27 Oct 65 : Poor Jim and the Aussie flies : Melbourne, Australia

This continues the letter dated 24 October 1965 which began:

Dear Mum, Dad, Nigel and Linda,

Melbourne, Wednesday 27th October 

We arrived in Melbourne this morning about 10 a.m. We left Sydney on Monday evening, having just about seen all the places of any interest. Actually I didn’t like Sydney at all. It was an absolute hotchpotch and not a very clean city. Litter everywhere, and literally millions of flies. They are trying to get rid of them but with little success it seems.


Australia-Postcard-Aerial-View-of-Sydney-Harbour from Gladesvill Bridge
Postcard entitled “Aerial View of Sydney Harbour from Gladesville Bridge.”


On Saturday we went to spend the day on the world famous Bondi Beach, and we went on a bus. After going for miles along a road that was just like East Street, Bedminster, we finally reached it, and we were all amazed – it’s a pokey little beach in a small bay, and surrounded by houses or flats that look like barracks.

This, too, was a great let down – I had imagined something quite different. However the beach was nice and many people were sunbathing so we joined them.

We spent most evenings wandering around the nightlife area of the town and popped into a few of the pubs. These have all the atmosphere of an English pub, but look like public lavatories!! They have bare marble floors and walls, and absolutely no furnishings. However the beer is very good and cheap too. Unfortunately the bars shut at 6pm which spoils everything. They are open all day – so the thing to do is get a night job!!

For two of the four days we were there it rained, but the other two days were very hot and pleasant. In fact it was nearly 90 degrees one day and it’s still only Spring officially.

By another coincidence I found myself washing dishes in my little galley, staring at the Oriana, (the P&O line ship which we were originally booked on). It had come in during the night and had berthed right alongside us. It’s a beautiful ship and very modern.


SS Oriana in Sydney, taken in 1982 (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Oriana_Sydney.jpg)


However I keep thinking of the money I have saved by washing all those dishes and it doesn’t make me feel so bad. There is also another P&O boat in Sydney, the Canberra, which is the flagship of the fleet and a really super job – very futuristic looking.

We went on several of the ferry rides in the harbour, and the harbour is really the best part of the city.

We eventually left about 7 pm on Monday and it was a beautiful night (it’s dark here then) and as we were backing out, we had a terrific view of the bridge – which was very nicely lit up. By a great stroke of luck the Canberra was also backing out, and we had a great view of it framed in the bridge. It made a great picture, as the boat was all lit up, and we all took colour pictures of the scene. (NOTE: I haven’t found these yet!)

The journey down to Melbourne was fantastically calm, in fact I have never seen any sea quite so calm, and we made excellent time and arrived half a day early. It was a great trip and we saw whales and seals, and many other boats. We cruised into Melbourne and docked at a very convenient spot for the town.

We went ashore this afternoon and had a very quick look around and we were quite impressed. It was clean and very well laid-out, and far nicer than Sydney. Also, thankfully there are no flies!! There are some very nice streets – very wide and palm tree lined.


south gate fountain, melbourne, 1965 postcard
1965 postcard, captioned: South Gate Fountain, Melbourne. (Image credit to http://www.victorianplaces.com.au/node/72112)


At the Post Office I had a letter from John Clinch, in Brisbane, who tells me he is very happy. (Note: Tony had worked with John at SKF – an international ball bearings manufacturer – in the UK, until John emigrated with his family.)

He is working for SKF as a sales rep and has an area in central Queensland and has 400 miles of tropical and subtropical coastline on his territory. He says it’s always summer there, and the family are all fit and brown.

He is moving to a new house soon at a place near to Brisbane which is supposed to be the most beautiful place in Australia, and with beaches very close by – so heaven only knows how long we shall stay with them, could be weeks!!!

I have another day off tomorrow so we should be able to have a good look around. I have been very lucky for time off – and so has Colin too.

We are in a terrific jam, due to the fact that the New Zealand Customs Authorities want a bond of £500 before we are allowed to have the Volkswagen. This is to ensure that we don’t sell it in New Zealand. We haven’t got that much money with us – but we have got it in the States, but we are very anxious to keep it there. Unfortunately the Customs won’t accept the money in the States as security unless it is transferred to New Zealand.


Tony with VW campervan
Tony with their VW campervan – vital for not just transport but also their accommodation

We spent a whole day in Sydney visiting Banks, Insurance Companies etc, but had no luck. So we have now written to the American Automobile Association in Los Angeles applying to join, and will then apply to them for the necessary documents (an International Carnet) to enable us to have the Volkswagen in New Zealand.

It’s all very complicated and until it is all sorted out the Volkswagen will be impounded by the Customs and we shan’t be able to touch it. So we are hoping that the AAA will reply fast.

Well, I think that’s all the news for now so I will get this off to you when we go into town tomorrow.

Look after yourselves.

All my love, Tone xxxx   

P.s.   I suppose you are all thinking of Christmas by now, but so far I haven’t even heard it mentioned, or seen any sign of it.

To be continued… 

Note from Tony: I vividly remember this visit to Bondi Beach. Colin, Jim (our friend from Bristol) and I got off the bus and started to walk along a raised promenade at the rear of the beach. Almost immediately Jim was surrounded by a massive cloud of flies which hovered above and around him wherever he went. It was so embarrassing that we refused to walk with him!

Poor Jim was mortified – and the reason he was being targeted by the flies soon became obvious. On the ship his jobs included cleaning the toilets, and the clothes he was wearing obviously reeked of gents toilets – a very appealing smell to the Aussie flies!!

Jim Gardiner in New Zealand cropped
Jim Gardiner (taken in New Zealand)

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3 thoughts on “27 Oct 65 : Poor Jim and the Aussie flies : Melbourne, Australia

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