I was bought up in country South Australia, the mid north, during the 50s, 60s and 70s. There were six of us in the family, Mum and Dad and us four kids. I am the eldest, my sister is 18 months younger than me, then seven years went past, and the two boys were born; there is eighteen months between them too.
We had a great upbringing, with not a lot of money, but we rarely noticed. Mum’s family lived in the town, in fact Mum was born there, so we had Grandma and Poppa to visit any time we wanted. It was nothing for Mum and us two girls, leave Dad and the boys asleep and walk up to Grandma’s – we knew she was a night owl, and always had a cuppa and a biscuit ready, just in case. Grandma was one of the first people to get TV, I can remember watching fuzzy ghostly shapes in the first year or so with blue cellophane paper covering the front, it was supposed to make it easier to see the film. It didn’t really work.
Dad was a mad keen fisherman, had been all his life, every Sunday morning we would pack up the car and go to Port Germein for the day. We did this for years. Dad would disappear up the jetty (at one time it was the longest jetty in the southern hemisphere, there was a very bad storm and part of the jetty was lost); we usually wouldn’t see him till nearly sundown, and then only his silhouette, coming back in the dusk. Mum would sit in the car reading or doing needle work while the four of us would play in the big wool shed in winter. In summer, we would run amok along the beach front, for miles, playing in the big seaweed drifts. If there was a late tide, Dad would park the car (in the early days a cream Holden) under the jetty. We would play in the deep pools of sea water around the jetty legs. During the day a market Gardner would come from Nelshabe in his truck, it was full of watermelons, Mum would pay him 2/6 pence (twenty five cents) for a giant watermelon, it was such a treat and we loved it.
One day the tide sneaked in and beat Dad. When he realised, he came down the jetty like a race horse. The water was half way up the door, so Dad slid through the window so the sea water wouldn’t get in. He sat there for ages trying to start it, it fired up at last. Dad was just about to back out when an onlooker opened the door to give dad some friendly advice and the car was full of water in seconds. I don’t remember hearing Dad swear, ever, all he said then was “idiot”!
During the school holidays we always hooked up the caravan and set out for Ceduna, Port Lincoln, Smokey Bay or our favourite, Venus Bay. We spent two weeks in most of the seaside towns in South Australia over the years, or it seemed as though we did. Thinking about it now, we just had the best holidays. I can remember the six of us standing on Venus Bay jetty, everyone catching Tommies as a school went past. The entire family hauling up fish hand over fist, except me, and I was standing smack in the middle. I cracked it and stomped back to the caravan, but on the way I stopped and threw out my line (on one of the plastic orange reels, no rods in our house) and boom, I caught four big flatheads one after the other. Dad hearing my scream of delight and said “Looks like Lindy must have caught a fish”; she sure did!
If Dad heard the fish were running at Wallaroo or Port Broughton we would head that way, believe me, no fish was safe.
What are your favourite childhood memories? Did you visit a lot of different places? Have you visited again since? Tell us below!