31 Oct 65 : Wharfie trouble and poker nights : Tasman Sea

Sunday 31st October 1965

Tasman Sea

Dear family,

We left Melbourne yesterday at 4pm and are now on the last lap of our journey to Auckland. We should be arriving there on Thursday morning. Our stay in Melbourne wasn’t very exciting as the ship was quite a way from the town and there were no buses.

However we did go in several times, and found Melbourne to be a very nice city. It was ten times better than Sydney and very clean and no flies! It had straight wide streets and some very nice stores.

We all had a day off and went and visited two of the beaches close by. Although it was very warm, there were few people about and we had almost the whole beach to ourselves. Apparently the season starts around Christmas here and that’s when things begin to liven up.

We were delayed for ages in Melbourne by the ‘wharfies‘ who must be the world’s worst and slowest workers. This is because they get paid by the hour – so the longer they take the more they make. There were hundreds of men doing practically nothing, and they made it so obvious.


Melbourne port 1965 from flickr
1965 image of the port of Melbourne with ships alongside the wharves. Photo from : https://www.flickr.com/photos/wallyonwater54/25848350183/in/photostream/


To add to this, the forklift truck drivers were on strike (because one had been fired) and because of this, lots of our cargo was damaged owing to the methods they used to get the stuff out. We were all disgusted, having come from the States where everyone works so hard. The port we left from (Los Angeles) is said to be one of the fastest in the world.

This is because, there, they are paid by the ‘ship’ therefore the more ships they do in a week the more they make. All the crew say that the attitude here in Australia has come over from England – and it’s a pity but we just had to agree with them.


img 357 Tony with VW in NZ cropped
Tony with their VW campervan in New Zealand


Our Volkswagen has survived so far without any damage or pilferage, so it only has to be shipped off now and we shall breathe a sigh of relief. It’s been a bit of a worry, as the men were working all around it.

I have been meaning to mention this for some time – Do you realise that you can get transparencies taken off Mr C’s transparencies of the wedding? I don’t think they are too expensive, this means you could get a complete set for yourselves if you wanted them. Also I have been meaning to ask you if that £5 arrived from the fellow in Manchester for the bike I sold. If it has, could you let me know?

Our evenings on the ship have become quite lively lately owing to the fact that we can now play poker. We play with Jim Gardner and Mack and usually play about four hours each evening. We have a set of chips and gamble away like mad.


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


Last night, for a change, we discovered Monopoly and had a riotous evening, having been joined by two very drunk members of the crew. I am quite sure that never before in the history of Monopoly has a game been graced with such foul language!!

We are now heading back towards the International Date Line and we now have to put the clocks forward instead of back, as there is two hours difference between Australia and New Zealand.

Owing to the strange Australian weather I have had a cold for the last few days. It’s been very hot one day, and the next day just like winter. Several of the others have colds too. Still –  it takes more than a cold to worry a hardy seaman of five weeks!!

The other day in Sydney we saw a similar vehicle to ours parked in a car park, and it had South African plates on it so we went over for a chat. It turned out to be a married couple (about 50’s) who have driven from South Africa to Australia with the intention of settling.

For the last two years they have been touring Australia looking for somewhere to live, but have come to the conclusion that they don’t like the country and are going back to South Africa. He is originally from London and she from Wales. They had a very nice camper – much bigger than ours and very spacious inside and very luxurious.

To be continued… 

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2 thoughts on “31 Oct 65 : Wharfie trouble and poker nights : Tasman Sea

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