1965. This was after a tortuous
voyage on a Comet…..a plane which had developed a reputation for falling
(like it’s namesake ) out of the sky without warning…. from his
home in the capital of
But this was the southern summer
and fresh from
In fact Malcolm adopted
The important thing about
AUGUSTA was discovered by Malcolm
late in 1965 when the same
commanding Manager sent him even further north. Port
The Spencer Gulf on which Port Augusta sits narrows at this point and Malcolm developed the habit of swimming across the gulf on nice sunny mornings of which there are a lot in Port Augusta, having a quick drink to take the salt water taste away from his palate and then walking back across the bridge to his lodgings in a native fibro home for breakfast. Breakfast was cooked by a friendly landlady, a local widow, and exposed Malcolm to more of the native fare such as crumbed lamb brains, devilled kidneys and loin chops.
Malcolm was getting fit with all this food but his skin tone only varied between peeling red and white depending on the seasons. Sun block hadn’t been invented yet.
He tried a local sport- Aussie Rules. This name seemed to Malcolm at the time to be an oxymoron as whenever he got near the ball he was either bumped over the fence or dumped on the ground and had to hand the ball back to the person that had just broken his ribs. He didn’t like playing the game but he did enjoy watching other people get the same treatment so he adopted the second great Australian pastime, barracking.
Despite his skinny frame he found he had a penetrating voice so he became quite a good barracker and only twice got into a fight with another barracker. These fights never amounted to much as Malcolm wore glasses and there was an unwritten rule then that other barrackers never hit someone with glasses on, glasses being perceived as a sign of weakness. This rule has since changed.
The Chief of all
When Malcolm turned the corner on
the Road to the Bay as the local track was called and first saw the
This was a difficult time for our intrepid explorer but friendships were struck with some local identities that also enjoyed with Malcolm the killing of anything on four legs that wasn’t owned by someone and that was largely edible. Rabbits being the favoured target of which there were hundreds in the area at the time. In order to become skilful at this hunting, Malcolm had joined a local club for peppering targets with bullets and one of the tribesmen he met there was a fisherman.
This fisherman, Bryan, invited
him to help catch the crayfish that were plentiful in the seas off the coast.
Malcolm developed a long lasting fondness for both
Malcolm was making new and exciting discoveries such as the closeness of Mount Gambier to Geelong, a large native settlement that boasted a skilful team of Australian Rules players but whose team, it seems,has been destined never to win the ultimate prize available to players of that sport. He discovered the joys of riding a horse through the many local forests and finally sun block was invented.Just as this was occurring Malcolm was sent off on another mission..
Stepping ashore from his Fokker
Friendship, a plane uglier than the Comet but far safer, at the local capital,
One was the drinking of Kava a
local brew made from the ground up root of plant from which the dirt had been
only lightly dusted. This had a mildly soporific effect and was a perfect way
to get over the tropical heat. This drink was dispensed instead of tea at the
normal times for refreshments, called smokos in
Setariki was not gay but only very happy, as most of Fijians were. Kava certainly helped in their outlook. The skirts were called Sulus and Malcolm adopted wearing one on social occasions and at the beach but preferred shorts seeing as you didn’t have to worry about how you sat after you had a few bowls of kava.
Malcolm entered into further voyages of discovery with a mate from the Bank, David, who had gone half shares in a half cabin boat which meant they could voyage up the coast and enter tidal rivers and creeks, land at native settlements and enjoy the Fijian hospitalility and kava until having to return home on the next tide.
On one memorable occasion they left their departure too late and had to walk the boat across the mangrove flats for miles in the dark until deeper water was reached. This was discovered by falling in it. The experience of navigating at night across the reefs curbed the intrepid pair of much further adventuring.
The tropical delights consisted
of lovely native women some of whom worked with Malcolm and one in particular
caught his eye. This was because at the time she used to stand in front of him
whilst he was working at the counter and talk to him. Unused to this attention
Malcolm started paying her some attention. This was a classic case of someone
feeling sorry for the parboiled Englishman from
Later she admitted she checked
his bank account before allowing the courting to go on not realising it almost
equalled his debts back in
Nuran’s family structure was very strict in protecting the females from predatory male instincts so the courtship had to be held in secrecy. This was compromised on a couple of occasions. On the first date in the pouring rain the hire car developed a punctured tyre and a sopping wet Malcolm had to shortcut the intended trip to the local fine dining restaurant. Then they were seen together at a local cinema. Nuran decided to cut it all short but a ring, bought by Malcolm and left with a note, was worn the next day to work and the courtship was on again.
Malcolm and Nuran got over the
hurdles presented by the family and their employers, the latter by resigning,
and were duly married in
This brought to an end
Malcolm’s exploring as the couple returned to