17.11.1966 - 17.11.1966
The Sydney Opera House as it was at the end of 1966
* * *
As I recall, we lived on bread and bananas for the last few days before boarding that Qantas flight to Sydney, broke and ravenous, and nothing was more welcome than the airline meal out of Singapore. I arrived home with 46 cents in my pocket. My mother was aghast when she saw how thin I was and broke down in tears at a neighbour’s place later that day. I was in bed fast asleep by then. She needn’t have worried, I was in excellent health, if not as plump as she remembered.
I can’t begin to think how much anxiety I must have put my parents through during the two years and three months I was away. My mother lived from letter to letter. She never travelled overseas herself, but my brother reckons she did so vicariously through her regular correspondence with me, much as I have done while preparing this blog. She followed my travels every step of the way, never missing a beat, and though I might not have realized it at the time, it was that feeling of constant support from home that kept me going.
The most obvious change taking place in Sydney during my time away was the gradual progress of the Sydney Opera House, which, like most Australians, I had followed with keen interest. Though it was still seven years from opening, by the end of 1966 the construction of the famous shells, the most difficult stage, was complete, so the external form was largely in place. I had always promised myself that I would perform there one day, and though I had made little headway in my ambition to become an actor while overseas, coming back to Australia allowed me to begin formal actor training, and in 1973 I was in the first company to perform in the Opera House Drama Theatre.
Ade and I wrote about our travels for a while and put together a couple of narrated slide shows which were well received. During 1967 we prepared a detailed manuscript called Asia on $1.73 a Day, a guidebook for backpackers on the overland route. Though a literary agent did his best, it was eventually decided there wasn’t a sufficient market, and nothing came of it. Five years later another couple of travellers had a similar idea and they managed to build an international publishing empire on the back of their endeavours. As all actors know, timing is everything.
* * *
My mother Norna, photographed in Sydney in the summer of 1966 - 67, shortly after I returned
Take a bow Mum
* * *