Sometimes when digging the garden soil preparing for the next crop of veggies you turn over a clod to see a brown prehistoric style insect about 15 cms long scurry away and quickly bury itself again. I have never been able to photograph one of these beautiful characters, however I have managed to photograph a distant relative, the elusive Preying Mantis. The mystery of the insect world always fascinates me - what was he doing. There was no apparent damage and so onwards I go, preparing and planting my winter cabbages. The weather had been very dry and lots of plants were starting to suffer. I never sighted the Cricket again, thinking he may have perished. I thought it strange how he got called a cricket. He didn't look like a bat nor like a ball or cricket stumps, somethings are lost in the transit of time and one can only ponder. Then In Autumn when the rains broke late in the afternoon I heard a high pitched chorus of noise coming from ever corner of the veggie garden and also from the lawn and flower patches. After listening for some time it began to make sense; it was a symphony of music coming from under the ground. These invisible crickets being in great numbers were giving thanks for the rain. The next morning on inspecting the still soft soil, evidence showed the crickets had tunnelled just under the surface making patterns going this way and that way, keeping out of sight searching for the mysteries of the insect world. This chorus of music went on day and night for days, the high pitch when standing between the contestants was hard to endure, however if you stomped on the ground those closest stopped only to start again when you moved on. As the season progresses crickets seem too hard to find and the music stops. With the large number in the garden in Autumn one could be excused for expecting to see many crickets when tending the various crops but rarely is it so. People are so busy in their walks of life they miss the mysteries of the other world. Remember that spiders had the first Web pages. Daryl Morrow 0418 376 863
Screeching Cockatoos By Daryl Morrow
The birds gathered overhead as dawn broke and formed a rowdy flock, then headed north.
Buses and Trains
Silence now as Ken, Lee, Kaye and Daryl studied the timetables for a mystery day on the buses and trains. The weather looked promising after the heavy rains of the last two days.
Whilst we waited for bus 902 from Eltham a Vietnamese lady took our group photos, she was visiting her son, but could hardly speak English.
The bus arrived and the journey had started. Later we caught bus 280 and stopped at the Pines Shopping centre, boarding bus 906 to Warrandyte, there was evidence of last night’s large hailstone storm, wind and rain, the tree leaves were stripped and lifeless on the ground and roadway.
Here we boarded bus 364 to Ringwood and gazed at the high rise apartment buildings near the new railway station which is elevated like a sky rail with a bus terminus on both sides at ground level. Then we boarded bus 380 to Croydon, then the 670 to Lilydale, which is on the outskirts of Melbourne.
Here we decided to walk the long main street, marvelling at the earl architecture, some as early as 1850. We had lunch at a noodle shop, very large serving, and then walked down Chapple St, passing an old brick church with a weatherboard chapel still in great condition.
Nearing one o’clock now, we decided to travel by train to Box Hill, waiting at the Lilydale Station. The train pulled up and the driver alighted and locked the train up. We were surprised to note the driver was a lovely female; we engaged in conversation and were surprised to learn Rachael was previously the local Postie and delivered the mail on her motor bike for years, how her life has changed, now she is the Lilydale electric train driver.
The train was a much better ride than the buses, through Mooroolbark to the high rise apartment blocks of Box Hill. What a culture experience stepping out of the train down stairs one level to a very large food market. Box Hill seems to be the love child of China. Kaye, who had taught in China for 6 years, explained this is a carbon copy of Chinese homes, transport, shopping and employment; perhaps this is the answer to future development.
Well, what a great day of adventure and comradeship, nearing the end of the day now, but wait there is more – onto bus 293through and past Doncaster across the Yarra River stopping at Montmorency where Lee and Kaye live, Ken and I walked down Were St Monty to the train and I disembarked at Eltham whilst Ken journeyed alone on to Diamond Creek.
In the morning, we gathered together us four and enjoyed our time together, but as the day ended we dispersed and disappeared separately as shadows do in the night.
Written and photographed by Daryl Morrow, 23 January 2020 and still going.
I was looking at the wicking boxes of free vegetables growing at the station platform. It was trying to rain as the silver train slowly stopped to pick up more commuters heading to the mysteries of Melbourne. Ken and I said goodbye to David as he went to do battle with Centrelink in Greensborough and we continued on to the big smoke. It was now a typical scene on the train with computers, iPhone’s and not a newspaper to be seen and as we chatted we felt like aliens among robots.
Arriving at Flagstaff Station at about 9-30, a bit early, we walked down a cobblestone lane way to view a blue-stone building wall and to our amazement there were several two tone brown Sparrows waiting to dive down and check out the menu in the open rubbish bins, there was a man sitting there also, with his shoes off, eating some kitchen offerings. Back into Lonsdale St and up to level 4 a different world, clean bright and cheery faces of all the invitees to Cota’s Volunteer’s Morning Tea.
What a very impressive attendance of mixed cultures and volunteers both men and women who support all those aged in need of direction. Cota knits many services together and helps the aged in their golden years. A 100-year-old man gave a heartfelt speech and support for both Cota and OM:NI. After the awards and speech’s Cota put on a wonderful morning tea enjoyed by all and networking was further fertilized among Melbourne and Geelong volunteers.
Leaving, we stopped for a while in Lonsdale St, amazed at the variety of people’s dress from Barristers wigs and all, office attire, workers, shoppers and a homeless man huddled under a thin blanket with a skinny dog shivering from cold and hunger – a street displaying the wealthy and the homeless.
Like two rabbits heading for home we scurried down the staircases of Flagstaff Rail Station and boarded the Eltham train, you never know who you may meet on a long silver train, it’s very random which carriage you get into and who you sit next too but a smile can engage the most amazing encounter and enter Olaf, an amazing young man with technical skills and a great personality in conversation we found he lived at the end of the same street as Ken in the same suburb!
Arriving back home I felt so humble, a warm home a welcome from my wife, cat and a comfy lounge chair to sink back into reminisce over the day’s experience and watch the log fire turn into red embers as I slipped into a welcome warm slumber time.
Story line of Daryl Morrow circa 1941
It was very difficult growing up. We had no electricity, no radio, no TV and didn’t even know about TVs until back in 1956. When it did arrive it was Black and White reception. We had a tin bath on iron legs and bath water from the tank was heated by a wood chip heater. The pipes would fracture if too much steam was created. Even our refrigerator was powered by kerosene. Our toilet was outside, up a long dirt path in a separate tin shed with a black billy container which had to be emptied once per week. To get there at night we used a candle which often blew out in the wind. Toilet paper was torn up paper and speared onto a nail that had been hammered into the wood noggin.
When we got a valve radio we could only get one station – 3CS. To listen to the radio we had to take a 6-volt battery out of the 1948 Ford truck and put it in the radio. I grew up on the family property of 110 acres of bush-land that we cleared to grow grass for the start of a dairy to milk cows and to produce pork from pigs. Growing up my main chore was milking the cows in the muddy yard and rain. This was done twice daily seven days a week for ten months of the year, also splitting and taking wood up to the house for Mum’s stove for heating and baking High Tin bread. The meals were mainly stews, spuds and Roly Poly puddings. Sometimes we had a bread and butter pudding. I had to go out in my spare time and hunt rabbits or go fishing for meals, although I was lucky because living on a dairy farm meant we produced all our milk, cream and butter, as well as some seasonal veggies.
Later bread got delivered to our house twice a week. Phil the delivery man delivered bread throughout a large part of the Otway Ranges. He used to eat his sandwiches whist driving. He died one day whilst driving. He was on his way to a delivering some farmer’s bread. His wife had poisoned his sandwiches.
My family and I lived six miles from town so we only went to town once a week to get food and farm supplies. We went to town every Thursday because it was market day, where farm stock was sold by auction. I attended Barongarook primary school. The school had six grades in one room. There were twelve children in the whole school, with one teacher for all the classes. The school’s heating was just one big wood open fire.
We never had very much sporting gear so we relied on running, long jump, tunnel ball, high jump and pole vaulting, using a cut bush stick for a pole. Most sports were competed in bare feet. When competing with other remote schools we only had hard ground, with no grass or sand. We had to take a cut lunch, but cordial was often provided. Raspberry cordial! What a treat!
After primary school I attended Colac High school. I walked along a gravel road for two miles to get to the bus stop and then I would go to school six miles away in Colac. I went there until Year 9. It was very upsetting having to leave school. On 2nd February the following year I actually broke down and cried because my schooling was over.
I left school when I was 15 and worked on our family dairy farm, cutting wood in the forest and growing potatoes, but I made no personal income. I wanted to carry on with school but our family’s economic situation would not allow this to happen.
I had a beautiful red Kelpie, which was my hunting dog. His name was Red. We hunted rabbits and went fishing for trout and eels together along the Barwon River flats. Sometimes we slept out all night together under our old green army coat to awake with a white frost on us.
When I was sixteen I started boxing and was quite successful in the Western District. I wanted to continue with boxing and thought of it as being a possible career, although I didn’t have any family support and it was a twelve mile bike ride to training. My bike never had mudguards or any lights, so I had to give it up.
I was driving cars and tractors around before I was 18 although I didn’t end up getting my license until I was 19. A nice gentleman offered to come with me in his car – a two door Morris Minor – to get my license. The policeman got in the back seat told me to drive around the block, whilst he talked to the owner of the car. On arriving back to the station the policeman said “Okay, come in and sit down”. The only question he asked me was “Have you got a 10 shillings note?” Lucky I did have 10 bob. And that was it – I was licensed to drive.
The Korean War was during my primary school years. I believed that this war was going to be the end of all world conflict. The Vietnam War was also fought while I was growing up, although I was lucky and missed out on the ballot system to attend that war. I have
always believed that ‘that war was what tore America apart and split the country’. I am very thankful never to have had to go to war and I believe the citizens should not be accountable and be involved in the war. The leaders are the ones that got the country involved, “why should the citizens sacrifice their sons and daughters”.
When I was in high school at age 14 I made an iron snake statue in metal work classes. I am 77 now and still have my beloved black snake.
For three years my best friend in high school was David Balcombe. It was difficult to remain friends when we left school, because there was no electronics like mobile phones or iPads. It was only in the late Fifties the late that we got a wind up wall phone. Even then you had to ring the telephone exchange and ask to be connected to a particular number, and the exchange closed at 9pm. The only other way of contact was to ride bikes or walk miles in order to see friends. Many a time they were not home. Strange as it may seem we both married girls named Florence.
David’s father was a shearer and he got me a job as roustabout in the sheds, sweeping the floors and penning the sheep as well as throwing the fleece. I learned how to control the Kelpie work dogs. it was a great learning curve that I loved. I worked 5 days and got £20 a week ($40) plus keep. After traveling and working around Western Victoria and parts of NSW and SA I wanted to become a shearer because the money was so good and you only worked five days a week. On my first full day, from 7.30am to 5.30pm I shore 77 Merino sheep and I was so exhausted that I could barely walk to the shearers’ quarters or eat my evening meal. I met many hardened true Aussies around the shed. They were hard as nails but with hearts of gold. It was here I learned the value of drinking long neck cold beer after a hard day’s work. I also learned it was a lonely life as a shearers’ cook. Men are so hard to please! At Penshurst the team sacked the cook and on Monday a person from Tattslotto came to the shed looking for him as he had one won first prize of £10,000 ($20,000 of today’s money). Boy, was the team pissed off about all that free beer they had missed out on!
Sheep and cattle were in my blood, so after Florence and I got married we worked on farms and large acreage stations. We got $36 a week and we were provided with our house, eggs, milk and meat. Bear in mind you worked six days a week from 7.30 am to 6 pm and got half a day a month to go shopping in town some forty miles away.
In February 1966 decimal currency became our new currency, replacing our Pounds Shillings and Pence. Monetary values were: one pound =2 dollars; one shilling = 10 cents; one pence = 1 cent. We went to a family owned grocery store in Hamilton run by an elderly mum and dad who asked us to work out the amount we owed them, you may laugh but many people found the change over hard to adjust to, and even harder when metric measures replaced Feet and Inches.
In 1970 I managed a cattle farm in Kangaroo Ground (750 acres). One day I went out to round up cattle and the horse – a 17 hand Arab – lost his footing and crushed me onto big rocks and broke some of my limbs, jaw and teeth. I was concussed for 48 hours and spent many days in the Austin Hospital. This was the time Whitlam was Prime Minister and he offered adults free education to further their skills. The Whitlam program of further education was offered to me because of the accident. I took up this offer and completed my leaving certificate and a 5 year course in Real Estate at Prahran College, where I achieved my full Real Estate license. At the same time I was working in real estate at KG McGorlick Real Estate in Eltham.
I had my first date with Florence who worked at the market. I would see her on Thursday, the market day. Boy, could she carve up a pumpkin with that meat cleaver! She was working in the fruit and veg market. She was a pretty good looking sort, with big flashy eyes and a smile like the sunrise. Anyhow, I went on to marry her when she was 18 and I was 19 and we are still together now. I used to ride my bike six miles to get to her to go to the movies which only cost 1 shilling. I met Florence at the market as I held up the chooks and ducks for the auctioneer to sell and she worked amongst the cabbages and pumpkins on the other side of the arcade walkway. We never really concentrated on our jobs on Thursdays for some reason. Later my Dad told me he delivered wood to her family home. What luck! Even Dad thought she was a good looking Heifer.
Florence and I married in Colac. It was a small happy ceremony with just both families in church. We had our honeymoon in Mount Gambier and Adelaide.
Florence and I went on to have two children: one boy, Steve, who was born in Casterton on 1 January 1961, a New Year’s Day baby, and one girl, Cindy, who was born in Willaura on 13 December 1962.
We went on to be grandparents. Cindy had two children, Kathleene and Luke, and Steve had three children, Kimberly, Jacqueline and Monique.
I have always said I loved having a daughter as I never had a sister and having a son was so self-fulfilling. We had replaced ourselves as the Government had advised people to do so as to avoid over population. Looking back now, that didn’t work!
Cindy attended Kangaroo Ground Primary School for three years. Steve and Cindy attended Hurstbridge High School and Eltham High School.
I decided to work in real estate when we moved to Eltham and spoke to a real estate company who then offered me a job. Norm Baxter was my mentor and he trained me in the basics of real estate.
My very first auction was in Pryor Street in Eltham. Before it sold I was down to $50 bids. The property was owned by the Education Department.
My most memorable real estate moment was when I dressed up as a Policeman with an English Bobby hat and all and auctioned off Diamond Creek Police Station. I threatened the crowd if anyone misbehaved I would have them locked up for the night with no bail being offered.
Real estate was a lot different back in those days. The women did all the typing and took all the phone calls, but as time went by and computers and telephones came in, men had to learn how to use them. The women that usually did all the work for the men started to refuse to do all the typing for them.
Finding out about OM:NI in Diamond Creek – a group of like minded men over 50 who have retired or lost direction and connection – has been a highlight. It is now almost seven years that I have going to meetings and I have seen some very great gains and friendships made here. Sadly we have lost two valued mates through sickness. They were 89 years of age but still running on 20 – active mates. In 2012 our group won the Australia Day Award for Community Service in Nillumbik and in 2018 our founding Father won a Community Award for Jagajaga which was presented by Federal Minister Jenny Macklin. In May 2011, I was awarded the Sir Kelvin award and duly Knighted Sir Daryl by the group.
My greatest influence in my life was my Mother and Father. “They taught me how to survive, to enjoy what we had, and they also taught me respect and honesty.”
Now both Mum and Dad have travelled on.
…………Now Lady Florence holds my lantern and I’m 77 and still going strong.
**** To read all other stories posted on this blog by Daryl https://omnidiamondcreek.wordpress.com/author/daryl1941/
It was a lovely summer’s day when the awards were presented in the fully renovated mud brick community hall in leafy Eltham. Hundreds of locals and dignitaries attended to witness the awards being presented on this uplifting and inspiring occasion. In recognition of the efforts and sacrifices of ordinary people for the betterment of all other needy persons in Jagajaga.
106 awards were presented to individuals and groups for their long standing efforts some for more than 30 years.
The Australian National Anthem and Waltzing Matilda were both expertly sung by Mandy Lyn Brook, her renditions were riveting.
Ken (now 78 ) had 26 invitees and family attend to celebrate the presentation of his award for establishing the OM:NI groups in Diamond Creek, Eltham, and Hurstbridge where now over 70 men attend on a fortnightly basis to make new friends, reunite with community and build their confidence again.
Ken also has built a riding group to raise funds to eliminate Prostate Cancer known as “Ken’s Pedal against Prostate”
Many photos were taken with family, friends and council reps, and Jenny Macklin MP.
At day’s end Ken went home had an hour sleep, got on his bike rode to town for a pizza and sat with Lorraine to reminisce about what a beautiful community we live in.
We all congratulate you Ken.
There was a great annual gathering of all the birds, animals and insects at Upper Lurg to celebrate Christmas, after the humans had migrated to Melbourne.
The 25th December had arrived and the sun was just spreading its warm rays of light across the mountain tops into the rich valley of 5 acres covered in trees, flowers and a muddy water hole.
The Kookaburras were awake and excitedly laughed and called out “Come on the Suns up” lets party, in moments there was a great gathering of Cockatoos, Corellas, Blue Wrens, Firetails, Yellow Breasted Honey eaters, Swallows. A Black wallaby, a Golden Hare, Rabbits, an Echidna, Bluey the Blue Tongued Lizard and a Black Angus calf with his Wooly Lamb mate, to mention just a few who live in this little forest they call home.
Just inside the main gate in the middle of the gravel track stands a Giant Ant’s nest the home of the vigilant Red Soldiers that guard the bushland from unwanted invaders.
There is a large metal shed set amongst the trees and this year two men erected a veranda along one side this gives us shelter from the wind, rain and sun, the Swallows, smiling said this will give us a perfect structure to build our nests after collecting mud from the dam, for our next season’s chicks. The shed door had been left open, giving access to water from the dripping tap over the sink, and all the kitchen benches, furniture, tables and wood stove, and well stocked pantry what a wonderful Christmas this will be.
All the mums and dads brought along their babies from last Spring to celebrate and meet all the residents of the their common home along with food for the festive lunch, there were worms, grubs, grass seeds, insects, nuts from the gum trees plenty of porridge, weeties, cake, sugar, and a bottle of Port left in the open pantry that helped lift the spirit of all concerned.
But what about some music? several Field Crickets jumped on the back of the couch along with a few vocal Cockatoos, for the drum effect the Echidna rolled around in the empty four gallon drum, all the smaller birds, Blue Wren, Firetails, Willy Wag Tails danced to and fro through the limbs of the Red Flowering Gum which had been allowed to grow through the veranda roof.`
The Yabbies’ from the dam got a ride up on the back of the Blue Cranes from the dam and we filled the sink with water so they could stay and join in, one drank some Port and started doing cart wheels around the sink and pinching the females on their bottoms, we had to put him in the kettle for an hour or two till we could get him craned back to the dam.
There was great stories told about how and where to build various nests to raise the young, stories of the joy when the young hatched and when they could take to the wing and fly freely across the sky and land safely on the limbs.
The shed was decorated with local flowers some golden some red, pink gum leaves and dried Flowering Gum Nuts, the day was long and hot ,most of the young were tired and curled up together on the bed and were sound asleep even though the Cockatoos were screeching and complaining about the lack of cold Champagne.
It was a great Christmas enjoyed by all but now the shadows were lengthening time to go home and put the babies into their comfortable feather beds. We cleaned up the shed did the dishes swept the floor dumped all the rubbish. Then we sat for a while on the deck chairs reflecting on what Mark has done for us, this was a vacant bare 5 acres, he planted all these native trees and shrubs made sure they grew into the habitat were we could live and call home, he protects this oasis and asks only that we visit him, sing some songs, show him our dances and keep the balance and harmony of the bush.
It was 8-30 am Tuesday 31st October 2017 when we headed off by train to Flinders St Melbourne. the weather was fine and sunny, we arrived at the station and crossed the road to Federation Square and picked up our tickets for the Ferry ride down the Yarra River to explore Williamstown. We negotiated our fare with a lovely Chinese lady (Ching). After a hug and paying our fare we were informed the river was to high from overnight rain, a king tide and yesterdays strong winds the river water was too high to get under some up river bridges so we would have to walk downstream some good half hour to the Exhibition St ferry.
It was a lovely walk along the banks of the river we were soon spread out like Browns cows we were concerned we would miss the boat. However Mike hurried along and negotiated with the captain to delay his departure. There were a lot of passengers on board waiting to experience a Melbourne Historic River Cruise, the captain said if you fall overboard hold your arm aloft with a $5 dollar note in it and I will stop and pick you up. With a $100 note in your hand I will pick you even quicker but no money in your hand I will pick you up on my return trip if you are still afloat. The captain gave us a running commentary of the history of the buildings both residential and wharves commercial development and current usage today during the one hour plus journey. One water front 3 level home sold recently for excess of $9 million, and across the river the early high rise government apartments rent out for $80 per week.
We went under the Bolte Bridge, the West Gate bridge were 27 men lost their lives during construction. The river was awash with large ships many laden with large containers many from china there were lots of jetties, many boats and yachts, old war ships.
We pulled into the jetty and alighted beside a mine sweeper, it was a short walk to the active township which still had some lovely early architectural buildings, what craftsmen they were back around the 17 and 18th century around the corner down Nelson St. We ambled along amazed at what there was to absorb and into the Seaworks Museum. We were even more astonished with the history of Williamstown and the early history of the sailing ships and learned that each state in Australia had its own navy prior to Federation.
Time to sample the temptation of the Piers fish and chips $10. Andrew had secretly eaten a cut lunch he had brought along but that never stopped him from enjoying the huge feast put in front of him. We said good-bye to Pauline (Oh yes, after the traditional Hug) she had looked after us so nicely. Across the road by only 2 minutes it was suggested coffee was in order but before we could leave we had watch Andrew devour a large portion of Apple Strudel and Cream – he was heard to whisper to himself I hope we don’t have to walk too far!
We walked half a kilometer past some lovely old and derelict home to get to the rail station and guess who was last there?
Williamstown is the last or first station depending on where you wish to go and the station reflects its age. A 20 minute wait and we were on our way to Spencer St Station back into the noise, chaos of modern Melbourne, and people everywhere like ants going every which way.
We jumped on board the Hurstbridge train, just managed enough seats for us all, we headed towards home via the underground loop, we laughed and discussed our experiences of the day,
We all agreed the day had ended too soon (5pm) and one by one we disappeared from each other’s company as we got to our various home stations.
Another great adventure in Marvelous Melbourne …. “Ken’s quote”
Williamstown in a day.
Thanks Daryl for another pleasant OM:NI day out exploring Marvelous Melbourne. Who was to know that the high level of the Yarra due to heavy rain, high tide and a little wind would mean that the Ferry couldn’t sail under the bridges? The long walk from Fed Square to Jeff’s Shed was a big step for some. Apologies to Andrew in particular. We should have taken the advice of the booking Lass and caught the tram down to Spencer Street. We made it however and enjoyed the trip and the commentary from the Skipper.
The Maritime Museum at Williamstown –staffed by volunteers,was excellent. Especially the 90 years old film of a sailing ship rounding Cape Horn in a wild storm. That such a film was made so long ago and preserved for us to see what sailors of that era had to endure was an eye-popping opener! The Guide was very good and quite hospitable.
What can I say about ‘barra and chips’ by Gem Pier? A typical OM:NI meeting over a meal.
Coffee in the main Street of Willy, watching with envy as Andrew devoured an apple strudel – with cream – followed by a stroll back to the train Station for the trip back home. A great day.
The threat of rain was passing and the sun was venturing out as several OMNI men sat at the Eltham station waiting to catch the 8.32am train into the city to participate in COTA’s 3 monthly meeting at 9.30am. As we chatted and laughed away the back yards and homes slipped quickly by as the sun sent search lights and flashes from the high rise windows as if saying “come on the suns up.”
We stepped out onto the platform at Flinders St. Station and quickly crossed into Elizabeth St heading to Block Arcade – 98 Elizabeth Street, passing some homeless people asleep on the footpath, it was only 8 deg c. Up the lift to the 4th floor of this iconic building that was sold last year for 110 million dollars. There was a buzz of activity as men jostled for coffee and biscuits. We sat around the large board room table and listened to the reports the reps gave from the various Victorian groups.
The success was applauded with great enthusiasm plus some laughter here and there, biscuits and tea for morning break followed by a video of promotional activity created by the skills of older men with ideas. Followed by a lovely lunch of healthy rolls and more coffee, mixed with exchanges of ideas, hand shakes and we vaporized into various directions and modes of transport with the exciting thought of all meeting again before Christmas. BUT NOT AT THIS VENUE.
We were informed that COTA was moving to a new address because of the rising rent required, so we are going to a lovely spot in Little Lonsdale Street near the Flagstaff Gardens and the underground station.
So guess what, the three Omniteers Ken, Nick and Daryl went exploring again along Elizabeth St., left turn into Little Lonsdale St and there was a high-rise crane suspended above the traffic lifting huge buckets of concrete several stories above extending the height of the city’s skyline whilst a man suspended from a single rope and a small platform was painting the outside of a skyscraper with a roller some 10 stories above where we gazed in awe.
Onward to the future home of COTA, Council On The Ageing, and as the photo will show this high-rise dwarfs the single level brick dwelling beside it, which has a brick front, lane-way down one side revealing a long blue-stone wall, very mysterious perhaps it was a Cobb and Co station when Melbourne ran on horsepower.
We met three lovely ladies having coffee on the sidewalk they took our photos and helped us with our iphones and enlightened us with the current history of our new meeting home.
We dared each other and went up by lift to have an optic and were invited in and given some lovely biscuits by a very sweet young lady. There is a nice coffee shop on the ground floor of which we partook and a blackboard therein chalked a message “what did the wig say to the bald head?” …….. I will leave the answer up to you!
Around the corner down the steps that lead below the foundations of Melbourne’s sky scrapers and onto the City loop train heading back to Eltham and Diamond Creek. We engaged in conversation with two Ivanhoe school kids on the way and asked them how many times can you fold a piece of paper in half. After a guess of 7 times we gave them an OMNI brochure to fold but the best they could do 6 times. We asked if they could recognize any one the OMNI brochure and in a flash the boy pointed to me, asking in a cheeky manner we said and what’s his name the reply was Daryl. This set us back a yard or two asking how did you know my name? The answer, he said – “it is on your name tag in the photo!”
His said his father is aged 45 so we gave him the brochure to give to his Dad with an invitation to join OMNI when turns 50.
The pain struck around midnight but, like most tough stupid Aussies, the comment was “she will be right mate”, it will pass over.
Well by daylight it was not all right. Lots of nausea made my wife Lady Florence call the ambulance via triple 000. What a great service, arrived within 20 minutes and into the Austin emergency hospital within 30 minutes where a doctor from an overseas origin attended me he talked for a short while then by observation alone. He stated correctly, I believe you have a bowel blockage. He was 69 years old jet black hair, he spoke of life and how to live properly and left a lasting impression upon me.
Up to the eighth floor bed 16 ward E west, with a pent house view of east Melbourne, this was to be my home from 2nd April till 12thApril.
Many x-rays, tubes and blood tests proved the old doctor correct and an opration followed leaving a long stapled pattern from sternum to bikini line. I learnt not to be afraid but to put my faith in the surgical team who calmly went about the task before them and it seemed in next to no time at all I was in bed awake feeling no pain at all .
The nursing staff was from many corners of this planet. Each and every one lifted my spirit and enlightened my knowledge and acceptance of the many struggles, losses and true grit that has taught them a new language, their pursuit of knowledge through university studies, finding a new home without families. They had the most reassuring smiles and one nurse on night duty would sing and hum Indian tunes to us during the early hours before dawn.
One patient Rosa told me both her and her husband with a small family had to leave their home in Cairo, Egypt. They had no work were very hungry and feared for the well-being of their children, somehow they got to Australia learnt English got jobs educated the family and bought a home. I met some of this very fine family now calling Australia home. Her husband died 20 years ago and now she has terminal cancer – she was the nicest person I met there.
Thanks to all the OMNI and Men’s shed members who visited and supported me.
One doctor gave me this parting advice…..
“Get out of here, go home, enjoy your life to the fullest and don’t ever come back.”
I dedicate this story to all the staff, doctors, nurses, porters and cleaners of the