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Warrandyte in the 1950s

Growing up in Warrandyte in the 1950s was pretty special. We had the river and the bush and a strong feeling of belonging. Call it plenty of community spirit if you like.

We McAuleys were a mongrel breed, part Irish, part German and with a bit of English and Scottish thrown in. Back then Warrandyte was still a country town but quickly developing into a suburb. My family had lived here for generations, my grandmother Eva Belzer came from German stock and attended the local stone-built state primary school that was built by my great-great grandfather William Masterton back in the 1800s. She married Sam McAuley, whose father James was born in County Tyrone, Ireland.

My grandparents set up their orchard and stable on a tract of land next to the school, raised their own livestock, baked bread and grew vegetables for their dinner table.

There was no electricity for cooking, heating or light. It was a time when people made their own music at special events such as births, weddings and wakes. My grand- father played the concertina and people danced and sang in the old homestead in the light of flickering hurricane lamps and candles. They had six children Evelyn, Gertrude, Jack, Bill, Lillian and my father Ralph, the youngest.

The family suffered many setbacks over the years, losing their home in the devastating Black Friday firestorm of 1939. Three years later, during WWII, my uncle Bill was shot dead as he led his troops across a beach in what was then New Guinea. I was proudly named William in memory of my Uncle Bill when I was born six years after the end of the war.

My father came home from WWII after serving in the Middle East and New Guinea. He met and married my mother Patricia and built our family home from fieldstone gathered in nearby hills and transported back to his building site on a horse-drawn dray.

In due course, my sister Sue and I were born and we grew up running gloriously free in the small town, through which the Yarra River meandered.

The river was the focal point of our lives. We kids met by the river, swam together in the river and with a trembling heart, when I was still as innocent as an angel, I had my first kiss by the river.

Our village consisted of a series of shops and included the Mechanics Institute Hall, the Post Office and a pub.

Across from the pub was Jack Moore’s general store. The atmospheric old shop was full of sacks of grain, hardware items and tools, glass jars filled with nuts and lollies and rows of biscuit tins. Buying a brown paper bag full of broken biscuits was a heavenly treat for us kids. Scotch fingers, Iced Vovos and Milk Arrowroots were my favourites.

The store was crammed with little treasures hiding in the shadows on the dusty wooden floor, a great place for a child to explore. Unfortunately, the old shop, a remnant from another age, burned to the ground when I was still a child; it was never rebuilt and the site has been used as a car park for the Grand Hotel ever since.

Jack Moore’s sister Aggy ran the milk bar next to the Mechanics Institute Hall, right where the community centre is today. In the late 1950s, matinees were shown at the hall every Saturday and the town’s young film-goers would gather in her shop at interval to drink the ‘spiders’ she made and to buy more Jaffas to roll down the aisles during the Hopalong Cassidy or Tom Mix feature.

Lime ‘Spiders’ were Aggy’s specialty and consisted of a scoop of ice cream stirred into a big sundae glass of lime cordial and lemonade. The delicious creamy concoction fizzed and oozed over the rim of the glass, the bubbles tickling your nose as you tried to drink it before there was too much spillage.

In June, winter rain turned the river into a muddy torrent that coursed through the valley. Rising above the yellow-brown river, the rain-misted hills were mostly capped with grey leaden skies. Winter months were cold, wet and depressing, the dullness broken only by local football matches, which were the absolute highlight.

In summer, the ever-dwindling river ran through tinder dry gum trees that shimmered in the oppressive heat. Wattle trees were laden with bright yellow blossom and the sharp scent of eucalyptus hung in the hot January air. The crack of ball on bat could be heard as the local cricket team crafted their way through another innings.

Sometimes during stinking heatwaves my father would wake me at first light and we’d drive down to the river in his 1951 Bedford truck for a swim before school. Steam rose from the cold muddy river as we waded in together to cool off. I’d cling to my father’s broad shoulders as we swam clear across the current to the tall rocky cliffs on the other side. I felt safe in the water with him.

The other local lads and I climbed cliffs and trees and dived into shallow water from heights of up to 20 metres. We were fearless and I suspect slightly mad, as we risked life and limb every day with our daredevil stunts. We congregated at a swimming hole called ‘The Log’, where a rope hung from a tall gum tree on the other side of the river. Time after time we’d swing out over the water and let go of the rope, flying like acrobats through the air as we somersaulted down into the owing brown water.

Our bread was baked in a wood fired oven in the village and delivered daily to each house, sometimes still warm. And milk was delivered each day by a local character, “Tiger” Flowers. He always wore a sleeveless Richmond Football Club guernsey.

He was our unofficial town crier: all our breaking news came from Tiger as he called out during his milk deliveries, “Mrs Chapman has had a baby boy”, or “The bush fire is coming from the north”. Though I knew Tiger all of his life, I never knew his Christian, or given, name; I always called him Tiger.

The iceman came once a week, a huge block of ice carried on a shoulder protected by a potato sack. Once in our kitchen he’d hoist up the heavy block and unceremoniously plonk it in our icebox. It was the time before electric refrigerators were common in 1950s homes.

The “dunny man” came once a week, too, to collect the pan from our outdoor toilet, with a grunt he’d lift the frighteningly full pan up and on to his head and carry it down to the dunny truck. It was an endless joke with us kids: what would happen if the bottom of the pan gave way as he balanced it on his head? Shit and disaster! That’s what!

Our old-fashioned telephone was attached to the wall. To make a call you held the earpiece at the end of a cord to your ear while winding a handle to ring the local exchange. Mrs Fitch, the operator, worked her magic from the post office, now the Historical Society Museum. Speaking into the mouthpiece on the wall, you’d tell Mrs Fitch the number you required and she’d connect you via telephone lines tangled like spaghetti on her switchboard.

Our mail was delivered by horse- back each day by old Bill McCulloch. Wearing a pith helmet, he’d ride his horse Silver right past our letterbox, up the drive and deliver the mail by hand saying, “Good morning, Mrs McAuley.” When we heard the clip clop of Silver’s hooves we’d scurry outside to pat the friendly old horse.

NEXT MONTH: The coming of television and the Melbourne Olympics.

Pricking up the pieces

ASK Karina Templeton about the way people approach health and wellness these days and she believes we’re seeing some balance in integrating a more clinical Western approach with traditional Eastern methods that are steeped in history.

With a double degree in Health Science and Chinese Medicine, she’s a practitioner who certainly appreciates and respects conventional practices but who has a real passion for Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine principles and associated treatments.

“I’ve studied in a very clinical based environment and I guess I’m now going back to more traditional ways,” she told the Diary. “There’s definitely a way to integrate both in using Western and Chinese Medicine.

“The principles of Chinese Medicine, like eating through the seasons and that kind of thing, have always been there, but we just somehow lost it when there was such a shift to Western medicine. Then, of course, processed foods and busy lifestyles causing stress came into it and I think now people are realising those things are not good for them.”

She believes we’re becoming a lot more conscientious and informed, there’s greater awareness – especially with the internet coming into play on the research front: “I went to a conference recently and they pointed out the importance of knowing what we’re prescribing because it’s so easy for people to simply jump on Google and tell you what’s happening. We certainly have to be on top of it.”

Karina moved to Warrandyte this time last year and is setting about establishing her Chinese Medicine practice from home in Lorraine Avenue to be able to enjoy our village lifestyle and environment while raising a family with husband. Karina uses Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine as part of her “compassionate, supportive treatments” and incorporates modalities such as Cupping, Electro Stimulation, Moxibustion and Chinese Diet and Exercise Therapy.

She studied myotherapy at RMIT in her early 20s, but says she knew it just wasn’t quite for her as the process was taxing on her body as well as the patients’, and she found it was very much about the same musculoskeletal conditions, “of which it works really well for, but it just wasn’t all I wanted to do”.

“So while doing that I had to do some clinical placements where I worked with a whole variety of practitioners and I did it with a Chinese Medical practitioner and was blown away,” Karina says. “It was so gentle, I watched what he did, and took detailed notes of what I was doing. Putting these needles in, which are just so quick and fine, and being able to leave the room and allow a person to rest themselves while not being physically draining on me was something that appealed.

“And the scope of people and conditions he was seeing in that day was just incredible so I was really drawn to the variety, and I could see the changes that were happening.” So what’s the lowdown on Acupuncture and how it works? “There are acupuncture points all along the meridians, there are 12 main ones that run through the body and par- ticular organs, such as the spleen meridian, the kidney meridian, the bladder meridian and so on,” Karina explains. “So they’re not working exactly on those organs, as we say in Western medicine, because it’s a totally different theory, but they’re passing through and that’s why they’re named after them. There are thousands of points we can choose from. Essentially, by using those points we’re inserting messages into the body and how we want it to function. We can use one point on its own or we can couple them by using certain points together where they can have a different effect altogether.”

As for the conditions she treats, they’re wide and varied. “Common ones I’ve seen here in Warrandyte include musculoskeletal, from the majority of men that are coming, but all different types of things. I’m doing a lot of birth work, digestion and insomnia issues, dizziness and, of course, stress is a big thing,” Karina says.

Among a long list, other treatable conditions include: low energy, respiratory infections, hay fever, migraines, stress, digestive issues, constipation, loose stools, pain, IBS, insomnia, vertigo, musculoskeletal conditions, women’s health – menstrual health, natural fertility, assisted repro- ductive support, pregnancy and positive birthing support, pregnancy associated conditions including morning sickness, heartburn, fatigue, pains and turning breech babies.

“I’ve seen some people trying Western medicine to get well with their condition but for whatever reason it’s just not getting them over the line, and they come with an open mind and try the Chinese Medicine approach, it’s worked, so of course they tell their friends about it,” Karina says. “I’m certainly seeing a shift in that regard. I think it definitely picks up where Western medicine can’t come in, for example, I focus a bit on pregnancy and there’s so much medication you can’t take – Acupuncture is something you can have safely throughout your entire pregnancy.

“I’ll treat anyone and everyone, but I’ve done a lot of women’s health,” Karina admits. “Women’s health is the main thing and that’s mainly because I got into a women’s health clinic and was mentored really well through that. Otherwise here I’m seeing people with all sorts of conditions and I’m enjoying the variety.

Karina is registered with AHPRA & AACMA. She is covered by all major health funds and her patients are eligible for private insurance rebates and consultations. Consultations are $70 (after an initial $90 consultation) and are available by appointment on 0415 443 148, ktch- inesemedicine@gmail.com or visitktchinesemedicine.

Light therapy tackles Lyme

Less than six months ago, the Diary published an article on a cluster of Lyme disease patients in Warrandyte. Sufferers were at wits end, frustrated at the lack of support and indifference shown by the government, which still refuses to acknowledge the debilitating dis- ease even exists in Australia.

Andrew Barrett, Warrandyte’s colour and light healing expert, has been treating a Melbourne woman who is also afflicted with the disease. Using a machine called the PhotonWave, the style of therapy has had positive effects on patients suffering from Lyme disease as well as other ailments.

Colour light therapy uses coloured light on the body to create balance and flow, which helps the body heal itself. I was lucky enough to experience a session with Andrew as we spoke about the ancient style of healing. He explained how he had just returned from the International Light Association conference in Vienna where he had learned about using light therapy for heavy metal toxicity and immune mobilisation.

Andrew specialises in Syntronics, the process of shining selected light frequencies through the eyes, impacting key systems of the body. The light therapy session was incredibly relaxing and Andrew explained the colours and lights can be used to treat a whole range of ailments, not just physical pain, but also emotional pain and mental struggles from which people are looking for relief. The coloured light can also help with getting better rest or alternatively offer relief for those with low energy levels.

Set at the back of The Purple Dragon y in Warrandyte, the location was perfect with the scents of soaps and body oils yet another treat for the senses.

Andrew brought out two interesting looking instruments, the rst being the previously mentioned PhotonWave Rainbow Light Simulator, a new invention that has shown proven success in cases of chronic pain, ADHD, depression, heavy metal toxicity, dyslexia, skin conditions, eye diseases and allergies. This is the tool Andrew uses in his treatment of Lyme disease.

A difficult disease to treat with ongoing and chronic symptoms, the sufferer had tried many treatments to no avail until light therapy was suggested. Using the Klinghardt Protocol, a method of eliminating toxicity, Lyme disease sufferers are advised to attend 12 sessions over time to see results.

The second tool looked like a torch, with varying coloured disks that could be attached, before holding the different coloured lights over different zones of the body. I felt very relaxed after the session, a heavy but contented feeling, which I described to him as like floating on a dense flowerbed. It was hard to imagine anyone having trouble sleeping after a session like that.

As Andrew explained, the light therapy, while gentle and non-invasive, is designed to balance the physical, emotional and mental aspects of your wellbeing. Just some of the other issues Andrew can treat include migraines, depression, MS, chronic fatigue and skin dis- orders, while the therapy supports the functioning of bodily processes of the immune system, the lymphatic system and the endocrine system.

Many of his clients have tried everything else and have found the colour light therapy to be the only thing to have worked in their recovery and healing.

Andrew is offering a special of $75 for the first consultation and $60 thereafter and urges those living with Lyme disease to get in touch.

Family…and my FJ

WARRANDYTE’s David Cameron was born in Zurich in 1951. Five years later a brand new FJ Holden drove off the GMH assembly line in Australia, and David and the classic motor vehicle were destined to come together for a lifelong partnership.

The FJ eventually became David’s mum and dad’s family car and when he turned 18 his father presented him with the keys. What makes it really special is it was David’s first and last car.

Now, almost half a century later, he’s still driving the classic around the hills of Warrandyte.

“It’s been a member of the family for well over 50 years,” says David. “People often advise me to upgrade to a more modern car, but I just say to them, you don’t trade in your grandmother just because she’s getting old. We have to treat the old girl with great respect.”

David moved to Warrandyte with his parents Barbara and Don in 1962. “We moved to Glynn’s Road just after the great fire,” says David. After Grade 6 at the local primary school, David went to Norwood High School. “I completed my six year sentence at Norwood. It was a terrible time for me because I was so painfully shy. Life during those years was a bit of a misery. Later I played keyboard in a band called Pieces of Eight and that helped me with my shyness and gave me a passport into parties and social events,” he explains.

David studied biological science at Latrobe University and it was during his second year when he met his wife Lee who was studying medicine at Melbourne Uni.

“Laurie Ball was the matchmaker,” remembers David. “He got us together at his house in Research Warrandyte Road.”

Lee remembers the meeting too. “There was a little voice inside my head saying, ‘This man is going to be my husband’,” says Lee with a smile. “There was also another voice saying, ‘Why me? This little Swiss apple is too young and green’. But it has all worked out and we still really love each other.”

David adds: “Yes, we have weathered the obstacles together. But our fairy godmothers have worked overtime.”

Lee pipes up saying: “We’ve been held together by Angel’s Glue and it’s held well because we are soon to celebrate our 45th anniversary.”

David and Lee raised a family of six children, Marcel, 41, John, 37, Virgil, 35, Maria, 33, Felix, 31, and Angelica, 28. The family has grown up with the old FJ, too.

“We’ve brought up our six kids and they have all been driven to school in the car, learned to drive in the car and some of the kids were even conceived in the car,” says David with a twinkle in his eye. “Unbelievably, the 1956 car’s odometer still reads in miles not kilometers. And when we add up all the miles we’ve done driving the kids to the Rudolf Steiner School, it adds up to more than the distance to the moon.

“Sure, there have been accidents along the way, but the FJ is built like a tank from solid metal and not designed to crumple like modern cars. If somebody runs into me, they’ll come off second best. We always get the old girl patched up and back on the road.”

Lee has kept up the family tradition and driven a 1954 FJ special since ’85. “My cars first engine lasted from 1956 until 1970,” David says.
The first replacement-reconditioned engine lasted until ’88, the next replacement engine went until 2007 and David is confident the fourth engine will last until 2027. “Now I really look after the old girl and don’t push her too hard,” says David. As a botanist, David has ventured forth and driven his FJ on most of his field trips over the years, often taking Lee with him.

“The car speedo has probably been around the dial about five times,” he points out. “We’ve had some close calls in the car too. One night we were coming back from Goongerah with the whole family in the car when the fan belt gave out. I always carry rubber bands in my pocket so I put about 10 big fat rubber bands in place of the fan belt and off we went. Five miles down the road there was the smell of burning rubber and these strange pinging sounds coming from under the bonnet. We tried the rubber bands again but once again only got another five miles along the road before they gave out. Eventually a good samaritan stopped with a mobile phone and called the RACV.”

Another time David and Lee were travelling through the South Australian Outback with a group of botanists. Lee was pregnant at the time and the corrugations on the outback roads were creating a rough ride.

“We feared the constant bumps could have an adverse effect on the pregnancy and so we left the group and turned for home,” remembers David. “Nevertheless, it was a charmed and wonderful trip to make before we had a big family.

“Over the years people have got increasingly nostalgic towards these classic cars. People constantly wave and approach me at petrol stations to tell me their FJ Holden stories. I’ve had endless offers to buy the car and people ask me how much I want for her. I tell them that the car is priceless and that I never want to sell it. It’s a member of my family and I can’t part with it.”

Sometimes David and Lee have lived away from Warrandyte but like all good and committed Warrandytians they have gravitated back to where they belong.

David tells the Diary why he loves Warrandyte: “It’s a place that’s generous towards unusual and odd people. A place that’s tolerant of people who don’t quite fit into the suburban straightjacket.”

David, at 65, will keep working as a senior botanist with the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning and doesn’t intend retiring his trusty FJ Holden any time soon. It seems they will travel onwards together, for the whole journey.

Perhaps the Angels Glue that has bound David and Lee’s marriage will also keep the old classic car on the road forever, all the way to the moon and back.

Tom our TV man

TOMMY Kerkhof is Warrandyte’s best-known television personality. He is the man behind our TV screens. This year his television repair business celebrates a 50-year milestone. For almost half a century, Tom has toiled and tinkered with our Panasonics and adjusted our Samsungs and Sonys.

From the clunky boxes of the 1950s to the sleek flat screen models of today, he has kept us tuned in and switched on.

“But times have changed,” said Tom. “I’m basically in forced semi-retirement because hardly anybody gets their TVs repaired anymore, they just throw them away. But if any work turns up, I’ll do it.”

Tom and the rest of his family arrived in Australia from Holland when he was only nine. The year was 1952 and Tom could hardly speak a word of English. They first went to live in Hepburn Springs, but Tom’s dad heard about a house to rent at Warrandyte and he came all the way down here to inspect it.

“Dad was a nature lover,” said Tom. “And as soon as he saw the beautiful river across the road from the house, he knew it would be a great place for the four kids to grow up.”

The family, moved into 304 Yarra St and Tom remembers becoming excited the day they arrived.

“I saw the Warrandyte sign as we drove into town and thought to myself, this is the place where we are going to live.”

Tom attended Warrandyte Primary School the very next day.

“The first thing they asked me was, can you play football? Although I could only under- stand a few English words, I could understand the question,” remembers Tom. “I replied, yes, and they handed me a red oval-shaped ball and it looked nothing like a soccer ball.”

Although Tom knew nothing about footy at that stage, he was convinced by fellow student Ray Girling to barrack for Essendon and Tom’s been a red and black faithful ever since.

Tom’s lack of English was to get him into trouble early at his new school.

“My classmate Johnny Smith set me up a beauty,” he says, laughing. “He told me to go over and tell the teacher to go and get, well, a very rude word. She blew up and seemed surprised at my colourful language but she soon realised that I had been set up by Smithy and I was let off.

“Our teacher Mrs Cowden cottoned on to the fact that I could hold a tune and later that year she cast me in a school play that was held at The Mechanics Institute. She introduced me to the crowd saying that although I had been in Australia only four months, they should listen to me as I sang to my fellow student Margo Forder. The crowd stood up and applauded at the end of the song and I had to sing an encore.”

Tom picked up English quickly and today speaks without any accent at all. He attended Ringwood High School and remembers travelling on the school bus with fellow Warrandytians such as Frank Schubert, Daryl Pike, Laurie Warr and Willie Merbis.

“The bus driver Dick Termorshuizen wouldn’t take any nonsense,” remembers Tom. “And if there was any ruckus he’d pull over and throw the offending kids off the bus and they’d have to walk home to Warrandyte.”

Tom was keen on high jumping and joined Ringwood High’s athletics team. The ability to jump would serve him well in later years when he played first ruck for the 1966 Warrandyte premiership team.

Tom also became keen on electrical things and interested in radio. In 1956 when TV came in, Tom was even more interested.

“I thought TV repairs could be a good job because it was mostly indoors and would keep me out of the heat and rain.”

After finishing Year 10, a teacher gave Tom some good advice saying: “If you are interested in radio and TV then there is no point in staying on at school.” Tom took his advice and started his apprenticeship at Stoney’s, an electrical retail store in Ringwood. His course lasted five years as an apprentice radio and television technician, which included studying one day a week at RMIT.

“At Stoney’s I started out fixing irons, jugs and toasters but finally progressed to radio and TV,” said Tom. “I also met my wife Penny at Stoney’s where she worked as a sales assistant. I was 20 and she was 16. We’ve been together ever since.

“Penny and I got off to a slow start because I used to squire her around in Stoney’s Vauxhall ute. She wasn’t too keen to be seen in the ute, but she brightened up considerably in 1961 when I pulled up in my newly bought FC Holden.”

Eventually Tom and Penny were married in the Ringwood Catholic Church in 1968. They honeymooned in Surfers, driving there in the FC Holden that Penny much admired.

“The first night of the honeymoon was spent in a motel in Springvale,” remembers Penny. “We couldn’t understand why it was so hot and we spent all night trying to get cool. We opened all the windows and doors of the motel unit and it wasn’t until the morning that we noticed an air conditioner in the room. If only we’d switched it on!”

Tom started playing football with the mighty Bloods when he was 17.

“I started in the reserves but rapidly improved and within two years I was playing in the seniors,” said Tom. “I trained hard because I had a passion for footy, I just wanted to get better and better and better.”

Tom remembers when they won the 1966 Grand Final. “It’s a great feeling when you’re doing what you love, playing well as a team and actually winning the flag.”

Tom’s hard training paid off when he was voted Warrandyte’s best and fairest player in 1971. He was invited to train with Fitzroy but declined saying, “I just started my own business and I love playing with the local boys.”

Tom and Penny started up Tom Kerkhof Television in 1966 when his job at Stoney’s began to interfere with playing football with Warrandyte. It’s interesting to note they have loyally advertised their business in every single edition of the Warrandyte Diary since 1970. Tom fully acknowledges his wife’s involvement in the family business saying: “Penny has done all the paperwork for the past 50 years. She has also worked for 40 years as a medical receptionist.”

The Kerkhofs had one daughter, Melissa, now 43, and they spend a lot of their time with their granddaughters, Ebony 7 and Chloe 2.

Penny looks back on her time living in Warrandyte: “I really love Warrandyte even though I didn’t live here as a child,” she says.

“We do a lot of socializing with our friends and neighbours and have a long and close involvement with the tennis club.”

For Tom it’s been a wonderful journey for a little Dutch boy who came to live here 63 years ago. One who quickly learnt to speak English and then assimilated into the melting pot of our culture, business and sport and found a place to call his home.

Tom has the last word: “I’ve never had a reason to shift and never thought of leaving. We’ll probably live here forever.”