Bairnsdale, East Gippsland, Victoria: first stop on on The Hippy Days, Arabian Nights Roadshow and, coincidentally, where I grew up!
Of course I couldn't resist having a bit of wander down memory lane while I was in town.
Bairnsdale Primary School
The scene of my first kiss. I was eight years old and the object of my innocent desire was the lean and lanky, straw blonde, scabby kneed David Saxton, the bad boy with the rakish grin and larrikin sparkle in his wolf-grey eyes. At recess, my friends and I and would burst from the classroom and, dispersing in pairs, run off to play hide and seek. One day, I followed my young love interest to the old oak tree at the far corner of the school yard and it was there, while waiting to be discovered, that the emboldened lad asked for a kiss. Having just seen sixteen-going-on-seventeen Liesal Von Trapp kiss Nazi-wannabe Rolf in The Sound of Music at the Moondale Drive-in, I knew exactly what to do. Standing on the tips of my toes, I squeezed my eyes shut, puckered my lips and tilted my face to the heavens. Sadly, I can't remember the specifics of that particular peck - whether it was warm or wet, hard or soft, brief or lingering, but I do recall how thrilled I was. I'd just kissed a boy, the coveted David Saxton what's more, and nothing would ever be the same again!
The Unleaning Water Tower of Bairnsdale
My father was a professional photographer and he and my mother owned and ran the local photography business. After school my sister and I would hang around the shop waiting for our parents to knock off so we could all go home for dinner. Mum would be at her table re-touching the latest batch of dad's freshly developed black and white photographs and, if I promised to keep still, she’d allow me to sit next to her and watch as she erased wrinkles, pimples, freckles and moles with a tiny brush and a razor-sharp blade. Dad would be out the back in the darkroom, developing images of plain looking brides in the acrid chemical-saturated air or jiggling a teddy bear in the studio, trying to coax a grizzly baby to smile, under the hot, glaring lights. Once, Dad was asked to photograph the township of Bairnsdale from the top of its 30 metre water tower. Up the internal staircase my fearful father climbed before emerging onto the narrow balcony below the water tank. But as he leaned tentatively over the railing to take his shot, disaster struck - Dad's camera slipped from his sweaty grip and plummeted, like one of Galileo's rocks, to the ground.
Bairnsdale Court House
Built in 1892, the Court House in Bairnsdale is 'aesthetically significant for successfully demonstrating an innovative and unusual combination of historical and architectural features, blending Art Nouveau, Romanesque, Medieval and Australian motifs and styles.' For me the Court House
is significant for an entirely different reason- namely, my first court appearance. It was 1975 and my boyfriend and I had recently been pulled over by the local constabulary whilst driving through Bairnsdale in our beat up EJ Holden station wagon. Obvious profiling don't you agree? A search of the vehicle ensued and a match box of the green stuff found in the glove box. Damn. We'd been busted! Fortunately, we looked twelve and the amused and fatherly judge presiding that day let us off with a stern warning and a small fine.
Author Talk, Bairnsdale Library, 8th May, 5.30 to 6.30pm. Ten people showed up. Four books sold (one to the library).
Next stop - the Bega Valley, New South Wales.
Your intrepid little Aussie author,
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