Canberra 1981-82

Kath Meets Bub ‘n Son in Law

Carmel was on the mend from her repatriation to Australia due to dysentery.

But our plans were disrupted by a call back to work.

Two senior Thai Government counterparts were awarded a week Special Visitor tour of Australia.

A programmed itinerary had them touring the various state capitals and particular areas of industry such as dryland farming in South Australia and engineering technology of the Snowy Mountains Hydro Electricity scheme.

They needed an escort. I was seconded. Business was in English but socialising was a mixture of Thai or English - whatever.

The round trip itinerary involved driving from the Snowy Mountains to Tumut airport and picking up a charter aircraft there for the leg Tumut to Canberra - over the Brindabella ranges.

Perfect! Carmel and Emma would travel from Sydney to Gundagai by bus where they would proceed on to Brungle about 20 minutes away.

They would wait there for a few days and join me at Tumut airport as extra passengers.

Emma was aged fifteen months - cute as a button.

Carmel phoned me to report that Kath fell in love with Emma at first sight. She was so happy.

Now it was my turn to be introduced.

I phoned "Brungle" 20 minutes out of Tumut which was the single for Carmel and Emma to be driven by Kath to the airport.

Meeting one's Mother in Law for the first time is daunting.

But I had the cards falling for me - I was wearing a suit, speaking Thai and had a private aircraft at my disposal as Plan B - escape.

Kath got out of the car last and demurely looked me over as much as I assessed her –small, elderly, arthritic, grey and slightly stooped.

There was only time for an introduction by Carmel as dusk was approaching and we wanted to overfly the Brindabella Ranges before it got dark.

I introduced Kath to my visitors and that was it.

We were off. Easy! What was the problem I thought.

The next time we caught up I was simply part of the family - not just a faceless name.

Travel was now limited to a two hour drive in our Holden Kingswood to the Sapphire Coast for holidays with Kath and Marie, Barry and Katie and numerous visits to both Gundagai and Brungle.

Kath enjoyed our visits immensely.

She operated a mail run along the Gundagai Tumut road (via Brungle).

She would take Emma on her mail run which instead of a couple of hours would take her all day - as she spent the time showing off her latest granddaughter.

Page & Florey

We set up residence in my two bedroom unit in Page.

We were there for a month when we decided to purchase a "spec" three bedroom veneer in the new suburb of Florey.

Florey was a new inner suburb where horse adjustment was popular.

I would take Emma and BJ (her little friend next door) up to the hill to feed the horses in a corral.

I would also go for daily 45 minute runs around this open savanna then up to Lake Ginninderra and home.

We rang up the local Catholic priest at Page with a view to organising for Emma to be baptised.

"Good" said the priest "Now how many months is Emma".

"Twenty Four months"

Graduation Bachelor of Arts (Asian Studies) Aust National University (ANU)

I took long service Leave and finished my degree in a year.

All in all, I started in 1966 and finished in 1984. Sixteen years with exemptions deferments and credits (due to Thai and Indonesian skill sets).

My time On Campus, however, was only 30 months.

Mum was the tea lady in the Economics Section of ANU. I always dropped in for a cuppa and a big handful of biscuits. She had been working there for over a decade.

Graduation Day was amusing. There was I all dressed up with cape and gown and degree in hand. There was much pomp and ceremony. All the professors and academics also have to dress up in the colours and styles of their (a) faculty and (b) status.

Mum the Tea Lady Graduating

Mum was in her glory.

G'day Nell … Hello ... Nell... What are you doing Nell. All these gowned academic were coming over and talking to her.

Later my sister Maureen and Mum took Carmel and I to lunch.

In the car park we horsed around.

Mum put on the cape and gown and we took a photograph of her clasping my degree certificate.

As a lark, Mum hung the photo up in her living room at her home in Watson.

She would be visited by friends in her bowling or golf groups who would say:

"Nell! I knew you said you were at the university but I did not know you were an academic!"

Jen Mum Sue Maureen Babe
Greg John Paul Sam

The Malone Clan