65. Easter Weekend – Journal Entry 20th April 1981

It was a wonderful Easter weekend, eating excellent meals and spending time with the family.

On Good Friday we enjoyed baked mackerel, freshly caught by a local fisherman, with a delightful fruit salad to follow.

Easter Saturday lunch was an absolute gorge of prawns, aioli and fresh white bread. Mmmmm… I skipped everything except the prawns and aioli. Our usual array of pizzas followed for dinner with stewed mulberries and whipped cream for dessert.

The Easter bunny visited on Easter Sunday so there were loads of Easter eggs. Johnny and I ate bread and chocolate eggs, quite an acceptable way of eating Easter eggs for breakfast without feeling too sick. Everyone piled into the Rover for a picnic lunch of pizza at Stoney Creek, a very nice outing with the family.

Easter Sunday dinner was the event of the weekend if one can call it that with so many wonderful meals eaten already. We had rump steak, Johnny’s cordon bleu standard béarnaise sauce and boiled potatoes, corn and zucchini. After dinner we all went for a quick trip to the Singing Ship – the full moon brought many others to the top of the hill too. We played the dictionary game several times that night, then Gareth, Karen, and her friend Shannon listened to Goon records until late into the evening. 

After eating a large granny smith at 2 am in the morning, I went to bed and was plunged into a long nightmare of monsters surrounding me while I desperately tried various ways of escaping. I can only remember one segment: I was in a room full of people and creatures, circled by tall black lizard-like men with long snarling whips in their hands. I had to wake up to escape, my heart still beating fast.

Had an idea for a story. Through a door into a room leading to a bakery, male voices can be heard and a woman is standing, breaking open eggs. One after the other, they turn out bad with large black spots on the yolks and watery whites. A man comes out of the bakery, stands and looks at the woman. She shows him the bad eggs and says they are bad, breaking a few more. There is no movement from the man who continues to watch her intently; she moves to leave looking appealingly at him. He softens and makes a small movement toward her, she rushes into his arms pressing herself against him. She puts her arms tightly around his neck, her body pressed against him. They stand for a while, then he releases himself to pull curtains closed but does not shut the adjoining door to the bakery, male voices can still be heard in the next room. They lie down on the floor, eyes locked together, the woman gazes down at his face brushing the hair from his forehead.

Did a lot of digging in the garden and planted a few seedlings of brinjal, the genuine eggplant that looks just like eggs, made a list of seeds to be planted and also what goes where. Made a batch of bread and must now iron Johnny’s clothes.

Very much in love.

KarenProfileCircle120NOTES

  • 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.

60. Settling In Australia – Journal Entry 19th Nov 1980

My dear M,

We are delighted with your good news. I am so excited I cannot settle down to my siesta.

We would love to have you here, there are jobs, but let us be cautious and say that the two of you should not find it difficult to earn a living.

However, we should take a long view of your life here and try to work out what might be best.

My own preference would be to advise you to stay in Queensland with us for one or two years until you become reasonably “Aussiefied”. I think your mum would be happier with that arrangement, no?

With R’s Bachelor of Commerce, a three-year external course on computing should make him highly competitive; within a year he would be viable. Without knowing too much, even now he should be able to get a nine to five job in some business without any difficulty.

I envisage both of you doing some study for a few years. Courses are free at tertiary institutions, but books and transport would be at your own expense.

If you would enjoy living thirty-five miles away from your place of work, be close to the sea on the weekends and holidays, lead a very quiet life, work hard for the next three years, then we would suggest you stay with us until you find your feet.

Now about what to bring, I find it hard to recommend anything. You need very little by way of household goods and only the most precious and personal possessions. Maybe sheets and towels to last three to five years? Shirts are about $20 to $30 each; maybe R already has a few suits? He could do with a few smart trousers I suppose. Menswear, for most business purposes, is casual; it is too hot otherwise, except only a couple of months a year.

Again you would need enough office clothes to last a few years. There are plenty of second-hand clothes shops that only charge a couple of dollars for clothes.

To explain: Johnny and I believe in making do with what we can get locally without hankering for foreign or “back home” goods. However, it is so good to have silk saris and gold jewellery to wear on special occasions.

Most masalas, Indian bedspreads, clothes and chappals are available in Australia; a little expensive in some cases, but not excessively so.

You might like bringing things like stainless steel cooking gear, plates and tumblers, enough say to entertain six to eight people. Stainless steel utensils are associated with hospitals here!

I enjoy occasionally setting a table for friends using banana leaves or stainless steel plates with tumblers to match – they seem to get a thrill out of it!

Bring a dosai skillet, cooking spoon, dhal masher or anything uniquely Indian for your own use – even an idli pot if you wish.

After discussing all of this with Johnny, his view is to get on without delay to one of the big cities (where the head offices are) if you are career-minded and want to get on in the world. Please don’t get the idea that we don’t want you to stay with us, we would like you to, but as Johnny suggests, it might not be a clever thing to do now.

There are such places as migrants’ hostels where you stay until you are able to set up on your own. I shall find out details about the migrant hostels in Brisbane or Sydney for you; we stayed in one.

I find it difficult to advise you on where to live without knowing your philosophy or aim in life. The weather should be the least of your worries when choosing a capital city. Melbourne is said to have the worst weather and is extremely changeable, even in one day. Sydney is colder than Brisbane and both are delightful in summer although Brisbane can be very hot. Don’t get me wrong, our northern winters are like a hot summers day in England or New Zealand! I like our mild winter here.

While I am delighted for you, I feel sad for those you will leave behind. You could well suffer from culture shock – the smells, sounds and gestures are all different. Now we love Australia and wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.

Brisbane and Sydney are both good places to live in. Brisbane is more “rural” or should I say like a large thriving country town. Sydney is a lot colder, but don’t bring any woollens, there are plenty around.

Gran has left it to us to advise you she is very happy for you.

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.

10. National Fitness Club – Journal Entry 8th Jul 1969

I’m sitting in the Yeppoon hospital waiting to see the doctor. Nothing much wrong. I’ve got infected fingernails and neglected my thumbnail when it started and now almost all the other nails are infected. Does it sound familiar?

Thank you very much for your letter. Johnny was just as anxious as I to see if the baby had arrived. No doubt we will get a letter soon telling us all.

Will try to get back when it is safe for you to travel. Kathmandu might seem tame but it’s so colourful and vibrant, no? And I bet Minoru will fill the house with food for the baby and you. I must get round to sending drawings and a letter to Minoru. The first lot I’ll send to you because I don’t know if I know his post box number.

I’m involved in running a National Fitness Club in our tiny town. I’m supposed to be the leader – one who stands with a whistle in hand and shouts out instructions. Monday will be the first time I will go it alone.

Some Rockhampton women have been helping us. Actually there are three women who are supposed to be leaders. One of them is the wife of the headmaster and is away at present so it leaves Bunny and me. And Bunny has a brittle spine so that only leaves me to do the demonstration.

It’s all good fun and a big joke for Johnny.

It’s a two-hour programme and many old women come along. Some of them are 65 years old and a few are 69. They love folk dances and playing games.

Can you imagine me trying to work out dance steps to the time of Waltzing Matilda and Susanna? And I’m going to teach them yoga, so I’m madly reading up on the subject.

It’s all good fun as I said. What else?

We’ve been entertaining people a bit and so far we’ve met only three people we enjoy talking to. I mean they are intelligent and alive people. Otherwise, while the evenings are pleasant, they are not exactly exhilarating.

Of course after people have gone, Johnny and I start a lively discussion, usually in agreement with each other, and then we’re happy again.

All this might sound conceited but it’s not meant to be.

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6. Cocktail Party – Journal Entry 15th Jun 1969

Sunday was hectic.

First a cocktail party where we were supposed to meet a few famous people like the Chairman of the Meatworks and the Harbour Board, the Archers, who were the first settlers in Rocky.

Best of all were the host and hostess – Shorty Leah and his wife. A good couple, old, who own a pineapple farm in Tanby. Very dramatic is pineapple farming.

In the evening we had six people to dinner. I wish I could describe what went on. One couple kept having digs at one another, the other couple (J&S) egged on another older couple who were hankering for Darwin and felt that Rocky was a dead hole and filled with old people. No culture too. J and Sue, the bright, young, newly married couple stayed the night with us and we sat up till 3am talking about all sorts but mainly about whether one had a purpose in life or not. A subject I’d prefer not to think about.

16th June 1969

This morning was not so good. Had to get up at 7.30am (which wasn’t too early really), fed the kids and myself and the pup on the front verandah that belonged to J&S and then took them all to the beach so the others could sleep on.

Ah! The beach in the early morning.

Saw the boat leave for the Great Keppel Island – one of the reef islands. Apparently there are lots and lots of coral islands, every one of them beautiful, with oysters for the picking. And fine white sand beaches to sit on and eat them. We will be going sometime. The thing to do is to own a boat and go sculling round these islands, fishing or just exploring.

Holidays are fabulous here with everything so conveniently near – mountains, forests, creeks, gem fields, beaches and islands. What more could you want? Not money, because all this costs so little.

It’s been a warm and glorious day today. I find it difficult to describe the days when they are warm and glorious; so difficult…

The swamp twinkles at me from between the trees with ducks and swamp hens foraging into it’s soft belly; the main road is behind the swamp and stray cars flash past the few houses on the hills around me which seem to stretch themselves luxuriously in the not too bright sunlight. Thieving gulls scream hideously at our uncomplaining, fat, good-natured ducks who take not the slightest notice and gulp down their food before the mob of seagulls descend on them. When I see all of this I know it’s a beautiful, warm and glorious day. I hang out of a window and go mushy.

Karen and Gareth, camping near Emu Park 1969
Marcello, Gareth and Karen, camping near Emu Park 1969
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