It was late-1968 and I had just met my new boyfriend (he was to be my husband) and I had long wanted to go to Australia. I’d worked with a girl who also had a yearning to go Down Under. We spent out lunch breaks visiting Manchester Central Library where we’d read the Australian newspapers. We also read many books about the country, such was the desire to visit.
We had discussed and made various plants about going on this great adventure however, there was a fly in the ointment — we were both in relationships and our partners were not willing to travel with us!
My friend decided to put a hold on her marriage preparatrions, and she headed off to Australia. Meanwhile, I couldn’t bring myself to break or put my engagement on hold. That was until fate stepped in!
I met another man. I embarked on a whirlwind, three-month romance, and realised marrying my fiancé was not something I wanted to do. It was quite a heartbreaking time for my fiancé, as well as for me — my paramour turned out to be a married man!
After a time, another man entered my life and we talked about travelling. I told him of my much-longed-for trip to Australia. He agreed that it would be a wonderful adventure, so we sent out applications. Unfortunately, he omitted to tell his mother of the plan and she found out only when a postcard arrived from Australia House thanking him for his application to emigrate! I was held responsible for his decision and the family made me an outcast. It was some time before we reconciled.
Before we could go to Australia, we had to have a basic medical assessment and an interview. We were informed of some very bizarre facts about the country, such as the heat was so extreme all the houses had wooden floors, and that some Australians didn’t like the English migrants and referred to them as ‘Pommie Bastards’ (a most derogatory term in those days). As much as I wanted to go to Australia, it struck me that I really didn’t know much about the country. There were no television shows revealing what life in Australia was like, unless you count Skippy…
We elected to fly and received our departure dates within eight weeks. We left Manchester for London, and I cried many tears. It had not occurred to me that leaving my mother would be so difficult. Then we were on the plane to Perth. Neither of us had been on a plane before, and here we both were embarking on a 22-hour flight. Arriving in Perth, we were taken to a singles hostel. We planned to explore the city the following day.
I’ll never forget how blue the sky was, or the sun shining. I knew then that I would never leave this beautiful place. It was winter, but as far as we were concerned it was better than any English summer we had ever known! Wonderfully for me, my parents also had a yearning to emigrate and because I was able to confirm how great it was in Perth, they emigrated with my two sisters 18 months after I arrived. It’s been 49 years since I emigrated and I’m thankful every day that I did. I still have an English accent, but I have an Australian heart.