The weather had changed, clouds hung over the mountains, and then the rain started. I left at 7.50am, arriving in Margate about 3pm, Having stopped for some time, first at Winkelspruit, then Umtentwini.
Winkelspruit is significant as the place I went to with my parents as a 6-7 year old, where we stayed in a timber frame house on the hillside overlooking the river and sea. It may have been a lodging house, and I think the owners were friends. For a long time I thought the ‘winkel’ was referring to a sea urchin, only later that it means ‘store river’. Now its all flats.
It is also the place of our last holiday (July 80) before leaving for Australia. The sardine erun was on, a spectacle not seen as often now.
We had lost faith that the country could survive as a western nation, and considered Australia. On our last day I bought a newspaper to start the fire for a braai, read it first, and found an advert for a geologist on a tin mine in the Queensland Atherton Tablelands, a beautiful area, and decided to apply. That started the process for emigration. In December we attended the Australian Embassy in Pretoria, and by February had permanent residence status – unheard of today. I wrote to a contact in Brisbane, Tim Spencer, asking for addresses of mining businesses; he posted a long list. I found later that some were managed by the same office so they received several letters from me. At Easter I flew to Perth, stayed for two nights in the Grand Hotel opposite the Rail Station (now a backpackers) arriving at 4am. I was a wreck that day knocking on many doors, including Western Mining where I met with a geologist I had worked with at St Helena Gold Mine. He drove me around Perth, up to Kings Park, in a car with huge kangaroo bars, very common at the time. He had arranged a flight to Kalgoorlie for me, where I was met and driven to KambaldaThat was a very good team in those days, and I would have been better off there financially, than Tasmania, but I was keen to go where the rain fell, and there were forests, mountains, and rivers. That Thursday evening I was surprised to find the Hay Street mall busy. I remember speaking to an evangelist. I had booked to fly to Melbourne on Friday at 3pm, and only had time to visit Greenbushes Tin office – they were upset I had left so little time for them.
I expected to still have time in Melbourne to visit Electrolytic Zinc, but had not realised the distance and time change, arriving that evening. I rented a car and drove into the Dandenongs, spent time in the city, and the Botanic Garden, loving it all. Monday I went to EZ. Most of the interview was me asking for information, rather than the other way. At one interview I was told my gold experience would be best suited to the Victorian gold mines – I was unimpressed thing of very old mines rather than the State of Victoria! I flew on to Sydney, visited a few there, staying in a flat with a woman I had met somewhere I can not remember. It was the next weekend and we drove south to the Royal National Park, and north to the park there – it was all good, but the mines were of course inland. On to Tim in Brisbane, spoke to Mt Isa Mining, another great business, and finally to another geologist I worked with in Townsville. EZ called to say they had arranged a flight to Wynyard in Tasmania, and for a rental car to check Rosebery out. Looking on the map, I thought it would take an hour to drive – owing to the twists and the Hellyer gorge, that took 2 hours. I found people playing footie in a drizzle, walking in the street, as though rain didnt touch them! I met the team at Rosebery Mine, returned home and 6 weeks later were in Melbourne, Wednesday 6 June 1981.
Umtentwini beach was ‘our’ beach for several holidays. We would set the umbrellas up near the path through the high trees and sand dune vegetation from the car park, past the cafe, to the beach. The kids loved to swim there between the flags, or else in the sea pool further to the south. Today, the cafe is also a backpackers. We stayed in thatched square rooms (I thought they were round till recently) in a park-like area called Eden Park. The town has retained most of the natural vegetation, including the big trees. The rooms are now privately owned as homes. We loved the area so bought a block on Lugg Ave, only reselling after leaving SA, enabling us to buy a block in Tasmania.