Our first Australian Summer Christmas Day (hot)with our infant son was spent in the Neutral Bay bed-sitters mansion. We had the whole place to ourselves, friends, neighbours and even the landlady were spending the holidays in the country with their families. Tried cooking traditional English fare “cooked my goose” ha,ha,ha! but, luckily, had cold ham and salad and icecream for our Christmas dinner.
New Years Day 1956- we had a surprise visit from the Scottish lady (another 10-Pound POM) who had shared the cabin with me on the ORONSAY and was on holiday from Melbourne. She brought presents for baby son and crossed his palm with silver as token of good fortune. She liked her new life in Melbourne, but was homesick.
The dear landlady was worried about baby’s crying at night and reminded us the business couples needed their sleep. We took the hint and started looking for another place, very difficult for a young couple with a new baby. Our friends searched too.
Eventually, at the end of January our young,recently married friends B. and M.offered part of their house in Harbord(near Manly) on share rent and board basis, and helped them move in. Sad to leave our flat and wonderful friends in Neutral Bay.
For the first two weeks it was delightful living within this family. M’s parents lived opposite and would invite us to eat with them. They had a billiard room, the men enjoyed playing after work. B. belonged to the local surf club and was a lifesaver. He was only 21 and enjoyed the company of his mates and drinking.
Trouble in Paradise! M. now pregnant, complained that B. was neglectful,etc. there were arguments, door slamming,etc. waking baby. Really wanted a place of our own.
Luckily, in February we found a 2- bedroom house almost on the beach in South Curl Curl. Usually for holiday rental, it was temporarily ours. Joy of joys, there was a tennis court next door. They moved in with B. and his mates’ help on the weekend.
No time for tennis on Sunday. Too late- on Monday, the rain poured down. Water leaked into all but one bedroom. Adrian was at work, I ran with buckets to catch it.
It was February in the Antipodes, but cold, wet, baby was fretful. Turned on the heaters to dry the nappies one by one. It rained every day, except for 2 hours during which I took baby in the pram along the beach and saw that the tennis court was inundated and would be unplayable for a long time. Wept with disappointment and sheer tiredness. We had to find somewhere else. B., a most generous and kind young chap, felt responsible for our plight and made an extra effort to find us a place.
Joyous news, a house was found in North Narrabeen the following Friday. A new house, partly completed, but the owner/builder, an Englishman, his wife and two sons, wanted to live elsewhere for the time-being. He wanted to rent it only to friends of friends (for a year or 2)into which category we fitted.
We moved in with our few belongings, and B. and his mates help again, still pouring rain to Lot No.1, Powderworks Road, a huge block of land , surrounded by bush,at the top of the hill in Nth Narrabeen (bordering Elanora Heights). A northern beaches suburb overlooking Long Reef and the Pacific. Peace, tranquility, loved it.
In 1956 North Narrabeen was sparsely inhabited. The houses were built around a valley and were in the process of being built, hence the Lot numbers. Next door a large brick house was still being constructed, the new owners came over every weekend to check on progress. A WWII veteran who had served in New Guinea.
On our other side was a Qantas pilot, his wife and 2 little girls. He had served in the Australian Airforce in WWII. Ex.POW. He had sailed around the world on a yacht… He was in the process of building another ship in their front yard.
So there were the men, the WWII Army, Navy and Airforce veterans all in a row. Could not wish for better neighbours in such an isolated place. We had no telephone, no car. The nearest bus stop was on Pittwater Road at the bottom of a steep, winding road. About the same distance as the nearest general store which served as the Post Office, Commonwealth Bank,grocer,greengrocer, baker, butcher, newspaper and book shop. All of this was run by one man who did everything and knew everybody in the area.
Within an hour of their arrival on a Saturday this EM.(Extraordinary Man) called to find if there was anything they needed, which he would deliver that day. It was EM. who introduced them to the rest of the small neighbourhood. To get my shopping done, I only had to phone from a neighbour’s place and EM would deliver. He also delivered the mail and all the latest news.
We were the youngest and newest residents there, with the youngest infant. The only migrants, the only ones renting and without refrigerator, phone or car. The kindly neighbours went out of their way to help us every day. Even got us a good refrigerator at the cheapest possible pric Gave us fruits and vegetables from their gardens.
The journey to work in Sydney city for Adrian, walk to bus 10 minutes by bus took 1.1/2 hours. He would leave at 7.30am and return by 7.30pm. Baby and I alone all day.
Enjoyed every minute of this new life getting into the routine of mothering baby Clive. Wallabies, rabbits, kookaburras, snakes, blue-tongued lizards and wildlife abounded. There was even a wombat in a cave at the back among the gladioli. Gum trees and flowering bush. Clive thrived in these beautiful surroundings and so did we. We had almost completed a full year in Australia and life was good.