My first holiday away from home, on my own, well actually with my 2nd cousin Maureen Woodcock (now Drage) who was 20 at the time, was on a coach tour of Queensland. From memory, it was Maureen who suggested it. I was 17 at the time and had never been away more than a few days at a time at my grandmother’s.
This trip would be across the other side of the country, travelling first by train, coach, then aeroplane home.
Maureen kept a letter that I wrote to her, unfortunately, I didn’t have a date on it, but it would have been early in the year of 1973 as it was March when we went away. It reads like this:
C/- Lockes Ltd
Maureen, This is the only trip that we can go on which will fit the 21 Days.
I’m getting it all written down in detail but it won’t be ready until tomorrow so I’ll phone you when I get it, to tell you the departure & arrival times, days, exact cost etc.
Altogether it comes to approx $550 including accommodation, meals, train trip over & flight back & tour.
We will go by the Indian Pacific to Sydney have at least 3-3 1/2 hrs spare. Catch another train to Brisbane – altogether 5 days; Bus Tour as per pamphlet – 14 Days & fly back – 1 Day.
It sounds quite good I think. Jenny
$550 sounds a pretty good deal to me, especially as it included the Indian Pacific train and flights. In comparison now, just the train to Sydney, off peak is around $2,300 one way. Brisbane to Cairns coach tour, $4000 plus flight from Cairns to Perth $400 plus.
I must have been the organiser and I think that came about because I was living in Geraldton and Maureen was in Northampton. One big memory for me was when Dad said he’d help with some of the costs. I hadn’t been working long enough to save a lot of money, so Dad sold some wool to Barny Atkinson’s Wool Store that used to be on the ocean end of Durlacher Street. I can’t remember the exact amount, but it sure helped.
I remember going to the Geraldton Tourist Bureau which at that time was on Marine Terrace and making the arrangements.
It was mid-March when we left and how we got to Perth to catch the Indian Pacific is lost in my memory. Maybe Maureen will enlighten me. I do remember the train trip though. I’d not long started going out with Bob (now husband) and I wrote to him every day on that trip which was 4 days and 3 nights in total, also when we were on the tour in Queensland. Did he keep any of those letters? No!!
We didn’t venture far from our cabin except for meal times, although on the last day, Maureen and I did go down to the lounge and started talking to some people. We were obviously not very adventurous. I can remember trying to walk up and down the passage of the train with its curved walls so that when the train rocked and rolled, you didn’t fall over.
Our cabins were small, but they had seats near a big window so we could see out and at night, the beds would slide down from above. The cabin also had its own toilet and shower. Very tiny, but we thought it was pretty cool. Once again, it’s the era of the mini skirt as you can see by the photos above.
We stopped at Port Augusta for a short time and were able to get off the train. When we arrived in Sydney, we had about 3 1/2 hours to fill in, so we decided to catch a train to see the Sydney Harbour bridge. What a hoot that was. We sure were country bumpkins and didn’t realise that the train does not go around in circles!!! Just after we took this photo of the bridge, we asked a man in the carriage if this train would take us back to the central station. Ummm, no, you need to get off and catch the next train going back the other way. Oh my! Where would we have ended up?
We eventually got back to the station in time to get on another train that would take us to Brisbane and then a coach to Cairns.
It was a great trip and some of the highlights were visiting Hayman and Daydream Islands in the Whitsunday’s and Marineland at Surfer’s Paradise. Everyone was a lot older than we were but they did watch out for us. One dear old lady, Nell Turner, was in her late 80s or 90 at the time. She was from Seattle, USA and was travelling on her own.
We also made friends with two other girls who were close to our age, Robyn Bennetts from NSW and Kerry Thomas from Tasmania.
We were having dinner at a restaurant in Townsville. It must have been a few stories up as I remember going up in a lift. Maureen and I sat at this table and the waitress was in a right mood, slapping down the plates. The head waiter, maybe the boss, came and apologised. I’ll never forget his words “when you come to work, leave your worries at the door when you come to work and you pick them up on your way out.” I’ve held that philosophy all my working life. If anything was bothering me, I’d never take it to work.
I’m sure Maureen has a few more memories to add to this trip, especially the bit about buying a new pair of bikinis in Cairns. Instead of going to Magnetic Island, we spent the day shopping and swimming in the hotel pool.