After the last few intense Chapters I figured I’d break it up a little bit with some random memories that still show how we lived…
When we lived in Gilgandra NSW, we were in a Farm house that had one of those old slaughter houses surrounded with fly screen out the back. Dad was shoveling sheep shit out from under the shearing shed and other odd jobs in exchange for us staying there. The Farmer gave us a sheep to eat but it was whole and I remember Dad and another man in the kitchen trying to cut this carcass up into cuts of meat to eat! They had no idea what they were doing and there was a lot of hacking and random chunks!!
I turned 5 in that house and it’s also where one of my sisters was born. I was going to Kindy and I’d have to walk down this big long driveway all on my own, past this old shed and then stand on the dirt road and wait for the School bus to come get me! There was this other farm boy who was at Kindy as well and I’d meet him at the road and he’d wait with me. He’d play ‘chicken’ with the cars that went past but here was no way I was doing that!!
There were two men that came to stay with us for a bit and they were travelling with a horse and cart but the cart needed fixing so Dad helped them with it. It would have been a slow old way to get around!
We got a heap of old laying hens that had stopped being productive and kept them for a while as they’d lay the odd egg but then when it seemed like one had stopped laying eggs, Dad would chop it’s head off and pluck it in the sink. When he was gutting one he found a whole heap of eggs ready to come out. It was obviously just having a break!!
The Farmer gave us a black sheep as well and we had it in the back yard tied up. I loved it and would trim it’s wool around it’s eyes and wash it with water. Because of the water and soap I was using on it, the poor thing got fly strike and needed to be treated… We have a pic of 3 of us kids sitting on it’s back!! One of the few pics we have of us as kids because the COG thought that photos were a security risk so many of them were destroyed when we were in India during one of the security blitzes!
We were forever changing schools and there was one I went to at the end of Kindy and we got a tour of the Year 1 room and I remember thinking, “This is nice, but I’ll never get to go here”! I was really good at making friends because I was always the new kid and I was never there long enough to get any Merit cards or anything except for this one time I was in yr 1 and I was standing in assembly and wasn’t listening for my name because it never happened but my little new mate pushed me and said “that’s you, that’s you!!!” I couldn’t believe it!
We traveled around in a Caravan for years and would stop next to creeks and stay there for weeks at a time. While we were next to one of these creeks Mum would wash the clothes in the water and we’d have baths in there as well. It would have been a sight for any passers by! We even had a Budgie in a cage at one point until a Butcher bird killed it through the bars…
Mum had to go to see her Mother because she was dying of cancer and she took the two youngest with her on the train leaving my brother and I with Dad. We were left with the task of house hunting in the country while she was away. We went through a gate and a young bull chased our car. I was looking out through the back window yelling, “Go faster! It’s catching us!”.
Because we didn’t have power a lot of the time we used candles and there were quite a few occasions of burnt hair and lost eye brows from kids (including myself) looking at the flames too closely!
We would drive for what seemed like an eternity with all us kids in the back seat. No seat belts in those days and I’d hang my head out the window and sing to myself for hours… Sometimes we even were put to bed in the caravan while it was being towed with strict instructions to not open the curtains when we were driving because we weren’t supposed to be in there! I’d watch the cars banking up behind us through the curtains!
We’d drive through towns at night sometimes and I remember waking up and looking out of the car window and seeing night life and people out in the streets.
There was one farm house we stayed in with some other COG families and one of the men had a gun and they’d go shooting kangaroos for us to eat. I remember not having any money because Mum went shopping in town and came back with some pumpkins and rice so we ate pumpkin, Kangaroo meat and rice for two months! Mum would dry the Pumpkin seeds out in the blazing Aussie sun and eat them.
One night at that house I was busting for a pee so bad but I could feel the whole caravan rocking. I looked outside and there was this massive Brahman Bull scratching itself on the tow hitch of the caravan. I had to stand at the door and pee from the step!!!
In the same house we ended up with a baby kangaroo in our yard as it was in the pouch of one of the kangaroo’s they’d shot to eat and it would play with us in the yard and one time latched onto my brothers willie thinking it was a teat while we played nude in the yard with a sprinkler!!
In NZ I remember Dad jumping a fence and stealing apples from an orchard because we needed food! We lived in a tent for a while there as well and it was always raining in NZ… I really don’t know how they did it or what they were thinking to be honest! Crazy times!