A wise person once wrote, “The past was a different country, and things were different then”. Upon reflection, the 1960s and ’70s were different. There were many reasons why I never had a second honeymoon, but then, neither did my late ex-husband. Nor did lots of others I know. Some went round the wedding bells again, many did not. Was once too much?
The day of holy nuptials dawned, blazing hot with a howling northerly wind. A December wedding in Melbourne’s summer, a nice day for a black wedding. (Both our mothers wore black dresses, quite symbolic, if not prophetic.) My new husband and I vowed to create a cross-cultural marriage, so I could become an Italianate … With not much success, I might add.
There we were, all hitched. Now for the honeymoon, slightly delayed by our first Christmas together as newlyweds. We had $90 between us, and two used cars.
“We’ll drive to Perth!” This was travel for the Baby Boomers. Only 40C, or over 100F in the shade, as we set off to drive across the Nullarbor, in the classic car of the times, his red Valiant, which was a manly statement in itself. No air-conditioning in the car, of course, we just wound down the windows. Yes, times were different then.
The $90 was to cover petrol and accommodation, a carton of cigarettes … Welcome to later lung conditions. Plus a pile of homemade sandwiches. Happy Honeymooners! Hell, we were young. We drove through some of the hottest weather and land of the times, but the car pulled up okay, got us there.
We had arrived to see the mighty Swan River, the beautiful beaches! “Happy Honeymooners,” my husband called, as he was dumped by a giant wave. He sulked on the beach, growing third degree sunburn on his lily white skin. I stayed swimming, floating; amazing water. Until I twigged that there was an undertow, or rip, and that I was nearly a mile away from where my husband sat on the golden sand.
Nursing our sunburn, the laid back Baby Boomers caught a ferry ride to Rottnest Island. A wonderful place. The ambience of very few vehicles, cyclists everywhere, native fauna, a turquoise lagoon, ideal for swimming. “Ah, Happy Honeymooners,” my husband said. I was soon enough stung in the eye by the passing tentacles of a jellyfish.
Urgently seeking medical attention, we found a nearby First Aid hut (the doctors had all gone on holidays). A kindly matron administered eye drops and an appealing eye patch. Yowser, it was painful. My husband bought me a late lunch, I had a beer, we caught the ferry back to Perth, my eye aching. By now, the famous breeze, the Fremantle Doctor, had sprung up. I soon discovered why one should never drink a beer after eating pavlova. Too effervescent. Whoops! Maybe I’m not a good sailor.
A few days later, we toured Albany. At that stage in the ’70s, the whaling station was still operational. I refused to visit it, being a fan of the critters. Fascinating history over there. Naturally, I woke up with tonsillitis in all that hot weather, and we spent hours trying to find a doctor and chemist. (They had all gone on holidays too.)
We drove home even quicker than we went. Right across the Nullarbor, taking turns at the wheel, with another carton of cigarettes. We arrived home late, on the one night my new in-laws had gone to a wedding, with our keys to our new leased abode. Typical, of course, there were no mobile phones, and we did not know where the wedding reception was. We waited, and waited.
We eventually started our married life, that was when the fun began. We worked hard, saved hard, the laid back honeymooners after the honeymoon. Our little flat contained our wedding gifts, which we really appreciated. One was a silver chrome toaster, which I still own, which functions most of the time. A tumble dryer my parents gave me, which survived until 2015, outlived them all. The later divorce was all too easy.
These days, I receive invitations to weddings where the young bride and groom are already shacked up in their palatial home, with enormous mortgages. I must say I become slightly offended when they demand cash for a wedding gift. How much is enough? Good luck to them, I think, as they jet off to Hawaii, Phuket, or New York, for a millennial honeymoon. The older wedding guests check our baggage.
There are lots of reasons why I never had a second honeymoon. Neither did he, his mullet was so bad. Yes, the 1970s were a different country, and things were different then!