Southern Highlands, NSW, Australia

Sunday, May 10, 2009


My Dad drove a PMG truck for a living. At first he drove linesmen and equipment to where they were installing new telephones. Later he became a telephone technician, learning on the job. He was allowed to bring the truck home which was a help in saving fares for him to get to work.

Mum was getting used to pioneer life but soon she got a job as a psychiatric nurse in Darlinghurst, Sydney. I'm guessing here, but she probably decided it was the best way to be able to get a loan for building materials and a few professionals, like plumbers, tilers, and electricians to help build the house. She used to work long shifts, including night duty. Some days she left at 4:00 am to walk to the station for the train to Sydney. It took her over an hour to get to work. My brother and I got ourselves to school with Dad's help. For a short time I was looked after by a neighbour after school. I didn't like it, especially as I had to bath with their little son, who let a pooh float to the top one day. So I soon convinced my parents I could take care of myself after school, with David's help.
Dad was still working every weekend on the finishing touches to the garage. There was a shortage of building supplies and skilled workers so he had to wait for a while to get bricks and timber.

So we had some fun on those weekends. They took us to the famous Sydney Taronga Park Zoo. We had to catch trains and a ferry on the harbour it was fun.
Even though my mum was so busy, she found time to make me a fancy dress costume (The Queen of Hearts) for the school fete competition.

Dad couldn't get enough bricks so he used concrete blocks as well to build the foundations. Mum helped on her days off.

The foundations for the front of the house are complete.

The floor joists are on. David and I painted them with creasote to protect them.

Dad wrote on the back of this photo, " All hands to help erect the kitchen wall. Lofty, a friend is on the left, a carpenter in the middle and yours truly on the right . David in front and Diane is acting foreman."

Even though money was scarce, Mum bought me a new party dress and new sandals for a friend's birthday party. But I didn't wear dresses often. I was a real Tom Boy. I was rapidly becoming an Aussie kid. I loved climbing trees and playing in the 'bush'. On the back of this photo Mum has written:
" This is 'Trousers' tree climbing at the back of the garage, on part of the 1500 sq. ft. that I still have to clear for the garden."

We have been in Australia for one year and we are loving it. I had already picked up the Australian accent. When I first went to school the kids used to stand around me and ask me to say something because it sounded funny. So I soon learned to talk like them. My Dad used to say to me , "You sound like a bloody Australian." But it had no effect, I couldn't help talking like my peers. Today no one would guess I was born in England.

My Mum and Dad get a rare chance to party. This was a house warming party given by the neighbours who had taken us in when we were washed out of the tent. My parents were well accepted by our Aussie neighbours.

By 1951 the framework for the the front of the house was finished. Often people only finished half the house and lived in it while they saved enough for the rest. Mum was looking pretty happy by this stage. The goal of owning their own home was coming true. Something that would probably not have been possible if they had stayed in England. On the back of the beach photo mum had written:
"We occasionally had a weekend off and went to the beach."  (Wollongong.)

Wanda Beach sand dunes were fun to climb and run and roll down.


  1. What a neat post! Two things. I'd find different bathing circumstances too! Going from an English accent to Australia I hadn't thought would be a lot different, but I guess so. I can only imagine how my American Idaho slang accent would sound in either country. My preference? I really like the English accent. Or Texas! :)

  2. Your parents were amazing people. Fulltime camping in the bush, walking miles to a job, making a beautiful costume to make you feel special. I can't wait to see what comes next.

  3. I think it must have been a hard but wonderful time for your parents. Just starting a completely new life in a new world with so many possibilities. I am sure they never regretted to have taken this decision !

  4. And oh what an adorable Queen of Hearts you were. So cute!

  5. Magical ..Diane...In the year the photographs indicate you have gotten taller in a hurry....I can relate to the bathing in the tin tubs and depending on who bathed first...I remember visiting Georgetown in the Gulf staying with the Ryans's and little Lizzie had to get in the tub first because Ronnie wee"d in the water.....and I was the visitor!! so nervous and guess what.....

  6. I am so glad you have this photo diary to give you a rich reminder of the history of your parents and your younger years. Such an awesome way to remember the past.

  7. Still loving these posts Diane, thanks so much.

  8. Lizzy: Yes I thought that I suddenly grew. My Mum has added the dates on the back of the photos many years later (and she was losing her memory) and I have my doubts that some of them are correct.That family shot looks like it might have been 2 years later.

  9. Another great chapter. You were all true pioneers! I love these blogs Mum! I feel like I'm getting to know Grandma more and more

  10. Yet another excellent installment. I'm sure even if it took ages, it was all worth it.

  11. You all must have been so excited watching the house gradually going up. I am sure that your lives, despite it all, must have been a huge improvement on living in the UK. I was 9 when I left the UK and yes I have a Rhodesian accent, not quite as broad as the South African one! Diane

  12. I've been meaning to say that the photos in these posts are just magnificent Diane. Such a great record of the area. A real treasure.