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My chance meeting with Brett & Jenny Yeats earlier this year has led me on a very enjoyable journey. It has been great catching up with some school friends this year, some after 44 years. I think turning 60 has led some of us to reflect on our youth and in turn, for some of us, that led to feelings of sheer terror! You may remember me as the tall, skinny, gawky one – oh to be tall, skinny and gawky again! I have always felt privileged to have gone to Telopea.
After year 12 I attended the highly prestigious Canberra Finishing School (ie Canberra Tech as it was then) and successfully completed “the secretarial course” through the Public Service. I don’t remember anyone failing! Mistake number 1 - I should have done nursing. I continued to work in the public service as a secretary until my boss started asking for his sandwiches to be cut in four instead of two (my mother would still insist this is correct etiquette). I quickly moved to clerical work in the Education Department and continued that for ten years. My first marriage happened on my 21st birthday, to an ex-Duntroon cadet. Mistake number 2. After 5 years that marriage broke up, a painful but character-building experience. I then discovered the women’s movement and sang lots of Robyn Archer songs.
About eight months after that I met my second husband (it’s OK there have only been two so far) – Ivan Boyer – who was teaching at Ginninderra High School. Margaret (Hanfield) & Bill O’Brien actually introduced us. Ivan restored my self-worth. We married in February 1980 and moved to his family’s farm at Narrawong – near Portland, Victoria, on the coast near the SA border. Exactly 1000ks from Canberra. We became Western District graziers! We have two sons – Blair who is nearly 30 (& married) and Campbell 27. We love them to bits. We had lots of very busy years, with Ivan teaching full time while running the 350 acre farm. Family farm succession is impossible with just two children and Ivan is the youngest of eleven! Needless to say there were many challenges, but we survived. I became adept at delivering calves and lambs and remember milking the house cow in my high heels on the way home from work!
I had twelve years at home with the kids and then returned to work in 1993 for our local Council, working with people with disabilities. I have continued in that type of work and now do “case management”, administering packages of care for older people and people with disabilities who want to remain in their own home. I call it a real job, one where you can actually make a difference in people’s lives. I work with inspirational people every day. I currently work two days/week. We have leased the farm out now so are able to sit in the lounge with a glass of wine watching someone else take the sheep down to have their nether regions dealt with. We are now trying to plant lots of trees on the farm. We have a great lifestyle really, I love living on the coast.
My father and his family arrived in Canberra in 1926, my mother in 1932 so we have a lot of history there. My father also went to Telopea, with Gough Whitlam (before he was shifted to the Grammar). Dad worked on Hansard so we had a fairly political upbringing. We are still politically active. My dad died in 1999, my mother is 94 and now lives in an aged care facility in Brunswick, Melbourne. We try to get to Melbourne every month to see Mum and our boys who both live there. My two older sisters also live in Melbourne.