Flight Across the World

Helping You Communicate You!

Photograph that appeared in the Runcorn Weekly News in 1966

In August 1966 my parents, Keith and Christine Lucas embarked on a journey to the other side of the world with my brother and me. We moved from the Northwest of England to Perth in Western Australia.

Mum’s background

Mum, an avid writer, decided to document our journey and life in our new home which was published as a series of letters in the Runcorn Weekly News.

The first article gives mum’s background. It says, “To her friends, she will be known as Christine Edwards, who held the town’s breaststroke swimming championship, was the first head prefect at Grange Secondary School and one of the first to be transferred from there to Helsby Grammar School.”

It goes on to describe her role in a school play – Faith in the Camel’s Back – and her involvement with the town’s girls’ choir and the St John Ambulance Brigade.  I guess you could say that mum was quite an achiever during her school years.

Now, a few short years later, she was a 22-year-old wife and mother of two, she and dad were ready to flee the cold and “leave the dirt and grime behind” to create a different life for her family in the sunshine far away.

Saying goodbye

In the letter, she describes leaving Lime Street Station in Liverpool on the train journey to London, saying the most difficult thing about leaving their home was farewelling the family. That said, many family members, including their parents and some siblings, also ended up calling Australia home.

Up, up and away!

We left London on a Saturday afternoon on a Boeing 707 and spent a lot of the flight eating and drinking.  It was a far cry from today’s 17-hour non-stop London to Perth flight. Our flight had five stopovers!

We flew over the English coastline and saw Paris from above before landing in a wet and misty Zurich. Our next leg took us to Rome. Mum describes the Great Indian Desert being a fantastic site, seen through the windows, before landing at the military airport in New Dehli.

Our travel across the Asian continent continued as we flew over Calcutta and the Bay of Bengal before coming into Rangoon. There we saw “paddy fields and huts on stilts in little village-like clusters”. On our departure, we saw the Golden Pegoda.

Mum described the flight to Singapore as the most memorable part of the trip. “Below us, we saw the lovely white coastline of Malaya with all its tiny inlets and islands”. We flew over Kuala Lumpur and landed in Singapore which was warm and humid and where “the trees and plant life were beautiful”.

Souvenirs

Mum and dad bought some fans – they weren’t used to the humid Asian heat – and toy cars for me and my brother. Interestingly one of my very early childhood memories is walking, beneath bright lights in the Singapore airport terminal, one hand in mum’s hand and the other tightly gripping my big new, battery operated red car.

Mum said, “Most of the parents aboard must have had the same idea as the flight from there, until the children fell asleep, was accompanied by the whirling noise of the cars and robots.”

Perth – our new home

We arrived at 1.00 am on Monday. “The sight from the air was fantastic as the American Astronauts have said” – Perth was described as the City of Lights by John Glenn in his space orbit in February 1962.

We were greeted by the familiar voice of mum’s brother who had moved to Perth with his family six months earlier.  It was he who had written and said, “Come here. It’s great!”.

He drove us to the accommodation he had arranged for us. It was a small unit at the back of a house on Marine Parade in Cottesloe, not far from the iconic Cottesloe Beach. What a stark contrast to the home and life we’d left behind.

Australian life in the 1960s

In a future article, I’ll share some of mum’s insights into life in our new home.  Her letters covered employment, housing, health, education, social life, family life and more.

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