Sue Cranston

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Sue Cranston

Brett’s recent email with comments about our stories, (or lack of them at the time), and sad news of Richard Norris’ death has spurred me on to put the ramblings in my head onto the keyboard.

From memory in our last year at Telopea in 1968,  Richard and I would regularly amble up the hill from school, past the Bourchier and Cassin homes then Richard would go to Mrs Gilhome’s for maths tuition.  I would go home, pretty much opposite to the Gilhome’s house in Empire Circuit, and go over the road later for my own maths coaching.

Just after we completed our HSC, my parents took me and some friends to Mollymook for a break.  One of those friends was Judy Bullock.  She was going out with Geoff Harders, who was very keen not to let Judy out of sight for too long, but  didn’t have the wheels at the time to get to Mollymook.  Enter David Howe (ex TPHS 1967 and some of you will remember him), who happened to have the appropriate transport (a Ducati Mk III motorcycle) and obliged by pillioning Geoff to the  coast. And so I met David……

I eventually and almost reluctantly decided to do general nursing at Royal Canberra Hospital (called RCH and by the lake as it was then) in Feb 1969.  It turned out to be a great decision and I became a part of a profession I later realised I loved very much.  On completion of my course in Feb 1972, David and I married and we lived in Sydney while he finished his Elec. Eng. degree at UNSW.  We returned to Canberra in 1973 and I started Midwifery, again at RCH.  As before I was a bit unsure, but I ended up really enjoying it and it was mostly a very happy environment in which to work.

We had the opportunity to travel in 1976.  David wanted to go overland to Europe, but I didn’t feel quite that adventurous.  We ended up flying to Hong Kong and then going by train into China (not easy at that time), Russia and on to central Europe. It was a complicated journey in many ways, not the least problem being that we couldn’t get an exit visa from China until we had our entry visa for Russia.  We couldn’t get the entry one for Russia until we had the exit one from China!  Now we can’t remember how we did it!!

We went on to England, where we lived mainly in Surrey, and worked in our   professions until mid 1977.  On weekends we travelled as much as we could and saw numerous counties, much to the amazement of friends there who hadn’t been out of their own county!  During that time we caught up with Judy and Geoff, who had also married and visited us in their travels.  Later we travelled through more of the UK and then left for Scandinavia.

We worked on a farm in Norway for six weeks.  It was very beautiful, and we were often distracted from our work to look at the views across the fjord.  This was probably the start of David’s interest in farming which later became a major turning point in our lives. 

We eventually returned to Canberra to our house in Macgregor.  I took an opportunity to get into District/Community nursing where I felt privileged to care for people in their own homes, and sometimes become almost a part of the family.

Our first child, Philip, was born in Jan 1979.  Stephanie followed in Nov 1981.  By this time we were living in Weetangera.

Phil is now teaching Primary in the ACT education system.  Steph has returned with her partner from a long stint in Europe, mainly Holland, and is now doing further study in Sydney.

In the late 80’s I returned to nursing into the health centre system where I had previously worked, and which included a lot of women’s health.  By the early 90’s I had another opportunity and diverted into the relatively new BreastScreen Program where I worked as a nurse counsellor until about mid 2004.

By this time David really had the farming bug and had commenced study at TAFE in Farm Animal Production to confirm that it was really what he (we?) wanted to do.  It was.

So we began the very long search for where to do it.  We eventually found West Gippsland in Victoria.  It is a highly productive agricultural area with great soils and good rainfall.  We ended up buying 110 acres just south of Warragul in 2004.

It was a huge challenge to move, leaving family and friends behind.  I knew nothing about farming, so it was a massive learning curve for me, particularly when David needed surgery on both wrists at the beginning and commuted to Canberra for work and surgery!!  As with nursing, I met some terrific people along the way.  Mostly we buy black angus weaner steers and fatten them on grass.  We can generally run at least 1 steer to the acre. All through last summer we ran 116 which was amazing.  Every season has been pretty much different each year.  Many friends have come to stay which has been wonderful.

We love the beautiful area, (which is mostly very green, not unlike England), the lifestyle, the animals and the proximity to Melbourne and what it offers.  What next after this?  I am not sure but with David around, life is never dull!

I have kept in touch with a number of people over the years, bumped into others, had very interesting connections with yet others, and enjoyed one of the “practice” reunions in Melbourne which Barry kindly arranged earlier in the year.

Many thanks to those who have put so much effort into the reunion, and I look forward to catching up with you very soon.

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