Things You Might Not Know About Me: 1 - Australia

by Clive Walker in Life

Dad, me, John and Alan (Mum was taking the photo) in front of S.S Iberia
Dad, me, John and Alan (Mum was taking the photo) in front of S.S Iberia

What can I write about? I ask myself that question often. So, I’ve decided to kickstart this blog (again) with some more personal posts that I hope are easier to write. This is the first post in that endeavour. I’m not sure that there will be too many in this mini-series “Things You Might Not Know About Me” but let’s start with “Australia”.

Travel to Australia for Ten Pounds

My parents emigrated to Australia (under the Ten Pound Poms scheme) when I was nine years old. We travelled to Perth, Western Australia, by ship. It took about a month to get there! I remember boarding the ship, the places we stopped en route, climbing down lots of stairs to get to our cabin, watching the ship’s wake as we cruised along, running round the upper decks, and playing lots of board games during the voyage.

  • Our family at the time was Mum, Dad, me and my two brothers, Alan and John.
  • The ship was the M.V Fairsea which was owned by the Sitmar Line.

On the voyage from Southampton, we stopped at Dakar, Cape Town, and eventually disembarked at Fremantle, near Perth.

Becoming Australian … almost

When we arrived, my Dad already had a job lined up, and we rented an apartment in Como, a suburb of Perth. I started at a new school and, unsurprisingly, I found it incredibly, um, Australian. For example, playing Aussie rules football on the sports field with my bare feet (ouch) and having swimming lessons from the beach. That sounds nice now but it was a bit scary for me as a British boy, putting my head under the salty water and trying to avoid being stung by jelly fish!

After Como, my parents bought a new house (bungalow) in Lynwood, a bit further away from Perth, where there was a lot of new housing, much of which was bought by British immigrants like us.

  • Earthquake! We experienced an earthquake in Lynwood. I remember the house shaking and my Mum and Dad holding on to kitchen surfaces. I think this must have been the Meckering earthquake of 1968. Yikes!

Looking back, I think my Dad probably had the best job of his working life when we were in Australia, Certainly, my parents never bought another new house. So, it was a shame in some ways when they decided that Australia was not for them after a year in their new life.

Home is always Home

I don’t know all the reasons why they made that decision. They found the hot climate difficult and I just think the lifestyle was too different to the UK. Also, my parents, especially my Mum, wanted a daughter and perhaps they thought it was time to travel back before it was too late (my Mum was 39 when my sister Lynette was born in the UK in 1970).

Whilst they were able to travel to Australia for £10 under the emigration scheme, for the return journey they had to pay the full fare and repay the outward journey as well. That must have been quite a sum.

We travelled back to the UK, again by ship, on the S.S Iberia. I remember waving from the ship to my parents’ friends on the dock as we moved off. It was rather sad.

Another few weeks on the ship (more board games!) and we arrived back in the UK and a rented house in Brockham, Surrey, and another school for me, before my parents bought their own house in Epsom. I was nearly 11 years old on our return.

Anyway, that’s my “Australia story”. Australia was definitely an adventure and I’ve quite fond memories of it. A sunshine lifestyle is a great way to live when you are nine or ten years old.

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