posted on November 23, 2006 at 7:41 pm

in december of 1970
when i was 16
russell was 8
john 3
my father decided we would drive to surfers paradise
for christmas n new year
a big slap bang proper gee whizz holiday
we were gonna stay in ten the esplanade
a new ultra modern hotel directly across from the beach
in the heart of surfers paradise
which at that time
had still not undergone its transformation
into the hideous thing it is now
ten the esplanade was then one of the tallest buildings
but it was only about 5 or 6 storeys
most of s.p. was still a low level warren of little motels
coffee shops, bongo joints, amusement arcades
and kinda sleazy/bohemian
it was a long long way from canberra
2 days drive
and my dad had bought a new car, a holden (GM)
a holden premier no less
with automatic transmission n a hazelnutwood dashboard
it was my fathers first australian car..
up till then hed preferred british cars
we had a wolsely which we thought was the bees knees
but our family were getting bigger
so dad went and bought a holden
dark green n sleek n modern it looked
the day he turned up with it
i said goodbye to my girlfriend
who lived opposite the high school
one afternoon
i’d bought her a christmas present too
some mary quant make-up in a white bag
with black flowers
i was very fond of my girlfriend
but i realised later
she was just having me on
it all seemed so important at the time
looking back at it now
i could think she may have had another boy on the side
at any rate she was getting ready to chuck me in
i just hadnt had enough experience with gurls
to realise that…
i can still remember her phone number…..
we set off for sunny queensland shortly before christmas
talk about global warming..
it was pretty hot that year
and just the otherside of syddley
our brand new car broke down
the engine just seized up
n that was that
our green bomb got towed away
and we ended up at a motel on the outskirts of gosford
for an unexpected delay of 3 or 4 days
when my dad shook the motel mans hand
they both found out they were masons
its alright said my dad
jocks a mason n hes gonna look after us
my dad called every scotsman he met jock
regardless of whatever their real name was
i wonder now if this ever irritated all the scottish “jocks” we knew
i guess it was some kind of ww11 thing…
anyway we were ensconsed in this motel in nowheresville
but i didnt care cos it hadda pool
oh chlorine n blue water
nightswimming too
down in those cool depths during that hot australian night
oh how i loved swimming pools
but always packed with people
but here at this motel
russell n i had a pool almost to ourselves
they practically hadda drag russell outta there
at the end of the day
his fingers all wrinkled from 10 straight hours in the water
the sun n the chlorine bleaching his blonde hair white
i can still see his white hair waving around in the blue water
down at the bottom
he was always suntanned too
he didnt have freckly skin like me…
he was like an otter in the water
one day i listened to the radio in our room
one after another it played 2 songs
that were maybe one n two on the charts in england then
my sweet lord by georgie h
ride a white swan by t-rex
changes were afoot in the world
this was georges first single since the beatles
and i thought it was gorgeous
i still do
it seemed like a milestone
ride a white swan was a weird hit too
under two minutes long
ride a white swan like the people of beltane
you didnt hear lyrics like that too often in the top forty
my dad was pretty angry that his new car had blown up
and he starting smoking again
at first these wine dipped cigars with little white plastic tips
he let me try them
actually he let me smoke cigarettes too if i wanted
i guess people still hadnt got the message in 1970
and lotsa kids started smoking at home when they turned 16
my dad always smoked between 20 – 40 cigs a day
for most of his life
at first rothmans
then at the end benson n hedges special filter
eventually we got our car back with a new engine
but dad was miffed and i guess it was hard to let it go
we’d spent some time walking around gosford
smoking wine dipped cigars
dad was starting to treat me like a bloke n a friend
and i was always amazed at how mesmerising it was
to hang around with him n listen to him joke n carry on
he was a very charismatic guy n everyone liked him
i studied his ways n tried to figure out how he had this effect
and i began unravelling his modus operandis
we eventually reached surfers paradise
without further incident
our hotel WAS amazing
well i’d never seen anything like it
up on the top floor
a view of the ocean across the road
individual bedrooms
a breakfast bar with stools
mood lighting
a dishwasher!
in the courtyard was a big blue pool
in the whole time we were there
i probably only once
walked thru the gate
across the road
and swam in the sea
no i was a devoted pool addict
and i was in the pool day n nite
i started to wander round the town
and i spent my time playing pool
in the amusement arcades n feeding the juke box
3 singles for ten cents
i actually got good at pool for a while
i bought my self a green t-shirt with 3 buttons
and a pair of board shorts
my hair was long in a kinda prince valiant look
i guess i thought i was pretty cool
desperate for company
i met a bunch of jewish kids from melbourne
their parents were all billionaires in the rag trade
and they all knew each other n came up every year
the boys all had ultra short hair n “straight” clothes
the girls i cant even remember
except that they were dark
and completely ignored me
all but one of the boys called me “the christian”
and the parents were dismayed when i turned up
at their hoity toity hotel one day
i was a victim of racial discrimination!
i cut myself loose from the israelites
n i met a boy who could not have been more opposite
he had long blond hair
his mother was the cleaner at ten the esplanade
him n his mum lived together in the flat opposite our hotel
we used to go there
his mum never seemed to be home
he had an electric organ
and the bass notes were black with the sharps n flats white!
he could play all the keyboard riffs of the day
and he played me led zepplin 3
and johnny winter
and vanilla fudge
and all of inna gadda da vida by iron butterfly
i thought the bass solo was ace!
on christmas day
instead of going to auntie lu-lus house
i absconded with my pal
n played pool n roamed the arcades of s.p.
i felt deliciously grown up n independent
the next day lu-lu turned up in tears at our motel
and her husband lambasted me for not coming on xmas
“i think youd better apologise to yer aunty” he hissed at me
but lu-lu was too distraught to hear my mumbled apology
god what a fucking carry-on
she didnt like me anyway
why the hell did she care if i was there or not
another amusing incident too
which revealed that sometimes my dads sense of humour
was not infallible
my mothers brothers wifes sister turned up
with her new husband
my father made some joke about how he’d never met her before
only seen her..ha ha..dancing at last card louies…
he was just making this up in an ill guided effort to amuse
however instant pandemonium broke out…
it seems that the lady HAD been some sort of stripper
the new hubby was pretty fucking sensitive about it
nice one dad
did that unleash chaos n mayhem….
on new years eve i snuck off with my friend
and he n i n a buncha his friends
bought a bottle of tequila
and went down the beach where
but me
drunk the tequila n then threw up
then we roamed the bars n parties
searching for “chicks”
but came away empty handed
the ladies werent falling over emselves
for our drunken n vomity crew
so we joined in a rampage
which has since mutated into “schoolies week”
where teenagers go on a bender on the gold coast
random destruction n silly behaviour
at midnight a grown women kissed me
insinuating her cigarette n champagne tongue into my mouth
it was by far the most exciting night of my life so far
i took one last swim in the pool
and got to sleep just as the sun was rising over the ocean
i was pretty sad to leave this wondrous place
but we got back to canberra without incident
although my dad always hated that car
when i got back to canberra
i went down to the dry cleaners at the dickson shops
where my girlfriend worked
when i walked in she gave me a very distant
oh hello….
and those were the last words she spoke to me
that day
i hung around for a while
but i’d been exiled from her realm
for reasons i didnt understand
i slunk home dejected
that love stuff burns!
i had my bass guitar
i reapplied myself too it
doubly so because of that stupid girl
who’d crushed my stupid heart
boom boom boom

54 Responses to “memories of our holiday”

  1. avatar
    Anonymous | 23 November 2006 at 9:27 pm #

    it seems that the lady HAD been some sort of stripper – funny – pip

  2. avatar
    flowerpower | 23 November 2006 at 9:34 pm #

    Walking through Lyneham this fine summerey morn I often reflect on life in Lyneham circa 1970 – no much obvious bohemian kulture then!

    Did the hotel have those weird patterned besa block landscapng walls with cacti?

    So why did Autie Lu-lu get so upset? Cause you musta been entertaining even then.

  3. avatar
    fantasticandy | 23 November 2006 at 9:35 pm #

    ah—-the folly of youth!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. avatar
    jeanz | 23 November 2006 at 9:38 pm #

    Brilliant as always

    The last lines reminded me of Ian Hunter’s Irene Wilde.

  5. avatar
    the dean | 23 November 2006 at 9:58 pm #

    football – yawn
    meat pies – yuk
    holden cars – crap
    kangaroos – they’ve got to be OK

  6. avatar
    Daberhasher | 23 November 2006 at 10:05 pm #

    yes, the Gold Coast does sound like Florida, and it seems both have evolved on equally awful tangents… to some…

    i spent whole years of my youth in pools,it seems… lying motionless on the bottom after launching myself from the high dive was my preferred method of torturing my Mother… twisted evil glee, that i’m paying for now…
    “hey Dad, watch me ride with my eyes closed!!!”

    reapplied doubly bass by SK…
    that stupid girl,
    she’s got a lot to learn…


  7. avatar
    cee bee | 23 November 2006 at 10:06 pm #

    I remember staying at “Ten” in Surfer’s.

    Growing up, every year the family would go up to Qld and stay at s.p. We’d stay at either ‘Ten’ or next door at “the Dunes”.

    By then though, they WERE the smaller buildings, dwarfed by ‘Zenith’ and other hi-rises. It was not long afterwards, they were demolished and we went elsewhere.

  8. avatar
    a2 | 23 November 2006 at 10:17 pm #

    that blast of notalgia deserves a hit on the paypal button – my sweet lord is the best song ever closely followed by just for you

  9. avatar
    The Carrier of Fruit | 23 November 2006 at 10:19 pm #

    Man that sounds great. Summer holidays – beach on a hot night, sensitive families, recalcitrant vehicles, rock n roll and a broken heart.
    hah best holiday ever.

  10. avatar
    skyintheairwaves | 23 November 2006 at 10:25 pm #

    there’s nothing like the glorious feeling of being underwater.

    Gravity is tenuous.

    Breath is precious.

    Hair dances.

    The surface is a border you don’t want to cross, until… the need for breath becomes all encompassing

  11. avatar
    Samosanx | 23 November 2006 at 10:29 pm #

    “trapeze boy” and “hoping things will change” played in my mind while i read that steve…
    what a smashingly wonderful way to start this friday..i got a ryhthm now; it’s a gentle underwater thang – and maybe a ml smile – smug! I had the time being for brekky!!!
    hey, wonder what happened to the kid with the keyboard –
    and yeah; my sweet lord! halle lulya – oh, and “thought that i was over you” played out the end. the stripper turned wife, and the girl with the Mary Quant bag (very stylish choice Mr Kilbey!)

    good vibrations to y’all
    thanks killer

  12. avatar
    Anonymous | 23 November 2006 at 10:39 pm #

    love these past reminiscences (sp?).


  13. avatar
    Anonymous | 23 November 2006 at 11:03 pm #

    the things you can do when you’re heart’s been ignored
    aint love grand?

  14. avatar
    Anonymous | 23 November 2006 at 11:11 pm #

    i could listen to your stories all day…
    what a stupid stupid girl

  15. avatar
    damien | 23 November 2006 at 11:11 pm #

    You showed her, Steve!

    Great blog today.

  16. avatar
    the woods | 23 November 2006 at 11:14 pm #

    In the motel pool…..

    The holiday in the Holden to Surfers is an Aussie family rite of passage……

    Thanks for sharing that memory!!!

    Bravo / Pierre

  17. avatar
    Anonymous | 23 November 2006 at 11:17 pm #

    That love stuff does burn – yet we keep coming back for more.


  18. avatar
    veleska1970 | 23 November 2006 at 11:31 pm #

    mmmm….these are the blogs i love best from you.

    i had no idea there was such big age gaps between you and the two sibs.

    1970 was a good year. 🙂

    thanks for the mem’ries today.

    lotza love….

  19. avatar
    Anonymous | 23 November 2006 at 11:49 pm #

    Dr Kilbey, adore your Proustian blogs…your memory for detail is absolutely, totally frightening…My Sweet Lord, what a memory trigger and how beautiful it still is…many thanks for a delightful start to the day…

  20. avatar
    fergal | 24 November 2006 at 12:06 am #

    brilliant memoirs sk!
    one of the very best ‘sk memoirs’ posts to date i think.
    now, when r u gonna follow pk’s lead & migrate to queensland for good?

  21. avatar
    public savant | 24 November 2006 at 12:15 am #

    Right, well that was disconcertingly easy – one little aussie dollar for each of the following words:

    the ladies werent falling over emselves
    for our drunken n vomity crew

    When the shrieks of my Z-girl’s night terror wrenched me into consciousness at 2AM this morning, you were playing the moneylender in a production called The Merchant of Venison. ‘A caustic enema that will scarify even committed carnivores into the way of the vegetable’ said a prominent reviewer. ‘Bravo’ said the audience, which at no point contained a single meat inhaler.

  22. avatar
    Anonymous | 24 November 2006 at 12:33 am #

    Thanks for that Steve, brought back a host of long forgotten memories of childhood holidays


  23. avatar
    don joe | 24 November 2006 at 12:42 am #

    Sweet Steve:)

    Young n women n beaches. translucent times n hubba bubba hearts going pop over the place. no so bad with thy mota but then we only travelled to Pambula…
    Thanks for sharing that piece with us.

    don joe

  24. avatar
    Anonymous | 24 November 2006 at 1:24 am #

    1970-what a start to a godawful era (although rock music from then holds up really well). Nothing like memories of a pool…i still can’t resist them.

    ed in fl

  25. avatar
    Anonymous | 24 November 2006 at 1:30 am #

    modern Proust

  26. avatar
    ambnt1 | 24 November 2006 at 2:09 am #


    Little did they all know you’d one day write (er, co-write) the modern national anthem of Australia. Beautiful blog.


    n.p. Simon Raymonde, “Blame Someone Else” (exquisite bassist of Cockatoo Twins, lovely little album, the man can sing!)

  27. avatar
    Melquiades | 24 November 2006 at 3:55 am #

    So, the bass was your first instrument?
    Did you know early on music/ the arts was your path? I know you worked the proletarian life for some time, but did you have that burn early on?

  28. avatar
    CAPTAIN BEYOND | 24 November 2006 at 5:38 am #

    when me was a freshman in high school me played pool and foosball with the seniors at me local hangout, The Skipperette, me would always beat them like never before…

  29. avatar
    Dilip Doshi | 24 November 2006 at 5:57 am #

    Great read that.

  30. avatar
    Sweed | 24 November 2006 at 7:34 am #

    What a wonderful way to start the day…reading this

  31. avatar
    Anonymous | 24 November 2006 at 8:19 am #

    Just read today’s and yesterday’s posts. The time-being and his paid-leave, his financial trials ‘n tribs etc etc, left me tepid, and barely a chuckle… no emotional connection there mate. Although plenty of others found it a real hoot & holler.
    But today’s saunter down memory lane had me hypnotized from start to finish, smiling warmly…transported back to that sun dappled 1960’s seaside town. Pure magic.

    Just two different approaches, and two different reactions.
    Blog on, time being.
    c escherbach

  32. avatar
    Anonymous | 24 November 2006 at 8:40 am #

    It took your parents over 7 years to get over having you? 🙂

    thanks for taking us down your memory lane
    where the view is similar
    and so is the pain
    ..dont we all know those feelings! 🙂

    oh god, i remember a vacation in country Maryborough Vic at their town pool thinking we were impressing the local country lads in our … hawaiian boardshorts! LOL

    stupid blind girl = amazing bass player with memories of intense future.

  33. avatar
    kat | 24 November 2006 at 10:17 am #

    ha! you take after yer dad with the sense of humor. i just know it!

  34. avatar
    Anonymous | 24 November 2006 at 11:59 am #

    message for you here

  35. avatar
    nickfiction | 24 November 2006 at 1:02 pm #

    this one stands out Sk, loved it ……

  36. avatar
    Quarkinthedarkontheedgeoftheluniticfringe | 24 November 2006 at 1:29 pm #

    The crowd roars & applause is quite thunderous. Standing O

  37. avatar
    mike a | 24 November 2006 at 2:30 pm #

    That was one of your best sk, your childhood memories and impressions seem to inspire some great writing material. And wow, what a great memory!! Your dad was quite a character!!

  38. avatar
    restaurant mark | 24 November 2006 at 2:44 pm #

    well if that girl had anything to do with you becoming the bass player you are then so be it. her loss right? isn’t it kind of funny and sad that during our crushed heart periods, ( which i’m sure that wasn’t your only a girl broke my heart moment…i think i’m up to like 37 of them ) even when you don’t feel you can talk, sleep, or eat…oh but wait, you can still play and write music and lyrics. odd how it can fuel creativity. but anyway, thanks for sharing the memories…also didn’t have time to post yesterday, but just wanted to say that was hilarious! you crack me up! brilliantly funny! see i did like it!!!
    take care

  39. avatar
    CSTCoach | 24 November 2006 at 3:40 pm #

    Thanks TB, I enjoyed that. It sparked many memories of my own dad, who died last year of cancer. Of course not a day passes that I don’t think of him, but your stories sparked memories that had been put away for a while.


  40. avatar
    JJ | 24 November 2006 at 3:48 pm #

    Another warm chlorinated night, the pool throws blue light……I enjoyed this glimpse into life in Oz, circa 1970. “My Sweet Lord” and girlfriends, that resonates for me. Her name was Mary Lewis and I bought her All Things Must Pass for Kringle present in 1970. We drifted apart to different colleges – I miss her to this day. That love stuff does burn.

    This blogge reads like an adolescent road diary of discovery; great sfuff. Plus, having to face the wrath of Auntie Lu’s enforcer – chilling penalty for a no-show.


  41. avatar
    paul w | 24 November 2006 at 4:00 pm #

    Thanks for the memories Steve.
    I think back to my own “schoolies week” when we stayed at none other than Ten the Esplanade. This was in 1984, so by that time it was just one of the many high-rises at Surfers, and I suppopse it must have been fairly cheap by then for my friends and I to be able to afford to spend the week there. In fact, one of the few things I do remember about that week was our surprise when we found that the place had free in-house porn on the tv, allowing us innocent high school graduates our first opportunity to see a man fellate himself! So I would say that old #Ten may have declined a bit by then….

  42. avatar
    matthew | 24 November 2006 at 4:51 pm #

    hey steve, thanks for another nice vivid anecdote! I remember in grade 2 (1972, Canberra for me) a girl in our class went to Surfer’s Paradise… in my developing lateral-thinking songwriter’s brain it was “Surface Paradise”… wtf? Ok so the reversed black/white notes reminded me of a Korg synth I had circa 1985…. you had to keep batteries in it or it would lose the programmed sounds. The pool addict material reminded me of my “golden years” in Brisbane as a kid, living in our pool thru the torrid summers. AND I’m sure I know that dry cleaner’s in Dickson…. anyway a great read and nostalgic for me too.

  43. avatar
    Melquiades | 24 November 2006 at 4:52 pm #

    posted a new song. Forget All This.

  44. avatar
    Melquiades | 24 November 2006 at 4:54 pm #

    just need a drummer, bassist, guitar. anyone in MD?

  45. avatar
    Anonymous | 24 November 2006 at 5:02 pm #

    I haven’t been on holiday since 1974.
    I was 12.
    Soon as I was old enough not to have to go, I didn’t go!
    Stayed at me gran’s at first, then later just stopped at home by myself.
    Better than going on fucking holiday with my shitbag family, I’ll tell yer!
    Never got out of the habit though, so I’ve never actually had a holiday as an adult!
    44 n never been abroad/overseas/out of the country/whatever.
    Don’t fuckin want to either.

  46. avatar
    Andromeda7 | 24 November 2006 at 5:14 pm #

    Beautiful boy. Silly sad dry-cleaning girlfriend. Had she been cleaning champage & tobacco kisses off your high collar paisley shirt then Steven John Kilbey?

    Reminds me of how I lost my virginity at 16 on a Surfers’ Paradise beach with the waterskiiing instructor who been teaching the whole family how to ski that afternoon. He told my brother my mascara would run, but it didn’t. It was waterproof. I told him I wasn’t a virgin because I thought he mightn’t do the deed if he knew. It wasn’t much chop. Never saw him again. Not very romantic.

    But I came home with a mysterious smile of accomlishment, and wrote a letter about it to a girlfriend. Mum found it and all hell broke loose.

  47. avatar
    davem | 24 November 2006 at 7:22 pm #

    Fab SK.
    I think I’ve now got your Dad’s car.

  48. avatar
    CSTCoach | 24 November 2006 at 7:39 pm #

    Just saw the email from The Choich newsletter. Many cool developments!!

    I see rumours of a possible North American tour again late next year? I’m there!! With any luck, to more than one show this time. Any chance of full-on electric? You guys rocked the roof off acoustically last time, but i’ve never seen a powered show…

    i see eastern europe on there too. if the dates are released soon enough, i’m gonna try to push for a magazine assignment to that part of the world for that time. would be cool to see the show in budapest…


  49. avatar
    veleska1970 | 24 November 2006 at 7:41 pm #

    thanks for the info, ryan. i hope the rumours are indeed truthful!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂

  50. avatar
    leelinau | 24 November 2006 at 7:43 pm #

    Hell yea what a great memory, must be cuz of all those drugs.


  51. avatar
    Melquiades | 24 November 2006 at 8:34 pm #

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  54. avatar
    John Garratt | 30 November 2006 at 9:36 pm #

    “then at the end benson n hedges special filter”

    I think I read somewhere that Noel Gallagher named his two dogs Benson and Hedges.


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