After 20 minutes of cycling in the Melbourne summer sun, I decided to find a nice bench in the shade and park up for a break.
Her name is Linda and shes an 84 lady originally from Portsmouth in the UK. She came over to Australia when she was 23 years old in 1955 on a boat. A 10 bob pom.
She laughed about how for the 1st week she was terribly sea sick and spent all of her time in bed.
Linda was situated on H deck which she explained was at the bottom of the belly of the boat. She explained how her and her friend would go up to the main deck at night time, as everyone else would too, and they would sleep on chairs they would pull together. They’d lie there looking up at the stars and enjoying the breeze.
She talked about how she has always lived around the south east of Melbourne and loved it. She explained that there used to be one main road which was surrounded by trees and the side streets were all made of sand. There were huge blocks of land with little houses and large gardens with gum trees.
Linda went on to tell me that in November 1956 her parents followed her out to Australia. They had been on the last boat to pass through the Nile before all boats had to travel around the cape to get to Australia.
When they arrived, her father moved to Sydney for a job whilst her mother stayed with her in Melbourne. Linda had been present at the Melbourne Olympic Games! She has a photograph in the press box with her mother and friends enjoying the games.
Linda then talked about how her and her friend Maureen hitch hiked to Alice Springs and then onto Darwin. She said that she met a family called the Jolly’s and they helped them along the way. She said by the time that they got to Darwin, they had about an inch of red sand all over them and I know exactly what they mean. I recently travelled to Uluru and my trainers were stained red by the end of it.
Linda had married at 36 to a gentleman named Doug Frances. 6 months later they were pregnant with their daughter. She now also has a 4 year old granddaughter named Hannah and she showed me photographs on her iPhone 4. Her face lit up when she spoke about how much she loves spending time with her. It really made me think about my family and how much I miss them sometimes.
I spoke to Linda about my travels to Australia, my job, my life over here and what I want to do with my future. I told her how I felt I was having a quarter life crisis and wanting to change my whole career path. She listened and it felt really good to talk about what I had been thinking and feeling.
Doug had died a few years ago and Linda told me how lonely she feels sometimes. She thanked me for spending time talking and I asked could I talk about her story on here. She agreed and even let me take a photo of her.
It really was so lovely talking to her and hearing her stories and experiences. It’s an eye opener to see how much everything has changed and how things have progressed, not only in Australia but also the differences in the UK since the 1950’s.
It also made me grateful for everything I have. Friends, family, pets, happiness, minimal worries and insight.