Flinders Street Station, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Saturday, April 7, 2012


In early 1960 I was working as a Laboratory Assistant at Sydney University because I had missed out on a place for PE teaching.  There was only one college in Sydney offering PE teaching and it was part of the Sydney University. One of my tasks at work was to take data from my boss, a research scientist, to "George". George was the name of the university's computer. Yes, that's right just one computer and it filled a whole building. The walls were covered with huge machines with wheels spinning and it all looked wondrous to me. I was one of the few of my peers, who had actually seen a computer.  A few days later, I would be sent back to George to get the results. I remember carrying spools of tape which had random holes punched into it. On the way to George, I had to pass the teacher's college where I sometimes I saw the students learning to play softball. I would slow down and dawdle past, wishing that I was one of them. I was sure I could do a better job than some of them, who were even overweight. I reckon they were taken on their brains not their ability in sport. I had a bad case of sour grapes.

The 'Orantes' a cruise ship of the 60's had arrived in Sydney. It was time for our English visitor to return home. Dad drove us all to the docks, which were at Pyrmont then, now they are at Circular Quay. We went on board to say goodbye to Mrs R and to have a look around the ship. We all wished that we could afford to go home to England for a visit. My parents hadn't seen their parents, my four grandparents for eleven years now. In fact, all except one had died by the time my parents could afford a trip home. 
My mum on the left was always dressed fashionably. She sewed her own clothes and mine too.

Mrs R waving goodbye. 
These ships were full of many migrants returning for a holiday or to stay. There were also hundreds of young Australians seeking fun and fortune in the old country. It was before affordable air fares. The trip took four to five weeks.

Lots of colourful streamers, cheering, shouting and crying farewell.
There she goes down the beautiful harbour back to our homeland. Maybe one day we will get there.


  1. Funny isn't it?
    Men in suits with pocket hankerchiefs, ladies with hats and gloves on and carrying their, a la HM Elizabeth bag for toiletories and whatever, kids with ties and long socks. We certainly were very English in those days!
    All so prim and proper.
    I think I prefer the new Australia these days without of course the "ferals"! ha ha.
    I wonder what HM Elizabeth does carry in her bag, we do know that it is not money in a purse?????
    Great historical post Diane.
    Colin (HB)

  2. Love the old photos, your mother realy looks fashionable. I remember when I was in primary school several children of my class emigrated to Australia by boat indeed. People had fear for the "cold war" and the housing was bad after WWII, so they wanted to leave our country for a new start.

  3. your mother was a very good seamstress. i would much rather be a lab assistant than a teacher. and bob and I were talking last week about the old computers like the one you describe, that were as big as buildings and took up rooms of space. now this tiny little laptop does so much more than the big ones. you have led a very exciting life and still do. PE was my dreaded class, I would cry just thinking about going to it.

  4. All those people, and not one of them holding a mobile phone to their ear. And women, with elegant dresses.
    The decks on those ships took a lot of looking after.

  5. The pictures of that beautiful liner are really neat. I would have loved traveling on a ship like that. 'George' sounds very much like the first computer I encountered at Florida State University. Unfortunately I had to do my own programming by making those punch-hole tapes.

  6. I like cruising but I don't know if I would go on one of these ships.


  7. absolutely loved seeing this!

    neat photos, diane! i'd have love traveling on a big ship like that.
    i really enjoyed your post.

    big hugs!

  8. Diane, love your stories from the past...I guess nobody around who has not eaten sour grapes, sometimes!

  9. You were a great documentary photographer even as a girl. Love your Mum's dress and those glasses.

  10. Such wonderful old photos, Diane. Your Mother was very beautiful. The shiplooks magnificent.

  11. Great post, Diane! I can not imagine being on a ship for five weeks. It must have been fun to see the ship before it left on its voyage. I like the dress you mother has on, very stylish. She must have been a great seamstress. Loved the photos, thanks for sharing. I hope you have a lovely week ahead.

  12. Ah! Times were very different and what a wonderful sight to see all those streamers being thrown as the ship departed ... It must have been a very emotional and exciting time .... to think .. we hop on a plane now and fly around the world now with little or no fanfare.

  13. Your mum was indeed very fashionable. How terrific that you got such an early introduction to computers. I did not get to become acquainted with one until 1985. Yeesh!

    Great post!!!

  14. These photos are indeed priceless Diane. Not just for you and your family but they really have an historical significance as well.
    Your Mom stands with such poise and elegance.
    I remember seeing my first computer in college. My husband was an engineering student and he had to write programs. I remember he had stacks and stacks of cards that had to be feed into the computer. The whole bottom floor of the engineering building housed the computer. Sometimes he had to wait his turn. I also typed his papers for him that year on a manuel typewriter. The advances in technology are certainly amazing.

  15. I love your Black and White photography series. These photographs are so rare and we would not have had access to them if you did not showcase them in your blog.
    Your mon was certainly fashionable and elegant .See those glasses !
    I really liked the way you wrote the story with the photographs- we got to experience a slice of history.

  16. That was quiet a long trip ! I have seen Mr. G's computers in the 70th ! Geez the disk which is today a little USB key, was an enormous round thing like a thick pancake and weight tons !

  17. What WONDERFUL photos, what WONDERFUL memories, what a PRECIOUS gift to your posterity, and what an INSPIRATION you are to me. When I return home from NZ and have a bit more time, I will follow your example!

  18. Lovely memories -- traveling was a big occasion then -- everybody all dressed up! Wow. Your parents made a big sacrifice for a fresh new start -- sometimes I'm lonesome for my kids/grandkids, but know that I'll see them all at least once a year....your story made me resolve not to feel sorry for myself ever again!

  19. Wow such amazing shots! I'm so familiar with this part of the harbour now...