I was determined to be a teacher. I reckon it was in my genes. Migrating to the other side of the world and failing Latin and Physics and Chemistry, in first year of high school, because of not speaking or understanding enough English, after having been in the country for eight months, did not deter me.
Nor did not passing in enough subjects, in the second and last year of teachers college, to start on level pegging with fellow Wollongong Teachers College graduates, in 1964.
There was a bond attached, in those days, requiring three years of teaching in ‘the west’, or two years in the ‘far west’ and after three years of driving daily to school in Riverstone, from Matraville, in the eastern suburbs, the telegram arrived, transferring me to Maude via Hay.
In the kitchen of our very old house, which we shared with another Dutch family of also three, we pretended to be excited and then searched on a map, for Maude.
End of January, 1967, I left Sydney, in my Volkswagen Beetle, and headed west.
After seven hours, and on the Hay Plains, which, to my Gouda-born eyes, looked like the moon’s surface, I ran out of petrol.
Unlike rumours to the contrary, within a few minutes, a most sympathetic couple stopped and offered to take me to Hay, and back to the car, with a tin, filled with petrol.
Relieved, now heading into the dark, I drove into hay. Found the road leading out to Maude and ran out of petrol (On the western side of Hay).
I was now distraught.
Relatives of the people waiting for my arrival at the pub of Maude, stopped and offered me a beer, to calm me down.
I was beyond that help. I’d never drunk beer, or any alcohol. I have never drunk beer since. Plenty of wine though (like, at this moment).
They had petrol for me and I followed them to Maude, close to midnight.
There as no electrucity in Maude – then. I was greeted, in the blackest of nights by quite a few people, who had been enjoying the evening, waiting to see the new teacher taking over the one-teacher school.
Things went down-hill from there.
I have some great photos from those two school terms, at Maude, where the telephone exchange was still a party-line.
Where the school’s rain tanks ran out of water and I needed to get buckets-full from the river.
Where I ended up boarding at three different places, starting at the pub, run by the ex-Scottish, ex-sea-captain.
Where I got to know the dearest friends I have known the rest of my life – the family of the principal of the closest public school, who allowed me to come and drive the 32 mile dust-road, back to their school residence every Friday, after school, and baby-sit the two children, after a wonderful dinner, every Friday.
Where, a few years later, my parents and their friends, stopped off, on their way to Adelaide and now found a sealed road and electricity and a lovely little park.
But, by then, I’d been moved to the other furtherest corner of the state of New South Wales, Bourke, where, I finished that year and the next, in the company of like-minded chalkies and having, really, a very pleasant time.
But that’s another story……as they say ‘in the classics’……
It ain’t half hot, Mum!
My mother was often quoted, as saying: How could they send a ‘boy’, straight out of Holland, to a place like that?