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  • (Hi everyone. Today we have a very special guest. My mum has very kindly agreed to

  • do a little interview with me and this way you can practise your listening

  • skills, maybe learn some new vocabulary, and also perhaps learn a bit more about

  • Australia, because Mum has travelled a lot more around Australia than I have.)

  • And a long time ago.

  • (Yes, when things were quite different.)

  • (Okay, so you grew up in Sydney. You were born and bred in Sydney.)

  • I was.

  • (And then when you were in your twenties, you decided to go on a little trip.)

  • Yes. A little trip that turned into a very long trip.

  • Yes, and I think it was... Before I got back to Sydney it was um...

  • 10, 12 years.

  • (Oh, it was that long?) It was that long.

  • (Wow. Okay. And you were... It was in the 60s, right?)

  • It was in the 60s, yeah.

  • (You can do the math for her age. She looks very good. Hopefully it's...)

  • Aren't you lucky?

  • (Hopefully it's in the genes.

  • But back then it was quite a big deal as well, right?

  • To go across the country.) Oh yes, it was. You know, I think

  • when you're young, you don't think it's a big deal. You just think, "Oh well, you know,

  • we'll book the train, we'll book the bus, whatever. Pack our stuff and we'll go.

  • But it was a bit of a big deal and we had to... And... You didn't say to yourself,

  • "Okay, when I get there, when I get to Perth, we'll just go out and buy all new

  • stuff, like new saucepans and new towels and sheets." No, you didn't do that.

  • You took it all with you. And fortunately my girlfriend and I had two trunks and we

  • packed all that sort of thing into the trunks and we had a couple of

  • suitcases. Um...

  • (You had suitcases. 'Cos I was joking with Mum before... about the sui-...

  • I said, "Oh, you had trunks. So you didn't have suitcases yet?")

  • We had suitcases. They just weren't on wheels. They didn't have wheels.

  • You had to carry them. It was those sort of suitcases. Some people still have them.

  • But that's... it's hard going when you have to carry your suitcases.

  • Ah yes, so we left Sydney on a bus. I think we left on the bus.

  • (You went on a bus? Ah yeah...)

  • First.

  • ('Cos I thought you did the whole thing by train.)

  • No, no. We... we went by bus.

  • (Gosh, that would've been so long.)

  • Yeah, it was. It was... from Sydney to Perth... is um... it's a long way.

  • And we had to go via Melbourne, and then

  • we intended to say in Adelaide for a while. So we... we got that far,

  • and that was... that was all by bus, and then from...

  • After we'd stayed in Adelaide for a while we went on to Perth by train.

  • So that was, yeah, that was easier, because

  • we were on the train for I think three nights. That's quite a... quite a

  • distance across the Nullarbor.

  • (And what did you do in Adelaide?)

  • In Adelaide... We... Well, the first thing... I don't remember how we got the hotel,

  • but we ended up staying in a cheapish hotel. And to save on money

  • we opened the trunk and got our little heater out.

  • We had a little two-bar heater. We stood it on its back so

  • that the bars were facing up and we cooked our toast on there, hoping that

  • no one could smell it, because we weren't supposed to cook in the room. And that

  • was... we had things to put on there for breakfast...

  • (And that way you didn't have to pay for breakfast.)

  • That way we didn't have to pay. In those days they

  • didn't actually... I don't know if they gave you breakfast free in the hotel. I don't think

  • they did. So that was, yeah, so we could save a bit of money.

  • (The type of thing I would've done in my twenties too.)

  • Yeah. We... But the main reason we left Adelaide is we... It wasn't easy to get jobs,

  • but we managed to get jobs waitressing in a... in a restaurant. It was a newly opened

  • Italian restaurant. The trouble was it was so far away, we... and we didn't have a

  • car... We had to get a taxi there and a taxi back again, and by the end of the

  • week, we had hardly any money left. So that didn't last very long. We didn't

  • stay in those jobs very long. And then we took the train. We booked the Indian Pacific,

  • which now goes... You could get it all the way across. In those days, I think

  • we could only pick it up in Adelaide. And we went from Adelaide to Perth by train.

  • (And what was the story with the puppy?)

  • Oh we... We were so young and stupid. We... Oh we fell in love with this

  • lovely little puppy. Oh we can't leave it here, we'll have to take it with us.

  • I don't know how we ended up... I don't even know how we got it in the first place.

  • But we took the puppy on the train with us, so we had to keep it hidden

  • in our compartment and we had to put newspaper all over the floor,

  • so it, you know, if it did something we

  • could get rid of that and put some more newspaper down.

  • (You weren't we-... hoping that it would hold on?)

  • No, we weren't hoping that it would... can hold on for three days.

  • Um, yeah, so that was... that was, yeah, one of the sillier things... sillier things that

  • we did. And then crossing the Nullarbor... It's basically desert for about...

  • What did I say about?

  • (About three days?)

  • Three days, and it's about five... well, then it was about 500 miles.

  • So that would've been... What did we say? (About 800 kilometres, 900 kilometres?)

  • Kilometres... Something like that.

  • And so you... At night when you went to bed, you'd close your curtain, but when you

  • looked out the window, it looked... (It was basically the same?)

  • It was the same as when you got up in the morning. It was no different.

  • (That's travelling long distances in Australia.)

  • It just was... It was... And they call it desert, but it wasn't sand dunes like

  • you'd imagine in the Sahara. It was just like rock and a few bushes, and

  • you hardly ever saw an animal.

  • Except for one morning when we got up, raised the blind,

  • getting dressed... There's no reason not to raise the blind. There's no one out there.

  • So we thought. And in the middle of getting dressed when we had our underwear on,

  • the train slowed down and there were some workmen standing out there.

  • And we thought, "Oh no. Close the blind very quickly."

  • (I'm sure you made their day.)

  • I'm sure we did.

  • (Or their week.)

  • Or their week.

  • I wonder how many other people had their blinds open.

  • Yeah, so we eventually got to Perth,

  • and I found a job in a bar. That was easy for me, 'cos bar work

  • you can pick up and drop. And my friend found a secretarial job after

  • about a week. And we stayed there for...

  • I was there off and on for about three years or more.

  • (Off and on because you went to some other places?) Because I went north,

  • I went up to Derby and worked there, which was...

  • There's a very good expression: a one-horse town.

  • Well, this was a two-pub town. Oh it's even bigger than a one-horse town.

  • We worked in one - I was with another friend at that stage. We worked in one pub and

  • the only place to go when you had time off was to the other pub. There was

  • nothing else. But if there was a party... If somebody... I remember somebody

  • who worked at a bank had their 21st birthday party. So they just simply made

  • an announcement: "Hey we're having a party! Come on over."

  • And everybody who wanted to go went.

  • It was really good.

  • (You said you got paid well, though. Sorry.)

  • Got paid well. And everything was covered. ('Cos there was nothing to do.)

  • No, you got... Well, they had to give you accommodation in places like that.

  • And they have to feed you. And we had... We had a cook that um...

  • Well, she had a bit of a temper, and sometimes people in the dining room would say,

  • "Oh, could I have um... Could you ask the cook to make me a medium rare steak?"

  • And the cook, in a very loud voice, would say, "The steak will come any way I cook it!"

  • (But you said there were quite a few interesting characters in those small towns.)

  • Oh, there were. There was... And I was there in October... let me see...

  • September, October, November. And in No-... November was what they called

  • suicide month. Because of the conditions - the weather conditions.

  • And you find a lot of men go there to work -

  • do mine work and work on oil rigs and things like that.

  • And it could be very lonely at times for people like that.

  • And sometimes they'd just, as the expression goes, go bush.

  • They'd just wander off into the... into the bush and people had to...

  • someone had to go look for them. And they did find... I can remember

  • one fellow that wandered off into the bush, and they think they found him about

  • three days later, and he was still alive. Still alive. They brought him back to town

  • and he said, "The police found me after one day and had me tied to a tree for two."

  • I don't... I knew the police, and I don't think they'd do things like that.

  • (But what... With the weather conditions...

  • Was it because it was the rainy season? So it was grey and hot?)

  • Well, it was what... That time of the year is what they call the build-up to

  • the rainy season. So almost every day

  • it was very humid - very hot and humid - then every afternoon you'd get grey clouds...

  • black... And then they'd turn to black. And you'd get thunder and lightning,

  • and you wouldn't get any rain. You'd just get thunder and lightning.

  • And it was... Ohh, it was really oppressive.

  • And that would happen day, after day, after day.

  • Until eventually it rained.

  • (Okay. And then you said you went to the Northern Territory.)

  • Then we went to the Northern Territory.

  • (And getting there was a bit tricky.)

  • I was actually working with another friend - another girlfriend - and

  • she had a boyfriend that worked on an oil rig. And she had moved to Derby

  • because he was on an oil rig that was just outside Derby. By the time

  • she got there, they'd moved him on to another oil rig. So she stayed there for,

  • you know, six months, and then she moved... followed him to another place.

  • And by the time she got there, they'd moved him to another oil rig.

  • Eventually she caught up with him in Darwin. But it was...

  • It just happens in places like that. You don't have much control over it.

  • (And um... You had to drive to Darwin? I mean, to get into

  • the Northern Territory there weren't any buses or trains or anything?)

  • No, by that time I'd gone back to... actually gone back to Perth.