IN 1980, WE went to live in a farmhouse in Fernmount, a village just up the road from Urunga. Halfway between Urunga and Bellingen. Alcohol and drugs continued to weave a noxious thread throughout our lives but I was also in love and had no idea of how that thread would thicken and twist so there were days in the sunshine and a beautiful little girl. There were cousins and grandparents and community and an very big green Falcon Futura.
It was strange for me to live as a married woman in a real house. Tad worked on the Railways and we spent time in Sydney at Parramatta where he trained and travelled down to Canberra where I had once taught.
I saw a willy nilly carry off a picnic down there at the Cotter Dam.
I had rifles too and wanted to shoot my husband when he stayed out late partying . The farmer grew spuds in the paddock beside the house and sometimes the river flooded out the back.
In 1979, we moved into the flat next door to my sister’s house. Not actually next door. She was, by then. with her 2nd husband and the two little girls who are my nieces. They had spent a year in Mt Tom Price at the big Western Australian mines and that gave them enough money to buy a house in Urunga and on one side of that house was a flat in which we lived.
Her husband took a job on the RTA ( Roads Traffic Authority) and my husband worked first in logging with his father and then joined the NSW Railways as a fettler.
We washed nappies and took the babies to the Sea Lido in Urunga. We visited with my Mum and Dad who owned a home unit in Morgo Street near the mouth of the two Rivers into the Pacific Ocean.
1978 saw me back in Urunga and defeated once more by Sydney and my own nature. I think Tad and I variously lived in caravans, small flats and then a boathouse on the river bank. I was safely out of the City Scene but still inclined to chemical indulgence.
My hair grew longer and curlier and halfway through the year, a locum made the discovery that I was pregnant. I had rather thought I could not have children and so had the medical profession.
I had a comment posted yesterday which lifted some of the historical guilt I have always felt about my thoughtless and shallow way of life. This is the comment posted on 1977. I am very glad its here.
The long emptiness of a single drug life came to an end. One evening
when my brother, the man and I were sitting around, we asked the question ;” Why not get married?” That was a question which in later years, my brother and I acknowledged that we should have answered. I walked head on into the formality of a wedding to the local Shire President’s young son. My memory is of my mother in law sitting in a a chair in her sitting room and weeping copiously. She chose the carefully tiered dress for me and arranged a wedding within one month which involved almost everything I had never intended to do. We spent the wedding evening in the local motel and went to the Big Banana in Coffs Harbour for the day after. My radical friends came and both families. Noone had expected me to marry . I most certainly had not.
Then I retreated to the Boathouse on the banks of the Kalang River for a period of months where I was healthy and kind of happy. Fishing. Water and sun. Kate was born on Boxing Day of 1978. A natural birth in Bellingen Hospital and the beginning of a grand love affair.
Once again, I haven’t located a photograph for this year. I planned at the start of this 64 year run through to keep the posts short and quick and to not ponder over hidden meanings or implications so here I go.
1977 was a savage year for me. And Elvis Presley. I was living with Tad and we did Caravan Parks and dives and drugs and alcohol. He went off to New Guinea with Rotary to build a hospital and chew betel but and I “escaped” to Sydney. I saw him off in Brisbane. We went up on a coach, wasted on pills and madness and spent the night someplace in a motel. We ate at a French Restaurant which was luxurious but I wandered off onto the docks somehow – as I remember it. Or don’t.
Then I went to Sydney with my sister who left me there and months of true street drug use began. Inner city poverty and sickness and degradation. Mix in a good dose of suffering and shame as 1977 is summed up quite nicely. Fear and ugliness.
I went back to Tony and we did markets and slept in strange places like the old hotel in Devonshire Street. It was pink and filled with people as mad as we were.
My surface memories are of a tall blonde Icelandic woman with grey gloves to play pool. Of Mental as Anything sleeping in the living room of our pink hotel.
My surface memories are of walking in heroin withdrawals through the wind tunnel of Devonshire Street to the Haymarket over Chinatown Way to pick up money I had bludged from family.
My surface memories are of French’s Tavern on Oxford Street and hocking my cameras and at a pawnbroker at Taylor Square – the Courthouse Hotel and a bed under a table in an attic on Flinders Street.
Then Tad came and somehow I came home. After setting a mattress on fire in a motel in Bondi Junction.
Now, perhaps, I have reached the years I was dreading, the ones without images to recall the times to mind. I simply haven’t located a 1976 photograph and I guess there will be more of them to come. Tony hd gone back to Sydney and I had taken up with a very young man by the name of Tad. We lived on Yellow Rock Road and then at Gundamain Caravan Park. There was a lot of alcohol and a lot of drugs. Some people have told me tales of those times. Of 4 up on motorbikes and wildnesses. My sister was working at Urunga Golf Club as a waitress and i worked as nothing. I know I ate a whole pack of drugs sent to me from Sydney and near died and I know I lay down on the Railway Bridge for the night but my sister came along in the morning and told me there had been a train strike so I didn’t perish.
Overproof rum and hard drugs. I don’t suppose that was the “all of it ” in 1976 but it was certainly a lot of it.
In 1974, Tony and I opened the WHITE ROSE TRADING COMPANY in Urunga. We had a very old house, a big shed, and 3 shopfronts. We had dealt antiques so we has an antique shop, a secondhand barn and a bookshop in the little tumbledown skilling.
Susan and her husband had the cafe. Her Tony had been a cook in the Army in the days of conscription. Hippies in Urunga. So they thought. We were actually of a sub caste known as FREAKS. A little meaner and more hard core than your average Hippy.
A massive storm hit in the April of 1974 with major flooding. Someone dared me to go into the Lido and I did so. Naked. They were exciting times.
1973 – well there you go. I had dropped out of teaching and out of most things in fact. I was living with Tony Bahles in Drummoyne, Chiswick and then Balmain. Sex and Drugs and a little bit of rock n roll. Not much for me really. I did go and see Jethro Tull and Joe Cocker but my obsessions were primarily the first two. In 1973 my niece, Josefine was born and Tony and I took off for Far North Queensland in a mini-moke. With a blue tent. We made it to 4 Mile Beach in Port Douglas and stayed quite a time. I loved it there. I was truly happy – barefooted and wild with salt and fishing and the luxuriant tropical life. I learned to not scratch the first itch. I have never forgotten that and it has served me well.
We sailed South on a ketch made from Huon Pine. The UTIEKAH III. I put the photos in unedited because they were only recently restored to me as old slides from my in-laws who had them tucked away someplace safe.
At the end of the wharf in Port Douglas was a restaurant owned by a camp guy called Ivan. He made sauces for steaks which I can still taste till this day. Marvellous things they were.
I do have photos of me teaching in 1971 and 1972 but I can’t find them , just now. Hilary went back to London and didn’t return. That left me desolate. I have a tendency towards being desolated. I think I tried to drown myself in the bathtub at that stage. Instead I went to visit Lesley J at Drummoyne where she was living in an Urban commune. 1972 is the year when I took a sudden plunge in hard drugs and dropped out. I matched up with a Greek lad by the name of Tony B and 1972 became my last year of teaching. It was silk nighties and Indian Sandals and there was no longer a need to iron my hair straight because long wild hair was in.
At the end of 1970. The Dept of Education transferred me out of Tumbarumba and into Queanbeyan South which is the offspring of our Capital City of Canberra. Still drowning myself in bottles of alcohol and still teaching infant children, I began a lonely and isolated life in a brick flat.
One day 2 motor bikes rode into said lonely and isolated life. One carried a College friend, the exquisitely beautiful Lesley Juknaitis riding behind an real live American by the name of Richard. T he second bike carried an hyphenated Englishman by the name of Hilary Eastwick-Field, who took a shine to me and stayed.
We had some wonderful adventures. We explored the countryside and made love and took a lot of photos. Hilary was a photographer and a most interesting man. By Term 3 I had transferred back to Sydney to teach at Lakemba School. Hilary remains one of the serious love affairs of my life. My sister was with Tony Dewberry who had been conscripted into the Army under the barbarous procedures of the time.
I Have photos of 1971 due to having excellent camera gear via Hilary. Somewhere, there is a pic of me at Queanbeyan South School, I may well find it but for now I have the shots of Hilary and me round and about Canberra.
We all lived at 27 Paxton Avenue in Belmore with Mum and Dad. Some of my favourite images are of the look of appalled shock on the face of the American Richard who was straight from the Hippy World of San Fransisco when he encountered a true Australian Suburban House with home cooked meals. I like the delighted smiles on the faces of my Mum and my Brother. Our worlds were fairly limited in Belmore.
Hilary used to say to me ” Hark at you. ” It began my love affair with the male English Accent.