52 weeks of Personal Genealogy & History: Week 26 -Songs: Beatlemania, Songs and the memories they evoke

Beatlemania, Brisbane, June 1964, from The Courier Mail’s The Way We Were site: http://waywewere.couriermail.com.au/29/6/1964 Crowds of fans waiting outside Lennons Hotel for The Beatles to arrive. Neg/no M1119 The Courier-Mail Photo Archive.

The topic for Week 26 in Amy Coffin’s and Geneablogger’s 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy and History series is Songs. What was the #1 song during the week of your birth? Enter your birth date at This Day in Music (http://www.thisdayinmusic.com/birthdayno1) and find out. If you were born before 1946, you can enter the year of your marriage, the birth dates of your children or some other or some other significant event.

As interesting as it was to use this site to find out the “top of the pops” on the day I was born, I didn’t want to post on that for privacy reasons. So I thought I’d blog about songs and some of the memory-associations.

In the context of pop songs, the first thing that came to mind was the visit of the Beatles to Brisbane in June 1964. Their concerts were held at Festival Hall in Brisbane and somewhat to my retrospective astonishment, I was permitted to go to one of the concerts with another of my friends who was also usually not permitted out at night alone. In fact so strange was this that I keep thinking my parents must have met us afterwards but try as I might I can’t bring this into the memory.  My girlfriend and I were seated fairly close to the front on the stadium on the left hand side from the stage….I remember we did the requisite screaming and carry-on typical of such events, though such over-arching popularity was possibly a relatively new phenomenon at the time. Somewhere among the bits and pieces in my memory box, I no doubt have my ticket stub and the program. (This link to Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum talks about the program).

If I recollect correctly I wore a deep-pink/red pinafore type dress over a white turtle neck sweater. Being well behaved we were not part of the groupie-gathering outside the stage door post-event, though I remember seeing the crowd there. Instead we went up to Chemist Roush and had a milk shake –they made amazing milk shakes in different flavours, in those anodised shakers that are becoming fashionable once again. Chemist Roush was up the Treasury end of Queen Street. In later years I visited Festival Hall to see Ballroom Dancing competitions and I know my husband also saw Cleo Laine there some years later.

People from Brisbane might find the Way We Were website hosted by The Courier Mail newspaper fascinating….I know did.

When you stop to think about it, it’s intriguing how memory is linked to music: Dean Martin and protest songs (strange combo!) remind me of my uni days, Bob Dylan is inextricably linked to a friend in Papua New Guinea, John Denver with a very young daughter singing “take me home west verginger (in lieu of West Virginia)”, another daughter in an early doco/film clip with Sara Storer, friends and the school kids in the river at Kalkaringi, Mozart’s 21st (the Elvira Madigan theme song) for its association with our wedding and my mother-in-law, Bombora with the surfie craze of the 60s, Rambling Rose with ice skating, Neil Diamond with Hot August Night, Paul Simon and his Graceland album with Ladysmith Black Mambazo, A Woman’s Heart sitting in a restaurant in Dingle where we heard it first, and Mary Black with Australian Shane Howard singing Flesh and Blood (one of my all-time favourites) on a bus trip to Canberra and Shane singing it at the Melbourne Genie conference in 2003 to my great delight, seeing and hearing Capercaillie & Karen Matheson on TV in Edinburgh (very sadly, never in person/concert), Guinness concerts[i] in the 90s in Brisbane with everyone beating out the time and “rocking” with the craic, Rugby anthems and World Cups (Flower of Scotland[ii] and Ireland’s Call)….so many thought/memory associations. Sometimes a song track passes out of conscious memory for me until it’s heard somewhere else and then all of a sudden the thought association and memory links come flooding back. I suppose it proves how much all our senses play their different roles in our memories.

[i] Officially the Guinness Celebration of Irish Music concerts.

[ii] As with Australia, this is not the official anthem, but like Waltzing Matilda it has the power to stir the crowds and is a heartfelt national sentiment, especially in this case when accompanied by bagpipes. As with the NZ rugby and the haka, it is rooted in national culture and feeling and is very powerful. Personally I suspect Aussies like Waltzing Matilda because it’s indecipherable to anyone else…but every state seems to have its own music version.

Since I wrote this story, the John Oxley Library blog has posted this story about the Beatles’ visit to Brisbane: http://blogs.slq.qld.gov.au/jol/2012/06/29/the-beatles-brisbane/

52 weeks of personal genealogy & history: Week 25: Neighbours

The topic for Week 25 in Amy Coffin’s and Geneablogger’s 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy and History series is Neighbours. Who were your childhood neighbors? Have you kept in touch with any of them? Do you feel the concept of neighbors has changed since then?

Of course like most Australians, on reading this week’s topic the theme song from the TV series Neighbours immediately started playing in my head even though I never watched the show that I can recall.

Reading with the neighbours -my grandparents.

So, neighbours…I suppose when I was growing up neighbours were quite important. One set of our immediate neighbours was my paternal grandparents so of course they were pivotal to my childhood and teenage years. For me it was like having two homes to be able to jump over the fence and pop next door to spend time with them, climb the mango tree, listen to Scottish music or whatever. When I was a child most of the neighbours, which included more people than those just adjoining our house, had lived in the area for many years and since that’s where my father grew up, he knew them all.

Apart from my grandparents there were some neighbours who were pivotal to my early life. I’ve already mentioned in other posts how one lot of neighbours would take phone calls for us, drive me to the library or Guides, let me practice on their piano with their daughters. Our lives were generally very interlinked. Although my mother kept in touch with this family after they left the suburb, I lost touch with the daughters after they and I moved away in adult life. Another family were regularly part of our extended network and their children were part of my usual group of playmates: we went to school together and spent time together playing around the neighbourhood. I have particular memories of a New Year’s Eve party at their place, watching the wondrous new phenomenon, TV, and also of the father carrying me home when I’d gashed my leg on a bicycle. I’ve recently reconnected with the woman from this family who was my childhood friend.

Neighbours at the back of our house were a couple without children and the husband worked for the railway. They used to take us on weekend outings in the car, when each time we crossed a railway line, the men (Dad & him) would say “pull up the railway lines and sack all the men”. What a strange thing to say….I’ve never figured out why! This family taught me a little about growing different flowers including dahlias. Another neighbourhood family used to occasionally have singalongs around a pianola. It wasn’t necessarily the case that neighbours were those who lived only a door or two away from your home, but those in a broader area but who were also not specifically friends.

An elderly single lady lived across the road from us when I was probably under 12. She was very kind to me, sending me postcards and embroidered handkerchiefs from around the world when she went on international trips. She also gave me my first experience of ballet, taking me to see a performance of Swan Lake, presumably at Her Majesty’s Theatre.

When we lived in Papua New Guinea neighbours were very often also your mainstay of support, friendship network and ersatz family. We supported each other with our young families, baby-sat, had dinners, Christmases and birthdays together, shared the excitement of new babies and many other things. It made for very close supportive friendships which we maintained for many years though distance and death have reduced the number of these links still in place now.

As we’ve moved through the past 25 weeks of this series, and I’ve looked through those early photographs taken with my little Kodak camera, it becomes very apparent how important early neighbourhood relationships were in our lives. However I can’t share those photos here without permission from the people involved.

I’m reminded of that saying that there are friends for a reason, a season or a lifetime. I suppose the same can be said for neighbours and perhaps explains why some of those links establish, survive or wilt over time. Has the concept of “neighbours” changed since my childhood? I don’t think the concept itself has, though perhaps the linkages and dependencies are less and the geographic proximity has probably narrowed to mean only those living adjacent or very close to your own home. In many cases people are very self-sufficient, perhaps not needing to share facilities like phones, cars etc as we become more affluent.

A major difference compared to my childhood, which was perhaps unusual based on the 52 weeks’ topic of “home”, is that people are far more mobile, often spending less time in one house and relocating across much greater distances. Under these circumstances I think it is really only the natural friendship relationships which are maintained long-term between former neighbours, while other links fade and then disappear with the relocations. Despite this there’s much to be said for simple interactions with those who live near us, even if it’s only by a smile and a hello, and to offer help when it’s needed. It’s easy to forget that such simple measures can mean a great deal to a neighbor who is feeling displaced, lost or needing help in a time of need.

Living with Top Gun in the Top End

Boeing's F/A18s against the sunset from http://www.boeing.com/defense-space/military/fa18/index.htm

There are days when our house is like an extra in Top Gun: you know, the movie with Tom Cruise, fly-boys in leather jackets, great soundtrack, lots of super-fast planes and serious motorbikes for those with that predilection. Being the Dry Season in the Top End the annual manoeuvres are on and Exercise Aces North is in full flight with the fighter jocks enjoying our clear blue skies. Unfortunately when the wind is in the right (or wrong?!) direction it means they do take-offs heading straight for us, then a fast-turn of their F/A18s for the next leg right over our roof, with accompanying explosion of noise: tends to scare cats and small children….and sometimes annoys grumpy women-of-a certain-age. Being a bit of a plane junkie I used to get a thrill out of seeing this burst of military might but right now, I’d choose lamb roast over Tom Cruise too!  (for those unfamiliar with this 1990s advertising, do have a look at the video.. it’s amusing!).

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy and History: Week 24: Clothes..maketh the woman?

Blue chiffon with a satin underlay and the top hand-beaded by my mother.

The topic for Week 24 in Amy Coffin’s and Geneablogger’s 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy and History series is Clothes. What types of clothes did you wear as a child? What was “in fashion” and did your style compare?

When I was a child my mother sewed all my clothes and she was a very good seamstress…there was nothing second-rate about the appearance of the finished garment. When I was about 12 (I think), I attended a Singer sewing class in Fortitude Valley where I learned to sew to a pattern and with Mum’s supervision I became quite competent. I know the class was during the August school holidays (we only had three terms then), and so I associate the class with the Ekka and ripe strawberries. During the class I made a lilac dress with a gathered skirt…not something I enjoyed making with all the hand-gathering that was required and meticulous adherence to the seam width and a straight sewing-line. I think that was the dress that I wore with an aqua mohair knitted bolero jacket. Mum really did not think that purple and blue were a serendipitous combination but I’ve always loved them –perhaps early feminist leanings? She was adamant that I wouldn’t/couldn’t wear it to Midnight Mass for Easter that year….but I did 😉

When I was a young girl (maybe 12-ish??), rope petticoats were in fashion, to boost the swirl of your gathered skirt. The alternative was a layered net petticoat which had the same effect…mine was pink with a pink satin edging. I remember I had a blue skirt with white polka dots and a red umbrella appliquéd on it at this time. I seem to recall I wore it bowling, but is that an illusion? Then there was the phase where skirts had braces with embroidered ribbon on them –very “dirndl”/Austrian, but really a quite unattractive fashion.

Whenever I needed a new winter coat, every couple of years or so, Mum would make one up for me in woolen fabric though now it’s hard to believe it was necessary in a sub-tropical climate. I remember as a teenager being very pleased with a grey-blue suit that Mum made which had a pale grey “fur” collar.  Of course gloves, stockings, handbag, matching shoes, and hat were all part of a woman’s attire in those days for any going-out event.

When we would go for holidays to the beach it was de rigueur to have a beach over-shirt made, complete with bobble trim. Was it fashionable? I have no idea…it was just what we did.

Another strange phenomenon for any American readers is that I wore a uniform daily for all my school life, as well as to Guides on Saturdays. There simply wasn’t the need for a wide range of clothes on a daily basis. In high school a compulsory part of the uniform were the gloves and hat, and heaven help any young woman seen in public without them. There was the merest flicker of time before the Principal heard about it and the offender was called into order.

I don’t think I had a store-bought dress until I was in my mid/late teens and we bought a dress in patriotic red, white & blue with a white collar. How I loved that dress which would have been a nightmare to sew with all the stripes needing to be aligned. I used to wear it to ballroom dancing classes regularly. Another dress element that was popular at the time was a zip down the front of the dress –this was the 1960s. The guys at Wrightson’s Dance Studios thought it hilarious to (try to) pull the zip down. However I wasn’t well brought up for nothing –I’d preempted them with a pin across the zip so their “evil” plan was averted. A skirt cut on the bias was also a great one for dancing the jive.

Which in turn reminds me that those stories about nuns and patent leather shoes are true….they did tell you the boys would use the reflection to look up your skirt 😉

This dress I made was an early maxi-length and I really liked how it turned out.

Prior to Vatican II it was also typical for women and girls to wear hats to Mass, and I remember one in particular with gathered net on it…sounds repulsive but it wasn’t all that bad. Subsequently mantillas became acceptable and women/girls would wear one of these in lieu of a hat. By the time I married hats rather than veils were (theoretically at least) acceptable for the bride to wear. Giving the timeline away, our wedding photos are stereotypical in that even the mothers of the happy couple had incredibly short skirts. I was lucky to be tall and thin with long legs when the mini-skirt was in vogue: it wasn’t always an attractive option.  I remember when Jean Shrimpton (not Twiggy, whoops) wore a micro-mini (aka Hello Officer!) to the Melbourne Cup –what consternation it caused even though she looked great!

Mum also made my formal and semi-formal outfits for the school dances and one included a myriad of beading far more complex than my wedding dress which she also made….I was going through a “plain” phase. My favourite-ever was a Vogue-pattern ball frock that I wore to the Science Ball in first year university. In pink lamé (?) fabric, cut away shoulders, and an unusual skirt style, it is still top of the pops for me.

I repeated much of this sewing behaviour when my daughters were born, though Mum also sewed for them. Admittedly we were living where bought clothes were hard to come by, but training and habits die hard. I’m not sure that the darling daughters were always enamoured by this habit as sewing was never a passion for me and could send me into a right tizz. Why oh why did I choose velvet for one daughter’s formal then repeat my stupidity with my youngest’s Audrey Hepburn-lookalike gown.

My photo this week is of our middle daughter’s baptism, in our house in Goroka, Papua New Guinea, on our eldest daughter’s second birthday. While paisley was absolutely all the rage at the time, my daughters cringe when they see this photo! And here it is again just to haunt them.

Paisley Peril -is that small girl laughing at us? Even the white tie had a paisley pattern.

When I look at photos of them, or me, I remember the fabric, the dress, the event and the pattern. The ice skating costumes, the childhood dresses, the formal gowns and everything in between: I’ve often wished I’d kept leftover fabric swatches as I think they’d have made a nice quilt with a story attached to each….assuming I did quilting!

Minis, maxis, cork soles, platforms, wineglass heels, boots, sandals, scoop necks, empire, drop-waist, pencil skirts, rope petticoats, net petticoats, gypsy skirts, braces with embroidery, lace collars, paisley, flowers (fabrics and hair), shawls, Nehru jackets, straight-leg, bell bottoms, pashminas, pastels, reds, purples, oranges, crochet ponchos: in fashion/out of fashion/back in again. How does anyone keep up with it all? As the decades pass there’s a prevailing sense of déjà vu. I’m not really into fashion but it’s a revelation to think back over the various fashion styles and favourite outfits.

Thank heavens I now live in the relaxed Tropics where most of the year, the prevailing criteria are whether your clothes are cool and comfortable! Mind you it dropped to 16 this morning and long sleeves and trousers were required…I know, don’t laugh.

All green for Galong: Shamrock in the Bush 2011

Attendance at Shamrock in the Bush at Galong is a highly competitive affair. Irish family historians descend on St Clement’s Retreat and Conference House, the old homestead of former-convict-made-good, Ned Ryan, for three days of talks, music, historical delights and good old Irish craic or fun. Shamrock 2011 has been eagerly awaited by former attendees as co-organiser of Shamrock, Richard Reid, is also curator of the Not Just Ned exhibition at the National Museum and has been regaling us with the delights ahead for the past conference or two.  Do read his excellent essay on the Irish in Australia on the Australian National Museum website. Irish family historians will know Richard from his index of Irish immigrants to Australia…he has a wealth of knowledge about his topic.

The Shamrock in the Bush conference has an amazing ambience – perhaps it’s the location with Ned Ryan’s historic hospitality in the air, or perhaps it’s being away from the city with freedom from modern communications (mobiles and hence internet don’t work) but the delegates all seem to have a great time, many coming year after year. There is such an air of camaraderie and enthusiasm among the crowd with varying levels of knowledge and expertise being shared among the crowd. I enjoyed it so much in 2009 that it has become part of my annual travel planning despite the 4000km trek from Darwin. The speakers are knowledgeable and passionate about their topics which is infectious. You might think “oh that topic doesn’t interest me” but then you listen to it and are fully engaged. Most talks are introduced with music and poetry from minstrel John Dengate which adds an extra delight. On top of which this year we have a trip to the Ned exhibition and to the Irish Embassy! How much fun will all that be?!

Richard’s most able co-organiser, Cheryl Mangan, does a fabulous job of getting everything in place and running efficiently both before and during the event. Without her and her dedicated workers, volunteers and helpers, the event would not be the great success it surely is. If you have Irish ancestry, do yourself a favour and check out the site. I believe there are still some vacancies left for this year’s conference. And if you can’t be there this year, put it on your agenda for 2012 –it’s usually the first weekend in August.

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy and History: Week 23: Books ( a lifelong addiction!)

Kittykins Capers

The topic for Week 23 in Amy Coffin’s and Geneablogger’s 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy and History series is Books. What was your favorite book, or who was your favorite author from your childhood? What do you like to read now? Books or other formats?

This is the topic I’ve been waiting for all year…books have been my passion, and a source of delight and sometimes envy all my life. However I admit that as I’m just emerging from two weeks of cataloguing and (mostly) packing up my library, both family history and general, in preparation for new carpets and paint, I’m feeling a little less enthused about the hundreds of books I have. Mind you, it’s a case of be careful what you wish for: as a child I was soooo envious of a neighbour’s glass-doored book case complete with aged books. With a book in your hand, you’re never at a loss for inspiration.

A birthday or Christmas without a book would definitely have been a disappointment. Remember those compilation books: the Girls Own Annual and the like which were around a lot “back when”? I still have some of my old books from childhood to share with my grandchildren. There were also quite a few books which had a fold-out element, like this one called Kittikins Capers.

Kittykins Capers - fold out book

I think my favourite book as a child was Heidi as it combined two things: the concept of a different world far away (with snow!) and a Germanic influence which fitted with my name of origin. It seemed quite quaint for a child to be high in the mountains with only her grandfather, a friend and some goats for company. I still have the copy I was given as a child, as well as a copy on Kindle.

As I grew older I also liked the Trixie Belden books and crime novels have been a consistent thread in my reading life. Mind you, I’m not often good at sussing out the baddie. However it was then, and is now, rare for me to start and book and just “give up” on it though occasionally one will be put aside for a while. None of this is to suggest that I remember all that I read –I certainly don’t, but I tell myself it’s all buried somewhere in the grey matter. I loved it when our neighbours took me to the local library, which was some distance away, and I could indulge in a much wider range of books.


Then when I was I was a teenager, and at school in the city, I could join the School of Arts library in Ann St, Brisbane and uncover more books and ideas. What I didn’t know then, and probably wouldn’t have cared about given I was science-oriented, was that it “was originally known as the Servants Home which provided accomodation for single adult females who had migrated to Queensland and were awaiting employment as domestic servants”[i] something I’d like to learn more about. In the 1960s it had a very boring exterior without the wonderful lacework and verandahs and with shops at the entry. Inside it was a fabulous old library (from c1878) with a mezzanine-style gallery which ran around the walls above the main area, and ladders to get to the books. I loved it!

Brisbane;s School of Arts in Ann Street, circa 1925, John Oxley Library negative 202751, copyright expired.

One summer I read all of the leather-bound Charles Dickens novels that my cousin was storing in my bedroom….one way to amuse oneself for six weeks. These days I like to read something that’s a bit different. I still read crime for its escapism and have a severe dose of “author-itis”, reading everything published by my favourite authors. Of course history books feature prominently in my collection these days to complement my family and local history research. While I did enjoy Kate Grenville’s The Secret River, I enjoyed the background book, Searching for the Secret River, even more. The things that struck me were the length of time and craftmanship to bring this book to birth.  I’m sure most family historians could identify with the search behind the book and be amused by her protests that she wasn’t one of those grey-haired family historians (I’d provide the precise quote except that the book is currently packed away but that was the essence of it).

Another book I thoroughly enjoyed was Diane Armstrong’s Voyage of Their Life, for the innovation of tracing the story of the Post-War passengers on board the SS Derna.

Nothing really beats holding a book in your hand, but this year I’ve ventured into the realms of e-reading. I’ve bought a Kindle which is light-weight and long-lived, but isn’t as enjoyable to read from as my husband’s iPad which I “borrow”: perhaps part of the pleasure of the iPad is being able to see the covers in living colour, giving more a sense of reading a book. However, the sheer convenience of being able to go on holiday with a swag of books but with no additional load to carry is wonderful. It also means I don’t have that eternal compromise over bookshelf storage. A further benefit is that even if the flight is delayed you’ve still got lots to read…except in the limbo land before and during landing/takeoff.

However I can’t quite bring myself to imagine a life that is free of a traditional book. Probably just as well as many of the ones I want to read aren’t available in e-reader format. For me heaven must be something like Trinity College’s Old Library in Dublin with its serried ranks of books on oak bookshelves flanked by marble busts, and that particular fragrance that goes with masses of aged books

[i] John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, Negative Number 202751


52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy and History: Week 22: Secrets: Independence comes to PNG

The topic for Week 22 in Amy Coffin’s and Geneablogger’s 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy and History series is Secrets. Describe something about yourself that won’t be found on any record 100 years from now.

Well my first thought was that if it was a secret it wouldn’t be so any longer once I blogged about it!

So what will future descendants of mine miss about my life if they rely on the records? In 100 years it will be all too easy for my great-great-granddaughter to wonder where I got to for about 8 years in the 1970s. They will find my marriage and the birth of two of my daughters in Queensland and possibly assume that I had continued to live in Queensland all my life. The Australian-based records, assuming they’re all digitized and indexed by then will let them trace me and my “migrations” and events. They will even, with a bit of luck, reveal some details of my working life and hobby (sorry, obsession) of family history. But they will have missed a very formative part of my adult life.

 An attentive and thorough researcher who buys the certificates may get a clue that I left the country for a few years and that my husband’s then place of residence, Territory of Papua New Guinea (TPNG), may provide the clues they need. However it’s quite likely this will still not disclose much about my life there because unless things change, records in Papua New Guinea are very difficult to come by. However if that does change, they may get lucky and may find our little “Gehuka”, born in the PNG Highlands, from the official records and may even find her baptism records. They may even get very lucky and find our employment records and so be able to trace our movements around the country, and my in-laws before us.

However they will have no real sense of the amazing sights that we lived with: the magnificent scenery, the power of a football-field filled with tribal warriors in full traditional attire and armed with spears and other weapons, the singing and drums, the hazardous flying conditions, the isolated villages or a small band of warriors armed with spears intent on “payback”.

The timeline of our life there will clue them in that we lived through self-government (1973) and Independence (1975) as the former Australian Territory became an independent country. Official documentation will not tell them that we were anxious going into self-government given the bloodshed and riots that had accompanied so many African nations recently gaining their autonomy. Our descendants won’t know that at self-government we lived opposite the Goroka hospital and listened to much noise, bottle-crashing and rubbish-bin-lid-banging that night but that we were at no risk.

By the time Independence came around we were living in Port Moresby and were able to participate in the many celebrations. The stores were decorated with red, black and gold streamers and the official banners were black birds of paradise on contrasting fabric, one of which we still treasure.

We went to the Catholic Cathedral and saw Prince Charles (much younger then, like the rest of us!) arrive to be greeted by the Bishop, Australian Prime Minister Gough Whitlam, other dignitaries, and school children in traditional sing-sing attire. In a short report I wrote at the time for my family in Australia, I mentioned that Mr Cassmob had heard murmurs of dislike for Whitlam when he arrived while Andrew Peacock, formerly Foreign Minister was well received. Michael Somare, the first Prime Minister, drew a spontaneous burst of applause.

There were other ceremonies to celebrate Independence and we were at Hubert Murray Stadium (in the grandstand and “on the hill”) and saw the amazing diversity of local dress, colour, and dance, with the Manus Islanders inevitably dominating the rhythm. The Australian Navy was nowhere near as precision-drilled as the PNG Defence Force (PNGDF) which had nary a step out of place. Prince Charles arrived in stately fashion in the British Embassy Daimler flanked by traditionally-dressed dancers. Our eldest daughter then only a youngster and visiting the ceremony with her crèche/child-care called him “the man in white who was going to be king”. Prince Charles did the requisite inspection of the troops to the Skye Boat Song, some even forgetting their training long enough to take photos, and then did the rounds in an open-backed jeep.


Prince Charles arrives in the Daimler

The colour and diversity of the local people and their traditions were among the wonderful features of PNG. We were also very moved at the lowering of the (Australian) flag ceremony to the traditional bugler’s lament, “day is done”, and an impressive gun salute by the armed forces. We were proud to be part of such an important part of the country’s life and to have contributed in some way to its development. The new Governor General, Sir John Guise (aka Doctor John) from my husband’s “home” province of Milne Bay gave a well-toned speech about lowering the flag not tearing it down. A tinge of sadness was covered by pride and enthusiasm for the new country, especially when they paraded the flag to Auld Lang Syne, accompanied by the bagpipes. The PNG nationals were looking equally solemn during this moving ceremony.

Parading the Australian flag at Independence.

On Independence Day, 16 September 1975, our family went to Independence Hill and watched as the young high school students in their multi-coloured “uniforms” formed an honour guard and the new national flag was raised with much jubilation accompanied by a fly-over of military aircraft. While our family was part of the huge crowd photographed that day and appearing in the local Post Courier newspaper, there is no way our great-great-granddaughter could pick us out –unless she knew of my “signature” habit of wearing my sunglasses on my head, though even then I’m obscured by my blonde sunnies-wearing friend.Traditional dress at Independence Hill, 16 September 1975

So much of this secret would have been lost had we not written some notes soon after these amazing events – our memories recall only the highlights, not the level of detail that the notes have once again revealed.

Part of the crowd at Independence Hill on 16 September 1975.

Most of our photos are on slides and Super 8 films and really need to be scanned and the films converted…more jobs.

Other photos from PNG’s Independence celebrations can be found here (mostly copyrighted) http://catalogue.nla.gov.au/Search/Home?filter%5B%5D=pi%3Anla.pic*&type=all&lookfor=independence+papua+new+guinea&x=15&y=6

Opera under the stars in Darwin

We have just returned from a wonderful evening listening to Opera under the stars with the Darwin Symphony Orchestra with guest stars, tenor Rosario la Spina, and soprano Antoinette Halloran. What a treat it was to hear such talented performers here in Darwin and for a mere twenty dollars as well! I have their Puccini Romance CD so was super-keen to hear them live. I can’t even imagine what it would be like be able to produce such beautiful sounds but I guess while there’s a need for an audience I’ll have a role.

The largely volunteer members of the DSO and the Darwin Chorale also did a great job! Good job on the drums Chris! A splendid night out.