Before My Time. Vivienne Bibby.

19 Oct

Family Stories I’ve been told.

 May 2010- June 2017


 Immigration is the sincerest form of   flattery.  Jack Paar

So,  let me tell you a little from my mother’s side.  The Leovs.

It’s the story of many Antipodeans,  migrants of the nineteenth century. These families made the longest sea journey  ever taken by immigrants  who  risked everything to make a new life .  My impressions have been sketched by  Nana Jane Leov,  Pearl Neal, my mother, Alice Leov- Thomson and more recently by Nola Leov , Kath Hadfield , Beryl Moleta  and now cousin Rick Cragg who is making a determined effort to discover our roots in Prussia.

From far north Scotland, via Greenock,  from Dublin, Ireland,  and Cheshire  via Liverpool, and from Treptow on the Rega in Prussia,  his departure point unknown ,they took to the sea in sturdy sailing barques to make a better life. My main characters in this little book are;

The Thomas Sullivans          from Dublin,   Ireland. Hyde  Cheshire.     To Nelson.

The McKenzie’s                     from  Cawdor North Scotland, via Greenock.      To  Auckland.

The Turners                           from Whitechapel,  London                              To Wellington.

Charles  Augustus Leo von Fritzo. Treptow on Rega,  Prussia.               To  Victoria,   then Nelson.

Rutlands                              Ireland,  (though Essex bred.)                             To   Auckland.


1.  The Sullivans,

from Dublin/Cheshire were passengers on the barque Martha Ridgeway which left Liverpool in 1842 to settle in Nelson. Our future great-grandmother, Phoebe was a three-month baby at the start of the voyage, and later married  Charles Augustus Leov , gave birth to three children, Fred,   Emilie  ( Millie ) and Charles Sullivan Leov, our grandfather.

 The sailing ship they came on was the “MARTHA RIDGWAY, a 621 ton barque,

(Co-incidentally checked before the voyage by Jim’s ancestors, the John Bibby’s who ran the Bibby Shipping line from Liverpool .) They sailed  from Liverpool . 6 Nov 1841, and arrived in Nelson with 219 souls on 7th April and landed 10th April 1842 ( 100 years before my birth on that very day) with Captain Henry W Webb, and Surgeon John Henry Cooper.” 

“Arrived at Port Nicholson (Wellington NZ) after having struck Barrett’s Reef and had 7 feet of  water in her hold, but all and all the voyage was without incident.  There were 21 deaths, 11 caused by dysentery, and 7 births.”

 The Martha Ridgeway was later wrecked off Great Barrier Reef sometime around 11 August 1842.  Ship’s Log. National Archives, Wellington.

 In 1977, Aunty Pearl Neal, had a letter from the Parish priest at St Mary’s Presbytery, Collingwood, Nelson. He gives some details from their records of our great grandparents, Thomas Sullivan of Dublin  b. 1798-.(  I had  his address in St John’s St. ) died 1865 )  a bricklayer-slater and social activist, and his wife, Margaret Lequire Ogden,  a milliner, from Cheshire ( b. 1807 and d. 1862). Both had been married before.

 A relative, Allan Kenning ( we shared great- grand parents, Phoebe and C.A. Leov, and  he was descended  from the only daughter, Emilie,) told me that;

Thomas was the only son in a large Catholic family, destined for the priesthood. The early death of his father saw him apprenticed as a Slater and plasterer. In 1822 he moved to  Hyde, Cheshire and after four years joined the Loyal Benevolent Lodge of Cheshire, then the Star of Bethlehem Lodge. In all he started 13 lodges there  and met his future wife, a milliner  Margaret Ogden .  He was a popular  generous spirited publican and became very well known in early Nelson. “

We should be proud of  Thomas, for he was a good man . I think the fact he was a publican damned him in some eyes.

The Freemasons’ Arms, on the north-east corner of Trafalgar and Bridge Streets, became a centre for members of the Oddfellows Lodge, who held their meetings there. Thomas Sullivan, a central figure in the Lodge, held the licence from 1846 to 1854 and, in 1847, the name was changed to the Oddfellows’ Arms. It was the venue for Lodge dinners and for their charity occasions for widows and orphans. In 1856, the Oddfellows built their own hall and transferred their activities to it.

The Nelson Oddfellows Lodge, which helped  women  like the widow of the man killed in the Maugatpau murders, built a  large memorial stone for him.

Note 1 at end.

In the log of the Martha Ridgeway, it is recorded that Thomas was 40 and Margaret  34, on embarkation at Liverpool and  they were accompanied by 6 children.  William, 2 was one of the eleven infants who died of dysentery before they arrived in Halifax.

 Note 2 at end of book.

Phoebe, was 13 months old upon arrival and was  twenty-three when she married Charles Augustus, forty-one, on 23rd August 1865 at St Mary’s Catholic church, Nelson.

At the marriage service, Charles (Lutheran) signed a statement that his children would be brought up Catholic. Phoebe’s sister Susan and father signed the register.

 (Another Sullivan daughter, Catherine, is mentioned, at  age twenty, married Inn Keeper,   Horatio Nelson Firth who had owned land in the Pelorus.)

 The  delicate Phoebe died at 36, Dalton’s Bridge, Canvas Town near Havelock, leaving three children, Charles, Fred and Emily  ( Millie, later Kenning.) The  Firths and the Kennings figured largely helping the younger children as they grew up.

Most widowers remarried for practical reasons, but he mourned his Phoebe all his long life. Do you wonder?



The  James Mann Mckenzies from Far North Scotland.

Note 3. At end.

The McKenzies , James and  Elizabeth, (nee Mclean ) had sailed twelve months earlier, in  1841,  from Greenock , near Glasgow, bound for  Auckland aboard the famous 558 ton barque  Jane Gifford. There is an active group of fellow Jane Gifford founders in Auckland. It  involves the sister ship,  The Duchess of Argyle.

This excerpt is from the Doran Family website who travelled with the Mckenzies.

The Jane Gifford arrived in Auckland, New Zealand on October 9 1842. This was the first planned shipment of free UK migrants to Auckland.  In Scotland, high unemployment reigned.  The Commissioner of Emigration was sent to Scotland to recruit two shiploads of families (the other was the Duchess of Argyle).  He chose family groups and people with trades who might benefit the new colony. The colonists arrived in Auckland harbour, disembarking via ships boats on Mechanics Bay at low tide.  The boats could not reach the shore.  Passengers had to unload their boxes and bundles and carry them through mud and water to land.  They were then crowded into 30 raupo huts along with passengers off the Duchess which arrived the same day.  Domestic servants acquired jobs almost immediately. Auckland was in the middle of a depression and the men had to work at heavy manual labour levelling Auckland roads (Shortland St) at 1 pound for married men and 18 shillings for bachelors.  Not surprisingly, Auckland did not capture their hearts. During the long arduous journey there had been 33 others deaths between the two ships, many of them small children and babies in arms. There were 16 new births recorded in the log.”

Robert Paul was (Master), Edward Atkinson (Chief Mate), William Bond (2nd Mate) and James McBeath (3rd Mate.)   Dr P. Shipton, Surgeon Superintendent, wrote that “nothing particular occurred during the passage which was short and as agreeable as it could be.”

Britain’s history is brutal, and the “clearances” suffered by the Scots is a story that illustrates the continual brutality.

In Nola’s words,

 “these Scottish tradesmen were brought out by Hobson to erect the first buildings in Auckland.” It was social engineering similar to Jim’s hardy ancestors, the Hutchinson’s and  Andersen’s  who came from Yorkshire and Jutland to cope with the harsh Norsewood bush conditions.


 2.    Rutland.

 On my land grew a green tree
that gave shade to the weary,
peace to my children, rest to the travel-stained;
and the waters ran beneath, the river of life.    A R D Fairburn.


Some of the more puzzling stories I’ve been told, have been of the Rutlands.  They were landholders and educated people  who took risks and many went into the wider world to seek their futures.

When I lived in Wellington between 1992 and 1996, I found a Rutland relative, Kay Stafford, living in Rimu Street, Eastbourne.

Kay Stafford- Lovegrove, was the grand daughter of Julia and Hiram Harris and daughter of Bertha Harris,) Her memoirs are in the hands of Kath Hadfield.

 We connect with Rutlands through tall and austere W.H. Turner, who married  plump Emma Rutland, mother of  Charles ( Charlie) Turner

Kay Stafford told me what she knew of our Rutland ancestors. Outside her flowery cottage was a slender kowhai tree and each time I visited, several tuis were drinking nectar from the golden flowers. Kay had traveled a lot, married a South African named Cjiffers. At the time Kay was involved in Law studies at Victoria University and was a keen member of Zonta. She later died of breast cancer.  At her funeral, which I attended tuis almost drowned out the service with their song.

 Many Rutlands were Army Officers who had been landowners in Essex.  Their coat of arms is dated 1679 and Joshua Rutland writing in 1912 suggests that the family had been in Saffron Walden at least 200 years prior to that. Parish records support this. They were Anglicans and an enterprising lot. In her book

Pearl Neal ringed  in   her book  London to Lonely Rai ,   a map in Essex,  of Bendysh Hall, The White House and Church Farm as Rutland homes.

Many Rutland children were given the names, “Dudley”and “Newman” down the generations.   John Henry Newman, their relative and hence ours was once an Anglican clergyman, has finally  become  a  Catholic Saint.

One of the earlier Joshua Rutland sons, also named Joshua, went to sea and became Captain Rutland trading in the West Indies.

He died in the Isle of Wight and I was told that his widow opened a  boy’s boarding school in Woodford,  Essex and  said to have made, “a comfortable fortune.”

Her son,  also named Joshua,  was the father of the George, born in 1793, who concerns us.  I will call him George 1 for simplicity, even though he was not the first by a long way.   (See my Geni family tree site for dates. )

George 1 was adopted by his Uncle George, Church Farm, because his only son had died.  George 1  didn’t like farming, choosing instead to become a sailor, and going to Rio de Janeiro as super cargo, ( in charge of all commercial operations) and later accompanied Arthur, Marquis of Wellesley  ( Later Duke of Wellington) to Ireland and as Colonel George Rutland  was appointed Constable of County Clare in Ireland. He might even have  been  fighting with the British  against the French with CAL’s father at Waterloo.

Kay, who researched with her cousin Robin Hodgson, Lower Hutt ,told me that  Col.G.R. was given land as a reward for services in the Battle of Waterloo, 18th June 1815. I will insert a piece Nola Leov wrote about George Rutland.

“George transferred to the Irish Constabulary in 1820 On the 25th January 1823 he became 1st Sub Inspector then 3rd and 2nd County Inspector: served at Diff County and moved and finally died in county Clare. Going by dates he was 37 when he married Maria who was 16. She was 39 when she arrived in NZ. They had stayed with Rutland relations in London prior to emigrating.”

George’s wife was Maria Ann Gibbons, daughter of John Gibbons, a quartermaster in the 17th Lancers.  Maria was born in County Clare on 31st August 1814. Her grandfather Colonel John Gibbons had been born in the West Indies of English parents and his father was killed in the Siege of New Orleans. Maria and her five children were left destitute when an Irishman beat her husband, George 1, to death on 8th May 1852.  I have her offspring listed as ;  Joshua b. 1.1.1836, George 23.4.38,  Harriet 17.9.39, Dudley 1842,  Harry 29.11.1844 and daughter Julia, who married Hiram Harris,( the well known walking – teaching  missionary ) at Nelson Cathedral in 1863.

(Hiram had arrived in Auckland in 1827 on the Duke of Portland and later walked to Picton. He ran an Anglican Maori Mission School in Motueka .)

Hiram was with his brother- in- law, George 2, and John Wilson, when they found gold near  Canvas town at Easter, 1864.

As a British  War  widow,  Maria did not inherit any property, ( a wrong righted by suffragettes ) so she emigrated to New Zealand and arrived in Auckland with her two daughters and three sons (including George 2, born 1838,) on the Royal Albert, in March 1853) to join the Edwards and Turner families in Marlborough, to whom she was related through Eliza Edward, sister to Emma, wife of W.H Turner. Joshua Rutland of English House, Essex , (father of Emma.) was born in 1761 and died in 1820 and he married Ann Lush  (b 1766- d 1821)

There were two other brothers, George at Church Farm, Hampstead and James at  Bendysh Hall near Hampstead. Plenty of material in local church records there for anyone keen.  I have a copy of a document, from the 5th edition of the Book of Heraldry, dated 1679 written in Latin and another from the reign of Charles 2nd granting Joshua’s ancestor, William Rutland of Saffron Walden and London, thefamily coat of arms.

Ann (Lush) Rutland of Whittle was the mother of Emma Rutland-Turner.  There’s much information, as well as family items, in the Picton Museum. All you need is an interest,  time and energy.

Frank Foster’s extensive Rutland book is in a Marlborough museum in Blenheim. In 2010 I deposited all my Rutland material there.

The only Rutland I recall visiting us in Pahiatua was  (George)  Arthur. Uncle Arthur seemed very old to me, he never married, but travelled and played the piano beautifully. He would walk to Havelock to play for a dance., old Joshua said,

“Arthur could put it on a bit and talked about how when waiting upon the Prince of Wales in Napier, he was complimented on his manners as the Prince left the table.”

 Joshua was the father of Emma, who became the second wife (m. 22.4.1834 d.1892) of William Henry Turner, our great grandfather, the London solicitor who described his occupation in the N. Z. electoral rolls of the day as,  “Gentleman.”

William H. Turner’s  father,  George Greetham Turner, had the Black Boy Inn in Whitechapel.  His father, Anthony, lived at 16 Church Lane Whitechapel. W.H. Turner was born at  5 Osporn St, Whitechapel and moved about England a lot after he became a lawyer.  Nola Leov and Margaret Turner have written extensively on the Turner family, so these are merely tid bits for  you.

 To emphasize the toll childbirth took on women in the Victorian era  I will mention that William married first, Ann Loman, who died in London aged 34 in August 1833 after ten years of marriage.  They had sons,  William and George, who both died in infancy, then William,  Alfred,  Edwin,  Eliza,  Emma,  George and finally, Ann died after the birth of Henry, who lived only three months.  Imagine !

 He married Emma Rutland a year later, on 24th April 1834 and they had   Jane, Emily, and Charles. (Our ancestor, born 7t h September 1839,)   Mary, Eleanor, Peter, Arthur, who died in infancy, John and Joe.  There were eighteen live births in all. Stillbirths were not recorded, let alone miscarriages.  To add to our confusion, this generation was rather inclined to  use the name of a lost child for the replacement one.

Charles Turner, W.H’s son, our great-grandfather, married  Matilda , Tilly, McKenzie, Nana Jane’s mother, on 18th March 1870).

The Turners with a contingent of ten young people, came from London, November 2nd 1860 on the Zealandia, arriving upon St Valentines Day, 1861.

So much has been written about Charles and Matilda (Tilly) Turner, that I will just tell you  that one of Joshua Rutland’s other daughters, with the fascinating name of Dudley, married a Robert Newman.

I  was told by Pearl Neal that is where our connection to the Venerable John Henry Cardinal Newman, now  beatified fits in.  He is  now  St. John  because he brought Anglican England closer to the Catholic church after the celebrated, and  ‘notorious’ cleric, converted from Church of England to Catholic.

He was a man who would be comfortable in the Vatican today and he did in fact, spent time there.

  3.  Rutland.    The Gold Find at Wakamarina.  

In the first days, in the forgotten calendars, came the seeds of the race, the forerunners:
offshoots, outcasts, entrepreneurs, architects of Empire, romantic adventurers;
and the famished, the multitude of the poor; crossed parallels of boredom, tropics
of hope and fear, losing the pole-star, suffering world of water, chaos of wind and sunlight,
and the formless image in the mind; sailed under Capricorn to see for ever
the arc of the sun to northward.     A R D Fairburn.


George Rutland was 15 when he arrived in Wellington,  NZ on the Royal Albert, 30th March 1853, then onward to Nelson, with his widowed mother Maria from County Clare, Ireland.  Like many boys at that time he had to help support his mother.

Much of what I know comes from the 1923 writings of F H Rutland, the son of George’s brother Joshua, as well as stories told to me over the years. He writes of going to school when he could be spared from the farm and how they harvested flax to tie the sheaves as the oats fell behind the reaping machine.

 His sister Julia worked for Dr Monroe and also schooled her siblings at home.  Young George started work pit sawing in Waimea West then worked for a Mr. Redwood killing meat for the town of Nelson. He would cart the carcass in a bullock dray. It sold for sixpence a pound at Mrs. Beard’s Butchery. His mother was anxious to secure land so in 1859, having saved some money, he walked over the Maungatapu to the Pelorus Valley to search for land. He reached Tahora, (a Maori pa meaning Stronghold.)

 Standing on top of Bald Hill looking across the Pelorus River, he saw flat fertile land below that had been cultivated by the Maoris until abandoned after a flood. He went over the river in a Maori canoe and rented the farm from Andrew Salmond.

 His brother Joshua Rutland wrote in 1912, (This is all in the Blenheim Settlers Museum now. )

“His (George’s) luck was in, for Mrs. Salmond was about to be laid up. Mr Salmond had hired a nurse and procured a bottle of brandy for the job but the nurse had drunk the whole lot and was tite. (sic) Salmond was in such a state that he rented the 251 acre Te Patoa farm to George that very night.” He does not say for whom the brandy was bought.

 It was another year before George, his mother, Maria and brother Henry, set off on the three day journey through dense bush to take up the land. He carried his mother over the big streams on the thirty five mile walk. Their belongings were transported the ninety miles from Nelson at a cost of £10.  The small sailing ship went as far up the Pelorous  river as the tide would allow, and then three miles by bullock dray which capsized enroute ; Imagine ? George carried out milling and hauling logs out with bullocks and floating them down river to a saw mill in Havelock.


Some years later at Easter in 1864, Hiram Harris, who’d married Julie  on 12th of January 1863 (they had a son, Joshua born 31st of October 1863) came over from Motueka to catch up with his wife Julia’s family and he, Joshua and George decided to go gold prospecting in the Wakamarina River. En route they called into John Wilson’s Boarding House and John joined them. At first they were unsuccessful but after they returned home and made a Long John, (a sluice box,) they went five miles up stream, crossed Mountain Camp Creek and at the wide Wilson’s Beach they found two and a half ounces of gold at 4pm on April 4th 1864.


Within three days they had eighteen and a half ounces, so they pegged one 40 ft square claim between them, and went home for supplies, not knowing that each was entitled to a claim. They worked it out in six weeks. Nola Leov says it was later decided a claim would be 30’ x 30’ “The one’s who knew made money”.

Hiram went back to teaching while Joshua with his brother Henry ran the farm, Wilson had to run his halfway house and George paid a man   ₤1 a week to help with the claim.During that time they went to Picton and were awarded ₤1275, the Government bonus for finding a payable gold field. The original prize was ₤1000 for finding 10,000 oz. It increased if the yield was greater Two men, Clime and Co, claimed that the find was theirs, but it was settled with a court case.

 Within a few weeks diggers swarmed north from the Otago fields by land and sea. A calico city arose beside the mudflats, housing nearly six thousand men and it was named Canvas town. In the first rush over 25,000 ounces were won but the gold was gone by 1866.

 George was given the job of Gold Receiver at the Wakarmarina Bank and appointed Second Magistrate with a salary of £400 a year and with his part of the award he bought a farm in the Wairau Plain on Jackson’s Cross Road; Joshua bought the Te Patoa home farm, which up until then had been leased. The land had to be stumped and ploughed at least four times a year to grow oats and potatoes. Unbelievably  hard manual work.

Te Patoa.

 Te Patoa,  farm near Canvastown, Marlborough bought with reward for finding gold. George, left of gate, daughter at the gate, Georgina, Joshua to the right.

  George married Jane Turner and three daughters were born before the great flood of 1868 ruined them. When Jane died, a stepmother took over the education and care of her children.

  On her deathbed, Jane Rutalnd asked to be buried on the bluff overlooking Te Patoa, so she could watch her children growing up. Alfred was a baby and went to Charlie and Matilda for two years. Maria died in 1888 and she and all the rest of her family joined her there.



4. Adrian Leov.

My cousin Adrian pictured with my mother Alice on her wedding Day.   January 2nd 1935

 As a child, whenever I fingered the head dress of wax orange blossom, my mother Alice wore  on her wedding day, she would tell me how she loved her little page boy, Adrian Leov. He was Cyril’s son and the eldest of his generation and seemed to be a lot like Grandfather Leov as my mother described him to me.  Tall, fair and  good natured. Adrian’s daughter Jane married a fine businessman called   Clint Mcinnes. They live  at 122b Centaurius Rd Christchurch. (2017) Clint  showed me the draft of a  finely researched book he wrote about Charles Leo von Fritzo. It back grounded Wars and  times. I regret I never saw the finished book.Where is it now I wonder?


Later, when I was fourteen, 1956, I stayed with Uncle Cyril and Aunty Esma near Sunny Heights. ( I had some days with Nell and George Young during which there was a flood where the water rose until  it  touched  the back door step.) I found the C. Leov boys and their younger sister Joan, and with Donnie a spirited bunch. The boys were by now, strong young men. It was clear they needed a large canvas on which to paint their lives.

It was hinted that they smoked and maybe even drank beer at dances in the Rai Valley.  This seemed a little daring to me. I loved the way they argued around the breakfast table, Esma would laugh as she worked, their delight when one got the better of another. She cooked huge bacon, egg, sausage and chop, breakfasts they downed after the milking and feeding out. I never forget going to a film in the Rai Hall where the light was turned on to change the reels and we sat on wooden chairs. It was wintertime with frost on the grass and the whiff of silage in the air. It was here I felt the first grip of asthma, the tightness and pain, breathing in the frosty air.

 Joan Leov may recall my encounter with a weta, which crawled into my undies overnight. The large bag of raw peanuts, beside Uncle Cyril’s bed. He stretched out eating them while he read his County agendas in bed with the door wide open. Joan told me that when he went away the place fell to pieces. He ruled the roost.

 It is Adrian’s smile I remember best , his gravelly smoker’s voice answering the phone when Jim and I, virtual strangers, rang him some years ago. The warm welcome from both Adrian and his wife Anne .It was real old style country hospitality. Driving up the lovely valley to the farm house, nestling amid the roses in their early summer garden .Talking about farming and old C A Leov, our great grandfather. I hope Clint McInnis, his son in law ,(married to Jane ) will write down what he recalls of their long conversations.

 Later again, at a family picnic near Carluke, with families scattered under trees, I walked from group to group, then down the quiet road to the Turner Cottage. It was built by our family from pit sawn totara in memory of Charles and Tilly Turner and is now a Pioneer museum.

Returning, it dawned  that I did not need to search any further for my ancestors.

They were present. Nana Jane, Cyril, Pearl, Vi, Nell, Hally, Len, my parents, Alice and Gordon, even the mystery parents of  CA Leov, picnicking under the trees.

 I could hear my great grandmothers, Phoebe and Tilly laughing together.  Chatting about grandchildren? More likely it would be politics, equality for women and the state of the world. We all share this terrible lust for life and a fierce desire to better the world  A diplomat’s wife and executive ,Anne Scholar, once  told me  that “Kiwi women are the feistiest in the world.”

 The families on my mother’s side are kind hospitable, some  were  opinioned people who love to argue and have a loud . We have our share of eccentrics and obsessive’s, talkers and doers, carrying forward parts of the great human gene pool, Corpus Mundi.

 I stood looking at them from a distance. Glad to be part of a family which has respect for hard work, honest dealings; which enjoys wit, is able to think, talk and make the best of life.

 Cousin Adrian Leov died in 2000 and Eileen Neal-Roper  in 2008. Donnie Leov and Errol Neal in 2017.






 5   From Nola Leov.

 “I wasn’t a particularly analytical child and saw our grandparents rarely. I have    many  kinds of bonds with people, but can use the word ”love” wholeheartedly about the members of the Rai family. Nana  and Grandfather Uncle Cyril ,Aunt Esma, Auntie Pearl, Uncle Max, Aunty Nell, Uncle  George. As a child I found Uncle Len’s teasing, alarming.

Your family, (Thomson’s) had more of Nana than the rest of us. Alice was her baby and Nana felt responsible for her poor health. She told me about finding the cot mattress mildewed and thought that was the cause.” (So many of our family has respiratory disease that I think it is genetic and locked  into our nervous systems. V )

“ I have a clear recollection of  the house and farm , the smell of the barns and the horses. The sounds of  hens and turkeys.  Nana churning butter in the wet dairy, her stocking wrinkled on her slender legs.”



6.   Eileen Neal -Roper’s Memories of the Leovs in Rai Valley, Marlborough


When good men die their goodness does not perish,
But lives though they are gone. As for the bad, All that was theirs dies and is buried with them.
    Euripides (484 BC – 406 BC),

 (Some years ago I wooed some of my cousins to write what they could recall of our old people using  a tailored  aide memoire.  In their own words- but edited by me.


From  Eileen Roper.

Nana Jane Turner Leov;  January 15th 1995 is the Anniversary of our Nana Jane Leov’s birthday. You could describe her as a sort of Mother Teresa. Practical, hardworking and cultured, though she had little education she was always consulting the Encyclopedia Britannica and she gained her School Certificate later in life.

 She liked challenging every moral issue she met. She went that extra mile and was supportive of everything progressive. Nana was a tremendous debater, politics being an ever present topic in a household full of powerful men. She had friends by the score and was always producing mountains of food. Friends shared the care of children in those days and being midwife was one of Nanas specialties.

 Nana milked the house cows and made butter and bread three times a week. I can still smell it, the most beautiful bread in the world. There was little time for tea parties and gossiping, there was far too much real work to be done.

 The washing and ironing for the large farming family took days. She adored our grandfather Charles and was a loving mother to her seven children, Len, Harold, Cyril, Nell, Vi, Pearl and Alice. There was always time for a bedtime story. It might be from Cole’s Funny Picture Books, Grimm’s and Hans Anderson’s Fairy Tales and there were always lots of laughs.

 At times people took advantage of her generosity for she had the gift of giving. She sewed pinafores, dresses and aprons on an old-fashioned Singer sewing machine with the handle on the wheel and the only thing she didn’t do was knit.

 No one knows when Nana began her interest in women’s rights and temperance work. She became an acknowledged leader in church, mission work and the community. 

She grew weary and sad in the later stages of her life and suffered with neuritis which gave her constant pain in her neck, shoulders and back most of her adult life and had several nervous collapses due to stress and overwork.

 Nana cared for her own mother Tilly Turner for many years after her stroke and for Charles Augustus Leov for even longer.  Nana Jane called him Mr Leov. He lived in a wooden whare at the back of the garden.  Charles, his own son, wasn’t very patient with him but Nana spent an hour chatting with him each evening, keeping him company, cutting his nails and hair and cared for him until his dying day in 1918.

I was six when Nana’s mother Matilda Turner died. I clearly remember her sitting in her rocking chair on the wide verandah at Sunny Heights. Her sense of humour was delightful and after her stroke she said things back to front. She would laugh until tears ran down her face. She was as Irish as could be; except that she was Scottish, a McKenzie, of course.

Charming and feminine, she had many a tale to tell about her youth. Her husband Charles was a respected stern and dignified Londoner. He was good looking but could be self-righteous. It must have been hard for him living the rough bush life in Rai Valley. He could be irrational and stubborn, but somehow Grannie managed to laugh her way through the trials of living in those pioneering times.Here endeth Eileen’s memoir.


Faithfulness and  Fortitude.

Now we move to the elusive C A Leov who has tantalized generations with his mysterious past. According to cousin Kath Leov Hadfield, Great grandfather Charles Augustus was born 24th May 1824 in Treptow  on Rega in Pomerania ,a  military base, about 45 Km from Stettin.(Szczecin.)  .

In the 1917 List of Aliens he is listed as having been in NZ, 54 years, making his arrival in NZ 1863. (I have a 1993 letter written to Allan Kenning by Alexander Fulling, a German researcher who had found nothing about the family the surviving seven church records in Stettin. As an aside he mentions that Treptow belonged, since 1666, to a noble family named von Pritz. ‘Von, ‘means, ‘of the house of’.‘Leo,’ in Old Germanic means, ‘Brave amongst the peoples.’ Charles spoke French, German and knew Latin and English,(but not very well) and the only person I met, Merle Kenning, who had known him while alive, described his as a ‘Gentleman.’

NB.   It may have been earlier than the generally accepted age of thirty that he left East Prussia and the Army and traveled with a friend through the USA, to the Victorian Gold fields. Family mythology has it that he had observed bullying by a senior officer and challenged the man to a duel and was injured. CA ,as his sons would later call him, was aided by his mother to escape with several friends. She gave him gold in a leather pouch. He may have gone AWOL.

It’s said that he spent some time in Wisconsin, where there were many Germans at that time, and still,  teaching music, possibly the violin, then went on to the gold fields near Sacramento in 1849 with a  musical friend named August Elbeck, then disillusioned, they left for the Victorian goldfields and CA ran a store in Creswick Creek near Ballarat before he moved to New Zealand with £1400, a goodly sum in those days. I believe he arrived in NZ  in 1863. He was naturalized in August 1865.

The marriage certificate in the same year gives his occupation as merchant and age as 39. It has been suggested he adjusted his age down two years because his bride,Phoebe Maria Lequire Sullivan Leov  so mch younger.

Phoebe Maria Lequire Sullivan, was twenty-four. She was a graceful, lighthearted woman who died at thirty-eight leaving three children Millie, (Emilie) Charles and Fred.

 On rare occasions in later life he would talk to Nana about his mother and sisters, Joanne and Amelia whom he said rode to church in a carriage the family christened the’ Ark.’  He told Nana that they dressed well and carried stylish parasols. He said he had one brother named Augustus. People find it odd that brothers could have the same name so maybe Charles took his brother’s and his father’s names Leopold and Augustus for himself. We may never know. The reason I tend to believe him is that through our family runs a strong regard for truth.

He mentioned that his family had owned a large house and had land holding and horses. The family rode to hounds English style and they had servants. His father had been an Army Officer  and had later been killed in a fox-hunting accident.

 One story says that my Aunty Nell (or maybe another grandchild) when small ,said to CAL, “Grandfather, can I have your dressing gown girdle for a rope when you die?”

Once when he was minding the children while Nana was out he said

“Now, My little dears, your mudder is not here, so I will whack you all with my walking stick.”

Nana said that one evening he had eaten some of her home baked bread and he grabbed his stomach and said “ Jane, dis damn dough stick to my stomach like lead.” He also would tear up his bills and stuff them in a drawer. Beryl Moleta , my cousin,  told  me that the Leov grandchildren would stuff flies in Great grandfather’s pipe while he slept.

Great Grandfather had a hard life during World War 1 when he felt that New Zealanders were fighting his cousins. He was put under a sort of house arrest as an Alien.

 CA Leov was very sociable and had a cheerful, outspoken manner. He liked to play cards with friends and to dress in a pin-stripe suit with white gloves. He often wore a rose in his lapel and enjoyed his smokes and his  nips of gin.

Another tale told me by Kath Hadfield, was from Mrs Wratt, who was daughter of the Leovs’ midwife, was that CA and August Elbeck were guards, who accompanied Royalty in the procession at  Queen Victoria’s 1840 wedding to her cousin, German-born, Albert (Sax Coberg,) and went absent without leave. Yet would he have been there at sixteen?

 C A’s son, our grandfather, Charles Sullivan Leov was a giant among men according to my mother. He also never came home without chocolate and spoiled her, his youngest daughter.

He was a jovial, intelligent, tall, handsome and loveable man who grew white-haired in old age. He was always reasonable and not inclined to be madly religious but honorable in all things. Nana and he made a gallant team and were an inspiration to their family.

 Charlie got along well with his three sons, Len, Harold and Cyril, and they farmed together until one after another, the sons  left home to farm other land..

 Grandfather was ill for a very long time prior to his death and Beryl, who stayed and helped Nana suggests he had hip problems that would be typical for a farmer and that he had also a thyroid problem.

 If you listen you can hear them still, the family gathered around the Lipp piano singing. Alice,the soprano and Grandfather, the baritone, were the real singers. Music played a big part in their lives, as did literature. They sang hymns as well as rousing songs like Keep the Home Fires Burning, It’s a Long way to Tipparary, and Rule Britannia.

 Nana passed school certificate in later life and learned to drive after CS’s death I recall driving in our Ford Prefect as she talked furiously, pressing the accelerator to emphasis a point, it was invigorating.

Your Nana may be different, but this Nana is mine. I can recall her laughing when she killed the possum with the poker when it came down the chimney.  Chased it around the large room .Blood everywhere.

They all read and could quote from the classics.  I can see the big family sitting around the enormous dining table eating Nana’s famous gooseberry pies, black and red currant tarts from the berry garden and her heavenly apple jelly made from the old cooking apple trees, farm sized wholemeal scones and fruit cake.

 The boys bellowing about politics or religion, world affairs, you name it.

(They were all larger than life, with what Bev Creswell told me I once had.   “All the terrible Leov energy.” Never more Miranda, never more.) VCB



“But with Julia, Instead of wandering around some half-baked heaven, she’s rattling around in the apartments of my brain, having a high old time. There are thousands of her in brains all over the world, but this Julia is mine.”   


Julie and Julia. (On Julia Child) by Julie Powell.  The book, not the film.




 Nana’s Pink Apple Jelly.


6 lbs chopped, cored, and unpeeled cooking apples. Barely cover with water. Boil for half an hour. Cool and strain through a muslin bag over night.

 Do not squeeze the bag or you get a cloudy jelly. Measure the liquid by cups and bring to the boil in a preserving pan.  Add the juice of 2 lemons, 1 tsp salt and 1 Tbs butter.

 Add warmed sugar, cup for cup and boil for 30 minutes or until a drop sets in cold water. When slightly cooled, stir in a bottle of raspberry extract then pour into sterilized jars and seal.




  8   Eileen Roper remembers Nana’s Home at Sunny Heights.


A generation of men is like a generation of leaves; the wind scatters some leaves upon the ground, while others the burgeoning wood brings forth – and the season of spring comes on. So of men one generation springs forth and another ceases.  Homer  (800 BC – 700 BC), The Iliad


I am opening the white wooden gate beside the lemon verbena, which clicks wonderfully, and I’m walking up the wide cement path to Nana and Grandfather Leov’s house, Sunny Heights in Rai Valley.


Alongside the path are lovely hollyhocks, Canterbury bells, roses, gladioli and cosmos. I can small sweet peas, bread baking and apples. There are many native trees and oaks as well as a camellia in the front garden and the vegetable garden out the back. Along the verandah pink and white climbing roses are in bloom.

 There is an old washing basin along the back of the house where the men wash before they come indoors. I can see thrushes and fantails and hear tuis in the flax.

The clothesline stretches out beyond the house on a flat area of lawn from which you can see long views up the Rai Valley to the western hills. The berry garden is close by, with black currants, red currants, and gooseberries,( not to be picked before Labour weekend.)

 Out in the paddock near the stables I can see three or four draught horses, several drays and Nana’s spick-and-span gig. When not working, the farm dogs, Prince and Rob,are tied up at their kennels beside the stables and there are storage sheds out beyond the back gate. There is an old netting safe hanging in the cool under the trees. There is a pigsty not far away and Mother (Pearl) used to tell us about the day when the boys made apple cider and gave it to the pigs and then invited the girls to hang over the fence and watch their drunken antics. They nearly died laughing until Nana found out and then did they catch it?

The washhouse is as big as a modern living room with large wooden tubs, corrugated scrubbing boards and a tin copper. The kitchen is small, with pots and pans hanging from the ceiling.

 There is an old dresser in the kitchen with lots of willow pattern crockery and cups hang from the shelves. There are big cupboards and a shiny black wood range being constantly stoked.

 Nana made the best toffee in the world. It was the creamy sort with butter*, rather than the brittle glassy variety used for toffee apples. When we were small we would walk with Mother along the tram line, which ran between our adjoining properties and Nana would give us toffee to take home in clean golden syrup tins. Sometimes my father ( Max) would let us ride standing in the empty milk cans on the dray and we would call into Aunty Ella’s store opposite the Post Office  and buy sweets.


The dining room is big and airy with sash windows at each end, a big open fireplace and  a gorgeous old wooden dresser with a fine Victorian dinner service in the cupboards underneath. The china is of a delicate figured brown on white design with a somewhat squarish fluted shape.


A silver teapot holds centre stage in front of a large mirror on the dresser and there are always bowls of fresh flowers. The long polished dining table has a large stained glass kerosene table lamp. The chairs with their upholstered high backs seem quite grand to a small child.


On Christmas day everyone goes to church at St Marks near where Nana lived early in her marriage and also near the Flat Creek School where “Mrs. Crabby Old Thorpe” was the teacher.


After Nana serves turkey with roast vegetables and for dessert, plum pudding, trifle and jellies. All the family would be seated at midday to say Grace. The drinks are fruit drink and home-made ginger beer.


Opposite the kitchen is the bathroom with mock tile linoleum, brown squares on a cream background, and there’s a huge claw-foot bath and a big china jug and basin on a stand.


There are beautiful rural scenes on the patterned wallpaper in the dining room and in the passage a long carpet runner and an ornate white plaster ceiling and is papered in green and white regency striped wallpaper.  It has high skirting boards like the rest of the house. Along the verandah that wraps around two side of the house are five glass doors opening to views of shrubs and greenery.


Each bedroom has black iron beds, with immaculate starched white counterpanes and lovely soft eider-downs on each bed, for winters in that low-lying valley could be cold. The bedroom wallpapers are a pretty floral and the rooms sweet with the smell of polishing wax and the timber floors are covered with woolen rugs. The sash and cord windows have canvas blinds. There are long mirrors, jugs, basins, and candles in pretty holders, and chamber pots inside bedside cabinets.



The sitting room is small and elegant. It’s a hallowed place with French doors opening onto the verandah where you can see climbing roses which run around two sides of the house.


There is a carpet square, a Victorian lounge suite with chaise lounge, framed copies of paintings of the old masters, the German Lipp piano and a fireplace with decorative tiles inlaid. I can smell kerosene and also wood ash from last night’s fire.


The sounds I remember are the tuis in the kowhai beside the homestead, the whirring of the old-fashioned wind-up telephone.

Tilly was tiny. She is sitting between Nana Jane and Pearl, and I think ,Eileen.


Granny (Matilda, “Tilly”) is in her room, She is small like Nana, but softer somehow and smiles as Nana seldom did. She is fine-featured and she wears a long dark skirt and a cream blouse. She has lived with Nana for fourteen years. There is always someone staying, for Nana runs open house for missionaries, teachers, lonely, or any down-and- out or needy people. She was a good woman , but I never remember Nana smiling.

 I feel very smart when I ride with her in the gig. Lorna, her horse is dainty and a little temperamental, but Nana who is an able horsewoman manages her with great ability. 

Eileen wrote this in 1995 when I asked her to imagine walking into Nana’s house.

Sugar substituted for alcohol in  our family and for people like Alice and other asthmatics, sugar was just as damaging.

*Nana’s Toffee.          


                                                 2 breakfast cups of sugar.

                                                ½ cup of full cream milk.

                                                1 Tbs butter ( more for a richer toffee)

                                                2 Tbs Golden Syrup,


Bring to boil in a saucepan until a drop sets in cold water. Pour into a buttered pie dish.


 This is not the exact china Nana had, but it gives an impression of the brown pattern on white. Her  dinner service, it was more squarish and very fine bone  china. We once had a cup and saucer.



  9.  Beryl  Leov-Moleta’s Letter. 5th April ’95.  Waitiu RD4. Picton.

   Dear Vivienne,

 Well, It was a lovely surprise to hear from you and thank you for the photo.(Sunny Heights) I wonder if it was an early photo as I remember a large camellia and other ornamental trees in the front. How we used to love staying there,  Such dear people, can’t imagine anyone being more special. Grandfather was so patient, however much he suffered-no hip replacements in those days.I remember him digging their vegetable garden having to use the wrong leg as the other was so bad.

Nana was much more forthright-well ahead of her time maybe but had such a wonderful outlook on life that she could get away with it. She used to debate with Uncle Cyril, no hard feelings but both were able to express their views and sort out their problems. How they did work and were always helping others.

Nana suffered badly with neuritis as it was called then and would like us to rub her poor back. Sometimes she would lie on the floor awhile but then she’d be  off to milk the cows or walk up to the Neal’s or catch Lorna the horse and harness up the gig and drive up to the village for the stores or visit Aunty Nell or Uncle Len. Nana was great with animals .The dear old farm dogs would lie about the front door and there were masses of pretty brown chookies out in the yard and turkeys as well..

They had part draft horses which would be stabled and fed on chaff. Once one had a bad foot and Nana nursed him on the lawns, bandaging and seeing to the wound. She must have always had a lot to do with horses as her wrist was out of line quite badly after an accident she had as a girl. Nana always hoped to travel to England.

Always one of my sad regrets that she didn’t manage it and that her death was so painful tho thankfully quick. Poor grandfather was ill a long time with,I presume  a thyroid problem.

They, of course, looked after great grandma) Turner, which is how Mum became involved. She used to help look after her. Grandfather used to chuckle about “Tilly” when he talked of her later.

Dad, ( Harold)  always spoke fondly of great-grandfather Leov. They must have had him living there at some stage as well. What wonderful people they were. Looking after old folk  working boys and grandchildren as we came and went. There were no amenities at all and no such thing talked about  as stress. We’ve got it made today really and so many seem to moan and carry on. We’re too interest in pleasures and material things maybe.

I’m trying to remember some of the funny stories. One grandfather loved to tell was of how they rowed to Havelock for a dance, presumably from Tuna Bay and then after it was all over they climbed into the dingy in the dark and began rowing and after a bit realised they were still tied to the wharf.

Another story was about the new road opening Grandfather and Uncle Tim decided to ride through the day before the opening. The Leov children were pretty vigorous youngsters maybe. Mum told the story about great-grandfather having said when nana was away “Now my little dears,your mother is not here.I don’t remember whether or what he administered. ( I believe he said,“I shall beat you with my stick.”- but he didn’t. V.)

 Another funny wee story was about how the children would stuff great grandfather’s pipe with flies while he slept.

I would love to hear from you again and any questions might remind me of those early days.

Sincerely, Beryl.


“The spirit of exile, wrote the historian, is strong in the people still.” Allan Curnow.



CAL’s father was a miltary man.

 Our Prussian Ancestor.  Charles Augustus Leo Von Fritzo.

Was He Really Charles Augustus von Falkenheim ?


Charles Augustus Leov  has many of us baffled because on one hand there are rumours of  him going AWOL from the Army or possibly being in a sword fight, but this is countered by him being known as a gentleman who spoke several  languages, played  the violin, had a very good voice. His photos display a dignity  that make one feel that stories of sisters named Amelia and Joanne and going to church ( Lutheran) in the large carriage named “The Ark” could well be true.

 Nana Jane wrote about “Charles Augustus Leopold Leo von Fritzo,”  her father in law, in 1948.  Saying he had a long name and lived a long life. he wrote this for the Len Leov children, of Durville Island , four years before Nana  died of a heart condition (dropsy) at 73.   He was the son of a military officer who had been killed fox-hunting prior to his son’s departure.

 He was naturalized a New Zealander on 24thJuly 1865  in Wellington prior to his marriage to Phoebe Sullivan.    

Naturalisation document 1865. Note this is in not all in CAL’s hand. Just the signature is his.

The last known photo  of Charles Augustus sitting outside his whare behind Sunny heights Rai Valley.

  Nana , Jane Leov wrote he’d left Trezbiato, Pomerania, aged about thirty, but we don’t know. 

He had sight in only one eye and was of a cheery disposition and enjoyed wearing a suit with a pink or white rosebud in the lapel. Robin is able to repeat a sentence in heavily accented English he recalls Nana, quoting CA.

“We rode through the enemy and cut off zeir heads like corn.” There was a verse like pat a cake C.A . taught the children..



Backe, backe Kuchen,
Der Bäcker hat gerufen!
Wer will gute Kuchen backen,
Der muss haben sieben Sachen:
Eier und Schmalz,
Butter und Salz,
Milch und Mehl,
Safran macht den Kuchen gel’! (gelb)
Schieb in den Ofen ‘rein.
(Morgen muss er fertig sein.)


Bake, bake a cake
The baker has called!
He who wants to bake good cakes
Must have seven things:
Eggs and lard,
Butter and salt,
Milk and flour,
Saffron makes the cake yel(low)!
Shove it into the oven.
(Tomorrow it must be done.)


While he spoke fluent French and German, and knew Latin, like many educated in his generation, his English was not good.  This hindered his teaching in later life.

The fact he spoke little of his past suggests taciturnity  if not trauma and this is evidenced by the appalling  deep scars criss -crossing his back, which deeply shocked Merle Kenning’s mother,  (his daughter, Emilie Phoebe Margaret Kenning)  and a Mrs. Wratt, the Leov family mid-wife, when they dressed his body after death.

Note.     End

Rick Cragg’s contact in Germany says that running the gauntlet was banned after 1801. Based on modern military tactics I believe CAL could have suffered it after being captured. His mother knowing another capture would mean death, gave him a pouch of gold  to aid his escape.

His musical companion August Elbeck left from Hamburg  ( some think.)  I am pretty sure that Charles Augustus  left Prussia  with his friend,   Weisenharven.

The Rhein, Bark ship ID 15471 from Hamburg Germany .Arrive NY USA  21 Nov 1849…Captain H Ehlers  ID 294720 No 131 August Albrecht [male] passenger 157 [Musician] no cabin

Leo, C.S  age 31, ID. 294627, No 37 born 1818…no cabin –   (  birth dates don’t match.)

Another mystery for you to help us solve.

Elbeck ran hotels in Victoria and a store in Blenheim. There is evidence August visited CAL once in Marlborough and there are stories of his brilliant piano virtuosity. He died in NZ in 1891. 

 We are told CAL taught violin in Wisconsin and then continued west to Sutters Creek, near Sacramento, to find gold, (which was discovered around 1848.)

 It’s why I went to  a Bed and breakfast in this historic gold town,  to look at the bank and old buildings there and dipped my hands in the sparkling cold creek water of what is now a small stream. It felt good.

We next place him running a store in Creswick Creek, Victoria, where his life- long friendship with the Nees family began.

 The massive gold rush began after James Regan was walking from the goldfields of Clunes to see a mate, John Dunlop in Buninyong in August, 1851. He stopped at a place called “Balla arat” and tried his luck. He discovered what was to become one of the richest alluvial goldfields the world had ever known.

 A Victorian Gold Licence allowed a miner to work a 12 foot square claim for 30 shillings a month.

 I include this article about  camp stores from the Encyclopedia of Gold. 

“Stores were typically tents, sometimes with the addition of rough slab walls and a mud chimney. Carcasses awash with flies hung from crude butcher’s set-ups – or ‘shambles’, as S.T. Gill labeled them in one sketch. Other traders, including many butchers, dispensed with the idea of a store and hawked their goods around the diggings. Often one tradesman would fulfill a number of roles – for instance, at Ballarat John Sharkey was a storekeeper, blacksmith, and butcher. Like the diggers, in the early days most merchants were itinerant – following their customers to the next rush.  Despite their primitive set-up, general stores could stock an amazing array of goods. Ellen Clacy, in 1852, described shops on the diggings as places where ‘everything required by a digger can be obtained for money, from sugar-candy to potted anchovies; from East India pickles to Bass’s pale ale.’ Antoine Fauchery painted a bleaker picture, suggesting that the difficulties involved in transporting goods to the diggings meant well-stocked stores could not be relied upon: ‘When drays failed to arrive, nothing [was] left in the stores but boots or saucepans.’


Phoebe Mary Lequire Sullivan,  of Nelson,  CAL’s future wife,  I was told  had been engaged to Edward Stafford , later Sir Edward ,who went on to become NZ Prime Minister and had jilted her after a trip overseas, she sued him for breach of promise and was granted  £300. Now I find that it was Hugh Stafford who dumped her for flirting at the Wakatu Hotel whilst he had a broken leg!

She was half CAL’s age,  said Nana.  She had the “weak chest” and died in “The Wilderness” aged 36, after bearing four children, one of whom; Augustus didn’t survive the tough conditions and died aged two.   Many of us have inherited this lung condition, (now known as Bronchial Obstruction Disease,)  in it’s various forms.  It was said to be of pleurisy,the death certificate mentions Phthisis,  Tuberculosis .

The three surviving  children, Fred,  Charles and Millie (Emilie)  went on to establish families. As Fred had no son to carry on the long name, any N Z Leov is descended from our grandfather Charles Sullivan Leov.  The sister, Emilie, (Millie,) became Mrs. Richard Kenning) and bore Charles, Wilfred, Olive, Walter, Eileen, David, Theodore and Merle, whom I knew   in her old Vanguard St home in her final years.  I had hoped to make a new connection with the Kennings, some of whom I met whilst living in Wellington. ( I have contacted  Merle’s son,          Spencer who lives near Christchurch)

In the almost illegible faded fax, from Clint McInnes, Adrian’s son in law , I read a story about hens at  the Rai Valley farm, Sunny Heights, with their feet stuck in rising dough left out in the sun and  the elderly C.A.  dropping a bag of sugar while trying to help Nana lift it into a canoe to cross the river. Also the old man on being sent on a small horse, Rowdy, belonging to Nana’s mother, Tilly Turner,  to deliver provisions to his grandson’s camp,  gets lost and spends a frosty night under the willows, but is none the worse for his adventures.

The stories of copper mining in the Dunn Mountains, working for Mrs Archer at Tuna Bay, droving, working for the Mowat’s and Nana’s rose brought from Tuna Bay.  I read once that CA was one of the large Canvas town search party who helped to bring the Burgess gang  (the Maugautapu gold murderers ) to justice.  Like a detective, I have to test the credibility of “what’s most likely” weighing what I know of these people. It’s often small details like colours, names ,smells, textures and sayings that make a story ring true.

 I  went to Sunny Heights  with my mother, Alice, in 1944, aged two and remember  the scent of  lemon verbena, a rambling cottage garden, Grandfather sitting on a sunny veranda, lavender, daphne , a heap of  detritus under a lawsoniana wind break, gooseberries, farm dogs and hens.  Nana’s quick movement in a house which seemed to flow into a tousled  herbaceous garden from its front and side and opening back  to dairy, orchard, barns and the farm yard.   


 CAL died June 11th 1918 at age 94.

CA Leov with his signature pink rose lapel. 



In Those  Days.     Vivienne Bibby.


In the Antipodes

there was no guarantee

at Michaelmas a child

would out­-live Christmas.


The mitred sheet,

a crafted darn,

Shirts starched cleric stiff

were mastery of sorts.


Women found solace  

in the ministries of bread.

Reputations won

with soap and lost

with lazy milking .


And when a daughter’s

hair would stray or

signs of Uncle Tim

appear within a  son,

they’d say, “ We know not

if these things are sent

by providence or God.

But surely, tomorrow

will be a better day.”







Vivienne Bibby.



8D.  5 Clifford St, Surfers Paradise .

Gold Coast. QLD 4217.   Australia.


Photographs online.


Geni . Family tree.


Phone          0755384816

                    0408 195100







CAL was still in Creswick in 1861.    There are three mentions of him  in Creswick and Clunes news of an accident on Hard Hill and of  him a Mason in 1860.    I believe he arrived in NZ in 1865.

The German Charles  Nees family saved his life there  (He’d been seriously  ill with  typhoid  fever ) they became lifelong friends. CAL was godfather to the young Charles Nees who died in Cook Strait aged about 25.

( On Wednesday, the 13th inst., at Cambridge street, Creswick, Mrs Charles Nees, of a son. 15 Aug 1862 )

The  Creswick Gold Fields are now a great pine forest.

August Elbeck, (Albrecht) companion and musician and Charles Adolf and Otto Weisenhavern all ended up in Nelson.  Otto , a successful businessman, died young at sea enroute to Germany . Maybe about  age 37.

The Weisenhavern brothers travelled on the Goldfinder from Liverpool via Capetown to Melbourne 1853.  Few passengers survived  due to an epidemic onboard and the ship was quarantined  for weeks.

A Carl Weisenhavern was prominent in the Eureka Stockade. Was he related?

A legend that CAL, Weisenhavern and several other soldiers, swam a river when they escaped.

Pomeranians travelled by water in three massive emigrations through Lake Michigan, to Wisconsin.

New Zealand has a unique immigrant culture but has yet to recognise it with a Founder’s Day.  

Let’s start one.








Other Publications.

Queensland.  My Part in the Kiwi Invasion.          2007

A Medley of Extemporania.                                 2008

New Zealand. A Moveable Feast.                        2009

Before Our Time.           2010



1.  Thomas Sullivan.


SULLIVAN  .Among those who sailed from England for these shores in 1841, no one was better fitted to carry the olive branch of Odd Fellowship, and plant it in New Zealand, than the veteran Thomas Sullivan, who, during his fifteen years experience in England, had presided at the opening of thirteen new lodges, and who, in addition to having served the various lodge offices, had held all the District offices, and had also represented his District at the Annual Parliament of the Order.

“On the voyage out, in the ‘ Martha Eidgway,’ Bro. Sullivan associated himself with eight other Oddfellows, viz:—Bros. C. P. Kearns, A. M’Gee, E. Nicol, E. Cropper, J. Sigley, J. Hanley, G. Greathead, and A. Patterson, and they held several meetings on shipboard, at which it was decided to establish a lodge on arriving at their destination.

“The first meeting in Nelson was held on Thursday, 7th April, 1842, at 4 p.m, in the fern, about 200 yards below the present Saltwater bridge, and adjourned till the following Monday evening, when it was held in a tent lower down the beach, belonging to Mr. A. G. Jenkins. It was then resolved to apply through the Sydney District (as being the nearest) for a dispensation to open a lodge in connection with the Manchester Unity, to be called the ‘Stranger’s Refuge’ Lodge; but as it is a rule of the Order that no two lodges in the District can bear the same name, and as the pioneer lodge of the Sydney District was named the ‘ Stranger’s Refuge,’ they decided to name the lodge the ‘ Nelson’ Lodge.

“Until the arrival of the dispensation, which was the first granted to. a lodge in New Zealand, the meetings were irregular, but with the arrival of the proper books, &c., matters were at once placed on a proper footing, the lodge meetings being held fortnightly. With P.P.G.M. Sullivan acting as first Grand Master, good progress was made in the introduction of members; a great many of those who either then or in after years occupied prominent positions as public men, becoming members of the lodge.

“The Wairau massacre occurring on 17th June, 1843, caused a break in the ranks of the founders, Brother Eli Cropper being one of those who lost their lives on that occasion; and as a result of this sad occurrence, the present District Widow and Orphans Fund was originated. The money received from the Sydney District in aid of the Brothers who suffered at the Wairau massacre was partly devoted to assist the widow and child of Eli Cropper. page 186                         The Widow and Orphans Fund was started in 1845, as a voluntary society, and continued as such till 1874, when it was incorporated with the other benefit funds to which all members had to contribute.

“Owing to the absence of any banking institution in the early days, the system was adopted of lending the money to the members in small loans on personal security, and also in the purchase of cattle; but the experience of the Society showed that the plan was not a good one, and, on the introduction of banks, the rules prohibited any more investments of that character.

“Dissatisfaction having been expressed at the lodge meetings being held in a public house, as having a tendency to lead the members into the habit of drinking, it was decided to build a lodge-room. The foundation stone was laid with great ceremony on the 6th June, 1854, by his Honor the Superintendent, Mr. E. W. Stafford (now Sir E. W. Stafford). The first meeting was held in the new Hall on 3rd December, 1855. The cost of the Hall complete amounted to about £640, and from the above date till September, 1891, the lodge meetings were held there; but having served its purpose it has now been removed in order to make room for a new lodge-room in honor of the Jubilee.

“In 1846 it was decided to constitute Nelson a District, it being considered impracticable to continue the connection with the Sydney District. The first District officers chosen being:— Bro. R. Lloyd, Provincial Grand Master; Bro. D. Richardson, Provincial Deputy Grand Master; Bro. T. Sullivan, Provincial Corresponding Secretary. The first meeting recorded, being held at the Freemasons’ Tavern on the 5th January, 1847.

“It having been found from practical experience that Friendly Societies required the assistance of the law in carrying on their operations, it was decided to petition Parliament to bring into force a Friendly Societies Act, and steps were at once taken to get the necessary legal enactment carried; with the result that in a short time the Government succeeded in passing a Friendly Societies Act, under which the members can obtain proper security for their invested funds, besides other important privileges.

“In the Manchester Unity it is considered to be one of the highest honors (next to being elected a Grand Master of the Order) to have a portrait and biography inserted in the Unity Magazine. This honor was accorded to Nelson, in April, 1865; when the portrait and biography of Thomas Sullivan were inserted. Nelson was also represented at the annual Parliament of the Order, held in England, on two occasions, the first being held at Cheltenham, in 1868; and the second at Nottingham, in 1883. The representative on both occasions being P.P.G.M. Acton Adams.

Note 2.

“It must be conceded, on looking at the work done by the lodges of the Nelson District during the period dating from April, 1842, up to the date of the last furnished returns at June, 1891, that the most sanguine expectations of the nine men who started the Society cannot but have been realised to the fullest extent. Starting with only a few shillings cash in hand, the amounts paid for benefits during that period have been—for sick pay, £19,209; funerals, £3,415; widows and orphans, £4,991; making a total of £27,615. A very large amount has also been expended as medical benefits in addition to the above. The capital in hand amounts to £18,212. The adult membership is 783, and the junior membership 118.

“The progress thus depicted, as it is only a portion of the Friendly Society system existing in the Nelson locality, shows that the inhabitants are strongly imbued with habits of thrift, and are providing for the day of adversity.”

Note 3

From   Cawdor Parish Records Mackenzie: Duncan Mackenzie in Calder and Elizabeth Mann his spouse had their son named James born upon the 14th day of December 1803 and baptised 17th Currt. Wit. James McKenzie, the child’s uncle, James Mann, shoemaker, Calder, James McArthur of Boath.

JAMES MANN MCKENZIE Born : 14 December 1803 Place : Calder, Scotland Died : 01 June 1875 Place : Onehunga, New Zealand Father : Duncan McKenzie Mother : Elizabeth Mann Married : c1826 Place : Unknown ANNIE MCLEAN Born : c1810
Place : Unknown Died : 21 August 1883
Place : Turanga Creek, New Zealand Father : Unknown Mother : Unknown

            They  had  children

ELIZABETH MCKENZIE Born : 16 October 1828
Place : Drum of Clunes, Inverness, Scotland Died : 11 December 1907 Place : Taupo, New Zealand

DUNCAN MCKENZIE Born : 01 March 1830 Place : Newtown of Cawdor, Scotland Died : 07 July 1896
Place : Epsom, New Zealand

JULIA MCKENZIE Born : 08 April 1832 Place : Piperhill, Nairnshire, Scotland Died : 20 August 1912 Place : Waiomo, New Zealand

HUGH ROSE MCKENZIE Born : 02 June 1834 Place : Drum of Clunes, Inverness, Scotland Died : 02 May 1912 Place : Auckland, New Zealand

JAMES MCKENZIE Born : 14 June 1836 Place : Little Urchany, Scotland Died : Before 1842
Place :

MARY MCKENZIE Born : c 1841 Place  ? : Scotland Died : 28 July 1842 Place : on board the Jane Gifford en route to New Zealand

MARY MCKENZIE Born : c 1844 Place : Auckland, New Zealand Died : 12 June 1918  Place : Auckland, New Zealand

Place : Kawau, New Zealand Died : 12 July 1930 Place : Rai Valley, New Zealand

JAMES NORMAN MCKENZIE Born : c 1850 Place : Auckland, New Zealand Died : 07 March 1879
Place : Unknown . ( I weep for these babies,  so quickly replaced.)

Note       With regard to Charles Leov’s surname,  his grandson , Wattie Kenning  ( Walter Wentworth  Kenning , son of Emilie Leov.) said that his name was really von Falkenheim and that he was of “Royal Blood”. This has as yet not been proved.

A  “Falkenhayn” was found in another book entitled “Titled Nobility of Europe”.   This von Falkenheim family was pominent in Prussian military history.


Notes. A Charles Leov is mentioned in the Victorian Creswick and Clunes News when he rescued a child from a mine shaft in 1861. He also appears in that same year as a Mason.  He doesn’t appear anywhere in the Eureka Rising.  His friends, the German Nees family saved his life when he got  one of the illnesss that took so many lives in the Gold fields. (A generation later, his son Charles S Leov  and  Tim Turner   went to Coolgardie seeking gold. They trundled wheel barrows over fierce terrain from Perth  and both almost  perished with  Typhoid. My grandfather  came close to death.Tim told people when they got back home that men in Perth hospital considered terminal were moved ever closer to the door. ( For discreet removal.) “CS  got very very close  but in the end they both survived.” The intervention of telegraphed money helped get them back home.They became lifelong friends and  he became godfather to Young Charles Nees who died in Cook Strait  after his parents migrated to NZ. Nees had a hardware shop in Wellington  and quite recently there were  Nees living in Cuba Street.



Penquins find it  hard to know who’s who.

That  is why I wrote this book for you.


Queensland. My Part in the Kiwi Invasion. Vivienne BIBBY

17 Aug

Every author, however modest, keeps a most outrageous vanity chained like a madman in the padded cell of his breast. Logan Pearsall Smith (1865 – 1946)

No place affords a more striking conviction of the vanity of human hopes than a public library. Samuel Johnson (1709 – 1784)

I’ve been amazed at the memories lying dormant in my mind which have reappeared after constant defragging. Freud was right when he sketched our consciousness as an iceberg with the bulk of our psyche deep beneath the waves.

Now living in Queensland it’s like being on a high hill, looking back to a view where time has softened the edges. Seeing characteristics in myself and others and the amendments we have made along the way and deciding that life is more comedy than tragedy. Yet when seen in the beautiful blush of evening, we realize with delicious knowledge, that being alive to the universe and that loving is everything, and it will be over all too soon.


Falling Into Queensland .

I opened the ranch slider quietly and stepped out barefoot onto warm ceramic deck tiles. It was midwinter in Brisbane, Queensland, 1995 and I stood there in my white lawn nightie looking at frangipani trees and a small forest of chattering palms in the Northgate Motel garden.There was little evidence of a gardener, yet in some form of random order; fat hibiscus buds were  jostling to be the first to open. 

Yesterday our 767 had scrambled to get above Wellington, the capital city of New Zealand, out of the grip

of a fierce Saturday southerly. We could see the Brooklyn windmill working hard. The wind was bullying the capital again and we knew it did not want we pale and aged passengers to escape another punishing August. This was a test run for a month with no car to see if we could live in Queensland.

Wellington is a stunning village city, full of books, cutting edge ideas, coffee and life. It has a harbour to die for and a world class Arts Festival, but you need strong bones and a good salary to insulate you against its legendary winds. Though not quite up to the 210 MPH experienced in the Outer Aleutians, we have landed at Wellington airport in 140Km winds and as with Bournemouth in England, it can be rather bracing.
I remember the very moment I’d fallen in love with Queensland the year before. It was on the Broadwater, cruising to Sanctuary Cove. The still water shimmered in pink-gold sunlight; every surface shone, giving the scene the glossy clarity you see in European cinema camera work.

Light, water and air were in a harmony that was  like a dream. The world glowed, people laughed much of the time and all the
flowers had attitude. Hey, we have only a day to live, so let’s go for it and
they do, in abandoned shades of crimson, hot pink and electric yellow. There’s
nothing shy or retiring about Queensland
flowers, birds- or the people or the young for that matter.

The State bird could well be the glossy crow, the
currawong, with its large repertoire of song. Few know that couples of these
birds, rear, often two large and greedy Channel-billed
Cuckoo chicks, twice the size of the foster parents. Often losing half
their body weight, feeding screaming chicks, whose parents migrate to
north-eastern Australia from  New Guinea and Indonesia each spring?
Are  we Kiwis rather too similar to these cuckoo chicks?

Some years before, when my asthma was  out of control, my husband, Jim, had said,“You
know, we can live anywhere.’ I  wasn’t going to mention health but I’ll tell you so when faced with serious
illness yourself you’ll persevere and find the right medication. No matter how
much you love your doctor, get a second opinion.

A Kelburn doctor was shocked at my high  cholesterol, so I went on a virtually no fat diet.  I was surprised at my cholesterol being high,
a semi- vegetarian who never eats puddings or cream. So I substituted yoghurt
for oils and butter and had fat- free bran muffins three times a day for 6 months
and did get it down from nine point two into the eights, but I became very thin
and it set off uncontrolled asthma. As a recovered anorexic I liked being trim
but was horrified that my bra size didn’t change. I mean how do you ever get
rid of that fat?

I  did think I was on the way out for some time there.  However, a Napier friend, Diane Goodbehere, who
worked for the Asthma Society came to Wellington  for a film Festival and bossed me into finding the right medication.

“There are hundreds of remedies and you  have to find the right one,” she insisted and she was right.  I found some different puffers, one of which  was Foradile, and after struggling to breathe night and day, decided
cholesterol was the least of my worries. Having butter on my toast, and the odd
potato chip seemed to relax the tension and pain in my lungs. Discovering what
my body reacts to, like humidity and cold, not to mention salicylates the
substance which is pretty much makes food taste good, also helped. Steroids
help me breathe still.

Our daughter Meg, who has always had a  head for diagnosis, has suggested that our bodies need some fat to function
well and I agree with her. HRT took the cholesterol down one whole point and
Lipitor has done the rest. I hate anyone seeing the cache of drugs in my vanity
bag, but I’m alive, “On the right side of the grass,” and that’s all that  matters.

To be told you can live anywhere is a great  thing to happen to you. It was the cherry on the top of the cake of my
recovery. Could we go to big, bold and beautiful United States? We could buy a second
hand Winnebago and explore forever! Run a Bed and Breakfast in Sutter Creek? I
don’t care about antiques enough.Spain? I felt a deep connection with that arid
land, but would I cope with relocation in a second language, I get confused
enough in English. What about France,
with its back gardens full of chicken coops, spinach and rabbit hutches? Italy. Portugal, Morocco,
Red wine for breakfast – Not for us and Europe is a very long way and we know about
their long grey winters however hard they pretend it’s jolly on their Christmas

I’d read  about people like Dirk Bogarde who left  England to grow olives in Southern France, and the Durrell family who settled
in Corfu and made it famous. Carol Drinkwater has written about the pitfalls
she faced restoring an organic olive farm in Provence. Marlena de Blasi writes about hectoring
Italians to use their ancient community bread ovens in  Tuscany,
yet the books tend to made light of the difficulties adapting to Mediterranean
customs, and long drawn out procedures when renovating a house. I knew that
both Jim and I were worn out from the physical demands of forty years farming.

Times have changed since the 1930s when
Lady Fortescue rebuilt her rustic cottage in Provence and planted nasturtiums and
lavender. She had to allow enough room for cook, chauffeur and caretaker. The
gardener didn’t need a room because he came in daily. Yet there is a warning
thread running through the stories of Peter Mayle and others who write with wry
humour about the demands and frustrations of taking root in a foreign country.
It’s certainly not sunshine all the way.

was a gift therefore to be able to dream of lemon groves and weathered pink
stone cottages in far places. What a way to recuperate, learning to paint in Tuscany yet like golf
and playing Bridge, it’s a dream I couldn’t ever do. Our children were
independent and we needed a change. “Let’s go to Queensland and pretend it’s a long holiday.
After all it’s very like aNew Spain.” So, toQueensland we went.

Through the long months finding a tenant
for our house in Kelburn, I read all I could and spent time studying the Courier
and The Australian at the library. One mistake we made was not
putting the quality furniture and linen into storage. Six years of tenants did
a lot of damage but most expatriates living in Queensland tell the same story about the
huge cost of relocating across the Tasman.

What was funny was that the people who
gave us a hard time about leaving New Zealand were the people who
didn’t like us. Maybe they thought we’d had far too much happiness already and
this was plain greedy. “How could you be so selfish?” was the main theme.” I
could never leave my grandchildren.” Yet I knew my grandchildren were in the
best of hands; my own children- their parents.

I  have been blessed with children with generous spirits. Typically, Meg said, “It
doesn’t matter where you live, because people live in your heart where-ever
they are.”  Those  who live far from family find this to be true. I talk to my family and friends
in my head all the time, some of it ending up as email and the rest as stories
read onto tape for the grandchildren. There is a knack to long-distanced
grandparenthood. I have sent so many letters and audio-tapes that the big boys
Max and Scott have to stop me regaling them with past mischief.

“You  told us that before Muffa.”


“You   know, on the tape when you told us about the man who ran over the hoods of all
those cars in hob nailed boots.”

Meg  has told me there were nights in Brooklyn where heard my bedtime stories emanating from
closed doors on both sides of the hall.”

your voice sounds different to on the tape.” Scott said.

“It  could be me or it could be the recorder.”

A nod, “It’ll be the recorder.”

Going to live in Australia was  about freedom and weather, always a passion for Jim and me. Our early working
life had been hill country farming, in land similar to Wales, where hourly changes of light projected
mist and shadows on the Ruahine  Mountains. We watched the
skies and learned the many moods of cloud and the thousands of humours of the
winds. It was like living within a painting where the artist constantly changed
his mind. He would scrape off the blue and smear dark grey and conjure squalls
before you could snatch the washing in.

Winds rushing from the Southern Ocean  could get up enough speed to throw good-sized stones from the road below onto
our roof. It could rip new corrugated iron from sheds and slice into tree
trunks a mile away. Fog could engulf the house for days and a three-day wet
easterly could wipe out every unfound newborn lamb within a few hours.

Later,   down on the rich flat cropping land of
Te Aute in Hawkes Bay,  where the soil was rich reclaimed swamp, we helped it to bring crops into
being, despite drought and flooding. New Zealand is succulent, young and
fertile and the air is often fortified with ice. Just perfect for grass, dairy
cows, potatoes, apples, stone fruit and healthy children.

This is why we still marvel at the   climate of Southern Queensland. It’s not just
summer time, when the living is easy, we tell Kiwi friends. When it’s sultry, a  dressed salad can curdle before your eyes and paper in the printer collapses,
but in winter the washing dries while you shower. We can sleep with windows
wide open. There are electrical storms that would frighten the devil himself
and our seas are full of preposterous creatures.

“Two dangerous  and exceptionally grumpy Australian Saltwater crocodiles Scar, from Darwin, and
Goldie, from Cairns,  are the first of their species to be flown across the Tasman. The duo broke
their head restraints mid-flight, thrashing so hard that the Hercules plane,
(the only aircraft deemed large and sturdy enough to transport the monster
predators) shuddered and shook.”It got pretty exciting on board, that’s
for sure,” said John Dowsett, general manager of Auckland’s Butterfly Creek Zoo, which the
crocs now call home.” The plane was shaking and the pilot turned to me and said
`that’s your crocs having a bit of a go’. “We gave them  a muscle relaxant to calm them down, and that
seemed to work, but boy, are they powerful.”You can see why we needed the
Royal New Zealand  Air Force on this job.”


Holidaymakers wear light clothing in Queenslandand walk with
happy feet. There is a price living with high summer humidity, but we adapt.
And guess what?

Queenslanders respect their oldies. It’s  rather charming to be called “darling” by beautiful young things and further,
the young know the words to all our old songs.

To misquote Robert Herrick, we know that here  we,

Gather   gardenias while we may

Old   time is still a- flying.

And  this same flower that smiles today

Tomorrow  will be dying.


Welcome to Queensland.

   Brandy for the Parson, ‘Baccy for the Clerk.
Them that asks no questions isn’t told a lie –
Watch the wall, my darling, while the Gentlemen go by!

I’d been in Queensland for a number of weeks when I drove from Miami
to the Brisbane Customs depot, a mile from the Airport, to pick up my desktop
computer. In several phone calls to Qantas in Wellington prior to my departure they had
told me that by far the best option was to send our two tea boxes of effects
and the HP Pavilion ahead as freight.

I parked and entered the low building. Two men at the counter exchanged glances when they heard my name.

“Just a minute,” said one and ran back down the passage. There were a few moments pause and then a Sumo- sized woman appeared at the door and proceeded slowly towards me.  I could tell by the sway of her body I was in trouble.

“Mrs Bibby?” she boomed.

“Yes.” I yelped.

“Are you expecting to pick up a computer?”

“Yes.” Feebly .

“Did you pack it yourself?” Meekly. ”Yes .”

’Yikes.  How many kilos of crack or ice would fit inside my big monitor, I thought as I
envisioned myself incarcerated within the Sir David Longland Prison for twenty

“Why did you send your cargo on a separate aircraft?” “Qantas told me it would cost me less.”

“You know there will be a large duty to pay. If you had brought it over on the plane with you it would have been A $150.” Her four
jowls quivered with pleasure as her two male subordinates sniggered. “We can’t
have people like you threatening our computer industry.” I stopped myself asking,
“What computer industry?” Her parting comments were, “If you can’t pay, the
computer will be destroyed.”

It being less than a year old I had to pay almost $700 and it had to be in cash. Why hadn’t I lied about its age and value? The giggles I
heard as I left to find an Eftpos machine at the airport were because they’d
caught yet another stupid Kiwi who didn’t know how the brown envelope game is
played here.

It’s only fair for me to mention that customs officials are as essential
here as anywhere.  In June 2005 an Australian woman was arrested for attempting to import banned tropical marine
life. Customs officials became suspicious when they heard “flipping” noises
coming from underneath a woman’s skirt as she arrived atMelbourne airport.

“Customs officers became suspicious about pickled fish fillets inside jars
found in the passenger’s luggage,” Adelaide Customs officials said.
“Closer inspection revealed a number of condoms sewn inside the fish
pieces.” Australian Federal Police examined the fish and removed 39
condoms containing more than two kg of heroin.

A woman’s elaborate scheme to smuggle drugs into a Brisbanejail was uncovered by a sniffer dog.
Marijuana had been placed inside a balloon that was smeared with coffee, Vicks
VapoRub and black pepper. The bizarre-smelling concoction was tucked away
inside the woman’s bra.

Another customs officer arrested a woman who had tried to smuggle 75 live
snakes in her bra. The officers became suspicious when they noticed how the
woman kept scratching her chest.  They didn’t say if her name was Cleopatra.

Costly blunders are a common story among expats who live here. Information so blithely
given is so often wrong. It can end up making the transplant to Queensland both
traumatic and costly. I think it happens in most countries. The trouble is we
think of our two countries as so close we feel that it shouldn’t happen. We
think they should love and welcome us and in a way they do, but there’s always
the fear of invasion from you know where.

The tickets I’d bought from Qantas in April were valid for a year. In August I rang to check they were valid. I rang two weeks running just
t be sure.” Not a problem.” said both lady consultants. “It’s noted on  your file.”

When I rang in December I was told the tickets had expired
for they had been valid for only six months. They had the details of my calls
on their computer yes, but didn’t I know that phone calls don’t count.  I should have presented myself in person. I
know now that instead of raging at home, I should have made a scene at Qantas
reception because that’s the way it works here. You don’t take “No” for an
answer and the more fuss you make the more seriously you’ll be taken. The first
answer you get from any Government agency is always negotiable and you have to
learn to barter and argue until you come to an arrangement. I know a woman who
plays them at their own game and gets constant pay-outs by being threatening
and determined.

Take our recent model  Corona  car. We could not get accurate information at the NZ end and decided once we
arrived we could find out about customs duty. No one could give an answer.
Phone calls to Brisbane and Canberra proved futile; leaflets were
ambiguous, and email and letters went unanswered but we knew that our car, not
being Australian- assembled, could attract a high duty.

“We don’t people like you threatening our car industry,”
said one official. This I now know was meant to be the start of a teasing
debate. I disappointed the man by refusing to play.

Then one of my mature computer students told me he was an
assessor at the Brisbane Wharfs.

“Just tell me the boat, the date of arrival and I’ll see you
right,” he said. “I’ll be there and give you a low valuation.”

Being sceptical Kiwis we couldn’t believe this was true, let
alone lawful, but the dear man genuinely wanted to help. We declined and he
withdrew, hurt at our ingratitude. This is how it works over here.

Before we left Wellington
we were told to dump all our furniture and start again. “Rubbish.” I thought,
but the advice was right. Little integrates here, although there are many units
crammed tight with family antiques. Years later I have only a few sentimental
items. The scale is wrong for a start and with so many floor to ceiling windows
where do you put the chiffonier? It’s hot and you have to l think cane, glass
plastic that will be durable in salt and humidity. I sometimes think if we had
got the Wellington Salvos to take everything from our Central Terrace, Kelburn
home it would have cost us less and benefited others more.

We took six years to buy in Queensland.
We knew that living in an apartment has many variables, so we lived in
six buildings before we signed on the dotted line.  Through air, good ventilation, easy access,
winter sun, storage, thick walls so you can’t hear fights or toilets flushing,
pleasant staff, reliable lifts, no road noise, a good sinking fund and even
permission to have air-conditioning can make all the difference. Some buildings
have a miserable culture and you can’t know until you live there. There are
some that have become vertical rest homes with elderly residents shuffling
about in dressing gown and sloppy slippers and others that house drug
lords  and others who relish the

We had five months in a five star resort next to the owner
of a nightclub. His parties started at 2 a.m. and went until midmorning. The
noise made the walls and my computer monitor quake in fear.  I was alone when Jim was in England once
when I wandered out at 4 am in my nightie to find a group playing baseball in the
lift foyer.

“Sorry Ma’m,” they said, “Did we wake you?”  No doubt the sight of my wild hair scared
them as much as their dilated pupils frightened me.

When they were evicted they had a 48-hour eviction party.
The damage in their unit had to be seen to be believed; the owner immediately
put the unit on the market.

We found that being a tenant identifies you as a loser, even
those who pay $1800 per week at Main
Beach. It’s generally
reckoned that tenants are dirty, do drugs, skip leaving damage, unpaid rent and
so they are never invited to social events. Tenants belong to a class of
undesirables. It’s all part of the black/white belief system people subscribe
to in public, but in private, like everyone, they make exceptions for people
they know and like.

We found it impossible to get more than a six month term,
partly because the agent got a week’s fee each time he let the property and
also because the owner wanted the freedom to sell at any time. Tenancy law
offered no protection because managers in buildings would not stand up to
owners for fear of losing them from their letting pool.

Some experiences of renting. We had two sets of keys but
once managed to shut both sets inside on the table. The only solution was a
locksmith at $100 a call-out, said the receptionist. “I saw a complete set of
keys for the building in a large shallow drawer.” Could we please have the
spare set?”

“We hold no spare keys.” When the locksmith arrived I stood
to greet him and watched the receptionist slip the spare keys over the counter
into his hand.

We had rented another  apartment for two years when the owner rang to say she’d like to make a visit.
How nice, I thought, as I set afternoon tea for her. She walked in, trailing a
young couple. She set off through the unit saying. “This is where the bedrooms
are,” totally ignoring us.  When we protested, the managers said the owners
could do anything they liked.  Once I had to phone the owner about a vacuum
cleaner. “I’m sorry,” I said, “but I don’t know your name.

“You don’t need to know my name. Whadya want?” he replied.

I saw an apartment advertised and rang and was told the  price and the fact it could be sold only to investors who would rent it out
through them. The next day we saw it with another company as an Open Home. We  found that anyone with the cash could buy it and the price was $8,000 less- we  bought it.

If you come to live here most of your Kiwi clothing doesn’t
work and it’s not just the climate. It’s day/ bare/casual and dress up evening
but you have to keep the camel coat, leather boots and wool sweater for Christchurch . Telephones
and postage cost more and if you become a citizen, though no one tells you at
the time, you are meant to get an Australian passport. It’s common to be lifted
from the customs queue to be asked why as an Australian citizen you use a NZ
passport.  Get one.

My first hairdresser told me you have to know a lot of  people to survive in Queensland.
She barters her skills for electrical, plumbing and motorcar repairs. Those who
come over knowing no one, and not earning within the economy, make many
mistakes. It’s a lot about Kiwis not understanding how determined you have to
be with Government Departments. We give up at the first No and don’t realise
it’s a sport similar to bartering in Asia. I
have found that individual officers have great flexibility if pressed.  One woman told me that when all other means
fails she cries. When you hear of wealthy people paid welfare benefits, you
realise they just know how to work the system.

A young Perth  woman told me of a house sale where they discovered that a patio they’d added
was noncompliant.  This collapsed the  contract. The lawyer acting for them said,” I am sure the other parties could
be persuaded by the contents of a fat brown envelope,” and so the sale came to

The most dramatic story is of business friends who were  buying the management rights to a large building. On the day prior to
settlement their lawyer said. “You are twenty thousand short. Never mind, I can
put it on your credit card.” The couple demurred and went home to recalculate
their figures over the weekend. All was correct, so at 8 30 on the Monday they
were at the lawyers door. “That’s fine.” he said, and the deal went through.

When you get a group of expats together the talk invariably  turns to. “How it was moving over the Tasman.” There is no doubt we  green and many of us, far too trusting.

We all admit it cost far more than they expected. The  Australasian kinship we fondly imagined is not a given. When you think about it,
we should keep telling Australia  how grateful we are that they will let us in.

Part of the problem here is the lack co-operation between
Government agencies. New
Zealand is so small we just about know
everybody. (There are only eleven people in New Zealand!) It’s harder to get
away with a felony when the victim knows your father.

An area to watch for is in medicine and dentistry. The good
doctors are booked out and that leaves room for quacks. We had spent quite a
few thousand dollars before we twigged that our smiling dentist had quite a
good thing going with an orthodontist. A fare to Wellington confirmed our suspicion that we
were being taken. The same thing happened with the first doctor where every
visit resulted in some new procedure, test or X-ray to the tune of hundreds of
dollars every visit.

Let me say that we have since found an outstanding doctor
and a decent lawyer.

However, immigrants have always been ripe for the picking.
People born here build up trusted networks. I want to assure you that the bulk
of business here is run by honest people but it takes a while to sort the wheat
from the chaff. If you are carpeting, keep a sample so you don’t get an
inferior quality laid.

One final warning and I am sorry to say this. Don’t,
whatever you do, carry valuables in your check- in luggage and don’t buy
expensive luggage. The unions will not allow surveillance cameras in the
baggage handling areas, so small items like phones, electronic games and
cameras go missing frequently, it’s like compulsory tipping. Last time it was a
book, The Cat who came for  Xmas,” and two tiny soft toys.

I ask you?

I often meet Maoris and love their tummy laughs. This was
told to me with a big grin so I want to share it.

Rangi was standing on the doorstop watching Tama collecting the rubbish . As Tama went by he yells out to Rangi

“Hey bro where’s you bin”??  Rangi replies, “I bin in Australia”

“NO” replies Tama ,”where’s yous Wheelie Bin”?

“Oh, I wheelie bin in jail, but I tell people I bin in Australia!”

 3. Difference.

A common topic with Australasians  is trying to fathom why two nations so closely situated can feel so different.
Yet when you reduce the analogy back to the family unit it’s easy to see how siblings can have widely differing views and values.

Each time I stand in silence at 6  pm at the Returned Services League as we honour our mutual War dead, I can’t
help my mind drifting to the interlinked histories of Australia and New Zealand. How close we came to
being one Nation, how much we share and how there is scarcely a family without
someone living “across the ditch.”

How passionately we deliberate  these mysteries, yet to the outsider we are so alike. Most of us mistake
Canadians for Americans and they feel just as irritated at the mistake. It is
amusing to think why. I think the French and the English give scare thougt to their neighbours; but could be wrong.

Barry Humphries comes closest to  explaining the phenomena with his Madge Kiwi character. She is the bedraggled
sparrow, which contrasts Dame Edna’s garish galah, in huge diamante
spectacles.  Truth is plain white  T-shirts seem drab to a person wearing sequins on pants, hat and shoes. Our
speech is more soft pedal than concert grand. As the real estate marketer said
to me when he saw the size of the Wellington Public Library,

“Well, I suppose in your climate,  reading is all there is to do.”

How I wish I had remembered to say.

‘No civilization worth anything has been born
beside a beach,” 
but I can’t find who said it.

Author, Ian Grant  writing in The Other side of the Ditch (2001) suggests that Australians
feel indifference to their younger sibling, and “at most see New Zealand as  a minor irritant.”

True, but  it’s changing. Like with Camilla, we’ve been around for so long now that they
might as well accept and try to shape us to fit. We seem to be going to be a
fixture in Queensland.  Helen Clarke and PM John Key appear on TV news, and now The Lord of the
is a legend, we can all share the glory. I read a good review of Outrageous Forture, this week and
Channel Nine beams into Auckland.
A disproportionate number of contestants on Millionaire hailed from the
Shaky Isles and took home Australian dollars worth 20% more at home. For a
small country we have for too many opinions and are far too big for our
(Australian!) Ugg boots. Take Russell Crowe for instance born in Timaru and
like the Pavlova now an Australian product and who cares if the American’s call
their version Angel Food Cake?

As a Kiwi  living in Queensland,  I don’t feel indifference. It’s quite the opposite. Australians are at pains to
improve my manners and speech, my dress and just about everything so I can be
more like them. It’s a compliment when you think about it.

“If Kiwis   could just stop being so wet and wimpy, we’d be all right.”

“You  don’t wear cardigans to the pictures,” said a friend about my merino Trent
Nathan buttoned top.

As  with a younger child in a big family, my loving cousins want to set me


   4. Being Australian.

Humanity is composed but of two categories, the invalids and the nurses.        Richard Brinsley Sheridan (1751 – 1816)

One night, on radio talkback, a man rang to tell the story of the Great Air race held on 29th November 1934. It
was a race between London to Melbourne, if I heard correctly, and was won
by a British DC2, which did the trip in 72 hours of flying over 12 days.

The KLM entrant who, towards the end, was in the lead for the £15,000 prize, was caught in a freak storm over Albury NSW and
lost it’s way in the dark. Residents, hearing of the aircraft’s plight, parked
their cars with their headlights to light the big Albury racetrack and were
thus able to help the KLM plane down. This was, the caller said, “truly
Australian” and typical of the way Australians will help out anyone, “even the

The host and caller spent time agreeing that this characteristic typifies what they
called “Australian.” (They didn’t mention the criteria for being un-Australian.
I assume it would be to have let the plane crash.) Subsequent callers agreed,
saying that Australians are like that; always ready to help a mate. No matter
who or how undeserving the mate might be.

I couldn’t help wondering what they imagined other nations might do in a similar situation.

It reminded me of Barry Humphries’ comment that he always knows when flying back from Europe that he is getting near home by the increasing sound of Aussies slapping themselves on the back.

The word vainglorious springs to mind. Definition, Thinking highly of oneself: conceited, egoistic, vain, bigheaded, stuck-up, swellheaded. i.e. Human, us !


This doesn’t apply to individual Australians, who are all fantastic people, but it’s the way it can seem. I am happy to
report that it is changing and newspapers like the Sydney Morning Herald are now confident enough to publish stories that show Australians, like everyone else on earth, can have flaws.

As I write today the two Beaconsfieldminers have walked free from
their tomb under the earth. The story has every dramatic element needed to hold
us entranced.  We have watched two out of
three strong men prevail against the forces of nature.  We have learned what Hard Rock means and
taken the phrase,

“Five time harder than concrete,” into our lexicon. Big business has shown its human side with no mention of the costs
involved in this rescue. Hardened journalists have cried in front of the
camera, with one of the best of them, Richard Carleton, who died before their
eyes after asking a significant question about the safety of the site.  The solidarity of small communities has been
verified and we have seen physical and moral strength like that written about
by Homer. The real hero for me was the miner who defied orders and scrambled
back over the rock- fall into the mine where he heard the trapped men shouting
and hurried back to stop the blasting. Others squeezed bottled water and
blankets though a crack in the rubble. We have heard almost nothing of them but
maybe they are in the book.

It’s thrilling for us to be reminded that within every human, selflessness lies dormant. That’s why we feel elated, when we see the human spirit alive and well within us all. It’s a story of faith, hope and charity we all
respond to. I can’t help feeling that this is another turning point in
Australian history as we see how ordinary people will perform with respect, and
dignity when required.

There is something incredibly endearing about a nation as large, prosperous and let’s face it, great as Australia,
feeling the need for constant self-reassurance.

The trouble is that when we keep saying, “We are the greatest,” the rest of the world prays for our downfall. Luckily it’s
mostly in sport. If it was religion, we’d be in deep sheet.

“I support any team that’s playing Australia,” an Englishman whispered to me.

“They still call me a Pommie Bastard,” Bill sighed last Sunday, “and I’ve been an Australian longer than they’ve been
alive. Sixty-one years”

It’s as if we are in a constant state of astonishment at our own brilliance. Two centuries of luck just might not last
and then people will see us for what we really are. Pretty damn good, I reckon Mate. You’ve done real good.

Mark Twain said,

We’re always more anxious to be distinguished
for a talent which we do not possess, than to be praised for the fifteen we do

In the same week a film star, born in Timaru, who had been, transmogrified into
a born  Australian by winning, then reverted
overnight to his country of origin when newspapers reported his bad behaviour
in a New York hotel.

Recently the papers wrote of the delivery of a wrong body to Australia
after a mysterious shooting accident in Iraq. It embarrassed our Government
and left unanswered questions. Not one word about the suffering of the family
of the unknown man whose body arrived in Sydney,
until a fortnight later, when there was a one line mention that he may have
been Bosnian.

When a disaster is reported on TV the first question often asked is, “Were there any
Australians involved?” I am sorry to say, it can sound too much like, “Bugger
anybody else.”

I’m Australian, and have a certificate to
prove it. I weep with the crowd when I sing the National Anthem or The
Tenterfield Saddler
. I love Roy and HG, Kath and Kim, and can drive, speak,
drink and swear Australian and love this lusty country.

It’s a funny thing though that I didn’t notice any character change during my citizenship ceremony.  I would have turned my lights on for the KLM plane just like the Chinese, Indonesian,  cappella group, The Blenders, swore their
allegiance to Australia with me on that day.

It’s humanity, not nationality that matters.

A Tasmanian expat who lives in rural New Zealandhas upset Kiwis with
his blog site, says Kiwis need to learn to take a joke. He berates Kiwis as bad
dressers with boring cities and a serious inferiority complex.

The expat who remains anonymous “to avoid lynching” says Kiwis need to laugh at themselves more often.

“To Kiwis reading this,” he writes, “Don’t take it to heart, I
seriously love you guys. But you really need to work on your sense of humour.
It’s a piss-take, alright?

“To Australians: Everything I say is true.” He describes New Zealanders as, “Little hobbits in the
Shire who need to harden up or go home!”  ( but they are home you silly billy.)

Yoita says,“The Greeks calls us Donkeys, nasty word. It hurts.”

As for speech, British author and broadcaster Melvyn Bragg in his book, The Adventure of
English: writes;
“Through its soaps, its athletes and its writers, Australians now sound
the world over like a people unselfconsciously proud and totally confident in
the way they talk. Australian English sounds young, it has sap in it, there’s a
kick in the lines,” he writes. “It is not so much that it has found
its own voice . . . What it has done . . . is to throw off the shackles of the
old country while holding hard to the core of the language it gave them and
turning it Australia’s way.”

5.  No Worries. No Worries at All.

Don’t worry about  the world coming to an end today. It’s already tomorrow in Australia.  Charles M.
(1922 – 2000)


Geoffrey Blainey, the well-known Australian historian wrote of Australia that it was

 ‘a continent to be discovered emotionally. It had to become a homeland and feel like a home. The sense of
overpowering space, the isolation, the warmth of summer, the garish light, the
shiny-leafed trees, the birds and insects, the smell of air filled with dust, the
strange silences, and the landscapes in all their oddness had to become

There is a post card you can buy here in Surfers Paradise, which shows a map of Australia
superimposed on a map o fEurope. Darwin  sits between Denmark and Northern Sweden. Perth
sits out in the Bay of Biscay, Melbourne is in Turkey and Hobart is not very far from Cairo and Sydney’s
in the middle of the Black Sea. Most of England is in Western
Australia and Queensland takes up  a chunk of the Ukraine.
Australia is big, but empty.

The European sector of World War two could have taken place in the interior and unless someone in
Gippsland. was listening very hard and heard the guns of Gallipoli, far away to
the east of Tasmania, no one would have noticed. I jest, but how do you get a handle on such a Big
Country?  Anything could be still
discovered here, even a new mineral or genus. The Atlas o is our Bible, open on
the table every day. Next time you see a World map see how easilyAustralia could hide insideRussia

Just as man feels alone in the solar system, (and why
wouldn’t he when we can’t see 73% of the Dark Matter and don’t know what Dark
energy is up to,) it’s hard for Australians, or anybody for that matter, to
cope with the vastness of the country so they have to fantasise that it really
isn’t as big as it is.

Bill Bryson wrote about our habit of saying “No worries.” “No worries,” is a calming sort of thing to say and Australians say it a lot.

“Can I have a beer?”  “No worries mate.”

“I just shot my wife.”  No Worries.” It’s a Pooh bearish sort of thing to say and if Australia is
Pooh, as in,

“I feel like a little something.”  Then, New  Zealand is Piglet.

In fact when Mr. Bryson got to Far North Queensland it became, “No worries. No worries, at all.” However I
can’t help thinking that there is rather a lot to worry about. Bush fires, drought, the wet, crocodiles and snakes for a start, let alone the shortage of water, too many people  wanting to live here, seas chomping at our shores, heat and global warming. But
then, why worry. Archaeologists tell us there have been many droughts lasting
for centuries in the past and for all we know our interior could in time turn
to lush rain forests of long extinct trees and dinosaurs and unknown species
might spring to life.

Heavens, it happens out at Lake Eyrewhenever it rains up north. Within a few
months, fish and insects appear and plants bloom.  Pelicans, thousands of miles away sense the
change and like gold prospectors drop what they are doing and set off on their mighty
pilgrimage to South Australia  to breed.

If only we could make the Interior fertile.  My brother Murray Thomson suggests  letting water in by digging a grand canal from Torres  Strait through the Northern lowlands to one of the big rivers
running south. This great new sea, ( the name, The Howard Sea springs to mind,)
would be deep in many places, there would be  new islands and should surely alter our climate for the better, let
alone give us new territory to fight over. It could give us the longest
shoreline on Earth.  Think of what property developers could do with all that absolute beachfront. Would it be
saline like the Red Sea or some new consistency? Would it divide Australia
in two? My God, think of the cruises; then again think of the fights over what
to name the new electorates.  It’s a big responsibility for so few of us to care for such a big landmass.  We huddle around this enormous land atoll  clinging to the green bits, looking out over the terrifying great brown desert.
If only it was water we muse, at least you could sail on it or fish in it. Yet
the yearning to be close persists and thanks partly to the five networks of the
ABC radio and the Internet we do feel one people.

I expect most of us realise the treasure that is the ABC, but I can’t think of anywhere else that
is so closely bound every hour of the day by wireless.

“You are, we are  Australian”  and don’t let anyone forget it.  You may be in Torrens Creek with me in Broome but when we listen to Tony Delroy’s Challenge Quiz, to Dr Norman Swan or Trevor on National Radio Talkback, we could be next door.

“Where are you ringing from?” asks Tony. “Julia Creek.”

“I’ve been there.” He says, “Lovely place.” and likely as  not the next caller will have something to say about a snake getting tangled in
his Granny’s knitting in a tent near Julia  Creek. The next caller
will be from Katherine,” “Has the flood water gone down yet?

“Me sister drove up from Alice and is helping me mop out the shop. Can you say Hi for me to Hilda in Woop Woop?”

It may be someone looking for the words of a music hall song
or a skipping game they played sixty years ago. They can’t find it on Google.

All into together  This fine weather  when I call your birthday. You must jump in

Next night our island continent will cobble together all the
words to Simon Says and revisit Knuckle Bones. Someone from Weipa will serenade
the insomniacs of the Nation with “When Father Painted the Parlour.” and tell
us that Weipa, a town of 3000 is the largest bauxite mine in the world with deposits
that will last another 250 years.

A mystery one of you may solve is the story of the Carnegie
Library. I heard an old-timer tell years ago how he walked miles to
the “Institute” to sit reading under a tree on Sundays. It’s said that in the
1890s, when the town was booming, Cornelius Power, the resident officer in
charge of the Borroloola Police Station, decided to establish a library. He was
granted a small sum of money and duly ordered some books from Mudie’s Select
Library in London. From that point the story becomes blurred. It’s said that by the 1920s, the
library had grown to 3000 volumes. Some suggested that the books came from Lord
Hopetoun, the first Australian Governor-General.

Another theory is that the Carnegie Trust of USA was asked for some good
reading material. The library of books which arrived was initially housed in
the Court House but when it was demolished they were transferred to the local
lockup. The predictable joke is supposed to have become a reality when W. E.
(Bill) Harney was gaoled for six months for cattle duffing. Certainly Harney
went on to write a number of books and by 1958 he had been appointed official
curator at Uluru.

The library, known as the McArthur River Institute, has been spread far and
wide. Those books which weren’t destroyed by silverfish, cockroaches, mildew,
and the humidity , found their way into private collections or simply

One character of the time was Roger Jose, the Hermit of Borroloola. It was
said that he was the brother of the Dean of Adelaide. In 1916 he walked to
Borroloola from Cunnamulla in Queensland.
He lived in a shed at the rear of Tattersall’s Hotel until a cyclone damaged it
in 1938. He then rolled a damaged 1000 gallon tank from the hotel to the site
on top of the hill opposite the present clinic and, with his Aboriginal
companion, lived in it until his death in 1963. He was an eccentric who took
full advantage of the Borroloola library and reputedly knew vast sections of
Virgil’s Aeneid in Latin. He also had a good working knowledge of Shakespeare.

I recall some people in a Brisbane Hotel, telling me they were driving down from Cape York to Sydney and
on a whim decided to “pop in”  ( those were the words) on relatives out at
Longreach. That’s one hell of a detour, over 1200 kilometres, so I was glad to
hear their cousins were at home.

This country is so big, that a national conviction has
evolved that the distances are achievable; the Dry, the Wet, the isolation and
flies of the interior, bearable. We are one, we sing, and so it transpires for
thinking makes it so. It wouldn’t surprise me if the Australians could adapt to
breathing CO2 if they all agreed to have a go.

You have to believe before you see.”

This shared give-it-a-go mind-set is one thing that makes Australiaunique
for me .Where else outside China would people build a wall, Australia’s
own Great Wall, the “dingo fence,” a 9,600-kilometre barrier that
runs the length of the country, from sea to sea. And where else does a town,
Coobapeddy, let people  live underground  at a year-round  temperature of 25°  when outside it can reach 55°, and when a man
named Mcleod, built a 17-room house, he found enough opals during excavations
to pay for the entire place. Lucky country alright!

There are so many miracles  still waiting to be found in Australia.

Familiarity breeds – well familiarity. We love frightening  ourselves with stories of spider bites, hearing about divers evading sharks,
people being trapped for days in mines, tourists falling into 90ft mine shafts
, outback dragons that eat you,(I put that in to see if you were paying attention)
and children surviving poisonous jellyfish stings and divers swallowing them.

We are loyal to our heroes ( like the French) and when Steve
Irwin died we cried for the loss of an original larrikin and felt Terri, Bindi
and Bob were part of our family. If they go on to become the Camelot story of Australia, like
the Kennedy’s, they’ve earned it.

Is it the bigness that makes us want to wrap our arms around
Broken Hill, and draw Flinders and Christmas Island
to our collective bosoms? We’re not that keen on New
Zealand being towed north; we need those ski slopes and
scenery to stay right where they are so we don’t have to go to Europe. It’s also good to have somewhere cold to visit
other than Tasmania and see what white water and icebergs look like. A  man called Bob told me he’d recently visited
the lower South Island of New Zealand. He couldn’t understand why I hadn’t told
him about it.

“You don’t need to go to Switzerland.” He said. “As we drove
towards Mitre Peak lots of us on the coach were crying
at the beauty of it”

If you visit Hawaii you go round the island and it’s the same in Australia, it’s just a bit longer,
that’s all. A lady taxi driver I met, “drives around the block with her
mother,” as she says, every year in her van and it takes her about six weeks.

You want it all? Here it is!  You
can visit any corner of Australia
and travel on every sector of Greyhound’s network. Great Barrier Reef, Uluru,
Kakadu, Nullarbor and all the Capitals.

The Perth to Adelaide
sectors are on the Indian Pacific train.

Allow minimum 48 days for travel.

Distance: Approx 21,400 km 

Flexi: $2,827
Concession: $2,545     Grey Hound Advert.
No wonder some of these travellers stumble into the surf and drown.)

Just as the Muslim visits Mecca,  to walk around something, to call yourself a True Blue you should do the round
trip at least once in your life. In most cases it isn’t until retirement that
the trip is viable and so we evolve into grey nomads. The unhurried motoring of
oldies drives local truck drivers crazy but they would never dare suggest that
old codgers didn’t have the right to do the trip of a lifetime and hog the
road. After all, John Williamson’s song about, “Old Farts in Caravan Parks.” is
another of our National Anthems.  It doesn’t matter where we live or what we do, we choke up to hear Peter Allan
singing about the Tenterfield Saddler, he could have been our grandfather too
and we know about guns and family rifts. No matter where we come from we all
call Australia home and forget that the song was originally written for Air New Zealand
who were too silly to buy it.

And where else would you find a country that can embrace both eccentric expatriate
feminist,  Germaine Greer, who amazed us all by using Surfside  buses while
staying here at the Versace Hotel and singer/dancer Danni Minogue who said,

Since  I’ve been in Playboy myself in Australia, I love it, and I think it’s really
empowering and positive towards women, which is not a view that many women
  That’s big.

As comedienne Sarah Silverman remarked to the melon boobed babe at Playboy Mansion,
who said, “I’m doing it for myself.”    “You’re not!”

I wonder if in Europe they have a postcard where they superimpose their countries on an outline ofAustralia.

I think not, as they live secure in the knowledge that they are where it’s at, while we until now have felt far from the centres of
civilization.  Still, no worries, no worries at all.

No distance of place or lapse of time can lessen the friendship of those who are thoroughly
persuaded of each other’s worth.

Robert Southey
(1774 – 1843)

 6. Carefully Taught.

Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so too.    Voltaire.


In Neville Shute’s great book on tolerance, The Checker Board, southern white American soldiers are aghast at Cornish girls going
walking with coloured boys during World War Two.  Foreign Minister, Arthur Caldwell’s remark in Parliament in
1947,“Two Wongs don’t make a white,” summed up a white Australia policy then, and there
are plenty of people who still believe it true. Rogers and Hammerstein wrote in
their show, South Pacific.

You've got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made
And people whose skin is a different shade
You've got to be carefully taught
You've got to be taught before it's too late
Before you are six or seven or eight
To hate all the people your relatives hate
You've got to be carefully taught.

think at a reptilian level we all fear difference, yet at the same time it
beguiles us. In Animal Farm, Orwell’s shrewd pigs invent seven commandments,
which were later modified. Whatever goes upon four legs, or has wings is a
friend. No animal shall wear clothes or sleep in a bed, Whatever goes upon two
legs is an enemy. No animal shall drink alcohol. No animal shall kill another animal.  All animals are equal. “Four legs good.
Two legs bad.

how pleasant it can be let other people do as they will and not feel
responsible for their spiritual or moral futures.  We just might not have it right ourselves.!

It was Helen Keller who said ;

The highest result of education is tolerance.

 Yet the very word tolerance suggests a distance so perhaps the better term should be
approvance.  My mother said, time and
time again,” Let people live.”

What is  unhelpful in current thinking is the notion that, ”we teach people how to treat

We’re  told to put bullies in their place.”  We,  the victims, are said to encourage our tormentors. We’re told to negotiate
boundaries   “ during peace times, and to agree to have a consequence if these boundaries
are crossed.” Dr Phil.

Yet,  when I get into a lift with a drunken man with a broken bottle, I’ll look
mindlessly at the wall until I reach my floor. If confronted with a gun I’ll
assume it is a real gun and become quiescent.

You don’t have  to be sensitive to be offended by things people say. The answer to someone who
suggests you are, “too sensitive” is to suggest that they could possibly be,
perhaps a little IN-sensitive.

In their book, He’s  not that into You, Greg and Tuccillo Behrendt suggest men don’t want to
tell women when they’re not interested and women don’t want to hear it
anyway.  I think it’s the same with  people generally. We like the ‘idea’ of loving everybody but its’ harder in
practice. Many people mistake owning for loving. It’s the same with countries.  If they’d just BE like us, there wouldn’t be any war.

It isn’t your  yellow teeth, your paunch, the way you hold your knife or your garlic belch. .

“They’re just  not that into you.”

As  a natural melancholic, I have forced myself to see life as a farce because it
seems that the people who get closest to truth are the comics. Monty Python,
for example, offers profound truths. I was bemused when a grandson requested The
Life of Brian
for his ninth birthday but glad he already sees life as

Those  like Jay Leno, Bill Meyer, Catherine Tate and Larry David can walk through
subjects littered with landmines, because they make us laugh.

Just  imagine- A World Summit where the delegates tell jokes and decisions decided
upon the magnitude of laughter? Jonathon Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels should be taught
in kindergarten. Infants would get the message right away.

One  of my sons believes that the world is divided in two, those who feel they have
to subdue others to get ahead and the rest who believe in co-operation. My
bottom line for the human condition is simpler still. Would a person make some
effort to save me if I was drowning? Could I live with them if stranded on a
desert island? I think most people die affronted by the fact of their
mortality. Stuart Wilde has said death was the greatest insult to the human
ego. Life is damn short in comparison with things like stars or even tortoises,
but it’s better than the alternative.  It
is better to have lived – short than never to have lived at all.

Astrophysicists  say that that when the Universe collapses, it will be at an atomic level and
that means us and everything being downsized.

I  think Adam was not such a red- hot negotiator or maybe God was hard of
hearing.  Our life span may have been
meant to be three score years times ten. Not plus. Whatever!

As Eric Idol wrote;

And remember when you’re feeling very small
and insecure

How amazingly unlikely is your birth

And pray that there’s intelligent life somewhere up in space

Because there’s bugger all down here on Earth.


  7  The Fickle Finger of   Fate.

The core values of Australian be seen at the Returned Services League.

Unlike the RSA in New Zealand,  the RSL is a family-oriented organisation which offers a casual pub- like
atmosphere, with home cooking scents. It is fiercely policed, but open to all
ages. Australians felt far closer to the conflict and the fact is, they were.
The decision of soldiers returning after War to their respective countries
symbolises the essential differences. In NZ women and children were not to be
invited to a place that served alcohol perhaps because many of those servicemen
had signed the Pledge for Temperance Mothers. I am told that this is changing.

New Zealanders, primarily Protestant, and hence unable to confess, seem to me to harbour more shame than
their more light-hearted cousins. Australians seem to have embraced a more
Mediterranean/European outlook towards amusement and pleasure. “You can’t take
it with you. Enjoy life now.”

After Boxing Day 2004,  suspended high in the stairwell in the Surfers Paradise RSL Club, was hung a large
red bucket. On it was written “Tsunami Appeal.”

The object was for patrons to toss a gold coin and see if they could get it into the bucket.  It sums upQueensland for me.

If they miss, will someone pick it up from the stair below, and if so, will they have a go at tossing it into
the bucket? Will you decide to keep the coin or make it a donation?

Why not make the donation fun  and add some sport to charity?

The self-proclaimed, ‘Most Generous Nation on Earth,’ as we all do, likes the chance to get its money
back. Since we read that half the money didn’t reach the tsunami victims, who
can blame us. Gambling is embedded in the culture here. When I came to Queensland, I was
startled to see churches with banners saying “Bingo Here Tuesday.” Every
organization has its door draw and the meat tray and the alcohol raffle is a
fixture everywhere.

The Surfers RSL Club is right  in the centre of Surfers Paradise opposite the Transit Centre and surrounded by
email cafes, Pearl Tea shops and launderettes. Up the escalator, past the Asian
Supermarket and you are signed in. It’s cool and clean inside the dim clubroom.
The eternal flame is electric now but when the Ode is said and the Last Post
plays at 6 pm every night, everyone stands and remembers the War dead. It’s
such a friendly accepting place, where people enjoy a chin-wag.

Alan Vallens plays tunes we all know on the baby grand and after a few beers will jazz things up and sing in his
inimitable way. Worth seeing, people stop eating to watch.

There’s a large map of the Battleof the Coral Sea where grandparents can show their
grandchildren just how close the Japs got to Cairns
and like as not, they’ll tell about the bombing of Darwin. The rest of the world may have
forgotten the Brisbane Line, but Queensland
has not. Every oldie has a story to tell about when the Americans were
stationed here. My friend Nancy’s children lived in New Farm and played in the
park with General McArthur’s kids. David Malouf writes about this era in his
great poem. The year of the Foxes.

Inside the club the Keno screen
flicks every few minutes giving us all a chance to win $2.4 million, The win is
limited to $5 million should you bet more than the usual dollar. Many use the
six spot option and bet twenty cents, but it’s a risky business. How will you
live with yourself if the whole six numbers come up and you hadn’t risked a

The other TV screen runs gloomy
ads for Metropolitan funeral directors but not for one of the newer companies
which dashes about the Gold Coast in a shiny black people-mover advertising, From
Here to Eternity
.  Fortunately the
spine-chilling White Ladies don’t advertise.

Recently there has appeared a picture of a
bidet attachment that fits ordinary toilets.
How else could we know where to find such things? There are also TV
slide adverts for the Australian Shooting Academy, a Jean Harlow look- alike
wanly brandishing a handgun.

“Guns,” shouted my grandsons, when aged four
and six.

“Can we have a go?”

The grandmothers who lunch here
wear discreet earrings, for though it’s a six dollar-dollar roast, it’s nice to
give the pearls an outing. Although most heads are gray, one sports a shock of
magenta hair.  Most wear bright floral
skirts or blouses bought from Target because there are so many grandchildren to
buy for now and the days of getting away with a book for a birthday are well
past. These are Battlers who have learned to tailor their pleasure to their
means and all love a good old cackle.

One man, wearing an RSL badge
is annoyed because the group of overseas students has jumped the queue and some
of the boys are wearing caps. It is not what would have happened in his day,
but the young need to eat quickly to catch their buses to Griffith
or Bond Universities and figure he has all the
time in the world. It’s true, but, all the same, where’s the respect? Hat’s
used to be a man’s accessory, to be dipped and removed indoors.

All the girls have dark eyes  and lustrous black hair. It’s a group from Brazil today, the waitress tells
us. So that’s what the language is, Portuguese. They are well dressed in cotton
designer T’s and poplin cargo pants. Solid colours and designer logos display
their privileged status. The boys are drinking beer from schooners while the
girls drink water. Two Asian girls drink beer from bottles and smile.

And here is a frail elderly man with his  pretty Thai partner. A logical symbiosis this, saving the cost of rest home
accommodation,( which is A $90,000 per year, plus,) and allowing him to stay in
his own home. It will win his attractive companion Australian citizenship. In
time the gene pool of Australia  will be deepened when the attractive and possibly moneyed, widow marries
another Australian. The staff flit by; slim in  black hipster jeans, and the manager moves to ask the boys to remove their
caps. They do, full of apologies. The elderly share a carafe of white wine, and
eye the beautiful students. The young are still absorbed in each other.

I think of lines from
Shakespeare’s verse, The Passionate Pilgrim.

  Crabbed age and youth cannot live together:
  Youth is full of pleasance, age is full of care;
  Youth like summer morn, age like winter weather;
  Youth like summer brave, age like winter bare.
  Youth is full of sport, age's breath is short;
  Youth is nimble, age is lame;
  Youth is hot and bold, age is weak and cold;
  Youth is wild and age is tame.

You can hear the Queensland shop girls
arrive, laughing. They have big hoop earrings and rolling landscapes of flesh.
Their proud brown tummies unselfconsciously overhanging brief jean skirts.

Five surfers come in and prop  their long boards against the wall beside their table. They have the distinctive
weathered brown skin, with crisp curly hair faded from hours in the salty
spume. The lusty young seem comfortable to be in the company of their elders,
who still have, as Shakespeare said, some  of the salt of their youth left in them.

The RSL clubs of Queensland, and Surf  Clubs for that matter, are not so much central as pivotal in community life,
very like the municipal barbeques. The emphasis is on family fun, National
pride and a place where every man Jack is as good as his master. The larger the
crowd; the better the fun.

I am reminded of Linbaba, in  Shantaram when one of the slum children runs into  the Australian writer in his tent as he reads; the
child pauses and says something like,  “Oh, I forgot, you are busy  being lonely.”

When you sit watching the  crowds in Cavil Mall Surfers Paradise you notice the wide cross section of
humanity. Except for the months in winter, when hundreds of Arab families arrive
to enjoy a cooler climate in a place they regard as safe and suitable for their
wives and children, plus a few diversions for the menfolk. Up till now Australians
have outnumbered any other nationality, but it’s changing as Japanese, German,
Swiss, Scandinavian, French and Chinese students arrive.

And so the English language  students have left the RSL, the oldies meditate with the Queen of the Nile
one-cent poker machines, it’s one of the few ways left to be wicked when you’re
old, and we step back into the heat of Beach Road.

Outside, buses loaded with  beach pilgrims offload back- packers, surf boards and families with grannies
who trundle baggage the few blocks to their apartments, past the garish
souvenir shops that somehow manage to sell enough to pay the usurious rent.
They’ll be history soon, along with the cheap T-shirt shops as the city
gentrifies. I hope Surfers doesn’t get as marbleized asHonolulu.

Here are the gorgeous lame-  bikinied meter maids, straight from the fantasies of a World War 11 G.I. Here,
the little old lady walking her Chihuahua
in the basket of her walker. There, Aficionados of everything from heroin,
coffee, fast food, busking, to liquid religion and body art. Here the homeless
woman with her grubby grey blanket in a shopping trolley and the striding
Muslim woman in her Versace jeans.

Back at the RSL club, the  dining room will quieten before the evening rush for that’s the time when the
families come for the roast and a carafe of Browns Brothers red for $4.80

A few old men have stayed to  watch Australia
thrash the Kiwis again, a re-run to be savoured over a slow schooner.

“Not a bad way to grow old.”  said my second son, Matthew, when he visited the club once.

Tonight it could be Trivia  Night. In Literature you will be asked questions like, ”Who wrote Hollywood
Wives? How many husbands has Elizabeth Taylor had? In Films they might ask,
“What colour was  Nicole Kidman’s hair  when she married Tom Cruise?” Once I heard them ask if the best man wore a
waistcoat when Michael Hutchence married Paula Yeats. Last week when asked what
the Queen’s surname was, we considered Sax Coburg, settled for Windsor, and were marked wrong, for, “The
Queen has no surname.”

“It’s only fun. That’s what’s  the answer written down here.” said the pretty judge with the cracked glass
voice, who looked too young even for Harry Potter. But with a $5,000 stake,  some contestants were annoyed.

It could be Members night where as no one has  claimed the prize, it’s up to $7000 cash. All you’ve got to do is be there with
your member’s card to win. Better run quick though or the host will give the
$10 voucher for the one closest to the winning number before you can get

A notice on the wall later will  tell us that they made $23 000 in the Tsunami Appeal, so a lot of people got
lucky tossing their coins into the red bucket over the stair well.  A lifetime of two- up perhaps, but that’s
been banned for the Diggers now, except on Anzac Day, even at the Casino where
the rowdy two-up pit has been replaced by more poker machines.

Damn pity that, it was a part  of Queensland’s  heritage.  Did I say this is called the
Lucky Country?

I hate all that nationalistic ‘Aussie! Aussie! Aussie!’ crap, but I
like using Australian icons and that sort of thing. But like I said, it’s not a
conscious thing – it’s where I live.

Ben Brown. Punk Artist.


Ringbarking Scrub near Charlton. Queensland .

An example of a true-blue Australian original I came to know
was Walter Banks, who typified the Queenslander. Wallies was one of the real
old-timers who knew the bush and the Outback. I excused his un-politically
correct views and extreme right-wing leanings because he was an Edwardian. I
learned much from his intelligent observations in the years before he

Wallie had a working life as an insurance broker in Toowoomba and he was the best live comic I ever met. Had fate put him beside
Bob Hope or the Two Ronnie’s, he’d have been famous. His trick was to challenge
anyone he met to suggest a word. Then he would create a joke around the word or
its homophone

By the time I met him, Wallie was long retired, but he told me that in the depression he ran a work gang in Outback Queensland and said his working men ate one
yearling a week.

“The property, called Boatman’s, was 101 miles from Charleville to the main gate and it was another
fifty miles to Boatman’s Station, and five miles on to the far boundary. The
property was owned at the time by the Edinburgh- based New Zealand- Australian Land Company and was 700 square miles in those
days but was down to 80,000 acres.

“When the gang were on mutton they ate three wethers a day. The Station provided this meat and
being wintertime, the beef was hung in stockinet bags. Meat never tasted so
good as Boatman’s aged beef.” Wallie grinned.

The meat was part of the contract for the gang of ultimately 25 men, ring barking box trees, iron barks and mulga scrub. The idea was to
provide better pasture for cattle

“I reckon we cleared near a million acres up until 1938 and by the 1990’s when I went back, it was
all back to scrub”

“The mutton chops would be lined up on the grill, the men would toss the bones over their shoulders. “

Did dogs get the bones?  “There were no dogs.” said Wallie. Yes, he had eaten roasted kangaroo
and snake. ”You eat anything if you’re hungry enough.”

“Did you know you never see a fat kangaroo? He’d ask.  “If they ever have a good season they get
worms under their skin. They have to be thin to survive in the wild.”

I met Wallie each morning in McDonalds where he captivated an ever-changing audience with his continuous jokes.  He had the gift of engaging anybody, even the tiny tots, to whom he always said, “How old are you?”

To the grumpiest adult, he’d say. ”Where did you go to school.?” It was a technique that never
failed to win him friends and an amazing number had been to school at

I wish I could convey his subversive wit and rapid delivery but if you think of a cross between Bennie Hill and Spike Milligan with an  ounce of cheeky irreverence of an out-back Aussie.

“You know,” he told me, ”Cinderella wasn’t a very good swimmer.” Why? “She had a pumpkin for a

“You know what they call a cow with only two legs? Lean Beef. A cow with one leg?”  Ground beef”

“Did I tell you about the lady who went to the dentist and said,” I don’t know what
I’d sooner have, a baby or a tooth filled,” and the dentist said, “Well make up
your mind so I can adjust the chair.”

“ What would you call a sea on the Moon? Lunacy.”

Wallie laced his stories with botanical observations. He was fascinated by the way plants had
been transported around the world. Bougainvillea from Brazil to New
Guinea, he said with Louis-Antoine de Bougainville the French General .He said that the
great baobab trees of North West Australia were considered relics of the flora of Gondwanaland, the super-continent
that once comprised Africa, Antarctica, Australia, NZ and South America. Wallie was sure that
they had been carried here in more recent times from Madagascar by the early Portuguese.
However the origins and age of the captivating baobab is much disputed, botanists suggest surviving trees could be aged from one to five thousand years

Once he told me about the tiny size of the poppies he found in Iceland.

“They were about the size of a thu’pny bit. You know what
that is?” “The Dutch would have taken them over there. Like the English they
were always trying to discover which varieties could be shifted to another

Wallie was bright and smart enough to be a descendent of Sir Joseph Banks, as he claimed. Sir Joseph, who with his two large dogs,
manservant, and a number of aristocratic friends who paid their own passage, and sailed up the east coast of Australia
with Captain Cook in 1770.

In the Outback, Wallie paid his men  £3.10s  wages per week plus their keep  when the  normal  wage was £ 2. 4s .
 He told me he baked 100 loaves of bread a week for them in twenty five camp ovens using half a pound of fresh yeast each time.
I guess he made the yeast as well, for there were no shops. The baking had to be done at night because of the high winds in the daytime, which affected the temperature in the ovens. “I’d bank up a big fire of coals about 15 ft by 3 ft
wide. I never had a failure that way.”  There was one tree Wallie couldn’t remember the name of- the gang loved it because no other tree would ever grow within a mile of it. I hope to find its ame one day.

Sometimes walking out on a frosty morning he would almost tumble on an aboriginal lying in a grave- like hole, asleep.  “He would have frost n his torso, but he’d made a fire in the base of the hole the night before and
laid leaves over some flat stones in and that kept him warm all night.”

The gang lived in a uge marquee and there was another used as a storeroom. Wallie had sewn both
the huge tents from duck canvas using a Singer sewing machine borrowed from a
long-suffering Outback wife.  He also ade the canvas water bags.  In which
water was kept cool by evaporation.  Each an carried a half gallon water bag hung on his belt and never noticed the
weight. He reckoned his home sewn water bags were the secret of his gang’s

When it came to baking, he had emu eggs by the score. “We would find dozens every other day out on the job.” One
emu egg is the equivalent of 12 hens eggs.  Ay baker today will pay you a dozen eggs for one if you find any, they
are so rich”

He made cakes using four to six gallons of emu eggs, cocoa,sugar, flour and lard. When the men got back to civilization they said no cake
ever tasted as good as his Outback Brownies made without butter.

I learned from Wallie that the aborigines cooked their duck n a mud ball, tandoori style, tossing it on the coals for an hour, the
feathers coming off in the clay, how they loved to eat the sand goanna which
they called overland trout; and how it “tasted just like fish; how they ground
the seeds of a water plant like a giant aquatic clover called Nardoo. The
seedpods, like those of the wattle, were pounded to a form of flour and made
into thick paste to be baked like naan bread on hot rocks.

“You know they could walk into a dark shed from bright
sunlight and bring out a snake, a brown, the most venomous on the planet,
holding it by the neck. I don’t know how they did it.”

“I knew this Chinese cook who made wonderful pies with neat rusts. One day I saw him take out his false teeth and press them all around he edge of the pie.”

“How do you make Golden Soup?” Twenty- four carrots.”

‘A lady went to an outback mechanic saying, “I’ve got a
problem with my itchy-pussy.” The man said, “I can’t help.I don’t handle
Japanese motor bikes.” (Itchipussi)

In Surfers, as an old man, Wallie had to be back home by ten ast eight to answer a call to check he was still alive. He would always ask
the lady volunteer to suggest a word. So he could tell her a joke “Light, she mght say.”

“It’s a bit rude,”
Wallie would answer,” but how many cockroaches does it take to screw in a light

“No Idea.” “Well, what I want to know is how the little
Buggers got in there in the first place.”

“You know it was that ry out in Dalby one year they had to close three lanes in the swimming pool.”

Wallie died some ears ago, just short of ninety. His final illness was triggered when he fell
from the roof of his house onto a concrete path while he was pruning his olossal grape vine. I made green tomato relish for him, but he told me it was dangerously hot.” His voice is one I will never forget.

Wallie would bring me  bunch of Cosmos and a jar of his grape jam whenever he came to tea.  If you went to tea with him you had Lamb
Roast. His house was almost totally covered with dazzling tropical creepers I
couldn’t  everf ind in any of our Gardening Encyclopaedias or even the Internet. His
vegetable garden was a mass of chilli, capsicum, deadly nightshade, cosmos, squash, tomatoes and spinach with a
boiling of potatoes somewhere underneath.

He rejoiced in an illegal Cavendish banana fruiting on the Nerang riverbank beside a massive Mango tree. It’s still there, but the garden
is overgrown Wallie was one of the last old timers.

There is a plaque in McDonalds above where Wallie sat. Is it imagination that makes me hear his voice in the quote below?

In his journal on 25 April 1770, when he has passed the area
south of modern day Wollongong, NSW.
Sir Joseph Banks wrote:

‘The countrey tho in general well enough clothd appeard in some places bare; it
resembled in my imagination the back of a lean cow, covered in general with
long hair, but nevertheless where her scraggy hip bones have stuck out farther
than they ought accidental rubbs and knocks have intirely bard them of their
share of covering.’   

Wallie typified many Australians with his pride in his
country. He was tough, had a bright mind and a subversive wit. He was quick to
knock-back any teasing himself. What seems to outsider defensive, is merely an
intense protectiveness. This is manifest in Government departments and can seem
to the innocent immigrant, unwelcoming. As Kiwis we have a privileged status
being allowed Dual citizenship. Many Australians have suggested to me that we
appear to take it the honour for granted. I am thankful everyday to Australia,
my second home and echo our  as yet
unacknowledged genius. Russell Crowe, saying,

“Thank Christ for Australia.”

Fitting In.

Contrary to general belief, I do not believe that friends are necessarily the people you like best, they are merely the people who got there first.  Peter Ustinov (1921 – 2004), Dear Me (1977)

Without friends no one would choose to live, though he had all other goods.   Aristotle (384 BC – 322 BC),

We knew no-one when we came, and it was scary at times, so as usual we joined clubs to meet people. I love people and have always had friends. It’s now as we age that we become real honest to God warts and all friends. We all want love and forgiveness and someone to squeeze our hand when we are sick. My brother Robin has been a true friend and I to him.

I’m not quite like the ex-serviceman relative who told me he could be dropped “anywhere in Europe” and find a friend within walking distance, but I have always had friends whom I value, love and respect. They have me

The Australia- New Zealand Club was active when we arrived and I edited their monthly magazine. They still co-run a big Waitangi Day with a Hangi at Carrara each February. We met Pat and David Hill there, who are still good friends. Following up an advert, I became one of the 14 founders of the SeniorsontheNet group and as it expanded, ran the Area 4217 group and later met the indomitable Hazel, who ran the show but was not there at the start. The Joy’s, Wiseman’s, Judi, Hugh, Vaughn’s, Varley’s, Mary, Ted and the Brady’s, the Rockefeller’s, and other digital people, came to talk computers and party at our place, in Atlantis in Paradise Waters for years.

Through tutoring computers, I was invited into many homes and became a Buddy to many Australians and met Dulcia that way.
I was Buddy to Margaret in Miami and Nancy in Main Beach, who in spite of great difficulties, learned to send email in her mid-eighties. She printed and posted a letter to her lawyer from Outlook Express and earned me the extraordinary wrath of her fifty-plus daughter,

It’s perhaps why, when Scotty came over from Wellington at age ten, he couldn’t get over how many people we knew when we walked in the city. It may have also been the informal group who used to meet at MacDonald’s, (but have defected since to Hungry Jacks, because they make better coffee.) We still see Martin and Joy, Averill and Dennis, Fran and Bob, Pauline, Beryl, Jill and others who come and go as their health allows. One woman, Carmel, who called herself Charm, ran a “guest house” in Kalgoorlie.
Dr Clive is a friend, like no doctor before.

I joined Get to Know the Gold Coast and found Sharron, Val and Angela, great ladies, and made friends with my ex-Foxton mentor, Shirley, whilst living at Silverton (we went to Treasure Day this week.) And through her I met Vivian who lives on Coochiemudlo Island and then, Felix Calvino, the Galician writer.
At the Gold Coast Women’s Centre, one of the warmest and least judgmental groups I’ve known, thanks to Suzette and Annette who have moved South and North. Mary, Bente and Jenny, I still see, as with Coola and Joy who were part of my book club.
Doreen Bismire once told me that, “one has to insinuate oneself into people’s lives because with people over fifty they already have a quota of friends to match the energy they have for friendship.”
Wyn and Sylvia, we met as the Manager-Owners of Atlantis. They taught us to be bold with Asian food, then, went back to Tauranga.
Chantine, Cheryl, Jenny, Danny, Alice, Barbara, Frances and Shayla are recent friends and Frizzy Lizzie my born-again hairdresser is loved by everybody, including Mustapha, who sells Egyptian jewelry in Surfers. I can’t mention the many friends-in-law I know through my children, who are always warm and welcoming to us.

In Peninsula we have Paul and Dot, the BC Manager, Adil and Kashmina, from Bombay. Peter the builder, Adam the electrician, Lovely Margaret and Brenda and all the rest of our hard working crew. It is such a happy building.

Then I have email friends like Pam and Diane; and like Dulcia in real life, we pour out their hearts in good times and bad. It makes me feel good that they trust me. Scotty and Bev we see when they tour Australia in their big-rig

My computer support people today are Nelson, Baz and now Mac, Claire’s son at Rathkeale. Hugh and Tony are worn out but we keep in touch with naughty jokes. Talking computers is one of the safest topics around and as an oldie I get the royal treatment from Byteme and Sony. We simply are the luckiest oldies ever to have lived, as I kept reminding my classes, playing cricket or snooker on-line, sure as hell beats nursing bed sore or chilblains by a fire and irritating your children with your uselessness. I hear from immediate family most days. We are all as they say, “There for each other.”

When they open me up for my organ donation, I am sure they will find my heart has become the shape of Australia.

I know I have missed you out, so please forgive me and tell me. You’ll be in the next book, promise.

You can’t make yourself happy, but you can always smile. VCB
Keep smiling, keep shining
Knowing you can always count on me, for sure
That’s what friends are for
In good times and bad times
I’ll be on your side forever more
That’s what friends are for.



The wise man carries his possessions within him.    Bias


 I remember Helen Hill telling me her special place was under the big pepper tree in her Bridge Pa garden. She
felt safe, breathing in the spicy scented shade. It concerned me at the time
that I had no personal place, except perhaps the office desk in my bedroom. We
“owned” a farm, because our job then was to rear livestock.

It was a beautiful place to live, but when people called, we didn’t consider they were treading on sacred
soil. People with a strong sense of place appear to take comfort from a feeling
of supremacy over a house, garden, city, nation or tract of land. Perception is
reality, so it’s possible many people must feel a sense of ownership to survive
life’s verisimilitudes.  Australians take inordinate pride in their place but only recently are they beginning to see
their place  in proportion to the rest of the world.

It’s similar on farms, the notion of the land being special to particular people causes much

You see it when a widowed parent sells the family home. Women who left the farm forty years ago
consider it theirs, even when they have not expended one drop of sweat in its
care.  I know a man labouring on his grandfather’s land in the vain hope of inheriting it. It is a fantasy in his
mother’s mind that he is owed an inheritance. The current owner does not feel
any obligation and has not the nerve to admit it.

Families sharing a beach house will squabble over holiday times. It’s harmless enough until the possessors
form a group, formalise their grievances and give themselves a name.

What I am not sure about is how many members of any activist group feel the passion and how many are hangers-
on. I once had a pretty student who said. “May I leave early? I have to go to a protest
at Macdonald’s.”

“You feel strongly about Animal Rights?” said I.

” No, but it’s always great fun.” she answered.

I think the feeling of belonging to something is a trait
born in a person and certainly not exclusive to the peoples who originally
inhabited any land. We can’t know these peoples, since it’s impossible to be
sure about oral history. Who knows what the early whalers got up to or unknown
explorers who  rather than write journals,
dallied with  charming natives who produced
a stronger and healthier cross breed. I read that French sailors in the 17th
C were fighting for places on sailing ships to Tahiti-
that is until the missionaries arrived and robed the native maidens.

There are people who carry their identity with them and  can
fit in anywhere.They know that millions before and millions after will
follow.  Morrison of Peking is a fine example of an illustrious Australian who, during the Boxer revolution, wrote
such accurate copy to the Times in London that Britain used it
to make diplomatic decisions.

What I’m trying to do is contrast the role of ‘ownership’ and a ‘sense of place.’I believe in private
ownership, but am talking about here is the myth of possession.I’m struggling
in much the same as when I try to grasp that time is not linear.  Peter Cundall, of TV Gardening Australia   fame, told of how he served four years solitary confinement after being captured trying to escape a Prisoner of War
camp. In an interview on the ABC he said time didn’t weigh heavily.

He replayed in his head all  the familiar orchestral music he
knew, part by part. He mentally re- read loved books like Great Expectations
and compared opening and closing paragraphs from memory. When given a chore,
like scrubbing out his cell, he relished it.“The water, the scrubbing brush and
soap were an utter joy,” he said.

As people evolve, their special place resides within them. When I hear a person like Mandela, talk about his
years in prison, I wonder why such qualities are so little valued, let alone
defined enough for the concept of self- reliance to be taught in school.  Our tenure on earth is so short; it’s a
delusion to think we have any real ownership of anything.

“Ownership is an illusion.’ The chairman of Waipawa County Council, Keith Addis, said once.

 “All we own is a life lease and the right to bequeath it.” I love laptops, cell phones and Trish Guild fabrics, I own a home
and a car, but I have, after much belly-aching self-pity and gnashing of teeth,
been able to survive loss. American poet, Elizabeth Bishop says you have to,

“Lose something
every day. Accept the fluster

 of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of
losing isn’t hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:

Places, and names, and where it was you meant

to travel.  None of these will bring disaster.”

 A popular belief is the Virtue
of Place.  All we need to do is find the right place to be happy. Yet we are capable of sharing special places, think of
national parks, public beaches, libraries, war memorials, and museums. National pride is like Coca Cola, a quick rush that pumps you up and leaves you fizzed out. At best it’s the happy buzz of the Olympics, at worst it creates death
camps.  Nationalism is the political spin-doctor’s Maharishi and our leaders make sure we are too preoccupied to ask
the hard questions.

I’m reminded of Dr Seuss and the Sneetches who decided that they had to wear a star on their foreheads to
identify them from ‘others.’

Was he satirising by reversal, the Third Reich who used  coloured triangles to classify
people ? Red for political dissidents, green for criminals, purple for
Jehovah’s Witnesses, blue for emigrants, brown for gypsies, black for lesbians
and other “anti-socials,” and large pink triangles for homosexual
men. Jews, were marked by a six-pointed, yellow Stars of David with the word
‘Jew’ inscribed.  Julian Fellowes wrote about another form of exclusivity in his book, Snobs.

We need to learn to feel safe anywhere, with our thoughts, a pen and paper, coffee and a book. This
way we are not prey to any orchestrated fear. We must ask who benefits from our
fear and why would they want us to be afraid?

To accept that all we have ever had is the lease on a lifetime can be uplifting. With this realisation you feel
less inclined to go out looking for a fight. Jim and I have found our place
here in the middle of a city living in an apartment building where we are
surrounded by life, with trees, bats birds, cars, the sea and that omnipresent
force and friend, the weather.

We move over the face of the earth for our brief hour, and are gone. Does living in one place give us the
illusion of durability, just as superstitious belief wards off intimations
of our mortality.

It is the scientists, risk-takers and explorers, the Galileos, Darwins, and Listers who bring about
the changes that propel men’s mind’s forward. Only when man carries his place
within him does he begin to grow distanced from the prejudices of
tribal life. His children are free to think airy thoughts and dream new

Too many people trying to make a living off too little land.   Pearl E Neal.



It’s a damp Easter Saturday in 2009, and we’re heading for Pete’s fish and chip shop on the Spit to sit on a plastic chair, or I might get the last cane one.
“I must ask Pete to do something about these chairs.” I grumble, but I know I won’t because any good ones will get stolen.
I know I’ll have to shoo the ibis off the timber tables. It’s here I have encountered hundreds of Australians as families, eating together under the corrugated iron lean- to.

Versace six star hotel overlooks us from the west and the Sheraton directly opposite, is seen through a tropical copse, the busy road, but almost all the fishing trawlers have moved along the jetty now. The fish will be from Vietnam.

Two young Indian families have requisitioned two of the tables to have nursery tea. They smile as they make a space for me to pass, saying,” We are having a party. Did you get your invitation?”

I smile, wishing I had the panache to squeeze in beside them. I’ve been reading Shantaram and would love to talk about Bombay, but insecurity pulls me towards the table once removed, where I set out my table cloth, sauce and wine with two plastic glasses. Jim orders one fish with chips, with a dozen calamari, while I write in my notebook. Looking up and smiling as the big-eyed children wander along to see me.
Another couple arrives.” My mother told everyone back home in Italy that she dined at Versace.” the young woman giggles.
It’s pleasant to walk around to Marina Mirage, to see all the moored yachts and boats from the board walk.

Christopher Scase’s memorial to the racing eighties is having a face-lift. We have most of the designers now, even a shop from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. My hairdresser, Frizzy Lizzie mourns the loss of the Scace’s who brought Melbourne culture and prominence to the Coast each Sunday. Scase was the archetype of the flashy 1980s, staging flamboyant parties with his glamorous wife, Pixie.

One unique decorating feature was a glass dome in his Brisbane office containing $1 million in shredded $100 bills, which he later smuggled out to Spain. Lizzy lost money with them, but doesn’t care because it was people like he and Alan Bond who brought glamour to the Gold Coast.
It starts to rain as we finish our fish meal, so our evening walk is off. We run for the car under the large white plastic table cloth. On the drive back along the esplanade, I wonder why I feel safe in Australia. Is it just the Big Island thing, and the age of the land?
More likely it’s that as long as you love Australia, you belong and can always call Australia home.

“It was gold brought both our great-grandfathers to the Southern Hemisphere and we could have both just as easily been born Australian as Kiwis.” Jim Bibby

The family you come from isn’t as important as the family you’re going to have. Ring Lardner.


Vivienne Bibby,
8 D 5 Clifford Street, Surfers Paradise.
Gold Coast, Queensland 4217
0755384816 0408 195 100

Aussie Doggeral.

If you say G’day to an Australian
You’ll put him at his ease.
You may be a Pom or an alien,
but at least you’re not Japanese.

He’ll likely ask you to say “ Fush and Chups.”
Make him happy, say, “Feesh and Cheeps”
Bare your teeth and stretch your lups
Smile then say”..three, four, five, seeks.”

Deep down all Australians love we Kiwis,
but think of the shame if he shows it.
They’re nervous about Sales Tax and Iwis,
and any ball when a foreigner throws it.

Don’t laugh when he says an H as a Haitch.
Don’t ask where their granddaddies came from.
Don’t push into lifts, buy them chardonnay gifts
It’s still sore from that dreaded leg iron.

An Aussie will never ring you.
He’s such a shy and retiring chappie
If he likes you he’ll say. “ You ring me next week”
You must do it, keep a Battler happy.

We Kiwis love our Trans-Tasman relations,
we prop up their property prices .
We eat in pubs and play in their clubs
and they hardly ever tell us, “Peace orf.”

Loved your book!

Couldn’t stop until closing poem.

This is the first piece of work I’ve seen that confronts the Kiwi- Ozzy differences in respective approaches to life’s values, issues and dramas in a manner that’s non- threatening to either side of the Tasman. I think it should be compulsory reading before getting on the plane, for all Kiwis coming to Oz
on a one way ticket.

Andrew Cole. Newcastle.