Northern Star Australia Bound

 

We left Southampton docks bound for Australia via Las Palmas, Capetown, Durban, Fremantle, Melbourne and Sydney. Mum had managed to get out and phone her sister in London and two of her sisters came down to see us off. Before we left though they asked mum to stay, with us children, and leave dad. She had no money of her own and was very confused and upset and did not know what to do. They seemed to come to some kind of an agreement though and mum decided we would go back to Australia.

I do not remember Las Palmas but I do remember loving Capetown. I had a little spending money and everyone laughed when I bought postcards and some writing pads. I showed them where it said made in South Africa on the back of the writing pads! Table Mountain was incredible, I loved everything about that stopover.

Some time during the first leg of the trip I met three young chaps who were migrating to Australia. They were in their late teens, early twenties. From the north of England so we formed a really solid friendship, me in particular with the oldest one. He was like a big brother to me while not really being one. His friends were fabulous and funny and all around great innocent fun.

They had a talent contest for the younger children and my brother was dressed up as a Swagman and he won! I was so excited to see him in the parade and it was really crowded in the large area where it was held and I sort of got knocked backwards into James, my friend. I had nothing to stop my momentum until James stepped forward to break my fall. I threw my hands out to save myself and encountered a bit more than I had expected. His rather interesting penis in his cord pants. I had gripped onto it as I did not know what part of him I had grabbed, and it felt rather nice I must say. I apologised while blushing once I realised and of course he said no problem and that he had rather liked it, as I might have noticed. So my first experience of a male with an erection was James, my confidant and friend. Of course I knew he was interested in me but he was lovely and knew my age and also saw how vicious my sister was to me, and mum and dad for that matter. They were enraged the whole trip. When I was not with James and friends I was taking my brother places to get him away from the toxic atmosphere between mum and dad. I even took him about with James and friends.

Sometime during the trip mum saw me sitting with my friends having a lemonade and she knocked on the window and beckoned me out. I muttered something and James said do not be angry with your mum she is looking out for you. When I got to the cabin my sister and dad and my brother were there. Dad screamed at me that I was a slut and various other things. I was totally baffled and really frightened.

He then grabbed me hard and threw me over his knee. Pulled my panties down and proceeded to thrash me and he would not stop. I could hear people going by and so I screamed, it hurt a lot but I did not scream from pain, I hoped someone would come to find out what was wrong but nobody did. I kept screaming so he hit me harder. When he had finished I could not sit. I had huge welts on my backside. Mum is the one who got him to stop, she was crying by then. I cannot remember what my brother and sister did. I was too humiliated to look at anyone. I lay down on my bunk with my back to them and curled up in a ball. My dad went out of the cabin and mum put some Nivea on the welts. She said dad is worried about you with those men. I quietly said we did not do anything, that she knew I would not do anything. That they did not trust me. She just cried.

The next day dad saw me continuing to sew fabric over my plain white bra for the Lua night. I had bought the fabric and made a sarong skirt and painstakingly hand stitched it all. I could have shown it to my sewing teacher and been awarded first prize I took so much care with the work. Dad grabbed it off me and threw it and said and you will not be going out anywhere in that either. I was extremely modest, only ever wore a one piece costume and was already nervous about parading in this costume and he made it seem really trashy, not the clever ensemble mum and I had worked out between us.

I put it away and went out for a walk, forbidden to see my trio of friends. I had nobody to talk to, kids of my own age seemed really immature and there were not many of them anyway as everyone was at school. I just walked around the deck repeatedly, thinking about how much school I had to make up when I got back and how I was going to study hard so I could go nursing and leave home as soon as I could. Eventually I ran into the friend with long black hair and he walked and talked with me a bit and said he would have a talk to James.

My sister was dressing up for the Lua so my mum convinced dad to let me go. She told him I had worked hard and that I was a “good” girl. And I was, only because I was too afraid of dad to be anything else. But he could not stop my thoughts. My mind. He said it’s up to mum what happens then and went to smack me across the face for the look he said was there.  I flinched, his whacks across the face hurt my neck as well as my face. I believe the look was in my eyes and my mind, he could not control that but I decided to hide my thoughts in future from him.

I finished the costume and it was really pretty, I rarely wore yellow but it looked pretty and bright. Mum had found me some yellow coral beads. They did not cover my bra area like the leis others wore but I had nothing there to see anyway. I remember my sister had left me alone over those few days and so it was not as difficult as I thought to parade in the outfit in front of everyone. James and friends cheered as I went by, in a non leering way, they were lovely.

When we reached each port I sent my friends postcards, I wrote them like serials, telling them of the wonderful places we had seen and of James and his friends and the Greek hairdresser who was all over me. And my mum trusted him with me! I was trapped in a lift with him once and he started undoing my lace up bodice of my dress. I left the postcard serial at that point, knowing the girls would be wanting to know what happened next.

On the way back to Sydney we stopped at Fremantle where dad had a good friend, a past work associate. We met his family and had a lovely few days with them. The next port was Melbourne, James and friends and I had continued to be innocent companions and they asked if there was an address they could write to me as they were worried about me. They even offered to help put me up with a nice family somewhere until I left school so that I could then go nursing in Sydney where they were going to be living. I gave them my friend Alison’s address knowing she would be fine with it. She was actually allowed boyfriends. In her actual bedroom. And she was allowed to make out up to a certain point, and no further. She was trusted. I knew she would get it.

At some stage after thrashing me dad had sort of apologised. He said he had not wanted me to get into trouble. As mum had. He wanted me to marry a doctor. And I needed to save myself for him. But he said it like I had done something already with one of the chaps. He did not trust me. Before this I was open and honest with him but I knew I had to play him carefully, until I was old enough to leave home. And I knew I would never, ever forgive him for the shame, the humiliation, in hitting me like that. I was hit to supposedly stop me having sex, yet he humiliated me in front of others by pulling down my undies. It was almost a sexual act. It felt really wrong.

We reached Sydney, I said a tearful goodbye to the boys, James was miserable and worried about me but I told him I had a lot of friends and we would keep in touch. I also said goodbye to the hairdresser, and his wife. And eventually we found our way back up the coast to Toukley.

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Northern Star UK Bound

We were seen off at Sydney by our family and our Gorokan neighbours. Also at the docks was one of dad’s fabulously wealthy work friends. However dad was not at all happy when this man leered at me and asked where he had been hiding me. Perhaps I looked older than fifteen but not by much. Eventually everyone who was not going disembarked and we were moved out into the harbour. Our route was Wellington, Auckland, Rarotonga, Tahiti, Acapulco, Panama, Curacao, Trinidad, Barbados, Lisbon and Southampton.

What  I remember of the journey was mostly dad in a rage. He had rarely spent any time with us since we hit our teens and he had no idea how to deal with us except by threat and intimidation. My brother and I shared a cabin with mum and dad and my sister shared with three other girls in their twenties.

Pretty quickly my sister got to know an older crowd and also hung around with the young sailors after they finished their shifts. Two of them asked if they could take my sister and I horseback riding in Wellington when we arrived. They asked dad and mum and it was arranged without me really being spoken to. My sister had ridden horses quite a few times but I had never been on one before. Wellington is quite hilly and the horses spirited. My horse bolted and raced down around this hilly track. The sailor who was assigned to me was furious that they had not found out if I had ridden before.  He was very angry with my sister and my dad actually and very kind and considerate of me. He was really frightened something could have happened to me.

We loved Auckland and I especially loved Tahiti. I had dreamt of going there since watching James A Mitchener’s Adventures in Paradise on television. And to my absolute delight the Tikki 111 was there. It was truly paradise to me, the markets, the beaches, the people. I could have stayed for weeks. Every time we made port I sent postcards off to my friends in Australia. Sometimes I would find mail waiting for me at various ports.

I also really loved Acapulco and so did mum. She had a lovely time and looked very pretty in the fitted cotton dresses I made her for the trip. They were perfect for the cooler weather. Unfortunately for me dad thought she looked pretty too and so I had to regularly amuse my brother elsewhere while they had time alone together.

Meantime my sister partied and had a great time, though she did have to join us for meals. It eventually started to get colder and we were grateful that mum and dad had taken us to meet our aunt and uncle at Kotara Fair in Newcastle to shop for warmer clothes. I found two gorgeous dinner dresses and some  pantsuits and skirts while my sister had flares and jeans. Very fashionable, she looked fantastic in her new gear.

Some of the sailors thought so too and she used to go to their quarters and drink with them. They were not much older than her. It was fairly innocent though I was pretty naive so maybe it was not the case. Anyway dad created a huge scene by following her one night. He dragged her out of the cabin and then stood shouting in front of everyone that he needed to smell her fingers. To see if they smelled of sex. She was so humiliated and he screamed at her that he could smell men on her. It would more likely have been some of the hippy ladies there in the cabin smoking dope etc.

We spent an awful few days while dad raged at her and everyone. He was only pleasant to people who were not family. It was a pleasure to get nearer to England so we could have some distance from dad and his temper. For some reason though he relented and let her attend a deck party the sailors etc were throwing as a farewell. Only thing was I had to go chaperone her. It was not pleasant. The fellow who had asked her horse riding in Wellington decided it was me he had been after all along and I ended up dancing with him and trying to dodge his hands and his tongue from down my throat when he decided to French Kiss me. It made me feel sick, he tasted of what I think was Gin and garlic and I was having trouble getting away from him. But who was I to spoil her fun? It was not a pleasant evening and it took all my wiles to keep him out of my pants. I really grew up quickly that night.

In London we found lodging in a boarding house. My sister and I were in a dormitory room downstairs with lots of older girls who did not speak English and mum and dad were with my brother in a room upstairs. One night I awoke to see someone rifling through my sisters things. I shouted and the burglar bolted out of the door onto the street. My sister did not stop to think she just shot off after him. I could not believe it, she was out there in her nightie and I think she grabbed her dressing gown and just ran. I made a lot of noise and the girls woke up and checked their passports. Then I ran upstairs and woke mum and dad who were a bit perplexed. Then dad took off after my sister. He found her running down Carnaby Street. It was about 4am!

We shopped for warm outerwear. My sister had her heart set on a black woollen double breasted maxi coat with brass buttons and dad was against it. I wanted one in a different colour. Mum convinced dad to let her have it but I was considered too young. Instead I was found the most amazing suede coat with fringing. It was short too, a mini. If the idea was to keep me looking my age it backfired, I looked quite HOT! I can still see that short coat now, one of the most amazing things ever. Apart from my Kangaroo bag.

Eventually after a week sightseeing in London we made our way to Lincolnshire to mum’s parents where we met lots of aunts, uncles and cousins. And they met my brother for the first time. My mum and dad and sister and brother went for long walks but I just wanted to be near my grandma and grandad, reading and watching them over the top of my books. Eight long years without grandparents, it was so wonderful to have them now.

We then went on to Eire to dad’s family where we had wonderful conversations with cousins of cousins of cousins and with aunts and uncles too. The conversation never flagged and it was so good to see Grannie, my namesake, again. Somewhere along the way though  dad decided we were returning to Australia. Just like that. No discussion. Mum was heartbroken as he would not let her call her family or go to see them before we left. We rented a cabin in Southampton while we waited for a ship back.