|Mother (3rd from right) in Australia waiting for her hot air balloon ride|
To get ready for the trip, mother purchased a pink Barbie backpack - one made for children. She was only 5'1" tall so a child's pack fit her perfectly. Next came Tilly clothing - 2 sets, plus a Tilly hat. Adding socks and underwear, a few toiletries, and an extra pair of shoes, mother declared herself ready. She fit everything she needed into that backpack and booked her trip.
Here are her own words from her trip journal with some editing for brevity:
As my 80th birthday was only a year away I thought it wise to go somewhere that I knew for the first trip alone. I could then branch out with confidence. My first trip was on a tour for 20 days to Australia and New Zealand. I flew from Toronto to Vancouver then to Hawaii, then to New Zealand. I had been in touch with a cousin who lived near Wellington and she and her husband were going to come to the hotel on the evening of our return from the North end of the island to compare our notes on our Family Tree. It was a lovely visit and we each found things to add to our respective family trees. It was exciting to finally meet the family I had found through research in New Zealand.
I had no idea when I started researching the Stead family that some of them had emigrated to New Zealand as well as Australia. I had been in touch with the ones in Australia for some years as one of the relatives had made a trip to Canada sometime in 1950. I only met him once for a few minutes and did not remember him. One of my mother’s brothers emigrated to Australia and the rest of the family came to Canada.
I enjoyed New Zealand the only thing that I didn’t enjoy was the rain, it rained 10 out of the 21 days we spent there. If you are going on a tour by yourself you can ask to be teamed up with another person who is alone and hope you get a partner who is compatible. This time I was not very lucky as she was discontented and surly. This lady had only booked for two weeks instead of three so I had a week by myself. I was glad because we did not get along. It was the only time I had a problem with partners on my trips. It could have spoilt [sic] the last two weeks as she did not speak to me unless she had to.
After we saw all the sights on the north island we boarded the boat for the south island which was completely different to the north even the climate was different. It was colder and there were mountains which we did not see in the other part. We went right down to the end and the mountains were quite high there. There was snow on the top of them and the last night there was quite cold. I really did not expect it to be so cold. I was sick and had to call the leader about 10:00 at night and get a doctor to come out and see me. This was the only time in all my travels that this happened. I ended up with a throat infection and had to keep by myself as much as possible. No one else got sick thank goodness and in a day or two I was fine.
We went back up to Wellington and took the flight to Sydney to finish this tour. By the time we got to Sydney I was fine. We had a tour of Sydneys water front, saw the new opera house and other things of interest there. . My cousin met me there and took me home with him. I added some more time to my trip and changed my flight to come back home as I wanted to ride the train across country to Perth on the Pacific Ocean.
I booked the train ride and Frank, my cousin, drove me to Sydney when the time came to leave for the West Coast. He got on and was very impressed by the accommodation. I had a room by myself with a bed and a cabinet holding a toilet and wash basin so that I could get a wash in the morning if I did not want to go out to the shower room in the morning. There was also a little seat so I did not have to go out of my room unless I wanted to.
I was sitting on the stool the first morning and a lady came walking along and asked if I was alone. I said I was and she came in and sat down and we introduced ourselves and decided to go to breakfast together. She was wonderful company and we spent the rest of the journey together.. We had a wonderful trip and we still correspond.
We got to a little place called Kilgori just on the edge of the last state which to find that the railway employees were on strike and we could go no further until it was settled. We had two days in this little backwater of a town before we could go on. People who booked trips on the west coast were put on buses and rode all night to catch their tours and the rest of us stayed on the train until the strike was over. We had a great time on the train waiting to go on. We really got to know each other and the train personnel very well.
....to be continued