Living in a tent

Murray River in Echuca (Victoria) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
English: Riverboats on Murray River in Echuca ...

English: Riverboats on Murray River in Echuca (Victoria)  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We wanted to get out of Melbourne to breathe the country air and take life at a more leisurely pace. Work was hard to find. My (now ex.) husband got a job at the Bendigo Pottery in Epsom, Victoria. He didn’t know anything about pottery but they showed him how to make Toby Jugs. The work was hard and the days were long. Our house was on a poultry farm – lots and lots of hens laying eggs! My days were lonely and boring so, when the owners offered me some part-time work, I agreed. My responsibility was to clean the eggs. Now just imagine cleaning hundreds of eggs each day. Just ask yourself, what makes them dirty?

Enough said about chooks. My ex landed another job and we moved to Echuca in Victoria. He won a job with the Victorian Railways as a ganger (fettler). He looked after a stretch of rail line with a small team of men. A house was promised right next door to the Railway Station. It wasn’t available straight away so we made good use of our tent and lived in the Echuca Caravan Park for several months. The tent was 12 feet by 18 feet. We set it up with a double bed (a proper one), a fridge and we even had our TV up and running.

It was mostly a good experience. The caravan park is situated next to the Murray River that is prone to flooding on occasions. And yes, it did flood while we were there and we had to evacuate but not for very long. I guess it is easier to evacuate a tent than evacuate a house! There were a lot of brush tail possums living in the area. They would come into our tent during the night scavenging for food! I wasn’t frightened of them at all.

The railway house became available and we moved in. It felt so big after living in a tent! It was on the New South Wales side of the Murray River so it was actually an interstate move of only a few kilometres. When my first son was born I would often take him for a walk in his pram over the big railway bridge into Echuca to go shopping. I was twenty-one at the time ūüôā

Until tomorrow



Licence to thrill

The paddlesteamer "Emmylou" passing ...

Image via Wikipedia

I learnt how to drive when I was 21! I was very nervous being on the road. It¬† was a brave man who took me on as his student! I had a new baby and was housebound in a small community,¬†without a driver’s licence, and didn’t know anyone within walking distance.

I was living in Moama¬†in New South Wales. Moama is on the NSW side of the Murray River. In fact I walked to¬†over the railway bridge¬†to¬†Echuca, Victoria to do my shopping once a week. It wasn’t all that far but I like the sound of it ūüôā

The isolation was getting to me so I plucked up the courage to¬†start the dreaded, driving lessons. My fear of driving made my instructor very nervous. With practise and many lessons later, he decided I could sit for my test. I had to have the test in NSW as that is where I lived. The test involved a police officer¬†sitting beside me as I attempted various manoeuvres with the car. In reality, I did hardly more than drive around the block. I¬†certainly¬†didn’t argue¬†with being given a license after handing over my payment for it.

Driving locally became second nature. I was still a bit nervous but I improved with practise. When we moved to the Dandenong Ranges near Melbourne I faced a new challenge. It was really busy and very hilly. Those hill-top starts were the pits and I didn’t drive very much unless it was necessary.

A few years later we were in the Kimberley region of Western Australia, based in Fitzroy Crossing. By this time I hadn’t driven a car for a few years. I didn’t realise that I was expected¬†to collect the mail each day for our employers. This may not sound like a big deal but the Post Office was a few kilometres from town; a dirt track that became a quagmire¬†in the rainy season! I didn’t show my fear and did my duty! One day the road was flooded and I became bogged in the mud and someone had to tow me out of there.

They asked me¬†to take on another task. This involved taking dead bodies to Derby to the mortuary as there wasn’t one in Fitzroy Crossing. There were lots of stories about former trips that frightened the daylights out of me. I said “No thanks” to that one.

After driving around town for a couple of years, I decided it was time to get a Western Australian licence. I lived not far from the police station and had driven past hundreds of times. They handed me a new WA licence in exchange for the fee. I was impressed at their efficiency ūüôā

Since then I have driven on a regular basis. I had one car accident near Mt Magnet in WA and no-one was hurt. In one year in the Goldfields Esperance region of WA, I covered 30,000 kilometres over all sorts of terrain and loved the experience.

My confidence has improved with experience on the roads – thankfully – as I need to drive on a regular basis today.

thanks for coming along for the ride ūüėČ