the Whitlam Government in 1972.

 

KarenProfileCircle120Notes and Links

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  • Cyclone “David crossed to the north of St Lawrence. It passed over Gannet Cay. Winds unroofed 30 buildings in Yeppoon. The breakwater at Rosslyn Bay was destroyed along with yachts and trawlers. Wave recording stations at Yeppoon recorded a peak wave height (Hmax) of 7.6m.” Ref: Capricorn Coast Storm Tide Hazard Investigation For Livingstone Shire Council Final Report, 105201cw/ Revision 3, Connell Wagner Pty Ltd, 28 May 2003, Ref

 

 

24. Meals On Wheels – Journal Entry 5th Sep 1975

Went to see Steve McL at the library about visiting people in the community. She is interested in lending large-print books to old people and doing activities with young people.

Those interested should help with Meals On Wheels (M.O.W.) to have contact and a raison d’etre. One or two women will be organisers and contacts. Lectures and films could be shown to help educate and entertain helper groups. We decided to meet next week to sort out the committee and roster for M.O.W.

A few of our potential recipients:

Mrs A is psychotic and almost everybody avoids speaking to her. She grew up in Emu Park. Horse-whipped her kid once and he is now middle-aged, an alcoholic, collects antique furniture and will not do anything for this woman. He hates her. She is completely un-loveable, very much the grand lady.

Mr B lives in a caravan and seems to have no-one except the people who own the weekend home whose garden he maintains. Very lovely, going blind with possible kidney trouble.

Mr C has a senile wife. She interferes when he cooks and he doesn’t get much sleep. An old friend helped by taking his wife out for a drive while Mr C had a sleep or went for a walk. His wife is now in a home. It’s very sad but he is a different man after regular sleep.

We called a public meeting. Priests, representatives of various organisations, a social worker and a community health nurse were all present. The chairman was good, everyone was in favour of Meals On Wheels. A very successful meeting.

6th Sep 1975

The school fete is on and it’s a cold and windy day. No rain though. In the morning I went with the kids to help at school. Everyone was rummaging at the White Elephant stall. Much excitement among the kids. In the afternoon there was a very good crowd. During the speeches, various people traced the history of Emu Park School. I worked in the tea stall.

In the evening we had dinner with Margo and Norman. The discussion centred around how to find out what the Aboriginals did around Rockhampton. Norman to find out what is needed. Margo to help with homework at One People of Australia League.

15th Sep 1975

Meals On Wheels started. Many did not want to get meals; hope they change their minds later.

16th Sep 1975

“What do you think of the kedgeree, Gareth?” I query.

He says, “Oh, the flavours don’t go well together. Those flavours don’t go well with the tomatoes.”

There was a sad incident on Sunday. Got a call from the neighbour about Mr E.

Mr E was expecting a meal from M.O.W. – kept looking out for it and getting quite agitated. When I called by, he walked down to the vehicle and peered in. It was 1pm and all the meals had been delivered. So the neighbour, kind soul, made soup and put it on a tray with cold meat, bread and a sweet. She walked the food across to Mr E’s house.

Mr E’s house was a shell and barely liveable. A strong urine smell was everywhere, especially in a room which seemed to serve as a kitchen, dining room, bathroom and latrine. The latrine was a blue plastic bucket. Meat was rotting in the frying pan; near which was a lump of dripping and over 15 egg shells, egg cartons and egg smeared plates. It was absolute squalor. Empty jam jars and dirty towels lay strewn on the benches and floor.

The house was described by some as “the funniest in the street” and the occupant has always been a mystery. He has no friends, speaks very little English and people suspect he knows more than he lets on.

Strangely, Mr E has a lovely golden dog, called Laddie, who is in prime condition. He spends most of his time at the pub. Every afternoon the pub people tell him, “The Meals On Wheels people are going to your house now.” To which he downs his can of beer, scoots out, races along the street, gets home and sets himself at the table. Some days he eats a slice of bread while waiting.

Mr E has a round face, youthful complexion and a freshness about him. His eyes give nothing away. He is 82 years old, lights a pipe that is not there, puts burning mosquito coils on top boxes of matches and drinks a lot of beer.

Mr E loves his dog Laddie. He is regal and seems to do you a favour by just being and allowing you to do things for him.

3rd Oct 1975

The Welshman was a smoothie, very charming with the women and drank heavily. He would offer to help with some job around the house, look around and then steal. Usually timber, paint or some other building material.

One day he was drunk and announced, “If anyone annoyed me, I’d burn their house down, just like that, no messing around… wouldn’t be the first time either.”

He was suspected of having burned down the community hall, the school and even a second community hall. He was Master of Ceremonies (M.C.) at six-penny dances that were run to pay for the community hall. But one night he arrived drunk so the people refused to have him as M.C. That was the night the community hall burned down.

Letter to The President of the RSL

[Emu Park, October 1975]

We need your help! Not your money! A group of local people have organised MATTARA* to seek out anyone in the community needing care; not medical care, not charity, just contact with other members of their community.

Some elderly folk are fit and well, others have helpful relatives or neighbours. Some, however, lead very lonely lives, others need practical help in small but important matters. Some, for example, have weak eyesight and cannot even read a newspaper; some are too frail to catch the bus and need to be taken shopping for necessities. Others have electrical fittings which are faulty and deteriorating. The main need on their part is for a little human contact and on our part to be able to find out when help is needed.

Younger people, too, may run into temporary difficulties and may need similar kinds of help. We do not seek out any specific age group, just people in need of care.

We have no doubt that your organisation will wish to share our concern and we shall greatly appreciate your nominating one of your members to join our group – not necessarily for visiting – advice of those needing care will be of tremendous assistance.

[Eight members were listed, including my mother, with three as contact people]

A meeting will be held at the Library on Thursday, 30th October at 7:30 pm. May we welcome your representative then? If unable to attend please telephone to convey your willingness to help us.

%%%%%%%%

*MATTARA – an Aboriginal word meaning ‘hand of friendship’

KarenProfileCircle120Notes and Links

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22. Back Home to Australia – Journal Entry 17th Nov 1973

Muchlater

We returned to Emu Park from the Philippines and our family bought a beautiful Queensland home set on the top of a hill. We could see the ocean in the distance through a row of fully grown Norfolk pines.

Beloved,

I dreamed of you last night. You returned without your beard. I was very surprised. The dream is easily explained, I had shown your R.A.F. photograph to Gareth.

Thank you, my love, for your letter of the 11th received today. We bought three chooks, frozen, from Benn’s.

Quite a day. We went at 6am to the beach; the pup ran around and Gareth rode his bike. We won’t go tomorrow because the pup is sick. We may have overfed him and carried him around too much.

So then we came home from the beach and did some housework (or homework as Janine says). And then about 10am the Svendsen kids came and we all went to the beach again to eat cake and watermelon and to swim.

Left them at their house to get ready for Cinderella, a play by the Junior Little Theatre. We went home, had lunch and then went to the Daltons.

Sue left on Thursday. Benjamin was not well and she thought she’d keep him quiet at home. He gets rather excited here.

Oh darling, all the lettuces have gone to seed.

It’s fun having the Rover to drive.

About Blue, the pup. Do you like the name? Well about Blue; Marcello is in charge of him and it’s the funniest thing – Marcello cleaning Blue’s pooh! And his vomit. Mig is also very fussy and protective over Blue. He stayed in the car with Blue in case stray dogs attacked. Won’t give us much time with the pup. At the moment they’re asleep together. Poor Karen, she wants a pup now. Anyway she’s waiting for her kitten. Gareth and I are to look after Blue when Marcello is at school.

Johnny, I love you. Things are strange without you.

18th Nov 1973 – Night

The Rs called. I was asleep, the kids were at the beach. However, the Rs returned after visiting the Fullers and stayed till 7pm. It was very nice. R’s parents separated when he was 4. He lived with his father till 8 years of age and then returned to his mother. However, he was always away from home and only spent one year living with his mother. They told me lots more things. They send $100 every month to R’s mother.

I’ve unpacked our files. Found the Curry chapter. Finished The Thousand and One Nights. Wrote out cheques. Felt quite important doing so. I’m working at your desk.

The kids and I now sleep in the main bedroom. Not Marcello though, he has Blue in his room because Blue plays at night and bites our toes and tugs our hair! Pity, I enjoyed sleeping in the study.

Don’t know what happened to that crate of apples. Railway strike was on a couple of days so don’t know when the plums etc will arrive.

End of a whole week without you.
I love you my love.

Your
Gita

WastpaperBasketPoem
Poem by Gita Nov 1973

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