On 30 Jan.,06, their Royal Highnesses, the Prince of Orange and Princess Maxima of the Netherlands, in the company of his aunt, Princess Margriet of the Netherlands and her husband, Professor Pieter van Vollenhoven, as well as the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, His Excellency Dr Jan Peter Balkenende (Unkindly known as ‘Harry Potter’, by many Dutch people, at the time,) as well as the Minister for Foreign Affairs, of Australia, the Honourable Alexander Downer MP, had the pleasure of seeing photos of me, on page 14, of the Official Programme, for the Royal Gala Dinner, to mark the 400th Anniversary of of the arrival of Dutch people, on the shores of Australia.
At the time, I had arrived only 50 years earlier, on the shores of Australia.
Yes. That’s me, on my Dads moped, in Gouda; and later, on my bike, in Matraville; on Bondi Beach, with a redhead; and beside my first VW.
Unfortunately, the first photo, used at the bottom of page 14, was trimmed and does not show my parents and I, waving farewell to our relatives as we walked up the gangway to the migrant ship, the Johan van Oldenbarnevelt.
The little photo in the middle, shows us, boarding the little bus, with all our relatives, to go to Amsterdam, where I said a final goodbye to my best friend, Piet (pronounced Pete) and best girlfriend, Ria (pronounced Reeyah_).
Earlier, I had taken leave of the kids in my street,
as well as at school (6th class).
It was all smiles, – still – when we waved goodbye, from the deck, as well.
The the ship started to move and the relatives got back on the bus and raced the J.v.O., to the Port of IJmuiden. To wave to us, one more time, as the ship entered the lock and the water was raised, level with that of the North Sea.
Another lot of waving and then the two women (_my mother and Mrs van Hoorn. We migrated, together with her, her husband, and her young daughter, 6)
noticed that my best friend put his arm up, to hide his face and the tears and that did it.
Now there were also two women crying and later my mother would often say it was then when she realised: “What have we done? These two boys may never see each other again.”
(We did, 13 years later.)
After the Gulf of Biscaye, the stomach settled down reasonably well and visiting Port Said and going through the Suez Canal was interesting. In the Indian Ocean the ship heaved too much, along with my stomach and the ritual of going down to the dining room was not pleasant.
Speaking of food, via the internet, I noticed that quite a few Dutch people were not impressed by how much was on the menu, for the royal couple and other attendees of the gala dinner. Their reaction was: All that food, when others, in the country may have so very little.
But Prime Ministers Howard and Balkenende were impressed!
I hope they liked the look of the program booklet as well as some of the other items there, representing the 400 year relations.
The booklet was produced by an Australian, working in The Hague, Ben Zane, with whom, we discovered, I had this link: His father had been just as frequently on Maroubra Beach, as I had been. His father was a member of the Surf Life Saving Club, though. I only used to just read books on the beach and listen to John Laws and Bob Rogers presenting the latest pop-tunes, via the radio and the beach p.a. system, or sometimes, meet up with fellow-Maroubra Bay High School students.
Unlike those Dutch explorers, 400 years ago, we stayed in Australia. First being taken to Bonegilla Migrant Camp and then via Scheyville -, Villawood – and Matraville Hostels, before settling with the other family, in an old house.
While in Matraville Hostel, we were sent on a holiday to a former migrant hostel, in Nelson Bay. From there I wrote an Hello Muddah, Hello FadduhFadduh _ – letter. But that’s another story. :)