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					This compendium contains the winning entries in the various categories as well as
some helpful comments from the judges.

The compendium would make the ideal gift - $5 plus mailing.

Contact U3A Sunshine Coast at for mailing cost details.

The Inaugural U3A Sunshine Coast Writing Competition has been a resounding
success! Over 350 entries from all states, New Zealand and even Canada are a
testament to enthusiasm for this event and are a gratifying response to the organizers
and committee.

We are particularly thankful to Jenny Riley whose inspiration and organization has
brought the competition to a successful conclusion, to her many helpers, to all judges
who assisted in assessing so many high standard entries and of course to the many
people who contributed their literary works.

The standard of entries was particularly high and we commend all entrants for their work
but of course offer special congratulations to the winners.

We are happy to offer their contributions in this
publication ….. Enjoy.

                                                                                 Jim Hales
                                                    University of Third Age Sunshine Coast

                                                                         September, 2008
          to the
  to all who entered,
a writing competition
         for the
       first time.
Judges’ Comments on all Entries

Short Stories.
Quite a good standard though some were a little ‘compact’ and would have benefitted for
more description.

There was a tendency to string a lot of information together
chronologically. Some enhanced their stories with humour which is a creditable

In all genre poor self-editing detracted from otherwise good writing.
Use of abbreviations halted the flow of the writing.

Overall an enjoyable experience. I was impressed by the high
standards achieved by the finalists. The winners would serve well in any anthology and
they are a credit to their authors.

Rhyming Poetry.
The entries on the whole were good but generally more attention needs to be paid to
getting the rhythm correct.

The Other Sections.
The lack of correct punctuation and spelling often spoiled an
otherwise promising story. Always re-read and correct your own work.

Rhyming Poetry.
Several entries needed more care with both rhyme and rhythm.
Reading a poem aloud will often point out the parts which need
It will improve the end result.

The Other Sections.
The Autobiographical Incident should be just that.
Many were written as a travel diary which was not fulfilling the criteria.
This should be an episode not a life story.

Many of the short stories were excellent but avoid extraneous matter which really only
adds words. Have someone else listen to what you have written and assess their
(Ask a friend, not a relative if you want an objective critique!)
Winners’ / Category

    1st      Lyndall Holmes
    2nd      Clive Berger
    3rd      Chris Leckonby

    1st      William James
    2nd      David Reid
    3rd      Margaret Joplin

    1st      Ann Howard
    2nd      Kimm Woodward
    3rd      Kay Carter

    1st      Ronald Elgar
    2nd      Chris Leckonby
    3rd      June Ross


Lyndall Holmes
   The End of the Road ........................ 8
Clive Berger
   End of a Friendship........................... 14
Chris Leckonby
  Crisis on Kosciusko .......................... 16

  William James
     Life of a Flower ............................. 22
   David Reid
     The Old Oak Tree ......................... 23
   Margaret Joplin
     My Jungle Haven .......................... 24


   Ann Howard
      Cherry Picking ............................. 26
   Kimm Woodward
     Beach Hawkers of Bali ................. 27
   Kay Carter
      Weeds ........................................ 29

   Ronald Elgar
      Our Goonie-Bird........................... 32
   Chris Leckonby
     Potentially Painful Pyramid ........... 36
   June Ross
      A Pray on Words ......................... 40
Lyndall Holmes                                                  Short Story Winner
          The End of the Road

Albert noticed the girl sitting on her backpack at Eucla, halfway across the Nullarbor.
He parked in the driveway of the roadhouse, watching her between passing traffic until a
long caravan pulled in blocking his view. When he dodged around the back of the van
the girl was standing up with her arm out, thumb extended. A roadtrain rumbled past with
an apologetic toot. The girl rearranged her tight shorts where they had crept up her bum,
and sat down again. Yes, she was a definite possibility. He startled her with his raspy
‘Are you looking for a lift? I’m heading east if you’re interested.’
 He could tell she was gauging her options. He had not shaved for a few days but his
mild mannered appearance with grey hair and glasses might make her think he was a
safer risk. Perhaps she did not care about risks. If so, even more reason why she should
take up his offer. She stood up.
 ‘Okay. Thanks. I need to get to Port Augusta by tomorrow.’
 Albert cleared his throat. ‘I’m not taking you all the way to bloody Port Augusta. That’s a
thousand Ks. I can take you as far as the Nullarbor Roadhouse if you like.’
 ‘Fine by me, absolutely,’ she said. Her accent was English and cultured, in contrast to
her rather brazen outfit of brief shorts and halter top with large circular earrings. Her
thick hair was wrapped in a colourful bandanna.
Albert led her to the station wagon and opened the back door. ‘Put your pack in there.’
She took a step back when she saw the mess. He kept everything in there; his swag, his
gear and tucker. It smelled of unwashed clothes and stale body odour, old food and
cigarette butts. He wasn’t bothered by it, but he noticed her wrinkle her nose in distaste.
She wouldn’t have seen the rifle tucked behind the seat but he was afraid she was about
to change her mind.
 He smiled at her and proffered his hand. ‘The name’s Albert Brown.’
She relaxed. ‘Hi, I’m Jemma Jordan.’ She dropped the backpack on top of his swag and
settled in the front seat, trying to ease her tight shorts down. Well tanned legs, Albert
observed, running his eyes down to the bracelet on the ankle. Funny how those little bits
of jewellery invite you to look at that part of the anatomy. Made him think of other girls
he’d picked up with studs in their belly buttons or tattoos peeping above their backside.
‘So, what’s the big hurry to get to Port Augusta?’ Albert said, lighting a cigarette as he
‘I’m meeting my girlfriend Beth there. We usually travel together, but I had a few days
work as a housemaid back at the motel, so Beth went on ahead.’ Jemma nodded to
‘So, a working holiday, is it?’
‘Absolutely.’ She nodded again.
 ‘Don’t you think it’s dangerous to hitch-hike?’
 ‘Of course not. We’ve been nearly everywhere.’
‘My daughter, Kirsty, used to hitch-hike.’ Albert said. ‘I warned her not to but she
wouldn’t listen to me.’
Jemma laughed. ‘We are a different generation, Albert. We know how to look after
ourselves.’ She had a mannerism of nodding to herself as if she was always right.
 Albert cleared his throat. Her youthful confidence worried him.
 ‘You girls are all the same. Come out here thinking you can take on anything. I’m telling
you, Australia is not that simple. You must have heard about Joanne Lees up past the
Alice. Look what happened to her.’
‘She wasn’t hitch-hiking. Didn’t she and the boyfriend have their own van?’
‘Yes, well that just goes to show,’ Albert said illogically. ‘And what about those two girls
in Kakadu? Picked up, raped and dumped in the river with the crocodiles.’
He saw the girl tense up. This usually happened when he got serious.
‘Look, I don’t really want to hear,’ she snapped, crossing her knees.
‘I’m just trying to warn you,’ he said. There were lots more instances he could have
mentioned such as break-downs, getting lost and dying of exposure in the desert, but he
glossed over those to tell her of a particularly horrible movie she should see.
 ‘It’s about Wolf Creek in the Kimberley, he rasped. ‘The story is based on fact.’
The girl flushed with anger. ‘Look. Why did you pick me up if you hate hitch-hikers so
much? Or do you just get off on scaring people to death? Well, I’m not scared.’ She
turned her back to him.
Towards dusk, he pulled off the road and stopped. His passenger looked around
sleepily. ‘What are we doing here?’
‘Just time for a break. You might want to stretch the legs, splash the boots.’
Jemma climbed out and clasped her hands across her chest against the unexpected
cold. ‘Where?’
‘You’ll have to go behind a bush,’ Albert said. ‘No toilets around here.’
She hurried towards the nearest cluster of bushes; a spindly wind-bent group of acacias,
not as high as she was. An unsightly scattering of toilet paper showed she was not the
first to relieve herself there.
When she returned Albert had the rifle in his hands. She screamed, turned, and ran.
‘I wouldn’t go there if I were you,’ he rasped. She kept running, crouching behind the
scant protection of the bushes, trying to hide from him.
 ‘I’m warning you,’ he repeated. ‘Come back.’
‘Are you crazy or what?’ She yelled from her hideout. ‘You are probably one of those
sickos you’ve been talking about.’
‘Listen behind you,’ he said.
For such a barren place, there was an extraordinary amount of bird life. He saw her
glance go to the shrubs where little silvereyes warbled interesting conversations among
the branches. A kite whistled as it circled unseen prey and a flock of galahs squabbled in
a dead tree.
‘No. I don’t mean birds,’ he said brusquely. ‘Hear that howling?’ A high pitched yelping in
the distance penetrated the darkening horizon. It was answered by other howls from the
opposite side of the plain.
She turned around, looking apprehensive. ‘What is it?’
‘How close are they?’
‘Closer than you think. They’d have us in their sight. Come back to the car.’
‘But what have you got that rifle for?’
‘For your protection.’
You’re not going to shoot me?’
He gave a derisive laugh. ‘Jeez! Do you think I’m that bad?’
She couldn’t stop shaking, even after she’d taken a jacket from her bag to wrap herself
in. She let her hair loose and tied the bandanna around her neck. ‘Are we still going to
the Nullarbor Roadhouse?’
For a moment, he enjoyed the power he had over her, even if it was just fear, then said,
‘Come on. Let’s get going.’
 The tension in the car was as cold as the wind outside. Jemma finally spoke, her
English accent clipped. ‘Look, I’ll have to say I am not comfortable with you.’ She
nodded in her usual way to emphasise her concern. ‘You have a gun and a weird sense
of conversation. Actually, you’re freaking me out. What’s going on?’
‘You’ve got guts. I admire a girl with guts. Kirsty was like that too, but it’s not enough.
You should listen to me.’
Jemma spoke irritably. ‘Why don’t you shut up? I’m not your daughter. You can’t keep
telling me what I should do.’
 ‘Watch your mouth,’ he snapped. ‘What would your own father think?’
‘My father is a specialist in London. I doubt if he thinks of me much at all.’
‘You’d be surprised,’ Albert said.
Night time fell with a quick glow of red on the horizon, followed by complete darkness.
‘How much further?’ Jemma asked.
‘An hour or so.’ His cigarette flared in the dark.
A pair of eyes glowed in the headlights.
Albert stepped on the brakes. A dingo raised its head from the roadkill and slipped into
the darkness.
 ‘Where did it go?’ Albert said, reaching over the back for the rifle. He let off a shot in the
direction of its disappearance, and got out to check. ‘No. It’s gone.’
‘It wasn’t hurting you,’ Jemma said defensively. ‘Why didn’t you leave it alone?’
‘You don’t know what you’re talking about,’ Albert said with such vehemence the car
skidded as he took off. ‘It’s bloody vermin.’
He was thankful he was just about there. It was a strain to keep talking to the girl,
especially as she seemed a good kid. He’d be finished with her soon.
The turnoff was signposted by no more than a plastic bottle hanging from a tree, but he
knew it perfectly well. He reeled the car to the right, leaving the highway in a rattle of
stones and headed towards the cliffs. Already he sensed the rolling boom of the sea; the
might of the Great Southern Ocean pounding into the Bunda Cliffs.
‘What’s happening?’ She panicked. ‘You said we were going to the roadhouse. Please,
just let me out here. I’ll walk, I don’t care.’
There was no need to answer; they were almost there. He stopped on the edge of the
cliff. ‘This is the end of the road,’ he said.
She must have taken his statement metaphorically for she gasped in fear and pushed
the door open. He saw her struggle against the force of the wind before she disappeared
in the darkness. He’d have to find her quickly.
 ‘Come back you silly girl,’ he called, feeling his words blown back into his mouth. She
could not know how close they were to the rim. A wrong step and she’d be gone.
A wave exploded on the rocks below and the ground vibrated as the onslaught battered
its way under the cliffs. The immense canopy of stars illuminated the foam of surf as
clearly as moonlight would have.
His torch found the girl as she stumbled on the edge. He ran as she fell, her outstretched
hands grasping thin air.
‘Steady, steady, I’ve got you,’ he said as his hands clasped her waist. She collapsed
against him.
He waited while her breathing subsided. ‘Jeez, that was a crazy thing to do. You don’t
want to mess around on the Bunda Cliffs. There is nothing down there but the ocean.’
‘What do you want with me?’ She sobbed in the darkness. ‘Just let me go.’
‘I will, but I brought you here for a reason.
Come on. I have something to show you.’ He helped her to her feet.
He went past the car and shone the torch on a circle of stones. He showed Jemma a
cross on top of the cairn. It was decorated with a few small items of jewellery, dried
flowers and a postcard of Ayers Rock held down with a soft drink can. The torchlight
revealed a simple inscription on the cross.

                                   Kirsty Judith Brown

                                  2-2-1982 to 30-9-2001

‘Your Kirsty? She died here?’
Albert nodded and sat on his heels looking at the cross.
‘She was hitch-hiking across the Nullarbor to see me. I moved to the West when her
mother and I split up. Kirsty was real upset about it. She used to run away from home to
be with me. I always sent her back on the bus, told her not to hitch-hike, but she
wouldn’t listen.’
Jemma shivered and hunched her arms across her chest. ‘What happened?’
‘Don’t know for sure. There wasn’t much left of her by the time I found her.’ He buried his
head in his hands, but could not prevent the rasping sobs. ‘The dingoes had been there
for a while.’
Jemma untied her bandanna and held it to her face. ‘My father gave me this before I left
home.’ She tied it beneath the cross. ‘You know, I probably should ring him.’ She
nodded to herself.
Albert gave a grunt of satisfaction. She was right. Absolutely.
Clive Berger                                                  Short Story 2nd
           End of a Friendship

Ruth surveyed the scene from her penthouse balcony. She often sat there with her
Doberman either plotting her new novel or simply enjoying the view. Dogs weren’t
allowed in the building but an exception had been made for the famous author. This
evening, however, the dark clouds billowing across the horizon mirrored her gloomy
mood. Elaine’s phone call had unsettled her.
They had been friends since their first day at university. Ruth had just settled in to her
room at the university hostel when Elaine had burst into the room accompanied by a taxi
driver struggling with two large expensive suitcases. Ruth’s resentment at the space
required to house her new room-mate was soon overcome by Elaine’s charm. The
fortuitous pairing as first year room mates sowed the seeds of a lifelong friendship.
The somewhat mousy Ruth and the glamorous Elaine were often seen together. They
had both enrolled for courses in the creative arts. Ruth was both a serious and a gifted
student. Her academic success compensated for the frustrations caused by her social
inadequacy. Elaine had tried to ease her into her own hectic social life but was
eventually defeated by Ruth’s shyness. Her own social commitments often intruded on
her studies and she became increasingly dependent on Ruth’s generous aid for the
completion of her assignments.
After graduation Ruth worked as a cub reporter for a provincial newspaper.
Elaine’s father had used his influence to place Elaine in an up-market publishing house.
Elaine’s first publishing success had been Ruth’s first novel. Elaine’s reputation and
influence as the discoverer of a promising young author enabled rapid progress in the
firm. That was many years ago.
Their social contact had diminished over the years. Elaine had, in the past, always
invited the famous young writer to her soirées. Ruth’s social awkwardness and her
inappropriate left wing views, when she did speak, had made her an uncomfortable
dinner guest. They now only saw each other when discussing her work.
‘I have some news that I want you to be the first to hear.’ Elaine had said over the
phone. The nervousness in her voice had alerted Ruth to something unpleasant. Elaine
had refused to divulge anything over the phone but had arranged a visit to reveal her
The reviews of Ruth’s latest book had been disappointing and sales were below
expectations. Surely one is to be allowed the occasional failure, Ruth thought. After all,
Elaine’s success had been launched by her early novels.
 Her thoughts were interrupted by the door bell. The dog immediately ran to the door
barking excitedly. Ruth grabbed his collar and manhandled him into the bedroom. Elaine
was terrified of dogs. She would only enter the flat if the dog was securely locked in
another room.
Ruth allowed Elaine to exhaust the usual pleasantries before broaching the question.
‘What is the important news?’
‘Ruth,’ she began firmly, only an eye twitch revealing her unease. ‘I’ve decided the firm
has to change its profile. We have to move to a younger stable of authors.’
Ruth stared at her in disbelief at what she feared was coming.
‘I want you to move to another publisher. You can use the excuse that we hadn’t
adequately publicized your latest book.’
Ruth sat as stone.
I’m sorry but you have to be ruthless to keep on top.’ Elaine coloured in embarrassment
at the unintended pun.
Ruth still didn’t answer. The spectre lurking at the back of her mind had come true. She
had not really expected this scale of treachery from a friend; a friend who owed her
The phone interrupted the tense silence. It was from Elaine’s office.
Elaine took the phone out onto the balcony.’
‘Yes, put her through,’ she told her secretary. ‘Hullo, darling.’ Ruth heard her coo
through the open door. She must be talking to one of her latest protégés.
Ruth, white with rage, opened her bedroom door. The Doberman bounded out joyfully
and immediately shot out onto the balcony. Elaine’s scream was followed by frenzied
Ruth retrieved the phone from the balcony floor and dialed security. She had warned the
building manager that the balcony railing was too low.
Chris Leckonby                                                       Short Story 3rd
          Crisis on Kosciusko

Mum? Mum!!’ At that moment the line went dead, and
Andrew’s wife Monika appeared at his office door, holding his briefcase.
   ‘Hi! Thought I’d better…darling, what’s wrong?’
    He reached out for her, face ashen, body shaking.
   ‘It’s…mum and dad….
 Ken and Liz were keen bushwalkers taking a brief trip to the Snowy Mountains
before summer set in. In the Northern hemisphere one talks of ‘winter setting in’
but Down Under, summer is the danger time, the bushfire season. Ken was a key
radio operator for his local volunteer fire brigade in the Adelaide Hills. The time
was now, or not until autumn, for a well-earned break. The Snowies are agnificent
all year round, the perfect bushwalking location after snowmelt, quiet after the
skiers have gone and before summer holiday hordes descend after Christmas.
 They hooked up their little caravan and headed for Jindabyne, securing an idyllic spot
on the lakeside.
Perfect weather greeted their first morning, so they left early for Charlotte’s Pass,
planning to tackle the Main Range walk, the glorious twelve kilometres traverse of the
range, summit of Mt Kosciusko, Australia’s highest peak at 2228 metres.
The first challenge was to wade knee-deep across the Snowy River, in spate with melted
snow. Sharp, slippery rocks and near-freezing, rushing water, made for a hazardous and
painful crossing. This accomplished, they vowed to complete the loop, returning from the
summit the easy way via nine kilometres.of gravel road.
 ‘That’s it!’ declared Liz, ‘I’m not going back through that for love or money and certainly
not for fun!’ Ken, a sufferer of Raynaud’s syndrome, agreed. They dried their red and
goosebumped legs, re-donned their socks and hiking boots and strode on. Three
kilometres further they came upon a steep, icy slope, snow that had been thawed and
refrozen, plummeting to a rocky gorge.
‘Ken…we can’t…’
Ken poked his stick into the snow, stamped around a bit, plodded a few metres into the
bank and declared it safe if they were careful. Supported by his stick he was able to dig
his heels in and made level footprints.
Liz quipped., ‘In my husband’s steps I trod, where the snow lay dinted,’ and inched after
him - with no stick. Success! Another two kilometres saw them at Blue Lake, an idyllic
spot for morning tea, a photo-shoot and reassessment before plugging on another
kilometre to Mt Carruthers.
Their jaws dropped. They were confronted by a massif of frozen snow underlain by
rocks, rushing streams of meltwater, large voids and spiky scrub, covering a forty degree
slope into the valley below. Ken said, ‘no way!’ Liz said, ‘maybe!’ Negotiation led to their
climbing upwards along a snow-free channel through thick wet scrub, until they reached
a fairly flat plateau some distance from the track - or where they guessed the track to be,
buried under snow as it was. Slowly they edged along, repeating the King Wenceslas
method, until the plateau gave way to a steeper slope descending to the invisible track
It happened suddenly. They had become almost blasé about creeping along safely,
when Ken stumbled on a hidden rock, slipped and fell headlong. There was nothing to
hold on to, no protruding rock or tree, just ice, ice and more ice precipitating him down,
down to certain death when he hit the rocks below.
Liz opened her mouth to scream but no sound came. She threw herself to the ground,
digging her toes into his last footprints. Ken’s stick had jammed against the rock when
he fell causing him to lose hold of it, and this is what temporarily saved Liz. She grabbed
the stick, dragged one foot on to the rock and dug the stick into the snow, fumbling for
the mobile phone. She could move neither forward nor backward. Even if she could,
ahead was more impassable ice, behind was the previous slope and the rising river.
She was trapped literally, as the saying goes, between the proverbial rock and hard
 Dial 000. Teeth chattering uncontrollably, she outlined her plight. Suicidal to try to reach
Ken, who was in more ways than one beyond reach. A helicopter would come. She was
to keep warm, stay still, conserve her energy, try to stay calm. Calm! My husband dead,
myself likely to be if I move a muscle…
She dialled the children, at least those who lived in Australia and whose numbers she
could remember, as they were all on automatic on the home landline. The technology of
the mobile phone had never been sufficiently delved into by Ken or Liz so they had no
stored numbers. No answer.
Answering service. Engaged.
She dialled their youngest son in Budapest. It was only 7:00am but Andrew would be in
his office by now, stealing a march on the school day before the children arrived. He
picked up the phone on the first ring.
 ‘Andrew, it’s Mum. I’m in a bit of a pickle. In fact…’ She burst into tears.
‘Mum, whatever’s wrong?’ and after a pause, ‘Please try to stop crying so you can tell
 She collected herself.
‘It’s Dad. We are on the Main Range track, you know, the back road up Kosciusko. It’s
covered in ice and snow and…Dad slipped. I can’t see him, he’s over the edge.’ More
sobs. Stunned silence in Budapest. ‘I’ve dialled 000. They are sending a helicopter to
get me and look for him. Son, I...just… tell you…how much we both love you. I
don’t think Dad can have survived. If I slip, I won’t either. Just try and concentrate on the
good times we had…You know where our wills and funeral stuff are.
  How can she be so calm, so controlled, as though she had thought the whole thing out
before it happened, what she would do and what she would say, he thought.
  ‘Mum…hang in there. I love you both too.’ At that he choked up and there was silence
between them until a low hum with a regular beat, beat, beat could be heard getting
closer. ‘Andrew, the chopper’s here…stay on the line…’(like he was going to hang up!)
    Liz gave thanks for her lurid orange fluoro jacket and blue pants, beacons against the
snow. The chopper circled, she waved the arm that was not holding the stick, it came in
low with a rush of air that almost dislodged her. While the pilot held it steady her rescuer
descended on a hawser with a harness. In the ensuing kafuffle to winch Liz up into the
chopper and safety, she dropped the phone, which went skidding away into oblivion.
    The children were beginning to arrive for school. His secretary came up with a
message, knocked, coughed discreetly when confronted by her boss in tears in his
wife’s arms, she retreated on a signal from Monika. Monika sat Andrew down, and rang
for coffee. Calmer for her presence, he knew she would know what to do. Ordinarily so
would he, but this was no ordinary situation. Not every day do one’s parents go skidding
off a mountainside.
   ‘Moni, what can we do? My dad’s lying dead at the foot of a mountain twenty
thousand kilometres away and I feel so helpless!’
 ‘I know, love. But what could you have done if you were there? Held his hand? Stopped
him doing these things? You can’t do that any more than he could that to you. It’s been a
dreadful accident but…well…one day you’ll be comforted by the knowledge that he was
doing what he wanted to do. Anyway, right now you need to ring the Australian
embassy, get them to contact the emergency services in the nearest town to the
mountain..’ He needed focus, something positive to do. It was better to make him do it
himself. He didn’t want to cut that phone line, just in case, just in case…maybe the
battery was dead, maybe she’d dropped it, maybe…He gave the phone to Monika to
listen, hoping against hope for contact, and picked up the other one.
Twenty interminable minutes later the Embassy rang back.
 ‘Mr Jefferson? We have good news and bad. Your mother is safe, but as yet your father
has not been found. Your mother dropped her mobile during the rescue, that’s why you
were cut off. We are so very sorry but they are doing all they can. They will continue
looking, because your mother insists she is fine, does not need to go to hospital and just
wants to find him. We’ll keep you posted.’ Andrew collapsed into a chair and the cold,
hard fact of his father’s death began to sink in.
    Suddenly there was a crackle from the phone Monika was holding, somewhat
reluctantly, after all this time.
 ‘Hello…is anybody there?’ The voice was familiar, Yorkshire tempered by a faint
Australian overtone.
 ‘Ken!’ Andrew leaped up in disbelief, grabbed the phone
‘Dad! Oh, Dad, where are you? What happened? You’re alive! Oh hell, are you O.K?
Mum’s in the chopper…’
‘Steady on, lad! I just had a bit of a rollercoaster ride down the mountain, faster than
Dreamworld and all for free! I went like the clappers on the ice, got jettisoned off an
overhang, then landed in a snowbank on some scrubby bushes, in fact I think I’m on top
of a tree. I can’t figure out why they can’t find me, hope they do before this lot melts.
Seems Mum chucked her phone away, ’cos I’m holding it now, must’ve followed me
down, reckon she got tired of talking to you…’
William James                              Rhyming Poetry 1st
          Life of a Flower

Live spawning seed upon the ground
to hug the earth with silent sound.
Rootlets snaking down to grasp
the earth, the rock, the ground so fast.
Growing, drawing, sucking in
the juices of the earth so thin.
Holding on with tenuous grip
against the wind that seeks to rip.
Petals soft, supple, strong
gathered in a milling throng.
Colours made bold and bright
face ever reaching to the light.
Letting pollen dust go free
to the ever-searching bee.
Now blooming full in nature’s might
A pure creation of the light.
Soon life near spent
and petals rent.
Stalks drooping down
to meet the ground.
But one last cast
ere all is past.
Life spawning seed upon the ground.
David Reid                                                    Rhyming Poetry 2nd
             The Old Oak Tree

                     I started underneath the earth, until I struggled through.
                    I saw the sun and breathed the air, and so I slowly grew.
                 In autumn, leaves would tumble down and scatter all around,
                   To lay a carpet at my feet, as each dropped to the ground.

                  As years passed by I grew and grew, no longer was I small.
                   My girth grew big my branches long, and I grew very tall.
              With branches strong and leaves for shade, in which to build a nest,
               Both birds and creatures big and small, could find a place to rest.

                 Each day I listened to their song, as little nests they’d weave.
                 I saw the young ones growing up, until their nest they'd leave.
                     The older birds stay on a while but one day they go too.
                 I missed their songs and where they went, I never ever knew.

              New families always took their place, and as the decades passed,
                  I knew the songs of every bird, their repertoire was vast.
                Then on one day t’was very strange, not even one bird sang,
                There was a dreadful rasping sound, it was a chainsaw gang.

               With trucks and saws they hacked away, until not one tree stood.
                  They took us to a factory, where they cut us up for wood.
                They sawed us into lengthy planks, and stacked us on a truck.
                Then most were sold for floors and walls, but I had better luck.

              They sold me to a woodwork shop, where picture frames are made.
                    Exquisite workmen every one, top people in the trade.
                They coated me with golden leaf, and fixed a plate and name.
                   They took a lovely painting, then they set it in my frame.

                   They put me in the window and a couple saw me there.
              They said they had to have me, and they thought the price was fair.
                These people have an aviary, and from where I’m placed I see
                 And hear birds singing once again. How lucky can one be !
Margaret Joplin                                        Rhyming Poetry 3 rd
          My Jungle Haven

                     My yard – it’s in an awful mess
                   And causing me great loads of stress.
                   But what to do? Now there’s the poser
                    Unkind friend says ‘Bring the dozer.’

                  My neighbour’s muscles go quite tense
                   When honeysuckle clogs the fence.
                   The weeds are high and full of seed
                      They don’t need fertiliser feed.

                 All trees and shrubs could do with lopping
                 But tree pro’s bill would sure be whopping.
                  The lawn needs feeding, roses spraying.
                   Perhaps to church to do some praying.

                    I’ve possums, rabbits, hare and ‘roo,
                     Big ticks and, sure, a snake or two,
                    Bull ants and wasps, spiders galore,
                       Maybe somewhere a dinosaur!

                 Our Council writes ‘You’ve noxious weeds
                  ‘All spreading far and wide their seeds,
                      ‘Lantana, privet, groundsel bush,
                         ‘Eradication we must push.’

                      The R.F.S. says ‘Don’t light fires
                    ‘Or they might turn to funeral pyres,’
                   But Council states ‘ No weeds in bins.
                       ‘We’ll punish you for any sins.’

                    ‘Putt, putt’ is coming from my mower
                    It needs some ‘zooom’ to be a goer.
                     The whipper-snipper sure is busted
                     And secateurs should be adjusted.

                     My students plan a working-bee,
                      Commitment I have yet to see.
                   That Equine ‘Flu removed the horses
                   Perhaps there’s other eating sources.

                    Just give up sport and stay at home
                    Perhaps become a garden gnome?
                      Sell the place, leave Aldavilla?
                       Buy tiny unit? What a chiller!

                  But when it’s Spring and all’s in flower
                    My yard becomes my fairy bower.
                     The birds are happy, life is fine.
                  Why not dismiss these qualms of mine?
Ann Howard                                       Free Verse 1st
         Cherry Picking

My mother picked cherries.
Rain started.
She ran to the wooden pegs,
gathering blowy sheets,
pulling them down,
clusters of cherries over her ears.
A little dog fussing round her feet.

And she was a bunch of cherries,
coming from frothy blossom,
firm, ripe, full of goodness,
with just one cherry,
brown and bruised,
souring the tongue.

She picked a fight with my ballet teacher.
My lessons twirled to a stop.
Oh,Mum, I wailed.
She dragged me away,
tutu trailing,
the little dog fussing around our feet.

She picked a bunch of fights,
hoisting the laden tablecloth,
chicken cascading, gravy on my father's cheek.
Irish, of course, he sighed,
biting the cherries at her ears,
kissing her furious eyes,
while my sister cried
and I laughed and laughed and laughed,
the little dog fussing around our feet.
Kimm Woodward                                                Free Verse 2nd
        Beach Hawkers of Bali

No-one warned me,
none ever hinted at the duality of rich and poor,
the extreme contrast of lean stealth and plump wealth, side by side
but never truly touching.
Humble Balinese gratitude of daily flower offerings and incense
offered to deaf class conscious gods,
ritually stood upon and trashed by overindulged, ignorant foreigners,
more intent on bartering for a bargain and outwitting the proud, struggling vendors.
Western middle class tourists oblivious of the dichotomies,
the sharply delineated contrasts- almost sepia tones that landscape.
Hard-worked, friendly Balinese with tired smiles
willing slaves in their own paradise.
Overweight but polite Westerners, such easy prey,
for the sandy beach hawkers who harangue and harass
and press against pale, sunburnt flesh.
Their manoeuvres so well orchestrated - flattery, encirclement,
seduced entrapment- desperation driven to paint and repaint nails, braid and rebraid hair
of these unfamiliar hues of red and gold and amber.
The relaxed romantic almost tackled to submission. Feeling
assaulted almost.
Unprepared and unarmed with the required arsenal of hard-nosed rejection,
bluntness or empty wallets, we became ensnared in the lure of their lair.
This pack of she-wolves pressing, stressing, cursing confusion
their pleading eyes - needy but determined
bargaining to cajole and trick the unwary or compassionate.
I feel anger hard to hide
but unsure of my ground I cave in to their demands,
pay the price to every woman, hard and soft, who has invaded my psyche,
scorching their faces onto my memory
and I retreat to the secured fortress of my hotel - feeling thirsty and confused.
The culture shock of desperate acts by needy mothers and
grandmothers, not unlike myself.
Torn, I defensively learned to ignore the aggressive sale
the pleading, almost angry eyes pressing on the promise
'Best price. Last Price?’
 At what price?
The raw undignified struggle for survival, tamed by government licences.
Oh, how those commercial brochures lied. 'The Balinese love to barter.’
And yet blind tourists wander unconsciously
so oblivious to the undercurrents and rips on the land of this island
much more dangerous to drown in than busy Kuta's undertow.
Kay Carter                                                   Free Verse 3rd

Some human beings call us ‘pests’,
A derogatory and hurtful remark.
We don’t think we are ‘pests’.
After all, we are probably the oldest plants on the earth
And cover all continents.
Not like some exotic plants
Which grow in particular places, and not in others.
‘ Spoilt’ we call them
Heads in the air,
Without so much as a friendly nod to us.

How can they call us ‘pests?’
For years we have provided a source of
exercise for humans.
Just think of the number of people bending and stretching,
Pulling us out with their fingers.
Some of them use hoes and forks,
And we really dread those – so very painful!

We grow anywhere and everywhere
But humans have become cunning
Some of them even covering their garden beds with wood chips.
This is very sad and awfully cruel!
It makes it much harder for us,
As we have to push through the layers of wood.
To show how we are hated, larger weeds, such as the colourful lantana
Are called ‘noxious’,
We have heard that this means ‘hurtful’,
These people must be ‘ob-noxious’.
We don’t mean to hurt anyone or anything,
We just want space to grow.

Anyway, we think we’ll have the last laugh
The way humans are destroying each other
And polluting the world.
We’ll still be able to poke our heads
Through the ruins of civilisation,
And thrive and spread amongst the debris.
The Judge’s Comments on Free Verse Entries

The overall quality of the entries in the Free Verse Section was commendable. Some
chose to link their personal situation (especially in times of conflict) to the landscape or
Others found an opportunity to praise family members (particularly parents). Others
found that their travels, here or abroad, gave them their subject-matter.

Occasionally I felt that the possibilities of the poem might have been more fully realised if
the writer had taken advantage of the 40-line length (many wrote only around 20 lines).

A number of entrants were clearly unsure in what respects Free Verse differed from
formal verse. Rhyme, regular metre and
regular stanza- length are the inhibiting factors which Free Verse sought to avoid in the
first place. While these may be
appealing formal aspects they belong more appropriately to formal verse. They are not
what makes ‘Free Verse’ free…

Deciding upon the short-listed entrants from whom the winners would be chosen the
criteria I used were the following:

1. The overall power of the Free Verse rhythms used.
2. The quality of the figures of speech employed (symbol, metaphor, simile, for
3. The depth of perception into the nature of the experience the writer is dealing with.

It was on the degree of successful integration of all three of these critical aspects that
I made the final determination. As might be expected, the decisions were not easy to
make and that is a particular compliment to all those short-listed…
Ronald Elgar                                          Autobiographical Incident 1st
          Our Goonie-Bird

We arrived in Western Australia in 1970. After travelling fifteen thousand kilometres or
more (Perth-Darwin-Townsville-Sydney-Cairns) with five children, Pam and I decided to
live at Newell Beach - if I could obtain employment.
Newall is a small beachside settlement between cane paddocks and the sea. It lies north
of Cairns which is just about Queensland’s most northerly town, apart from Cooktown.
In Mossman we met the Principal of the High School Top, and he offered me a teaching
position, adding that none of his teachers would accept the challenge.. His offer:
teaching – if that is the right word - a class of thirty-four Aboriginal children. He had
withdrawn just about every one of the school’s hundred or so Aboriginal children from
where they sat at the back of the classes, and formed them into three groups. I was
asked to teach composite Grades 5, 6 and 7. Ignorance is bliss, so I accepted and
started my working life in Australia with these children.
I did not understand the children; they could not understand my Pommie accent. They
were sullen, silent, indifferent and very angry with their life. I persevered. But what was I
meant to teach? There was no curriculum for Aboriginal children in those days.
 The Principal said, ‘You must make up your own curriculum.’ So I did. Doing so led to
the DC3 or Goonie-Bird, but not immediately.
My curriculum included art - they excelled at that; hand-writing, which equalled that of
any other class; spelling - we beat the other classes at the annual Spellathon; and
singing, with me on the guitar (and ‘One wheel on my wagon, but I’m just rolling along’
and ‘Have you ever seen the rain fallin’ down?’ or something like that). How I wish my
playing could have done their singing justice. As for health! Each day after smoke-o! I
obtained the unused third – pint milk bottles and the children had one each.
 Pam sometimes made them sandwiches which in those days could be done for five
 cents each. I got free tooth-brushes and tooth-paste and sample shampoos from a very
 friendly chemist in Mossman. Thus equipped they scrubbed their teeth and washed
 their hair ‘til they shone and shone.
In 1972 I chose ‘air’ as the science subject to be talked about and investigated. After all,
air is all around us and without it we die. It related to their lives – something teaching
subjects taught should do and it seemed a good choice. A study of air can include work
on how aeroplanes fly – air pressure under or above their wings – I’m sure everyone
knows why planes go up, up and away!
 So we studied how planes fly. And every week, with the goal firmly in my mind, I was
able to persuade these children to bring me two cents. At the end of the year each had
saved one dollar. This meant I had thirty-six dollars saved, and in my hands. So you
see we also studied how to save money. You may be wondering why I did that.
 Cairns airport in 1972 was pretty small.
 Ansett was there, and so were Bush Pilots and their DC3’s. It was the Goonie-bird, or
DC3 I was after. I had read a lot about it since coming to Australia – a quite fantastic
aeroplane. I drove to Cairns and fronted up at the desk in the Bush Pilots’ office. The
young man asked politely how he could help me.
I said ‘ I would like to hire a DC3.’
‘Where do you want to go?’ He asked.
‘Well,’ I replied, ‘How far can I fly for $36.00?’
 ‘You kidding me?’ he said, rather sharply. He clearly thought I was another bloody
Pommie. Anyway, we talked and I said I was genuine and told him the story of my class
and their year’s work. He disappeared into a back room to check it out with his boss.
He came back with a grin on his face.
‘You’re on, mate.’ And thus the deal was made: one DC3 with two pilots and two
hosties, hired for five minutes for $36.00. The timings and so on were arranged. I don’t
know why the boss man agreed. Maybe he saw it as a training flight for a young pilot or
budding hostie; maybe the novelty of the request appealed to him. In any case a week
later I arrived with my thirty-four Aboriginal children at the Bushies’ terminal. They were
all clean and tidy with shiny hair and gleaming teeth. But remember, they had never
flown before – any of them.
We were given a wonderful welcome. Two friendly hosties took us all out onto the
tarmac and the DC3. The look of awe on the faces of the children, who had seldom if
ever been far away from their Mossman Gorge homes, and never even been near to, let
 alone inside, an aeroplane, was a joy to behold. They climbed the steps into the
 ‘plane, warily it must be said, and were greeted by the Captain.
Then they were shown to their seats. Belts were fastened. Eyes popped out on stalks.
Looking everywhere, as native children can do so well, wondering, waiting. They
missed nothing.
Then the engines were started and many of the children looked around anxiously.
Propellers turned, engines revved, the plane shook and rattled and the wings acted as if
they were about to fall off. The children, some of them, were terrified. Both the
hostesses were wonderful, calming those who needed it, and in no time we were at the
start of the runway. I wondered what the men in the control tower were thinking about
the flight. Engines full throttle, little hands grasping the elbow-rests, shaking, squeaking
(the children), and then accelerating down the runway until we were up, up and away.
We roared out to the south, up and over the hills and then banked left until some could
see the Aboriginal settlement of Yarrabah below.
Jabba! Jabba! ‘Look – him Yarrabah! See the boats. That’s Jimmy’s home!’
I am not sure just what altitude we achieved but it was really only enough to clear the
A few moments more and Green Island came into view, flashing past beneath the plane,
come and gone in half a minute. Then, before there really had been time to draw
breath, we were back over the airport, descending for our landing from the north, lower
and lower until the tarmac came up to hit us (oh yes! Some children thought so) and we
were back on the tarmac, and taxiing to a halt. All this in five very brief minutes. All this
for thirty-six hard-earned dollars.
The children were speechless, some in a daze. Johnny Diamond needed coaxing to get
him to let go of the elbow-rests and leave his seat. But once back on the ground the
world assumed normality for them. They were allowed to inspect the plane from the
outside, and they rushed around, poking and prodding, eyes everywhere, jabbering
away in their own language. Their faces were a picture of happiness, and I was so
pleased and proud of them all.
No curriculum, little money, lots of enthusiasm and the kindness of the Bush Pilots had
resulted in an expedition, brief as it was, that surely must have been unique back in
1972 and maybe even nowadays. One moment in their lives (and mine) that was not to
be forgotten. Young Diamond met me thirty years later at
Speewah. He was having smoke-o! with a work mate. He told me he had just been
recounting that flight to his mate, thirty years after the event! The curriculum really had
That was all thirty years ago. I expect schooling for Aboriginal children is all quite
different these days. Different? For sure! Better? Who knows? I do know that in those
days the children were happy in my classroom with me. And I was happy with them!
Chris Leckonby                                       Autobiographical Incident 2nd
          Potentially Painful Pyramid

                          Part-time work available, the ad. said,
                               Male or female. Hours to suit.
              Free training, also supervisory positions. Ring before 7:00pm.

Intrigued, I packed the children away as soon after an early tea as I decently could, left
my husband deeply entrenched with the insurance agent, and galloped off to the nearest
public telephone. This was 1972 and we were so newly-arrived we didn’t even have the
’phone on. At six-fifty-nine-and-a-half I got through, stunned the man at the other end
with my credentials, and agreed to join him and several other dollar-hungry souls at a
hotel in the city that same evening for an interview. He wanted to see my husband as
well, which involved disposing of the poor long-suffering insurance man, grabbing the
nearest available babysitter and making a hair-raising dash by car to the appointed
place, if we could find it. Add to this the fact that we were ex-farmers with a genetic
disadvantage with regard to matters of punctuality, and you will understand why we were
a little late.
 ‘Oh, good evening,’ said the dolly-bird by the door, obviously posted to keep out
snoopers, late-comers or other evil-doers. ‘I’m really sorry but I’m not allowed to let you
in now the presentation has begun.’
Great. Useless to protest that it was pre-arranged, that we expected a private interview.
She would not open that door. She would tell us nothing about what was going on
behind it.
‘…but please do have a drink on us and we’ll bring you back
another night.’ We were becoming suspicious but dangerously curious. Whatever did
they get up to behind that door? Was it pornographic, or otherwise illegal? We smiled
our ‘all part of life’s rich pattern’ smile at each other and decided to risk another visit.
We were tempted to think we must be very desirable people, but our instincts shouted
that there must be some enormous prize in it for them if we agreed to cooperate.
However, armed with references and clad in best bibs and tuckers, yet not really caring
whether we sank or swam, we were ready at the appointed hour. We entered the Holy of
Holies with our benevolent sponsor and waited with bated breath with half a dozen more
potential victims, for all to be revealed.
Suddenly a dapper little man leapt to his feet and, nervously performing a sort of mini-
war-dance every half-sentence or so, began to extol the virtues of Super-Slosh
products. His dissertation was followed by a film, introduced by a ‘famous
Australian personality’ of whom we had never heard, again waxing poetic about washing
powder. If there is such a thing as boring amusement, this was it! I could not suppress a
giggle. My husband’s face said ‘What are we doing here, wasting our time with all these
funny people?’ We felt ourselves being glared at by converts who obviously took it all
very, very seriously.
After the film, the meeting became even more like one of those religious gatherings
where one by one the adherents rise to their feet to proclaim their faith.
‘Look what Super-Slosh has done for me and my family. Before Super-Slosh, we had
nothing, we were nothing, and look at us now.’ We looked, but failed to marvel.
 They had at least, by seemingly genuine demonstration, convinced us of the quality of
the goods and that the business was ‘clean’. Everyone uses soap; the market should be
that’s a privilege, not an excuse, like being human we were instinctively distrustful of
marketing methods smacking of Uncle Sam. Our sponsor was uncomfortable. He could
see he was losing us, hard-bitten and cynical Pommie ex-farmers not flattered by his
compliments, but visibly amused - and bored.
 ‘The best place for a couple of your background to start would be as direct distributors,
with several local agents working under you.’
Appeal to their egos by offering a senior position right off. We eventually dragged it out
of him how exactly we would do this. We had to invest a mere $2000. The words ‘selling’
and ‘salesman’ were never used. We were to sink all and then some, for the right to sell
his detergent.
‘Supposing we start at the bottom,’ I ventured, ‘How much does the stuff cost the
consumer?’ He squirmed visibly. Maybe he didn’t like my calling his wonder-product ‘the
 ‘You were told in the film, it usually works out at about 13c a pint when diluted correctly.’
 I persisted. ‘Yes, but how much a carton?’
‘Well, if you come back in the morning we’re having a session when finance will be
discussed in detail, for those people who commit themselves tonight.” He just would not
We did not go back. We have been in business too. They must have wept bucketsful for
all those silly souls who do not recognise a good thing when they see it—and a good
deal more over their own lost dollars. For a few nights I had nightmares involving our
shed leaking bubbles as $2000 worth of Super-Slosh oozed its way over the suburbs,
and myself walking the streets preaching the gospel of cleanliness the Super-Slosh way.
Pyramid selling was outlawed some time later.
Although we had learned our lesson, some years later we did attend a session falsely
advertised as a ‘Holiday Expo’ where we expected to view nice cosy film shows of the
world’s beauty spots, accompanied by coffee and bikkies, with a view to planning a
future vacation. We walked through cardboard room dividers plastered with pix of
Queensland bars and apartments, and at the end of this exciting hike lurked a salesman
of a ‘Timeshare’ company.
For an investment of $11,000 we could buy the right to have holidays anywhere in the
world in their establishments. That’s if we also paid a $200-plus per annum
‘maintenance fee’. We would never own a brick, mind. We did the arithmetic and pointed
it out. The salesman blanched, and called his supervisor. We repeated the conversation.
She asked my husband if he was a maths teacher.
‘No,’ he replied, ‘but my wife is.’
This simple statement flummoxed her. She slammed her books shut and declared ‘This
is not for you!’ They gave us a travel bag for attending.
We bought a caravan with our $11,000 that was ours, all ours, anytime, anywhere, the
freedom of Australia.
June Ross                                            Autobiographical Incident 3rd
             A Pray on Words

Telephones put my nerves on edge at the best of times but when I was living in a
foreign country, it was ten times worse. I sat deep in thought, pondering the words I had
just heard a few minutes ago, when I had answered the telephone. The voice had been
that of a very agitated, heavily accented female.
‘We must come to your house tomorrow to pray for birth control.’
 I had time only to repeat, ‘Birth control?’ when the urgent voice went on to say, ‘We
have the contract, we must come tomorrow.’
‘Couldn’t you please wait until the lady of the house returns; you see I am only minding it
for her.’
‘No,’ came the quick reply. ‘The contract is overdue, and we must come tomorrow and
I searched the three page list that the Smiths had given me before leaving on their three
months holiday to Europe. In the coming weeks the list would become my bible and
almanac, as I learned how to cope with culture shock and manage a large house with
four servants, a cook who spoke a little English, a housemaid, a very old Grandma, a
gardener-cum-house guard, plus a dog with,
four puppies, two cats, one red parrot who mimicked every word spoken, mewed like a
cat and often played dead on the floor of its cage. This was only half the story, for out
there beyond the locked gates lay the teeming city of Jakarta with a population almost
equal to the whole of Australia.
I had had one hectic week to absorb all this and the Smiths were gone, leaving me with
the list on which there was no mention of the ‘contract’. There were phone numbers of
some ex-pats living in Jakarta, but I opted to ring my husband at his office. John was
standing in as Managing Director for the three months and he had enough headaches of
his own. He listened to me.
Oh! That’s easy!’ he said, ‘You don’t let them in at the gate. Pray with them outside the
gate if you must, but don’t let them in. And don’t give them any money. And, if they are
still a problem, send them out to the office. The people here will deal with them.’
That’s easy for you to say, thought I as I hung up the phone and called for my cook, who
came hurrying into the room, with her shoulder down and right arm extended, and her
head bowed lower than mine. That was the custom there and one that I had difficulty in
Stati,’ I said, ‘does Mrs Smith have people who come to the house to pray?’
‘Yes, mim,’ she replied.
‘How many come?’ I asked.
‘Sometime tweleve,’ using the Indonesian pronunciation of twelve, one of the English
words difficult to pronounce.
‘Does Mrs Smith give them anything to eat?’
‘Yes, mim,’ she replied, ‘Sometime I cook, sometime she get caterers.’
‘Stati,’ I said in a confidential voice, ‘do they come to pray for birth control?’
The cook, giving no answer, rolled her eyes and fled in the direction of the kitchen.
I realised my mistake. It was an awkward question to ask a young Muslim girl. Either that
or Stati had misunderstood the question. Her command of English was, after all, limited.
There was nothing to do now but wait for John to come home. He was bringing two
guests from Australia – there was never a shortage of visitors from the Company but
entertaining was so easy there. The topic of conversation that night centred around the
drama that awaited me next day. The guests were full of suggestions, none of which
helped in the slightest, and so the plot thickened.
All night I tossed and turned in conflicting states of confidence and utter despair as I
worried about what I must do with all this advice from so many people. Strangely
enough, accepting this assignment here in Jakarta had coincided with the fact that I had
been learning Indonesian from seven- inch EP vinyl records produced by the ABC.
These suited my Australian needs admirably, but once I was actually in Indonesia, it was
a very different matter. Carefully expressing one word at a time was no match for the
rapid blur of words prompted in response.
I was well aware that family planning and the need to use contraceptives were part of
the government plan for the future. Indeed, there were signs everywhere proclaiming
that two children per family were enough.
 Indonesians love and idolise their children, and the saying ‘all the world loves a child’
not only holds true there but reflects even deeper cultural meanings. A baby is treasured
for its purity having just come from the hand of God.
Daylight brought no peace of mind for me as I went about the usual morning routine.
John’s driver arrived to take him to the office, and his parting words were ‘Remember,
don’t let them into the house and don’t on any account give them any money. And if they
are a problem, send them to our office.’
The lovely two-story house in which we lived was protected on three sides by high walls
with barbed wire or broken glass on top for security. The only entry was through two
huge iron gates facing the busy street. When the buzzer on the gate sounded, one of the
servants would run to open up or enquire who was there. They never let anyone in
without first asking ‘mim’s’ permission, even if they were their own family or friends. As
the morning dragged on my nerves stretched on edge and, every time the shrill buzzer
sounded it went right through me, even though I knew the servants would not let any
strangers enter. Lunchtime came and went, which was a relief in one way, but did not
ease my tensions.
About 2pm I noticed a yellow van backing through the gates. Three men in uniforms and
wearing masks got out and started unpacking equipment from the back. They were
coming towards the house. On the side of the van in large letters were the words Rent-o-
Kill. They marched into the house and began spraying every floor, every wall, all
curtains, upstairs, downstairs and in every room. Then they went out into the back and
front yards and filled the air with a dense fog of insecticide. Then, daylight dawned on
me. This was my prayer meeting. The people with the contract had come to sPPRAY for
PPPEST control – not pray for birth control.
When I later questioned the cook, I discovered Mrs Smith had ladies in, not to pray, not
to spray, but to PPPLAY bridge, and that’s why they had caterers.
I decide to have the last laugh, and so I rang John and said, ‘Well, they’ve been. They
prayed upstairs and they prayed downstairs, they prayed in the front garden and they
prayed in the back garden.’ And just as he started to say, ‘June, I asked you not to…’ he
caught the laughter in my voice.
A direct aftermath from this amusing incident was that, some three years later John
accepted an appointment as Managing Director for the Indonesian Joint Venture. My
immediate reaction was that if I couldn’t understand the locals when they were speaking
English, I had better get serious about learning to speak Indonesian. I started a
correspondence course from Pak Junedi Iksan at the Darling Downs Institute of
Advanced Education in Toowoomba. Pak Iksan was at pains to include aspects of
Indonesian culture in his syllabus and this proved of great interest and help to me when
we moved to Jakarta. In fact, it encouraged me to extend my efforts and complete a
Diploma of Asian Studies by distance learning while filling my days in Jakarta.

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