Brisbane, QLD

Thursday, May 7, 2009


David and I returned home from the Saturday afternoon pictures to find our tent almost blown away and the humpy in shreds. Mum and Dad were lifting our belongings out of the water and mud that had washed through the tent in a torrent. Luckily kind neighbours took us in, they had just completed their house. David nad I helped carry our belongings down the road to their house. We were beginning to experience the famous, friendly, helpful Aussie spirit.
During the six months living in the tent, my dad had found a job driving a semi trailer for a brewery and David and I had started school. Dad didn't like the job very much as driving on the narrow roads with a huge truck was a lot harder and more dangerous than in England. Soon he found a better job driving a smaller truck for the Post Master General's Dept. He also learnt to be a telephone technician. With every penny he earned he bought building materials to construct a garage to live in. Every weekend he spent building, even though he had no building skills. Members of the little community of Loftus were very supportive of one another and helped each other build their garages and houses. So Dad would go off and help others and he was a quick learner, then when he could afford timber or bricks, the neighbours would help him. Years later when the house was completed, I remember hearing him proudly say to visitors, "Yes, we built the house ourselves and I had never knocked a nail in before I came to Australia!"
The garage was almost completed when we were washed out of the tent, so we were only a few weeks boarding with neighbours, while the electricity and water was connected to the garage.
David, Sandy the dog and me outside our new home about Dec 1949.
Then we moved into the garage that would be our home for the next 5 years. Our cousin's dog "Sandy" adopted David and I and followed us everywhere and protected us. My mother worked along side my dad and helped with the building. She held up timbers, painted and constructed ......
Sweeping the crazy paving outside the garage
...this crazy paving pathway, which I had to sweep on weekends. Mum loved the natural rocks we had in the back yard and while most neighbours blasted their rocks away, mum insisted on keeping ours, which she turned into a lovely rockery garden.
Our home for the next 5 years
Our home from the street. We still had the laundry tubs outside but we had a sink inside, which doubled as a kitchen sink and a bathroom basin. We didn't have a real bathroom. We had an iron bathtub that we kept outside and carried it inside on bath days, which was probably once a week since we were typical pommies. Mum and Dad had a bed in the main room, which also had a kitchen table and chairs, two old lounge chairs, and an ice box. There was a little kitchen area in the walkway to David's and my bedroom, where we slept in bunks. Naurally, we had an outside dunny (toilet) and yes I got used to it. Mum kept it very clean but we still had to be wary of red back spiders and snakes. We thought the garage was a palace after the tent and we were very happy living there.

David, Sandy and me outside
7 Eighth Ave,  Loftus.
David and me (and Sandy) in Eighth Ave. Loftus in front of our place, with the home made bread and milk box. Today it is a typical tar sealed, suburban road full of houses and front fences.

The letter box tree, National Ave, Loftus
  about 1950
 Our mail wasn't delivered to our street, we had to go down the road turn the corner and go up the hill, where there was a tree with all the letter boxes nailed to it of the people who lived in Eighth and Ninth Avenue.


  1. This is the indomitable spirit I hear about when people settle in a new homeland, everyone comes together and helps his fellow man/woman. What a fantastic tale Diane. Your parents and people like them have my utmost admiration.

  2. Finally I read the helpful spirit of the others to help newcomers. What a hard start into a new life. My parents had lost everything when their appartment was destroyed by a bomb in 1944 they could live with relatives and had to start completely new in ruins. So I also knew what it is to have no room and all sleeping together. Before we moved to our own appartment we shared my Grandma's house with my fathers sister and brother + family we were 12 people together ! Terrible !

  3. I remember the garage which had writing on the wall, someone had written: "SneakySpeaky's dogout", tell us about that.

  4. I can well imagine how the garage must have felt like a palace. I'm sure the tent felt like a palace too just because it was your own space again. It must ahve been so nice that first time you all slept inside and you could close the door to the outside world and sigh, home.

    I am loving these posts, they are extremely moving, look forward to more.

  5. A remarkable story Diane of how people didn`t complain but instead pitched in to do their bit....Something you hear very little of these days...
    Thankyou for sharing...

  6. Diane - These roots and this story are something your whole family can be so proud of. Not many people could survive the stress they were through to come to their new land and home. Now I see why you are such an incredible lady.

  7. Woman, you made me cry when you told of how proud your Dad was when talked about building his house.

  8. What? No theatre room? No rumpus room? No parents retreat? No central heating or cooling? Clearly expectations were much lower then than now with I want it all and I want it now.

  9. Reading this I thank my lucky stars that we had a caravan and a luxury one at that. 5 years in a small space of a garage is a mighty long time with four of you! Diane

  10. It sounds bizarre but I had a great feeling of security when we bought our first tent. Even though we bought it probably when we were renting or working towards buying our first home, I felt that at least we always had that. Although I'm sure if I had to live in it for any length of time and in wild conditions I would quickly change my mind. Love the story of the tree at the end of the road with everyone's letterboxes stuck on it.