MEMORIES OF WOOMERA - 40


Memories

Congratulations on this website.  I saw the ABC presentation of "Welcome to Woomera" - and it was reasurring to know that my joyful memories from that time are shared. 
 
My family moved to Woomera in 1966 when I was six-years-old, and remained until 1972.  I remember living in the "Flats" down on H block.  Our neighbours in H Block were Des and Lesley Fahey, and their boys, Keith, Michael and Brenton.  Sadly Brenton passed away only a month ago.  Our other neighbours were Helen and Merv Graydon and their children Karen and Ian and Brian.  Our families have remained friends and we see other a few times a year.  Other neighbours in Block H were The Kirkby family and we met up with them in Wodonga many years later. We moved from H Block to Gundawarra Street - down by the football oval and arboretum.  We became friends with the Bergmans from USA, the Hogg family, the McCarthy's, the McDonalds (from Scotland) - I remember their children Mary, Isabelle and the boys and many other families. 
 
My best memories were heading out onto the "donga' with a back pack, a big bottle of cool-aid, some broken biscuits of any description and spending the day looking for stumpy tail lizards, geckos, centipedes, and the odd snake, as well as a scratch or two from cornering the odd feral cat.  The black caves were another favourite place to roam off to.  To this day I can still hear the deafening sound of silence that is the sound of the desert.  Our families were mad gem fossickers.  We would go to Andamooka, Lake Heart and many other sites to fossick for bits and pieces. 
 
I remember going to the Woomera Area School.  My teachers were Miss Obst, Mrs Garrett, Mr Hill and probably others whom time and a full life has made me forget.  I can only remember a few friends, one in particular Roslyn Cox.  I remember the day that Apollo 11 landed on the Moon.  I thought at the time how ironic it was that our presence in Woomera and being part of the "Space Race", we were the only people in the world who could not view this event on television.  At the 11th hour, a lady who lived across the road from the school, invited some of our class to go to her home and watch the first moon walk on her television.  It was a very snowy reception, but I remember feeling so lucky. Television was an unnecessary commodity as life in Woomera was so full on.  Always something to do, some place to go or see.  The other exciting adventure was our school excursion to Leigh Creek.
 
Weekends were always fun filled - there were picnics, gem fossicking expeditions, Bar-b-Ques, parties, the arboretum, sporting events, exploring, movies (I can still smell the picture theatre).  It cost 5 cents to get in and we always had 5 cents to spend.  The swimming pool was like our second home. (I remember tip toeing over boiling hot gibbers to get to the pool gates). I was in the Brownies and Girl Guides and so much more.  I received my first bike in Woomera - I was out at dawn and home after dark (sometimes missed dinner too). 
 
I remember when Judith Durham came to Woomera.  Judith came down to the swimming pool for a bit of time out.  She was mobbed by people wanting her autograph and then they left her be.  She sat down near me and she started talking to me.  I honestly did not know who she was.
 
I remember the coffee lounge, candy was 2 or 3 for a cent, ice-cream was 5c.  The ASCO supermarket, the toy store, and the hospital.  I spent many a long week in there with ENT problems as did many kids. I thought the nurses were always laughing and nice and as such I was inspired to become one.
 
I remember feeling very free, happy and I was never bored.  In 1972, my parents packed up the Holden Premier and we moved back to civilisation.  I remember that my parents attempts to confine us to our suburban back yard in Mornington, Victoria, were always confounded by our overpowering sense of freedom.  Much to my parent's chargrin, I would be over the fence and on "walkabout" first chance.  Because of my life in Woomera, I have an outlook that everything in life is an adventure and that "the simple things are often the best". 
 
I can't say that I have ever met anyone or any neighbours who are as enthusiastic or as sociable as ours were in Woomera.  It took me a few years to discover that Woomera and all that went with it, was not your average neighbourhood and that our childhood was not your average. 
 
Once again thank you for this interesting website.

Kind regards
Deb Melrose (nee Horsburgh).

E-mail:    deborahmelrose@optusnet.com.au

(16 November 2004)


 
Memories of Woomera



 
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(Last updated: 18 February, 2006)