On Board the Iberia (27 January - 28 February 1966)..

LONDON,TILBURY. 27 January. We settled into the Iberia. We had been allocated two 3 birth cabins, next to each other. I shared one with the girls and Gilbert shared the other with the boys. The space was very restricted. It was for sleeping only. Of course the children wanted to play, which created clutter. We became unpopular with the cabin stewards, because it hindered their efforts to clean. It was boring for us on the ship.


GIBRALTAR. 30 January. Aidan says he didn't like the Iberia and neither did Gerald. There were some really nasty children on board. They looked forward to the excursions, because they wanted to get off the ship.

Gibraltar: the Rock.

There was no choice though about meals. They had to be eaten, separately from us, with the other children.

Here they are at a so-called Iberia children's party. The little girl on the next table seems to be entirely on her own.

NAPLES,ITALY. 1 February.

Vesuvius and the Bay of Naples.

The visit to Vesuvius was one of the highlights of our voyage. We arrived in a bus and discovered that there were twin seated chairs on cables that would take us up to the crater and then down again. The boys went together, followed by Gilbert and Bride and I went with Rona.

Bride remembers Vesuvius, because it was such a disappointment to her.

"Dad had been showing us a book on Vesuvius, full of pictures of lava flowing down the mountain side and buried cities. It was a big build up to actually seeing it. As I was sitting beside Dad on the chairs, he was probably pouring all this stuff, from the book, into my ear, as we went up. So I was intensely disappointed when I saw nothing but a big hole, containing not a drop of lava. As a four year old, I didn't appreciate that if the volcano was active and lava was pouring out of it, we would not have been going up the mountain."

Needless to say, the boys loved it. It was something to look back on and boast about.

There must have been a souvenir shop at Vesuvius, because Gilbert bought me a red necklace.

Rona has it now, as a souvenir of a trip that she made, but doesn't remember. She celebrated her 3rd birthday in Sydney.

PORT-SAID, EGYPT. 4 February. From Naples we crossed the Mediterranean Sea to Port-said.

There was a lot of discussion about whether it was safe to go along the Suez Canal. In the end we did go, but we went at night. This meant that we missed seeing the interesting sights along the canal. We were the last ship to go through at that time.

Aidan collected stamps and he remembers Port-Said as the place where we bought him an interesting Egyptian stamp. He no longer has the collection, but he says it looked like this, only it was purple. Bride says she remembers Aidan's big purple stamp, because he was so pleased with it.

ADEN, YEMEN. 7 February.

Aden too had some interesting stamps. We had no access to them though, because we were not allowed to leave the ship at Aden. We were told that there was a war going on, and it was too dangerous for us to go onshore. This must have been the North Yemen Civil War (1962-1970).

Most of the other people on the ship were older people, tourists out to see the world. It must have been disappointing for them to miss seeing the scenery along the Suez Canal and to be refused entry to Aden. There were long days of empty sea between ports.

BOMBAY, INDIA. 11 February.

Gateway of India.

A bus had been provided to show us the attractions of Bombay. Our progress to the bus was impeded though, by the vast numbers of beggars that crowded in on us. I was afraid of loosing one of the children. The girls clung on to us like limpids and Aidan was very sensible. I never took my eyes off Gerald. He was very dreamy and quite capable of wandering off on his own, quite confident that I would find him again. At that point I wished we had never left the ship.

We made it to the bus and it was in a tourist shop that Bride pointed to a tiger picture. She wanted it and we bought it for her. She kept it in her room as a child and it is still hanging in her house today, although it has been relegated to her boxroom.

Sentosa Island, Singapore.

We went on a tour of Singapore, but the only memorabilia we have of it is the landing pass inside an old passport.


We finally reach Australia

A tour had been arranged to see the sights of Perth. We had a very good guide and we all loved Perth - bright sunshine and a blue sky. Aidan remembers seeing black swans. He wanted to stay in Perth, and I did too.


An Adelaide dolphin.

We were all looking forward to seeing the Australian animals and birds. We had a tour of Adelaide, but I don't remember visiting a zoo, either there or on any of the tours. That was all in the future.

MELBOURNE, VICTORIA. 26-27 February.

Gilbert had a friend in Melbourne and he promised to visit us on the ship as soon as it docked in Melbourne. So we skipped the tour.

I was worried about Bride. All the children had their foibles, and Bride's was in connection with food. She had a highly developed sense of taste. She particularly disliked what she described as "mixed tastes". As she grew up I didn't worry too much, because she drank a lot of milk. However, she wouldn't touch the Iberia's milk. She said it tasted funny. She seemed to be living mainly on dry cornflakes - she had them with every meal! She accepted the Sydney milk, to my intense relief. I thought she was going to end up in hospital.

Sydney, New South Wales. 28 February.

The Iberia docked in Sydney Harbour.

There was great excitement among the children when we entered Sydney harbour. From a distance it looked as if the mast was going to hit the bridge. Bride remembers it well. She says we were almost at the bridge before it was clear that there was space for the Iberia to go under it. A great cheer went up from the children.

We loved Sydney too. It was compensation for having to leave Perth. We were there for several months.We had to be warned not to get sunburnt. Some of us had very fair skins. A house had been reserved for us at 52 Wrights Road, Drummoyne. It was a beautiful district with views of the Bridge and the half completed Opera House.

We were entertained by Harry and Madge Eddy.

At the Eddy's house. Sydney. 1966.

Harry and Gilbert came from a similar social class: Harry was the son of a blacksmith, Gilbert's father was a commercial traveller. They both excelled academically at university. Harry, however, had chanelled his gifts into the wider community. He became an activist working for social change. He had a lifelong interest in adult education and the W.E.A. I think he hoped to find in Gilbert a kindred spirit. He may have had a deciding hand in his appointment. Gilbert though, could never be described as a committed man in that sense. He was quite unpredictable, although his new interest was sociology.

Madge had a teaching backgound. She was a natural with children. Our children loved her. Her own children had grown up, but she said it brought back many happy memories of them when they were a similar age to ours.

A piece of good news was that our house in Seaton had sold. We lost money on it, but we had to sell and move on. Our next stop was Wagga Wagga, known by the shortened version of Wogga by the locals of that place.

Marian Foster. November, 2016.