posted on November 24, 2006 at 8:06 pm

when we 1 st arrived in australia
i was 2 or 3 but i was already me
we at first stayed in a caravan
out the back of uncle chas n aunty ivys place
in unanderra
aunty ivy was uncle erns sister
uncle ern was married to the infamous aunty lu-lu
my dads sister as y’all remember
it seemed that everyone i mingled with was english
next door to ivy n chas was uncle fred n aunty may
n next door to them were uncle harold n aunty doris
with their 2 teenage daughters sheila n christine
(who i thought were very pretty)
in fact i used to sit under the table n gaze at their feet
which i thought were slim n tanned n perfect
my dad arrived in australia with 30 pounds to start his new life
but things were flourishing in the 50s
he quickly got a job working at hg palmers
a kinda white goods sales n service chain
my mum was a secretary too
and she could type hundreds of words a moment
and she spoke fluent shorthand
hey up n hey down mother!
so she gotta job too i guess
we were living in fairy meadow
in a little bungalow
we had only a couple of records
frank sinatra sings for only the lonely
+a doris day record
and later a stereo demonstration record
“let me see (sound of mans footsteps going left to right)
how can i best describe the sound of stereo?”
i listened to frank n doris along with my parents
oh the lyrics on frankies album were sublime
so i jumped in at a good place
i puzzled over angel eyes that ole devil sent
when frankie implored the willow to weep
i knew just the willow, i could see it in my minds eye
when the sea rushed in to plant a kiss on the shore
i could feel the thrill of real adult romance
my teeth were pretty bad
and i had to have an op to pull some of em out
they hadda put me under n everything
maybe i’d turned four by this stage
and they did it in hospital
i can still remember them taking me home afterwards
it was night
i think my mum n dad were quite relieved i made it thru
anaesthesia was a bit more hit n miss in those days
and they bought me a white rabbit n 2 white guinea pigs
we let em runaround the garden n they were quite tame
one day my mum n me came home
and my mum said
someones dipped cotton wool in red paint
and they thrown it all over the garden
unfortunately it was the beloved rabbit n g. pigs
that had been ripped to shreds by the vicious dogs over the fence
whod jumped over in our yard….
when my mumndad went to work
i stayed either with aunty may (another one)
she was the one i liked , remember?
or sometimes
i hung out with aunty lu-lu!
anyway one day at lu-lus i ran thru a doorway
as i did the door swung open
and i “split my head open” on the edge of the door
i had 3 stitches in my forehead, crikey , did that hurt…
and a jelly bean from the quack
gee thanks , doc!
i still have the scar there on my forehead
a little white indentation
that will never tan
i like it, actually…
after a while
my mum n dad bought a block of land in dapto
5 billabong avenue…its still there today
and we had a little fibro house built on the edge of the bush
there were frogs n lizards n birds that attacked
snakes n skinks n trees to climb
a bunch of kids to run wild with
barry, glen and neil harvey
the whittets, the maltese family called the briffas
they had a hundred kids all with names like emmanuel
which sounded strange to me
we roamed the bush getting into misadventures
chased by farmers
a gang of kids
falling out of trees, pursued by dogs
hiding from the bigger kids
stumbling across abandoned cemeteries
a real mark twain childhood
of course i was always the most timid of the bunch
the last to cross the stream n the first to run off home
a lot of houses were being built in the area
and we climbed around inside their wooden skeletons
jumping from the roofs into sand
an ice cream van
and a sweet -van came around on saturdays
i loved my licorice cigarettes
and my polar bear vanilla ice creams
after i turned 5 i started school
my 1st teacher was mrs allen
who was a little olde n cranky
on my first day i cried
and i got sent outside to cry on my own
i was crying cos i had convinced myself
that my mother would not come by
to pick me up for lunch
i was standing outside crying
when i saw her drive up
i started to laugh hysterically
half-laughing, half-crying
i wassa real playground mess
aurora has the the same trait
and i often recognize myself in her
when shes laughing/crying
i was not a popular lad
neither was i unpopular
pretty neutral in many respects
at least half the kids were english
or had english parents
it was pretty working class
i visited kids houses afterschool
that shocked me
and we were by no means livin’ it large
i saw people sitting on fruitboxes on bare floorboards
most families had dunny cans for lavatories
which were just metal buckets in an outhouse
once a week a truck came round
and blokes dressed in blue singlets
went in the yard
picked up the dunny can
and took it out to the street and emptied it in the truck
no we had a regular toilet im thankful to say
but most of em didnt
and my dad was always joking about the time
the dunny can man tried to take our next doors dunny can away
with mrs peyton still on it!
(am i blowing my mystique?)
another incident that remains etched
on my mind with razorlike clarity
was walking in the woods with my usual gang
when we met this older girl
who asked us if we’d like to see her “do a wee”
we all said yes, by all means
and lo n behold she did
and we all got an eyeful
and i went home that afternoon
feeling quite guilty n strange
our gang was ruthlessly cruel to creatures
and i remember once when we walked all the way
to kanahooka which was then wilderness
some of the older boys had these whip kinda things
and they would whip these huge one foot skinks clean in half
being the most naive n timid of the gang
i was often the butt of their pranks n jokes
i was the only one without a brother in the gang
and blood was thicker than water
when it came to a good bully
auntie lu-lu lived just round the corner
and she rained down hard on little stevens parade
i never understood how my dad had a sister like that
everything i said made her snort or go tut-tut
i wish i could have ‘er on as i am now….
she was always sayin’ how disappointed they were with me
christ, what effect was that bloody having on my infant psyche?
my “disobedience” shocked her…what was i, a german shepard?
it reminds of a school report i got from mr ferguson in 5th grade
“steven often interrupts the class with a comment
which he regards as smart,
but which is usually immature”
would ya credit that, an immature 10 year old?
actually my comments were very fucking funny, gang
if only you’d been there
i know you woulda laughed
but the kinda turkeys around in them days
just couldnt see my latent geniushood
in those dapto days it was already decided
that brian jarratt was the best fighter
and wendy fuller was the prettiest girl
i thought it only logical that they should be “together”
but wendy fuller was going for the second best fighter, gary simpson
i was secretely enamored of shirley urban
who was the second prettiest girl
but i had no rank as a fighter
and therefore my status was indeterminable
sometimes we danced together
and i nearly swooned
i really loved christmas time
and i got a crush on an older girl of seven
who played an angel in the second years nativity play
she would for years n years define how an angel looked
in my imagination
when i sang hark the herald angels sing
i thought of her
in her cotton wool wings
soon i would turn six
the future was out there waiting

45 Responses to “fairy meadow n dapto days”

  1. avatar
    Samosanx | 24 November 2006 at 10:16 pm #

    aah little Stevie! the last to cross the stream eh? I’m sure if i was there then i would of thought you were intriguing, with yr smart comments and shyness…
    i too was the weird fascinated shy one in school,….(and i daresay my sk airways collegues were too)
    I’m listening to earthed as i read, completely immersed; i want this blog in hardback!!!

    what a great shock it was to sit down this am with my pot of tea and ttb, and see no saturday!!! awful….!!! my world collapsed! until I refreshed and there it was/is….phew!!!!

    i’m not one for cyber money so will think of another way to pay…perhaps a cheque or summat….I have spent circa 10K on sorry business in the last two years so am fairly broke meself, but, it will come…..

  2. avatar
    the dean | 24 November 2006 at 10:25 pm #

    For readers who don’t know the fabled town of fairy meadow, you would think it was inhabited by elves, gnomes, sprites and toadstools which of course is totally correct.
    By the way, how did the fairy princess get pregnant?

  3. avatar
    Melquiades | 24 November 2006 at 10:27 pm #

    white rabbit, cuts on the forhead, dunny cans. This bearing on your person is wonderful. I love your mystical, biting entries but this is grreat to read. Of C|course I am looking for similarities. My family actually had a dunny can we lovingly referred to as an outhouse in the 70’s. We eventualyy got internal plumbing. those days though were fond memories. standing on the edge of a picnic table with self inflated balloons on the tips of my fingerslooking out over the waterfront and visualizing I could fly oer the trees.

    I have a scar on my forehead from playing with my friend and I ran into a tree that had been delimbed but the trunk remained. I ran around the corner and BAM i hit before I saw it. lots o blood.

    anyway love this entry Steve. keep it all up, man.

    love, Brian

  4. avatar
    Melquiades | 24 November 2006 at 10:28 pm #

    btw, I know you didnt have the dunny but I can relate to htis stuff. hahaah anyway

  5. avatar
    mime | 24 November 2006 at 10:31 pm #

    Can’t help thinking of Flesh for Lulu everytime you mention your aunty…

  6. avatar
    Anonymous | 24 November 2006 at 10:33 pm #

    Mmmm. The Dapto Doldrums.

  7. avatar
    Anonymous | 24 November 2006 at 10:42 pm #

    Wow sk, I never imagined you as a bush boy roughing it out in the aussie outback…real dunny cans and all! I really enjoyed this one today, your mystique is taking a bit of a turn though!!!

    Have a beautiful day.

    Love you always,
    Amanda P
    P.S I really missed the TB while I was away “5 days apart, broke my little heart!”.

  8. avatar
    Renee | 24 November 2006 at 10:44 pm #

    your reminiscing makes me think back to my own adolescence
    our house growing up was backed by woods too (i’m guessing that’s the same as your bush?)
    the majority of my time growing up was spent in those woods
    building forts
    gathering blackberries and blueberries
    finding tadpoles and salamanders
    spying on one of the older girls in the neighborhood who liked to take her shirt off and make out with boys
    playing in the clay pits and getting filthy dirty
    i was never like my other female friends,
    i fell out of trees, slid under cars on my big wheel, got my first black eye when i got hit playing football
    i look back on those days with fondness

    anyhow, i definitely would have been laughing with you 🙂

    keep up the great writing!

  9. avatar
    &thewrrrrp"vrrreep"PLONK!! | 24 November 2006 at 11:06 pm #

    imagine if you had of landed 1862km to the right of where you settled… You prob would have still hooked up with TP and created the “Choice” instead of the crunch.

  10. avatar
    Anonymous | 24 November 2006 at 11:07 pm #

    Do we still let kids do the things we did back when?

    ed in fl

  11. avatar
    fergal | 24 November 2006 at 11:22 pm #

    ahh sk – so u listened to frankie as a kid. nice.

    u would go a long way to find a better song than frankie’s “that’s life” – maybe the church could do a cover version of this one day? ;-D


  12. avatar
    isolde | 24 November 2006 at 11:43 pm #

    To see from my window a sky full of dreams
    In the rain, in the dark, in the sun
    Murmur to the night to hide its starry light
    Above the blue and windy sea
    Your golden sun will shine for me
    Let me play among the stars
    Day and night, night and day

  13. avatar
    verdelay | 25 November 2006 at 12:02 am #

    i get this faint sense of nausea
    when i hear these things
    repetition and recognition
    bound into a whole that
    isn’t mine
    or entirely yours
    but something we’ve all touched
    and been touched by

  14. avatar
    Richard | 25 November 2006 at 12:50 am #

    you mean the footsteps at the beginning of ‘Just for You’ were a rip off?!

  15. avatar
    CAPTAIN BEYOND | 25 November 2006 at 1:09 am #

    me used to play “kick the can” with me junior high kids, me was like “the fonz” way back when…

  16. avatar
    Anonymous | 25 November 2006 at 1:13 am #

    the mystique is maybe vanishing in some ways but warmth is stepping in to take its place.

    btw harry potter has a famous scar on his forehead too

  17. avatar
    damien | 25 November 2006 at 1:37 am #

    It’s amazing how similar the experience of the “Australian Childhood” is – the mysteries of the bush, the fights to establish the pecking order, the intimidating aunties, right down to the beautiful girl in grade two who will forever be the standard against which all other beauty is judged. . . . .

  18. avatar
    mike a | 25 November 2006 at 2:39 am #

    Amazing how childhood shapes our lives and we remember so much…
    I wish I could have heard your comments in class!!!

  19. avatar
    buckmoose | 25 November 2006 at 4:21 am #

    Frank’s “Only the Lonely” is one of the finest albums ever made, with some strange trippy-spacey arrangments. I see a clear line from this album, through early Bowie, ultimately to the Church in that combination of ghostly melancholy and unearthly wonder.

  20. avatar
    bucks burnett | 25 November 2006 at 4:55 am #

    You made all that up, I can tell.

  21. avatar
    bucks burnett | 25 November 2006 at 4:59 am #

    Oh yeah, a plug – for a great new documentary, The Passing Show: The Life And Music Of Ronnie Lane. Any Faces/Small faces fans out there should buy this and get turned on to one of the greatest life stories in Rock. Interviews with Clapton, Townshend, and…me. Check it out!

  22. avatar
    veleska1970 | 25 November 2006 at 5:17 am #

    wow. this one today was chock full of events straight from memory lane. while reading i couldn’t help but thinking about my own childhood, at about that age. i was the imaginative and shy one, too. but i was more or less by myself in our neighborhood because all the kids were my brother’s ages, and they are 9 and 10 years older than me. so i kept myself busy.

    oh how i miss those days. they were endless and there was always something new explore and fun to discover. now i relive them somewhat with my daughter, but i still miss them anyway.

    this was very lovely today, steve. thanks. lotza love….

  23. avatar
    Anonymous | 25 November 2006 at 5:22 am #

    keep it coming, this reminiscing? is gorgeous
    what a sensitive child and man you are

  24. avatar
    leelinau | 25 November 2006 at 7:04 am #

    Purely enchanting.


  25. avatar
    Anonymous | 25 November 2006 at 8:12 am #

    child father to the man

  26. avatar
    lily | 25 November 2006 at 8:16 am #


    Though you and I grew up in different times and on opposite ends of the world, I, too, had a love of Frank Sinatra records even in my youth and suffered the same comments from teachers on my reports cards. One of my favourites, from about 3rd grade or so, is “She’s overly social”.


  27. avatar
    indigoruby | 25 November 2006 at 1:45 pm #

    I think I was naughty mostly through boredom as a kid. Once when I caught an elephant beetle my mother made me let it go, so I put a stripe of lipstick on its back to be able to find it again. I then took it to school and apparently managed to convince the teacher I’d discovered a “red back” beetle.

    We had a nasty little neighbour who introduced himself to us by throwing rocks at us hard and with good aim. He would pick oranges off our tree and squeeze the juice down the windows, and once he even threw water bombs at my mother. I discovered he had a spider phobia so I put a live gift-wrapped huntsman in his letterbox for his birthday. He was furious and said we were lucky that he had decided against retaliating. Another time I persuaded him to sample a kitchen chemical potion I’d concocted to look like a chocolate milkshake. It had that cream cleanser, Jiff, on the top with cocoa, and I had peed in it too! I used reverse psychology, saying: “I don’t know if I’ll let you have a taste of my amazing drink.” I think he would have killed me if he’d caught me!

    Reminds me of Rickety Tickety Tin, that wicked old Tom Lehrer song that was my favourite as a kid. It’s a sort of dark-humoured girl’s fantasy akin to that fab classic English film Kind Hearts and Coronets. Your Doodles are probably just at the right age to appreciate it, but I sang it to my 4 year-old cousin last week and she was quite disgusted by all the creative ways this girl bumps off each family member one by one…

  28. avatar
    nickfiction | 25 November 2006 at 2:26 pm #

    awesome images created here. I like these stories from your youth. let’s have some more. NF

  29. avatar
    indigoruby | 25 November 2006 at 2:35 pm #

    State election today and had got a flier full of BOLLOCKS from PETER GARRETT MP telling people they should vote Labor and saying: “You should be aware of the preference deal between the Greens and the Liberal Party” but the Greens are not preferencing Liberal ahead of Labor anywhere in Victoria! You wouldn’t read about it…

  30. avatar
    restaurant mark | 25 November 2006 at 4:11 pm #

    love the trips through your childhood…makes me think of mine and the similarities. i had no fighter rank either…and always had some sort of secret crush. no brothers…had my group of friends, who were that, but still it was me who’d be picked on if some picking was to happen. thinking of my pretty, blond girlfriend stephanie from first grade…have a pic somewhere, but i don’t need it…her face is and has always been in my head. moved in second grade to where the growing up really happened, so never saw her again…wonder how life has treated her?
    take care man

  31. avatar
    the passenger | 25 November 2006 at 4:43 pm #

    Just delightful. White rabbits – must ask Alice why they always die.

    vale the rabbits

  32. avatar
    davem | 25 November 2006 at 5:39 pm #

    Hi SK.
    Nah….Yer mystique’s intact….and looking great in those short trousers!!
    Love you moooooorrrrree,

    Dave M

  33. avatar
    mandn | 25 November 2006 at 5:40 pm #

    “when we 1 st arrived in australia
    i was 2 or 3 but i was already me”

    who else would you have been Orpheus?

    seems kids are exactly the same the world over.
    I have some of these same memories from childhood.
    Scar on the thigh, it’s quie nice actually, in the shape of a dove.
    Skeletal houses, bands of children like wild animals running
    around the neighborhoods until it was too dark to see.
    That one cranky adult who never understood.
    That one nice lady who always gave us cookies and let
    us play with her dog.

    Remind me to tell you about the crabapple trees.


  34. avatar
    Melquiades | 25 November 2006 at 5:52 pm #

    btw, congrats on teaming up with The Pretenders in ’07. Wish I could be there. I know Marty said that is one of the bands he’d like to play with (He and Chrissy Hynde kind of share some similarities. No offense Marty. She a pretty girl. ha. you know what I mean. I think it’s the ruffled shirts). IThat would be sweet if Marty sat in.

    how did this come to be anyway? who’s idea?

  35. avatar
    Anonymous | 25 November 2006 at 6:58 pm #

    It’s so sweet to hear about your childhood. Thank you for revealing that part of your life.

  36. avatar
    syrinx | 25 November 2006 at 7:04 pm #

    I had too many teeth to fit as well. Orthodontists had to take out four permanent ones, two of them molars, and then persuade the rest to band together up front in a nice curve. The day they did the surgery I had watched Sesame Street and the featured number of the day was 7. They would show the number in front of a swirling psychedelic graphic every so often to remind you to think of all things SEVEN. So as I was going under the laughing gas, I looked at the ceiling and saw it all go swirly-together, a big deep voice up there repeating “Seven…seven…seven…”

    My first “trip.” Paid for by my parents!

    My teeth are all straight and lined up tight like soldiers, and even now I don’t have a cavity in my head. But there is something off-kilter about my smile, so I tend not to smile big. Most of the teeth are in the wrong playing positions. It’s fun to go in and watch a freshly-minted dental tech lose her mind when looking at my x-rays. Especially over the two front molars they turned sideways. 🙂

  37. avatar
    ambnt1 | 25 November 2006 at 8:31 pm #


    I have no recollection of anything before I was about 6, and a lot of it after that is a blur. (Should I be concerned?) Don’t know how you remember this stuff. Interesting reading, though. I’ll make a Paypal donation soon as funds get transferred to my account.


    n.p. Is-a-Door (by Cain and Able)

  38. avatar
    don joe | 25 November 2006 at 8:51 pm #

    saves having to buy ‘no certainty attached’. So when it’s out I’ll send you the money. Do u also want the $50 i paid for sing songs on vinyl about 15 yrs ago?

    Yep, im likin you adventure’s and the tails of waggin’ about the countryside etc.

    sleep easy for the sunny day is here soon

    don joe

  39. avatar
    leelinau | 25 November 2006 at 10:31 pm #

    I also had an extra tooth.


    Dentist said he hadn’t seen that in a while…

    maybe we’re aliens poised to take over!



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  44. avatar
    Anonymous | 26 November 2006 at 6:08 pm #

    I feel it all time
    the first girl I had a crush on
    and how everyone saw my obvious move to sit next to her
    It was pre-school no less, the torment of love starts so early
    It gets a little better when your brothers grow up
    Im oldest of 3 boys
    so it helps to deal with the brutes in authoritative sort of way
    but there are some bullies that will call you out to scrap
    and invite your mom to jump in if she wants.
    But yeah, its all squeaky swingsets
    poking at tree roots, making twig houses
    running like Ringo in the Breakout scene of A Hard Days Night..
    scrapes, bumps, and sugar lumps
    man if I could live it like that
    every other week from here on out
    it’d be swell..
    scrapes and all
    easy now…


    jaime r……

  45. avatar
    Anonymous | 28 November 2006 at 2:37 pm #

    I fucking hated childhood.
    Every single aspect of it.
    That’d be the beatings, the mental n emotional humiliation, the poverty, the relentless fucking torment of it.
    Fuck childhood, fuck my family, fuck the rest of humanity n fuck the fucking world.

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