A few pictures of our mum, Carol, born in 1921, died 1987.
For Sunday’s Ragtag Daily Prompt Gizzylaw asks.
Do you have pictures in your mind? Do you have places, sounds, smells, people that live in your mind? Mental pictures of your life?
For me, the answer is yes. I try to capture the special places and special moments in my life with my camera. We all have those holiday photos, fun family photos and pet pictures that remind us of good times. Of course, you can’t capture everything in a photo. Sometimes the picture is like a marker and looking at it prompts memories of when and where it was taken.
I don’t really like having my photo taken that much. I didn’t even when I was much younger and looked better than I do now. I’ll never join the selfie craze but there have been times when I’ve wanted one for the album.
These were three that I asked David to take of me on our big overseas trip in 1990. Two are with landmarks, the other because it was a day, a time and a place that I wanted to remember, one of the best days of the holiday even though all we did was go for a walk. We were in Scotland amongst the lochs and the mountains and it was somewhere I had always wanted to go.
This picture, which I took while visiting the Great Wall of China doesn’t look like much but when I look at it I remember the walk I took. I had got separated from our tour group and walked on much further than everyone else until I had got away from the crowds. This picture brings that memory alive for me again, I remember the still air, melting snow on the steps as I climbed, some distant booming sounds. For me, that short walk is my favourite memory of China.
There are some things you can’t take pictures of though, and things that even if you photograph them you can’t do them justice. Sometimes it is better to put the camera or the phone down and just take in the scene. Photograph it with your eyes so you will never forget. We visited Wellington, New Zealand on a beautiful summer Sunday when we cruised in 2016. I took a lot of photos trying to capture the essence of that day and although the pictures don’t quite do that I do remember the sunshine, the icecreams, the street pianos and the exuberant donuts the pilot’s boat did to wish us farewell.
A lot of my memories are in picture form, I see the much younger me running along a platform at Adelaide Station, so anxious to see an approaching steam locomotive, or Naomi and I seeing a favourite band in concert. I see David and me in the car playing “Road to Nowhere” at the start of a road trip, the faces of people who I used to work with on the railways and our past dogs chasing balls on the beach.
Then there are those mental pictures that just come into your head. Naomi and I get this quite a lot. Our sense of humour can be quirky and sometimes we see funny pictures in our minds of ordinary things. For example, once a workmate was talking about his trip to the USA and that he had been to Disneyland. Naomi said that she had to try very hard not to laugh. I knew it was because she was seeing this rather serious man looking something like this.
When I was a child I didn’t mind the hot Australian summer so much. Nobody I knew had air conditioning, we kept cool with fans, which mostly just blew hot air over us. At school, if the temperature rose above 100 degrees Fahrenheit we were allowed to go home early as the school wasn’t air conditioned either. I remember how we looked forward to those days, getting out of school early was a treat. As the temperature climbed in the afternoons our teachers would schedule easier lessons. Sometimes several classes would be herded into the hall to watch films. They were educational but sometimes there might be a funny one as well.
In Grade 6, the class teacher was Mr. Scott. He was quite a young man, probably not long out of Teacher’s College and he was very good at art. He used to draw amazing murals on the classroom blackboard. In fact, other teachers would often ask Mr. Scott to come and draw something on their blackboards, that’s how good he was.
On really hot days when the temperature was in the nineties and we had not yet been told we could go home Mr. Scott would try to find ways to keep our class of forty or so kids busy. Sometimes he would read poetry to us, at other times he would send a kid to get the school record player and play some music. This was in the days before DVD’s and even before VCR’s. He’d then let us get out the art materials and paint. He’d encourage us to think about cool things and it mostly seemed to work.
Once we were allowed to go it would be a hot walk home but there would be a cold drink or maybe even an iced lolly waiting. Our house in Elizabeth had a concrete floor in the laundry and two old cement wash troughs. Naomi and I often played in there on hot days as it seemed cooler than the rest of the house.
Now I’m older I find that I don’t deal with the heat all that well and rather than being fascinated by the idea of the temperature reaching a century I dislike the really hot days. I’m glad that I don’t have to sit in a hot classroom anymore but those afternoons were fun; sometimes I wonder whatever happened to Mr. Scott.
It’s been about six weeks since the bushfires that threaten the Huon Valley began. Although we are no longer at crisis point the fires are still burning and with a hot weekend ahead there are statewide fire bans and continued warnings to be mindful that the situation could change rapidly.
Things are getting back to normal in the valley, but normal now includes the daily parade of fire vehicles that I see heading south as I wait for my ride to the Op Shop in the mornings. We’ve become used to seeing the helicopters that fly overhead. They are taking infrared pictures to check for hotspots. We also see the waterbombing helicopters and aircraft flying over the valley every day. The helicopters have a landing site near the school so we hear them coming and going from the shop. Yesterday we heard a few explosions as fallen trees which were too dangerous to remove manually were blown up.
The ground crews work hard digging out the hotspots with machinery or by hand. The fires generated such heat that the soil is still hot in the places that were burned. This is a good reminder of why it’s important to be sure a campfire or rubbish fire is really out. I have enlarged a bit of the TFS webpage information as I thought that it might be of interest to see what they do. The PFS is the Parks and Wildlife Service and the STT is Sustainable Timbers Tasmania, the forestry service they have their own firefighting units.
Community Information: Firefighters continue to extinguish numerous active fire edges today utilising vehicle based teams, remote area teams inserted by helicopters, and walk-in teams. Crews are supported by aircraft providing targeted water drops to mop up hot areas.
TFS, PWS, STT and supporting agencies will aim to contain and extinguish the fires with the highest priority being Riveaux Road to limit impacts on private property, community and commercial assets, community safety and natural, cultural & heritage values, especially the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.
Tasmanians are being asked to reconsider using fire as the state moves into several days of bad fire weather. A total fire ban has been declared for all southern municipalities on Friday 1st and Saturday 2nd March.
Fire agencies and communities have already experienced a very trying bushfire season, and while it may seem that conditions have abated and life is back to normal, the community needs to be aware that we are still battling serious bushfires.
Residents are reminded to remain vigilant and continue to monitor the situation as the current situation may change as warmer weather is forecast.
Areas impacted by fire pose a number of risks and hazards to the public and fire crews. There are still a number of roads closed, and the public must adhere to road closure signage and refrain from entering these areas. Roads impacted by fire remain a significant risk of fallen trees or trees that have potential to fall without notice. Roads may be damaged, have damage to local bridges, and normal roadside warning signs damaged or destroyed. Please slow down and drive to the conditions as emergency service vehicles continue to use these roads.
For information on current road closures, please visit the Tasmania Police website: http://www.police.tas.gov.au/community-alerts/
TasRECOVERY – Information and Service Hubs:
Apart from the still present risk of fires, our focus is now on recovery. A government services hub has been set up locally to advise people who have lost income due to the fires or have damaged property. People are trying to get back into their normal routines but more than one person I have spoken with has said that it is difficult to do that while the fires are still burning.
Even animals are affected. I see posts on Facebook regarding lost and found pets and for the first few days that I was back at the Op Shop Cindy would howl when I left and I’d hear her howling when I arrived home. Thankfully she has settled down now and instead of being upset, she runs to greet me with her ball when I get home.
Several events are being set up to promote local businesses. January and February are usually our best months for tourism and many operators rely on that money to get through the quieter winter months. A key attraction, The Tahune Airwalk will be out of action for some months while facilities are repaired or replaced.
The other thing that everyone locally is keen to do is to thank the fire service employees and volunteers for the amazing job they have done and are still doing. Fundraisers are being arranged to support the various brigades with new equipment. The firefighters themselves are not allowed to accept money from the public but at least we can let them know how grateful we are for what they do and that they are all heroes.
Today the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition and I were all in Huonville, thankfully not at the same time.
The fires are still burning. We had three cooler days which allowed the firefighters to get some back burning done but on Sunday I saw that Geeveston was once again on emergency alert. I spent an anxious afternoon and evening listening to the radio and checking Facebook posts as the fire came close to the southern end of Geeveston and threatened communities further south. Sadly several houses were lost that day but thankfully nobody was killed or injured. It has been over three weeks now that these fires in the Huon Valley and other parts of Tasmania have been burning.
I was in Huonville to apply for an emergency assistance grant which the government had made available to people who had been forced to leave their homes because of the fires or who had been unable to work because their place of work was in the fire zone.
The local Scout and Guide Hall was being used to process claims. I arrived at about 2:20pm to find a long, long, line zigzagging across the room. It took me a full two hours to be processed and paid. It was quite a weird experience and made me think about people who have been permanently displaced from their homes and have to deal with this sort of situation all the time.
The government workers running the operation were doing a great job though, they had a team of maybe a dozen workers processing information before sending us off with our paperwork to join another line to collect prepaid debit cards. Everyone was on the whole, patient and good-natured even though it was a warm afternoon. Security staff walked around distributing bottles of water. The staff was helpful and friendly still smiling after a full day of filling out forms.
Outside the building, Naomi was patiently waiting for me to finish. It turned out that one of the security people was someone she knew from Oatlands, that stuff happens all the time in Tasmania. She talked to people coming and going, patted dogs and talked to a little kid who claimed to be lost. He wasn’t, his dad was nearby and he was just looking for some attention I think.
About an hour after I arrived the doors were closed and people arriving were told that they would have to come back tomorrow as it would take till after 6pm to process the people already there. Naomi said that most people took this news quite well although one man became quite angry about it. The financial assistance centre was set up last week and has been open every day. I had not been able to get there sooner as I am staying some distance away which is why Naomi offered to take me.
After that, we drove to my house. It was a strange feeling driving into a bushfire zone. The smoke haze was not too bad and we had good visibility but the whole area smelled of burnt wood.
I knew that my house had not been in the fire zone as a friend had driven past it the other day but it was a huge relief to find everything inside just as I left it. Even most of my plants were still surviving.
Once we had watered the plants, checked that lights and power were still working and I had grabbed a few things I wanted we left. I don’t plan to return home just yet. I want to but the fires are still acting erratically and if I go back now and there is another emergency I would have to find someone to get me out. It’s just too stressful so I will wait until things are a bit safer.
However, it was good to see my home again and I hope it won’t be too long before I can go back.
Baby Boomer: Suburban Australia
My sister, cousins and I had a reasonably free childhood once we came to Australia. Our home was in Elizabeth, north of Adelaide. We could play in the street in front of our houses or go to a nearby park which didn’t require crossing the main road. We older ones could walk to the local shops for ice cream or comics and sometimes to another park when the “Trampoline Man” came for a few days in the school holidays. Our suburb was pretty quiet except at around 4pm when the local factories let out and all the workers came home.
When I was around twelve my eldest cousin and I were both allowed to go to “the big shops” at Elizabeth Town Centre or the library alone.
Even though they allowed us our freedom I’m sure our parents worried about us and we did get into trouble if we went off without telling them where we were going or failed to return at the appointed time.
Naomi and I arrived in Australia with our mum on 23 January 1966. Three days later on 26 January, three young children, Jane, Arnna, and Grant Beaumont disappeared from Glenelg beach not far from Adelaide. They were never heard of again.
By eguidetravel – https://www.flickr.com/photos/eguidetravel/5399982086/, CC BY 2.0, Link
If ever our parents needed a cautionary tale there was one. They impressed on us that we should not talk to or go off with strangers. It certainly made an impression on me because the eldest girl, Jane was the same age as me. To our parents’ credit, this didn’t stop them from letting us go places on our own but I know that mum always worried until we returned safely and I am sure my aunt and uncle did too although my cousins were not fond of walking so their dad would usually get a call to pick them up from wherever they had gone or be asked to drive them here or there. Naomi and I usually walked everywhere.
Hobart’s eastern and western shores are spanned by the Tasman Bridge which was completed in 1964. This bridge replaced an earlier floating bridge that had been built in 1943.
I was not living in Tasmania in 1975 when the bridge collapsed but of course, I saw it on the news. It was only much later when I moved here that I began to understand how it affected people’s lives.
The disaster occurred on the night of the 5th of January 1975. Lake Illawarra, a bulk ore carrier was making its way up the Derwent, as it was a Sunday night there was no pilot on board. The reports of the accident say that human error and tidal currents in the river were the main factors that caused the ship to smash into one of the bridge pylons. A section of the bridge came down sinking the ship and carrying with it four cars that had been unable to stop in time. The five occupants and seven crew members from the Lake Illawarra died that night. Two other cars were left teetering over the edge of the bridge but miraculously those people survived.
What I was unaware of until I moved to Tasmania was the social impact the loss of the bridge would have on Hobart. At that time there was only one other river crossing and it was several kilometres away at Bridgewater so getting to and from the CBD became a major problem for people on both sides of the river. Initially, ferries were brought in to deal with the commuters but later a temporary “Bailey Bridge” was constructed to replace the Tasman Bridge while repairs took place. It was nearly three years before the bridge was re-opened.
Apart from the delays that this caused for people trying to get to work or appointments it changed people’s lives in other ways. I spoke with workmates who were old enough to remember the disaster and one who was just a teenager at the time told me that she had to move because her job was on the opposite side of the river to her home. Her parents thought it was easier to set her and a friend up in a flat than for them to commute to their jobs. I am sure that she was not the only one who made the move because of work.
Probably as a result of the disaster services on the eastern shore were developed faster than they might have been otherwise. The population had been growing for some years but most people worked and shopped in the Hobart CBD. Eastlands shopping centre was enlarged and new shops, offices, medical facilities and entertainment venues started to appear.
Of course what I can never know is how people felt when they heard the news. In a small place like Tasmania. when something bad happens it’s personal because it’s very likely that someone you know has been affected in some way. When people saw the first pictures of the bridge it must have felt as if nothing would ever be the same.
Today a few things have changed. The bridge is repaired but the pylons are in slightly different positions as the Lake Illawarra, now a dive site, still lies on the river bed. There is always a pilot on board any ship that passes under the bridge and when one does the traffic is stopped. A third bridge has been built between Hobart and Bridgewater. The City of Clarence is now one of the fastest growing areas in Tasmania.
I have included a few links for those who would like to learn more about what happened. There are some historic pictures as well.