Southern Highlands, NSW, Australia

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


Just before the house was finished in 1954, the stress and strain of working, building, bringing up a family and no holidays finally caught up with my mother. She became run down, tired and depressed (which sadly she suffered bouts of for the rest of her life) The doctor ordered her to have a holiday, but money was scarce. Luckily friends came to help. One of the nurses Mum worked with had friends living in Ballina, a northern NSW beach holiday town. They offered her a free two week holiday with them. Mum really enjoyed her time there and came back refreshed and promised to take us all there one day, which she did in 1956, our first holiday in 7 years.
At the front of Mum's photo album, where I copied these pictures, she has written the following:

"The Speakman Family"
Len, Florrie, David and Diane, emigrated from London-Woodford E18 to Australia in 1949.
After staying one week, Feb 13th -Feb 20th at South Hurstville and finding it impossible to live there, we bought land at 7 Eighth Ave, Loftus for 125 pounds.
After much thinking,and the trials of pioneering in the bush at Loftus we built the house ourselves except for a little professional help. This took five years working on the house every spare moment when not at work, and during our annual holidays.
Len and I made a 5 year plan to build and pay for the house.
(Strangely enough these were the happiest years of my life---Florrie Speakman)

I think this was written in the 70's.

The following are the last photos of our 'Settling into Australia.' We have done it, and we are all happy Australians now.
Our Castle
After five years of hard work my Mum and Dad had designed and built a small two bedroom house. We were all very happy when we moved in from the garage which is behind the house. There was still a lot of work to do. Mum and Dad designed and built a lot of built in furniture and Mum made all the curtains, cushions and bedspreads. Mum had already started to develop the garden but she had a lot more to do.
At the back they had established a little lawn and a rockery garden. Dad continued building. As you can see he converted the garage roof to a flat roof and added on a car port. Our house only had two bedrooms and a sunroom which could be used as a 3rd bedroom. We had a lounge room and dining room, a kitchen, bathroom and laundry. David was given the choice of using the sunroom as a bedroom or he could have the garage, where we had lived for the past 5 years, all to himself as his own bedroom and study. Naturally a teenage boy chose to have his own private space and opted for the garage, so Dad renovated it for him.

David and his friend Mervyn (on the bike). You can see Dad's truck in the new carport. I wasn't allowed in David's domain, which he called "Sneaky Speaky's Dugout." I'm not sure how he got the nick name "Sneaky Speaky." Maybe because whenever he played games or cards he always won and we felt he was a bit sneaky with his tactics, and our last name being Speakman accounts for the rest.

My mum was very happy with her new kitchen. A real kitchen after 5 years. The bench tops and table were red and the cupboards were blue with red knobs.

In the lounge room Dad made built in seats around the corner and under the big window the whole length of the room. Mum bought rubber cushions and made zippered coveres for the seats and the backs. She was so clever. This may have been a house warming party with friends and neighbours. One couple were the people who sold us the tent to live in 6 years ago.

Mum continued working as a psychiatric nurse and later a geriatric nurse. If this picture was in colour you would see a beautiful array of flowers in the background, which she had planted in and around the rocks.
My Dad was always busy working around the house. He also went to night school and and gained the 'Leaving Certificate', and sat the Public Service exams and finally left the PMG and became a clerk for the Sutherland Shire Council. I had started High School and progressed from Brownies to Girl Guides and I loved my new house with my very own bedroom.

My brother finished High School but didn't want to go to university because he wanted to earn money instead. My parents urged him to continue studying and he compromised by taking on an Engineering apprenticeship where he worked part time and studied too. However he hated it and insisted on getting into the work force. After a variety of labouring jobs my Dad got him to apply for a well paid adventurous job in Territory of Papua/New Guinea as a Patrol Officer. In the above photo, when he was nineteen and I was fourteen he said goodbye to us and went off into the world to make his fortune. (That is another story, which ended in him working in P/NG until Independence in 1975 and then he returned to live the rest of his life in England.)


  1. Well done Diane - your family would be so proud of your efforts in telling us all the story of the Speakman's journey.

  2. What an adventure Diane, such an amazing story and I have loved every post. Thank you so much for sharing it.

  3. What a great story. Hope you are feeling much better Diane. Glad to see you back and blogging again.

  4. This is a great story. I'm curious, what has become of the little house now? Is it stillt here? Still in the family?

  5. Yes well done....

  6. Wow, what an amazing story, I'm sure when you look back you feel extremely blessed.

  7. This is an amazing love story and the details in it are fascinating.

    Our Flower Pot

  8. Love the pic of you in the Girl Guide uniform. I was a Girl Scout leader for 8 years while my daughters were growing up, but was never a Girl Scout myself.

  9. Oh how I have loved this story! Do you know that you can have a hardback book made from your blog posts? I think this would be a great family book! THe company is called Blurb ( ) I haven't used them but this would be a great story!!

  10. Another fascinating installment Mum. This could be a book, an epic tale of pioneering adventures! No wonder they stayed in that house for so many years. They went through so much to achieve the Great Australian Dream. Were you aware of the effort your parents went through while you were a kid? I guess you wouldn't have known anything else.

    Hope you are feeling better soon!!!

  11. I really loved your story because it is real and really happened. It was so interesting for me to read how your parents (and so many others) built up a new life on another continent. It was just as if you had been sitting here with me and showing me the pictures and telling your story. Blogging is great ! Thank you so much !

  12. Sorry I forgot to ask if you are feeling better now ! My brain apparently is still a little sunburnt from Morocco and 40°C !

  13. Thank you all for comments.
    Yes I am getting better but too slowly for my liking.

  14. Thank you for the wonderful blog Diane. I came across ur blog while googling..They are amazing! You're an inspiration to me!

    Thank you so much for brightening up my day ;)

  15. Thanks for commenting! I'm from singapore, but I'm currently studying in the Gold Coast, Australia. Australia has been wonderful! I was planning drive trip down from Sydney to Gold Coast and chance upon your blog :D

    will be great if u do have any recommendations!

  16. That house is amazing. What a fantastic job your parents did especially having never done anything like it before. I hope that they realised just how much they had accomplished for both you and David. I am very impressed. Diane

  17. Look at your beautiful home and the garden! I love it. So much hard work and it shows :)