“Fifty Years Not Out -An Abridged Story”
THIS SPEECH, IN A BRIEFER FORMAT, WAS GIVEN AT BIRTHDAY LUNCHEON , BISTRO FAX CAFÉ, RADISSON PLAZA ( formerly the FAIRFAX NEWSPAPER BUILDING ) SYDNEY, JANUARY 2004 .
I was born at Western Suburbs Maternity Hospital Waratah, Newcastle in January 1954. I grew up as an only child.
I grew up at 6 Turrama Wallsend, Newcastle attending Jubilee Road Primary School for my infants and primary education. I then attended Wallsend High School from 1966 to 1969. I transferred to Hunter Girls, Hamilton as I could not study Economics and History for my HSC at Wallsend High School. I loved history at school.
I recall Mr. Eric Moorby and Mr. Street as excellent teachers at Jubilee Road Primary School, Wallsend. Miss Yvonne Booth, my English teacher at Wallsend High and Mr. O’ Shea, Economics teacher at Hunter Girls are also well remembered. I recall doing the Anzac Day Speech April 23 1965, in Year 6 at the Rotunda in Wallsend, and being congratulated on my ability to articulate the Story of The Anzacs. In high school I also did some debating.
My parents always encouraged me to do well at school and purchased books as Xmas presents. I did reasonably well academically and decided that I needed a University education. I was initially interested in Speech Pathology, but decided to do teaching, as a result of a scholarship. There were not the opportunities then for diversified degrees as there are today. If I had my time again, I would be a Town Planner, involved in Environmental Law, or perhaps International Studies.
My parents and I moved to Ryde,Sydney in late 1971. I attended Macquarie University at North Ryde,1972 to 1975, to complete a BA DIP Ed degree majoring in Economics and Economics History. I applied to do a Masters degree in Economics History and was accepted, but deferred it due to my teaching appointment.
I worked during my Xmas University vacations in a number of jobs-Streets Ice Cream Factory, and as a bus conductress out of Ryde Depot to earn money. This income enabled me to fly Qantas to London on 28 November 1974 and return on 1st March 1975. I celebrated my 21st birthday in Glasgow, Scotland in January 1975, after I returned from a month long coach trip around Europe visiting France, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Leichhenstein and the Netherlands. I went off to Finland in late January 1975 to visit my Finish pen friend, Ismo Linden and his family. We remain in contact today.
Whilst at high school I corresponded with Pat Lowrie in Stranraer, Scotland. I visited her when in Scotland in 1974 and 1979. We have lost contact over the past 20 years.
When young I started ballet, but realized that I would never be a ballerina! I did Scottish dancing for a number of years, and danced again in my early 20’s whilst teaching in Wollongong. I played netball and was a capable goal attack or centre. My team won a number of premierships in Newcastle – in 1965 we were the Junior C Reserve 1 Premiers; Canaries from Jesmond Basketball club won the Junior A Reserve 3 Premiership in 1967; and in 1968 the Canaries won the A grade Premiership.
I also played hockey at school. Athletics was my real love. I participated in the 100m, 200m, long jump and the relay whilst at school. I could run a mean 100m.
When young, my parents travelled on many long distance trips in the 2 tone grey Holden number plate CGY 529. My parents has purchased the car in April 1961 for 1136 pounds 16 shillings and 10 pence from McLeod Kelso Lee 768 Hunter Street, Newcastle West. We went to the Snowy Mountains, Adelaide, Brisbane and Melbourne in the HHHhholden. We always checked out the local museums, cemeteries, monuments to early explorers etc. Hence my love of history today. I still visit cemeteries in some places when travelling today. Old habits die hard!
When I was10 years of age, I met Bonnie Pallapies in the swings in a park on one of our trips. She lived in Glen Innes and later became a Nursing Sister. In late 1974 I was her bridesmaid at her wedding; my dress was a blue turquoise. I recall that all bridesmaids had different colour dresses. All these years later ,we are still in touch. Bonnie and I will celebrate our (January) 50th birthdays together with a special dinner in Coffs Harbour in January 2004.
On weekends, usually Sundays, my parents and I took off from Wallsend and travelled for a day’s outing to such places as Cessnock, Scone, Port Stephens, Kurri, Hunter Valley, Gosford, Windsor.We often took Mrs. Hughes, a neighbour. Sometimes my father would look for manure for his wonderful vegetable garden in our backyard. Other times, my father would check out the rattles in the car; my mother was sidelined to the country roadside and I had to listen to the rattles.
I did my practice teaching at Sydney Boys in 1975 and in January 1976 went to New Zealand on a budget camping holiday. I was appointed to Figtree High School in Wollongong in late January 1976 as a support teacher and stayed there until late February 1977, when I was appointed to St. George Girls. I taught Maths / Social Science when I was appointed and this continued for a few years. I can recall what clothes I wore on the first day at St George Girls, a brown Fletcher Jones miniskirt and a Fletcher Jones green blouse. (I still have them)
In late 1975, I purchased a yellow VW, DQP 975 and had to learn to drive. I gained my licence in early 1976.I christened my car Annabella; she was replaced by my 1980 model Toyota Corolla, LCD 361, again yellow, on February 5, 1981. Annabella, has as of December 28 2003, done almost 306,000kms and has new number plates- YHP 680. I sometimes have notes left on my windscreen asking if I want to sell my car! My Dad kept his old Holden for 30 years; I simply cannot part with Annabella.
I bought a unit in Dunmore Street, Bexley in late 1977 from Mr. and Mrs. Jim Fleming. I moved into my unit in approximately March 1978. Mr. and Mrs. Fleming and I are still friends today. Travelling from school from Ryde (parent’s place), or from Wollongong, (my flat) was tiring, so I had to move closer to work.
Graeme Shea was the Head of Social Science Department until December 1978, when he was replaced by Bob Ritchard. He retired in December 1996 and was replaced by Wes Melville. I have served under a number of Principals: Mrs. Lyle Woyde who retired in December 1984, Ms. Jenny Rowse who retired in December 1992, and Mrs. Kay Murray who retired in December 2002. The current Principal is Mrs Carole Knott. In late 1999, I became the Patron of The Old Girls Association, the St Georgians, replacing Brian Langton on his retirement from State politics.
In January 1979, I spent 10 days in New Zealand, flying into windy Wellington and visiting Christchurch and Dunedin. In May 1979, I went to Fiji for 1 week and loved it. I travelled overseas to Europe and the UK in December 1979. On this trip I again visited my relatives in Scotland, visited friends in the UK, and paid a short visit to Europe.
I flew in mid-January 1980 to Amsterdam, where I purchased my infamous purple leather pants. I caught the train to Paris and I recall that the taxis were on strike when I arrived in Paris. I now have a black leather skirt that I purchased in Melbourne in approximately 1998.
At the end of 1980, I travelled to New Zealand for one month, flying Continental Airways into Auckland, spending Christmas in the Bay of Islands. I then travelled to the South Island flying into Christchurch to spend New Years Eve. Then I travelled by bus to Mt Cook, Queenstown, and to Dunedin and Oamaru to visit the Cochranes. A great trip.
In 1980, I enrolled at Macquarie University to complete 2 Geography subjects. My interest extended to the Diploma of Urban Studies 1981 to 1983. I graduated in May 1984. This degree ultimately led to my interest in politics, as a result of my love of all aspects of the urban environment. My lecturers inspired me – Patricia Ryan, Leonie Sandercock – the list goes on. On November 22, 2003 I attended the 25 anniversary of the Graduate School of the Environment, Macquarie University. Time flies!
In January 1982 I spent a couple of weeks in Perth, catching up with the Western Australian Fields.
In eary 1983, I decided to track down the elusive Melbourne Fields. On July 7 1983 I mailed letters to 100 of the 300 Melbourne Fields listed in the phone directory. On July 12 1983, I mailed the remainder of the letters. I received 40 replies, some of whom were from relatives. I remain in contact today with many of these relatives.
In September 1983, my parents and I drove to Melbourne to visit the Field relatives. The family members had long gone their own way and relatives lost touch, so it was nice to again have contact.
In 1983, I was awarded a Teacher Exchange to Kingston upon Thames in London. The other teacher unfortunately cancelled. I still travelled to the UK, British Airways, in the December – January vacation and spent Christmas in Finland with my pen friend Ismo, his wife Tarja and Tommi. It was a great cultural experience. Paris was my New Year location, and I later visited Ireland in mid – January 1984. A wonderful trip.
I visited Wakefield, Yorkshire, UK, which was where my great grandfather was born in 1831. I visited St. John Church where William was baptized. It was great to experience this sense of family history and know something about William Field. I obtained William’s third marriage certificate whilst in Wakefield in January 1995.
I sold my unit in Bexley, and moved to my home in Kogarah in late 1984. I learned in the mid 1990’s that my home had been owned by Albert Russell, a jockey. My home is on the old Moorefield Racecourse (1888-1951), so I figure that I go to sleep with the ghosts of the racegoers/ jockeys/trainers of the past.
I travelled to Melbourne once a year in the 1980’s since visiting Beatrice Field first in September 1983. I stayed with Beatrice first in South Melbourne, and then briefly at Montrose, and took the opportunity to research the Field Family History. In possibly mid -1985 my parents and I met Fred Field from New Zealand for the first time – sadly he passed away in April 2001. I had located most descendants of our Field line in Australia and New Zealand by the mid -1980’s.
I went to Melbourne either by bus or train May 7 – 14 1984; January 9 – 16 1985; May 3 -13 1985, drove my car January 13- 23 1986, possibly in 1987 and attended the Economics Teachers Conference in January 1988. I stayed with Mavis Field in January 1988; Beatrice had moved to the Dandenongs in mid -1986. All visits prior to this I have stayed with Beatrice Field. I possibly visited Melbourne in 1989.
In 1986, I began my Saturday job as the Assistant Supervisor of Saturday School of Community Languages, St George Centre, St George Girls. I stayed in this role until late February 1998.
In September 1987, I took 3 weeks long service leave to celebrate 10 years of teaching. I flew to Adelaide to meet Genevieve Paul and her husband, Noel. I did a short tour of the Flinders Ranges and then flew to Alice Springs for a few days, visiting Uluru. My next stop flew was Cairns in order to visit the Great Barrier Reef and Townsville.
I was a candidate in the 1988 March State Election for the State seat of Kogarah. After the Hospital Board at St George Hospital was sacked by the NSW Government in mid -1988, I joined the Rockdale Community Mobile Nursing Service Board. I stayed there until 1999 when I left Rockdale City Council. Seeing medical politics was an eye opener – nothing has changed, bed shortages and lack of money still exist!
January 1988 was an exciting time for Australians, as we celebrated the 200th year of the birth of our nation. Wonderful old sailing ships came into Botany Bay in mid -January 1988 for celebrations; they then sailed into Sydney Harbour for the big celebration on January 26, Australia Day. Easter time 1988, I flew to Perth for Roseanne Field’s wedding. In 1988, my father and I flew to Melbourne in early November to visit the Field family members, and to attend the Bicentennial Melbourne Cup. The Cup is a wonderful spectacle of atmosphere, horses, fashion. (My father backed the winner Empire Rose )
In 1990, I attended the Commonwealth Games in Auckland, NZ after staying a few days with Fred Field and Rodger Strom. I had a great 3 weeks holiday in New Zealand flying into Christchurch, and catching up with the NZ Cochranes in Dunedin, and the Phillips in Christchurch. (The Phillips and I had sat next to each other on the plane to London in late November 1974.)
In July 1990, I attended a Family History Conference in Melbourne. This was organised by Dr Noel McLachan, a distant relative who was then a lecturer in History at Melbourne University. He had established the School of Australian History at University College, Dublin in the late 1970’s. On September 14 1990, my parents moved from Ryde to a villa in Bexley, 10 minutes from my home.
I visited Tasmania with Maria Paino in January 1991. In September 1991, after a vigorous campaign, I was elected to represent Third Ward. I became a Justice of the Peace in late 1991. I am called upon quite frequently at school to witness documents.
In January 1992, Kathleen Moss and I flew to Adelaide and drove the Coast Road to Melbourne. I flew to Noosa in early January 1993 with Maria Paino.
In mid 1993, I started to research the History of Moorefield Racecourse, Kogarah 1888 – 1951. The project is not yet completed.
In late December 1993, I went on a 3week visit to Western Australia to celebrate my 40th birthday. This holiday had an environmental theme travelling to Rottnest Island for New Years Eve, then up the Western Australian coast to Kalbarri, and to Monkey Mia to visit the dolphins. This remains one of my favourite holidays. I always admired the Western Australian coastline from flying over it in late February 1975. I vowed that I would come back to travel up the coast – the dream took 20 years to fulfill.
In March 1994, I travelled on the train, the Indian Pacific, to Broken Hill to attend the Local Government Womens Conference. Over the years, I have attended the Local Government Womens Conferences in Narrandera, Casino and Camden.
In the July 1994 school vacation, I flew to Melbourne to attend the Australian Economics Teachers Conference in Melbourne and on September 5 1994 I flew to Cairns, also visiting a friend of my mothers in Townsville. My mother was admitted to a Nursing Home in Bexley in late July 1994, as my father could no longer look after her. I recall that day as a very sad day.
In July 1995, I flew to Melbourne and travelled to Malmsbury. I located William Hollyman’s grave in Malmsbury Cemetery. Hollyman was a former Alderman on Malmsbury Council in the late 1880’s, and by all accounts a “character.” Politics is in my genes one might say.
I was re-elected to represent Third Ward, Rockdale City Council in September 1995. I became the first female Deputy Mayor in September 1996, and went on to chair many Council Committees. I enjoyed my term, but the politics became very messy at Rockdale City Council after 1997.
In December 1995, I decided to do an around the world trip, flying British Airways to London, then to visit relatives in Scotland and friends throughout the UK. I did a one week trip around Europe – the pyjama tour I called it! In mid – January, I flew out of Glasgow into New York in the midst of New York’s worst weather for 40 years. This was my first visit to the USA and I loved it.
I stayed with Bill (expat Aussie) and Jean Harris in Delaware and had a wonderful week visiting a local primary school; a Maryland Rotary Club Meeting as guest speaker; and a Seniors Citizens Meeting as guest speaker, as well as the casinos in New Jersey. In checking in at Los Angeles Airport, at the end of January 1995, the Qantas check – in officer made some comment about my travels – I recall saying to him that “I had just kangarooed around the world.” A holiday, which is full of so many great memories.
On June 29 – July 4 1996 I travelled on the inaugural school excursion for Year 12 Geography students, to Cairns. August 29 – September 6 1996 I attended the Australian Local Government Womens Conference in Perth, and this allowed me the opportunity to see the wildflowers in spring. I visited Auckland, New Zealand from January 19-26 1997 staying with Fred and Rodger in Takapuna.
I visited Melbourne, July 5-9 1997 to check Moorefield Racecourse Race Day Fixtures, which were held in Racing Registers in the VATC Racing Museum , Caulfield Racecourse. October 9-11 1998, I was again in Melbourne where I took the opportunity to attend the Caulfield Cup. ( my parents had attended the 1947 Caulfield Cup –Columnist won the race ) . I attended 89 year old Beatrice Field’s funeral in the Dandenongs on December 4 1998; she had been the only Field family member to live to this age. If my father reaches 90, on July 11 2004, he will be the longest living Field.
In January 1998, I visited Airlie Beach in the Whitsundays – a great holiday ruined by teeth dramas. These dramas continued throughout most of 1998. They culminated in legal action in April 2001. This was a nightmare to live through – the teeth problems, and then the legal problems. Boxing Day 1998 I saw the start of the Sydney to Hobart yacht race from the water – a great event but one that was marred by dreadful weather.
In May 1999, I purchased a unit in Kogarah as an investment; I sold the unit I had previously owned in Wollongong. It is public knowledge that this allowed me to get onto the Kogarah electoral roll, so that I could run for Kogarah Council. In September 1999, I transferred to Kogarah Council. It was a “cultural change” for me to cross the Princes Highway to move to Kogarah Council.
I was elected to represent North Ward, representing the Kogarah Bay Progress Association, an organisation which has been in existence since the early 1920’s. I have been a member of Kogarah Community Services Committee since 1999, and have been the Chair of its Management Committee since 2002. This is the only Committee I was given to Chair at Kogarah!
In April, 2000. I acquired a beloved animal, Pepper. He was a cross between a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and a terrier. Sadly, he died of a fast-moving cancer late afternoon on August 21 2001. Pepps was my little prince, a devoted and loving animal. I cried for weeks on end.
The Olympics in Sydney in September 2000 were special. I attended a preview of the Opening Ceremony, some athletics, and some soccer matches. The highlight for me was to be able to attend the gold medal playoff of the soccer between Cameroon and Spain. I have been a loyal Arsenal supporter since the days of Charlie George, in the early 1970’s, and love a top class game of the round ball. I have seen Arsenal play at their home ground in London on a few occasions; it is an exciting event to watch.
During late 2001 and 2002, I had numerous visits to Coffs Harbour, in northern New South Wales.
In mid- September 2001, I acquired my little lady from Rhonda, a breeder on the South Coast. I missed Pepper so much that I had to have another dog; this time it could only be a thoroughbred Cavalier. She has the most delightful bottom waddle, and is a very affectionate little girl.
Not content, I decided that my little girl, Raine, could not be lonely, so on March 17, 2002 I acquired Tory, a male Cavalier, King Charles Spaniel from Clare. I renamed him William after my great grandfather. He is a typical male; one could describe him as having attitude! In late April 2002, he had heart surgery to correct a valve problem. The next problem for me to address is his loud snoring. I adore my 2 babies,who are both Blenheims.
In early January 2002, I visited Perth for a one week holiday. I had a quick visit, after 4 years, to Melbourne in late November 2002 to visit Field relatives.
On December 19 2002, my mother sadly passed away after 8.5 years in the Nursing Home. It was a traumatic time for my father and I to watch her decline. She had such wonderful talents in cooking, sewing, and knitting and I never wanted for jumpers, cardigans and dresses. I recall the beautiful mince pies at Xmas time, and the shortbread in time for New Year. I sadly did not inherit these skills.
Barnsley Primary School in Newcastle, her old primary school, was very happy that I presented the Elizabeth Cochrane Field Memorial prize at Speech Day on December 16, 2003. This annual award is a fitting tribute to my mother. The award is for consistent academic record, participation in sport, good attendance record, and good citizenship.
In mid – January 2003, I visited Hobart, Port Arthur and the Freycinet Pensinsula in the north – east for an environmental holiday. September 4-11 2003 I visited one of those places on my wish list – Broome in North – West Western Australia.
In January 2004, I will again return to Tasmania for an environmental – themed holiday, this time to celebrate my 50th birthday. This time it will be a trip south on The Spirit of Tasmania, Sydney to Devonport and a visit to North – West Tasmania.
On March 27, 2004 I will run for re-election to Kogarah Council. This is possibly the last time. My 15 years involvement to date, in the community, is a big ask of anyone. I intend that my post – politics career will be as a writer/ researcher. I enjoy research and have honed my writing skills after many years of writing Letters to the Editor to newspapers, and of scripting other articles.
In the early 1990’s, I joined the Sydney Turf Club and the Australian Jockey Club. I have visited, over the years, Ascot in Perth, Flemington and Caulfield in Melbourne, Eagle Farm in Brisbane, Elwick in Hobart and Ellersie in Auckland and the Bong Bong Picnic Races in 1977.
I have subscribed to the Australian Ballet since the early 1990’s, and occasionally to the Sydney Theatre Company. I have attended a local theatre company, The Guild Theatre since late 1991.
My community memberships extend to the Australian Conservation Foundation, Art Gallery of NSW, Historic Houses Trust, National Trust, St George Historical Society, Kogarah Historical Society, Malmsbury Historical Society (Victoria), Australian Federation of Business and Professional Women, The Rotary Club of Rockdale City, Maritime Museum, Justices Association, and The Australian Society of Genealogists.
I was the first female Rotary Club President of the Rotary Club of Rockdale, Sydney and the first female Rotary Club President of any club in Sydney in mid – 1991; the first female Club President of the Rotary Club of Bexley, Sydney in mid- 2000. I was awarded a bronze medallion for services to heritage at the AGM of the National Trust in 21 November 1997.The Hon Mr. Justice Barry O’Keefe AM QC, President of the National Trust, presented the Award.
In addition, I was honoured by SSROC (Southern Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils) at an Awards Dinner in 17 August 2000 for my extensive work in the Heritage field; and awarded a Parliamentary Fellowship from the Federal Parliament in October 2000.
In August 2001, The Event – the 1897 Constitutional Convention Role Play was held in the School Of Arts, Kogarah on August 10 2001. (All role players who were dressed in Victorian costume had a great time; my next career will not be in the production of plays) I have been invited to be the guest speaker at Hunter Girls High School Old Girls Dinner in mid- September 2004.
I believe that many forces (not in any order) have shaped my busy and demanding life – the very strong influence of my parents on my education; the wonderful women who have crossed my path and have influenced my desire to be a female in a male – dominated career of politics; my students who keep me on my toes; my political colleagues who create challenges; the culture of theatre, ballet and music to which I have long been exposed; the loyalty of many long standing friends; and last but not least, my Newcastle roots.
I have been blessed with the opportunity to visit many parts of Australia and the world. (I have remembered the majority of my travels in this story.) I have had the opportunity to meet people from all works of life. I feel very honoured, and very humble, in all my efforts both in education and the community.
In approximately 1970 I obtained this summary of myself:
“you are a very serious – minded patient and cautious. You value the trust others have in you, but seldom take people into your confidence. One of your qualities is your great sense of duty. You are reserved, dignified and often shy. You are very ambitious. You want to achieve. Discipline is the key word of your life.”
Finally, I must thank my parents for who I am today and what I have achieved. My father has played a major role in all campaigns until 1999; due to ill health he sat that one out. Significantly, he has also played a major role in many political decisions I have had to make. He is, to this day, a keen observer of politics at all levels.
I pray that I am able to achieve more runs on the board. I will attempt to complete the next 50 years at a canter, and not at a gallop!