Monday, July 24, 2006


Yesterday was the 40th anniversary of my arrival on Norfolk Island.

I remember that day so well. It was really a voyage into the unknown for someone who had grown up in an inner-city suburb and taught at an inner-city school. My notice of appointment to the Norfolk Island Central School had come just five days before. Those five days had been an absolute whirlwind of packing and saying hasty goodbyes, with only an hour off my normal teaching duties at Glenmore Road School in Paddington.

I had been invited into the cockpit as the old DC4 approached the island, and as the green speck came into view, there was an enormous feeling of stomach-turning excitement. I still feel it every time I see a plane land here. I was met by the headmaster, Don Lawler and his wife Winsome, and taken to the School residence, where in fact I stayed with them for six weeks until other accommodation could be found.

The day I arrived was one of misty rain. I still love the sight of the pines rising through the mist. I was taken for a drive up the mountain, where I was reminded of what my father said when he learned of my new appointment. "You lucky will be able to see the sun rise and set on the sea!" But it was somewhat daunting to realise these seas would be my boundaries for quite some period of time.

The next few weeks were a steep learning curve. I actually faced my first class...a year 4/5...on the Monday morning with no voice, because of a throat infection! Those boys and girls have nearly all turned 50 now!

Within a week I had bought a car....a little Fiat 500...and was learning to drive, something I had never thought I would do. In the days of unsealed roads, every journey was something of an adventure, especially in the wet weather!

One of the hardest adjustments was learning to slow down after a very busy life in Sydney, with teaching in the day and University at night, and numerous other activities. But I soon learned to fill in the hours, making and visiting new friends and taking part in local happenings and organisations. Before long, almost every evening was filled up just as it had been in Sydney!!!

I just loved this place right from the start, and felt proud and privileged to be living here. I still do!

It was hard finding photos of that period, because that was the days of taking slides! But I cannot resist this one someone took and gave me. I had an 'admirer' who painted my name on the back of the Administration bulldozer. There was usually quite a commotion of good-natured teasing and laughter whenever my pupils saw it drive by the school!

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