Fab Feb Photo Collage Festival: Day 24 Across the Ditch

4 x 7UP collageOne of Mr Cassmob’s employment conditions in Papua New Guinea in the 1970s was first-class (!) return airfares for his family every two years (initially) then every year, from place of employment in PNG to Melbourne, Australia. So if you’ve sometimes wondered which gold mine we’d discovered, you now know why we’ve travelled so much though not in first class I assure you.

Miss Two and her Riff Raff at a friend's house.
Miss Two and her Riff Raff at a friend’s house.

If you’re going to have to rent accommodation, hire a car and travel in Australia, you may as well translate that to airfares etc in another overseas destination.

This trip Across the Ditch to New Zealand was to be the kids’ first non-Australian international jaunt, a tiny compensation for missing out on Rome, Athens etc in the previous year. During the trip we were also able to meet up with some long-standing friends who’d reversed the trend across the Tasman. Along for the trip was Ms Two’s best friend, Riff Raff, which I’d made for her from batik fabric. In Auckland the girls met the real article for the first time – their eyes were wide, as they travelled from small girl height up the giraffe’s long legs and neck to his head and that long blue tongue. (After a conversation with my mother, it turns out it wasn’t the first time, as DD1 had been mesmerized when she had seen one the previous year while we were overseas).

Pauleen Louisa Rach Auckland Zoo 1975
The body language on DD2 as she draws away from the giraffe is noticeable.

Further south in Rotorua they would come face to face with another startling discovery, as like many tourists, we booked for a Maori evening show. Well it certainly was a cultural experience! Remember these were two little girls who were all too accustomed to seeing many hundreds of warriors armed with spears, arrows and axes, dancing in the Goroka Show. So when the Maoris burst onto the stage with a fully-fledged haka[i], tattooed faces, eyes bulging, arms flailing amidst much yelling, two small voices were added at full-screech to the noise. They just freaked out!! No longer were those warriors passive, they’d finally come to get them. Needless to say that was the end of the show for us!

The North Island also cost me part of my heirlooms as I lost the largest diamond from my grandmother’s engagement ring, probably in a gutter somewhere, as we searched for somewhere to stay (no, not in the gutter! rather just driving to find the right place).

High on a mountain Louisa Rach and Peter NZ 1975

Even simple things like slippery slides are special when you don't have them at home.
Even simple things like slippery slides are special when you don’t have them at home.

We loved the South Island because it was so very different from what we were used to, with its cold climate and snow. Everyone enjoyed the flight up to Fox Glacier and being able to see all that snow up-close. One night while watching the unaccustomed treat of television, we were shocked to see the Fall and evacuation of Saigon and all the surrounding panic. It was a confronting sight which bookmarked our own interest in the Vietnam war from our university days.

The kids travelled well without any hassles other than Miss Two’s need for her pliggles (aka dummies or pacifiers). Not only did she need one in her mouth, she had to have a spare in each hand. Have you ever had a midnight search for a missing dummy in an unfamiliar motel room (it was usually found behind the bed!) Tedious I can tell you! Perhaps that was the impetus for evil mother to wean her from it a month or so later.

One of the other joys the girls caught in New Zealand was chicken pox which they carried home carefully on the plane with them, revealing it only on our return home. Of course being sharing sorts of children they had to have it in sequence, rather than together, while their father was away for a couple of weeks’ work travel. Such are the joys of motherhood.

Appropriate for someone with two convicts in his family tree -not that we knew that then.
Appropriate for someone with two convicts in his family tree -not that we knew that then.
Fab Feb imageFamily Hx writing challengeThis post is part of the February Photo Collage Festival and the Family History Writing Challenge.

[i] Rugby Union fans are familiar with the All Blacks version which is every bit as formidable.  You can see one version here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tdMCAV6Yd0Y. Traditionally a pre-battle challenge, it is also pertinent to my family history, as one of the Sandon Kent family died in the Maori wars.

For an amusing version check out the “flash” version in which the Qld copper joins in. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bmSNN7vZt_o

8 thoughts on “Fab Feb Photo Collage Festival: Day 24 Across the Ditch

    1. NZ is definitely a lovely place -we haven’t been back for a while but have it on our retirement radar 😉 And just think the top half of the south island produces fantastic sauvignon blanc!


  1. Loved those You Tube videos – hadn’t seen the one of the Haka on the Gold Coast – just amazing watching all those men really getting into it. I am also constantly amazed by my forgetfulness when it comes to recent history…did Saigon really fall in 1974?…if you’d asked me I would have said earlier…makes me feel hopeless and useless..what on earth was I doing as a teenager that I was so unaware?…probably reading Dolly or Seventeen and worrying about mascara,sigh…I must have seen the footage of them pushing the helicopters off the aircraft carriers before but it still shocks me and makes me realise what a nincompoop I’d probably be in a similar situation…would I be brave/smart enough to throw over million$$ worth of equipment overboard. I hope so but I fear I would be too conservative.


    1. You made me laugh again Alex. Actually it was 1975 when they evacuated Saigon. I too am often bewildered by what is in my memory though I find these activities help remind me…the more you start following one thread, the more unravels….and yes, that’s my mind I’m talking about 🙂 I remembered people scrambling to get out, but not the helicopters being chucked overboard….that was to make room for more people. I’m surprised (in a good way) that the people got priority. Let’s hope we never have to know how we’d cope in a similar situation -we’ve been so very fortunate in Australia.


  2. My kids, of which there were 5 at that point, also had the measles one after the other rather than all at once, while their father was working out of town! For the whole time. I think it went from oldest, who was 11 to youngest who was a baby.


      1. Mine were vaccinated against ordinary measles but that didn’t stop DD1 from getting a terrible dose of it. Mind you I had it three times, and three times diagnosed by a doctor too…Mum kept hoping it was German measles.


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