I was born in 1960 and grew up in the little known suburb of Grays Point, Sydney, Australia. Situated on the Port Hacking River, surrounded by rugged bushland and sparsely populated, it was the perfect place for Max and Julie to raise their six rambunctious children.
In the early days, holidays for us involved dad building the house we lived in. My dad was was not only a builder, but also a carpenter. He made a lot of fittings in the house as well as sets of drawers. Our home was on the waterfront, and dad also built a small wooden boat, in which we would fish, travel across or up the river to picnic spots in the Royal National Park.
Mum and dad became close friends with our next door neighbours, The Barnes’s. They had a caravan and every Christmas holidays went off to caravan parks in places like Sussex Inlet, Foster and Tuncurry. They were kind enough for most years to invite our family to stay in the van for a week – sometimes with them there too. Not a mean feat considering we were a family of eight and they a family of five (although the two eldest of their three eldest daughters did not always stay on).
We we were a little squished inside the van, but they were the best of times. During the day there was lots of swimming, sunbathing, surfing, fishing and prawning. At night we cooked and ate our fish or prawns, and dad taught us to play cards, or we went to bingo, or the movies, or simply went to bed early with sunburn and exhaustion. There was no TV or radio. We weren’t allowed to ‘hang’ around the caravan during the day and were vehemently encouraged to “go outside and play!”. We had total freedom to run wild, and we did. When it rained we read comic and books, played board games, or went fishing because we were told that was when the fish were biting. If The Barnes’s were in residence, they took off for long scenic drives.
The highlight of the day was when the milkman drove around the park, calling “Milko!”. Us kids were allowed to purchase a yogurt, flavoured milk or other milky treat.