Chapter 4
THE FRONT DOOR TO NORTH AUSTRALIA
A BRAND NEW CHALLENGE


During the second world war, shared welfare work culminated in an agreement that Methodist and Presbyterian co- operation in Darwin would continue post-war. Tradition has it that Dr John Flynn and Dr. John Burton made this agreement while sitting under the famous Banyan Tree in what is now Darwin's Civic Centre. However the rest of the Territory remained zoned until 1956 when the Presbyterians having built the John Flynn Memorial Church handed it over for the joint use of the Presbyterian and Methodist Church. This was confirmed as a joint administration for parish and patrol work throughout Northern Territory as the United Church in North Australia. The Congregational Union entered into this compact later. Membership of United Church Board included the Superintendents of the Methodist and Presbyterian Aboriginal Mission
s.

I was first aware of the remoteness of Darwin from southern Australia when, in June 1968, with Arthur Cottrell, we were shown a brass plaque on a stone cairn above Dripstone Caves overlooking the entrance to Darwin Harbour. Arrows on the plaque, giving the direction and distance, demonstrated that Melbourne and Manila are equidistant from Darwin. With Darwin as the centre point of a circle, one hundred and fifty million Asians lived within the perimeter that embraced most of mainland Australia and excluded all of Tasmania. Several years earlier, as a member of the United Church Board, I had suggested that we should appoint a Board Representative to live in Darwin to co-ordinate the work of the three denominations. The Board agreed to this proposal and also agreed to incorporate the Methodist Missions in Arnhem Land. In May 1966, Fred McKay wrote giving me his concern for action in view of this impending integration of the total work within the Northern Territory, stating inter a
lia:

'It looks evident that Gordon Symons will be the focal figure from the M.O.M. side, and Ron [Sparks] and I are convinced that we will lose ground unless we can place someone at Gordon's right side who would have the supervision of the present United Church work in his keeping. That is, we envisage that there will be two officers in Darwin who will work side by side with clearly defined areas of responsibility, but dovetailing in an administrative pattern which does justice to the whole situation. Ron and I are bold enough to think that you are the only fellow in our ken who would be acceptable enough, and capable enough, to be the Father in Israel for the United C
hurch'

I declined for I felt very strongly that my work in Victoria was not finished. However our long service trip through North Australia in 1969 intrigued me with the possibilities. On our way home we met Fred at a Conference in Alice Springs where he asked me if I had changed my mind. I said no, but he may have noted indecision for he wrote on 2 October, just prior to the 1969 Victorian Assembly,
stating:
'As we realistically view the whole situation, it is clear to us that you are the only one who could handle this deeply responsible task. You possess the insights, the experience, and the wisdom, to open up a completely new vista of relationships in the North - and your emphasis on South East Asia thrills us. There are some shoals in the waters. You will be even more sensitive about these than I, because you have been able to sit on the sideline with a discerning and objective eye. This increases our sense of urgency in having such a person as your self to ca
ptain the ship'.

Both Ken Dyer and I were unhappy with the tone of the 1969 Assembly. Ken informed me that he would resign at the end of the year with the prospect of a position in Queensland. In a critical self-examination I recognised I had reached the peak in my work and I was not indispensable. It was time for me to quit. I wrote a confidential letter to my Home Mission Committee intimating my decision to ask the April Commission of Assembly to accept my resignation as from 31 December 1970. I did NOT inform Fred McKay of my intention to resign until I had submitted my resignation. Following are extracts from two letters, - to my Committee and Farquhar Gunn the Clerk o
f Assembly.

'My dear brethren. You will appreciate that this decision has been made after wrestling with the issues as they effect both Home Missions and my self. Home Mission work has been the best years of my life and ministry and has absorbed me seven days and nights most weeks. Preparation of audio-visuals, study and writing have occupied my free time when I have not been away from home. I am grateful for the opportunity my Committee and the Church gave me to live and work in this creative area of service. The Assembly last year approved my [second] overseas visit, and joint plans with the Rev. Ron Sparks have already been initiated with Don Zimmerman and Bryce Little in U.S.A., and Harry Daniels in Singapore. The Assembly may justly consider that my resignation six months after my return
would not be good value, I must withdraw immediately.' Dear Mr. Gunn I desire the Commission of Assembly to accept my resignation as Director of Home Missions as from 31 December 1970. I feel that by giving this early notice, both the Mission section of the Council and my Committee have ample time to prepare recommendations for Assembly next October. It has been a high privilege to serve my Church at this creative moving edge of Mission and no words of mine can express my appreciation for the friendships, help and encouragement I have received from so many people both within and beyond our Church. My Convener and Committee have been unfailing in their support and encouragement. I claim with pride that my Committee, Staff and the Home Mission Workers Association, have developed a team effort, marked by diverse gifts, that is a credit to the whole Church. In recent years this corporate element in decision making and performance in Mission has also developed to a marked degree in my relationship with the Presbyteries. May I be permitted to express my own faith that God is leading our Church into a more profound understanding of His Mission, and my conviction that it is within the capacity of our Church to match its structures to that Mission.

Farquhar Gunn was a key person in leading Presbyterians into Union. The October Assembly accepted my resignation and the minute of appreciation was for me an emotional
and humbling experience.

'He has brought to this office considerable insights into and understanding of the changing Church and the changing society. His administrative ability and deep pastoral concern for people have been of inestimable help to the whole Church especially in Victoria , Tasmani
a and South Australia'.

There was no joy in ending an association of 27 years with Committee and staff, in which time I had served for 7 years as a Committee member, 9 as Convener and 11 as Director. Doris Spear, followed by Gwenda Paull were my two dedicated secretaries. In Scots Church on Tuesday, December 15th, I was Commissioned by the Presbytery of Melbourne East as an Australian Inland Mission Padre to work as an Executive Officer of the United Church of Northern Australia. The Charge was given by The Right Rev. J. Fred. McKay, O.B.E. M.A., B.D. Moderator General of the of the Presbyterian Church of Australia. In deliverin
g his Charge Fred stated:

His task is threefold:
(1) To administer the United Church in partnership with the Rev. Gordon Symons [ M.O.M.] each co-ordinatin
g their work with the other.
(2) To link the work being done in the Kimberley
area with the United Church.
(3) To forge links with the ind
igenous Churches of S.E. Asia.
In other words he is to help an indigenous Church em
erge from a 'mission' situation

For Jean and me, with our family present, a moving occasion culminated in supper provided by the Pakenham Congregation. The Sunday before Christmas Day, Jean and I celebrated Christmas with all our family. We then departed in our A.I.M. air-conditioned [thanks to our friend Harry Richardson] new Holden to Pt. Augusta to board the 'Old Ghan' on Christmas Eve. Christmas Dinner was equal to any meal we enjoyed years later on the 'New Ghan'. We knew from my experience at Oodnadatta in 1968 that the time of our arrival in Alice Springs was a minimum of two days and the maximum any ones guess. There were no hold-ups and we arrived in Alice on Boxing Day and headed of by car to Darwin. While waiting for our new Darwin Manse to be completed we lived in the original A.I.M. Manse built by Chris Goy about 1938-9. It still bore the scars of the Japanese strafing but kept most of the torrential tropical down-pours out. There was about 30 metres open space between us and the Parish Manse. Our new house would be erected beyon
d the Manse and facing Cavenagh Street.

We were joined in the next few days by John and Gwen with sons Euan and Rhys and Lynette with baby Tara by Air and Ruary and Kirsty by car. John and Gwen, with a years unpaid leave from their Robinvale Schools, were on their way to Elcho Island where they had accepted a one year appointment to the Methodist 'Shepherdson' Primary School, Galiwinku. Ruary had joined the newly formed Commonwealth Teaching Service (the result of South Australia's decision to cease operating schools in the Territories' major centres) for appointment to Darwin High School. Ruary drove up bringing Kirsty who later became engaged to Stephen Chambers a Victorian, who had joined the Commonwealth Public Service in Darwin. David and Hugh drove up in Janua
ry 1972. This was the last time all our family were together until January 1988 when we celebrated our Golden Wedding.

Alan and Betty Matthews, who had been isolated for twelve months as the first appointees to the new mining town of Nhulunbuy, received our initial pastoral visit. Jean and I flew to Gove and landed on the bauxite gravel surface of the old Gove former R.A.A.F. Landing Strip. The great Nabalco Bauxite mine and plant and likewise the new town of Nhulunbuy were in the early stage of construction and most workers, including the Matthews, were in temporary housing. Already there were over 3,000 European people working in the area. In conversation with officials and others we saw strong evidence of real achievement in human relations through the ministry of Alan and Betty who were still 'temporary' residents at Yirrakala. This Aboriginal Community township is on rising ground with beautiful views over th
e NE ocean tip of the Gulf of Carpentaria.

In the first three months, we experienced the hazards of out-back so-called main roads. Jean and I accepted an invitation to open my last Home Mission project, J.G. Bucknall Court, provided it coincides with my visit to the Sydney AIM and United Church Board meetings. I decided to drive the new Holden so Jean, a long-time executive member of the Home Mission Workers Assn., could be at the opening of Bucknall Court. This Association met the cost of one of the Married Student Units. I chose the Maree road as the better route. We reached Oodnadatta AIM Hospital in a heat wave late the second day. After rest and refreshment, we pushed on to travel into the cool of the night. When we came to a long stretch of flat 'gibber' desert devoid of all vegetation where I knew there was neither a dead stakes to puncture a tyre of rock to hit, I turned off the track for about four hundred metres to camp. We made up the camp-stretchers and lay under starlight in absolute silence. There was neither a night bird nor an insect or a cooling breeze to break the total silence. As we lay in quiet reflection I seemed to hear beyond hearing the celestial music of the stars - the mystic 'The Sounds of Silence'. That was the only time we ever camped in an area of absolute silence. We were up at 'piccaninny daylight' for I wanted to make the cool red-gums of the northern Flinders Ranges by nightfall. In the blaze of midday, we were stopped by a turgid swirling muddy flood in what should be a dry river bed. We had not seen another person since we left Oodnadatta. To our surprise, a Holden Utility arrived and drove straight past us and through the stream. I realised he was a local but he was out of sight before we followed and this is where I made a stupid mistake. We passed the junction of the station track to Anna Creek still following fresh tyre tracks. If I had stopped at the junction I would have seen that the Utility turned into Anna Creek and another with big tyres had came out. Yes, we followed a 4 wh drive into our muddy 'waterloo' just beyond Curdimurka. There we sat while a small motorised trolley with several railway fettlers rattled by on the old narrow gauge 'Ghan' line. They gave us a cheery wave in passing. We were joined late that night by a big cattle truck loaded with 92 donkeys! That night we were almost eaten alive by mosquitos. In the morning I managed to dig out the muddy 'glue' under the front suspension but the back wheels were deep in the tabledrain. We were winched out later and followed the other donkeys on a guided route around the edge of the mile long morass. We had a shower and hot meal at Copley and camped under a Flinders Ranges redgum.- one d
ay late. Our northern return was uneventful.

My 'down the track' visits to Katherine, Tennant Creek and Alice Springs renewed my 1968 and 1969 contacts. Katherine combined town and patrol ministry was vacant and soon after our arrival Deaconess Lorna Stevenson became resident 'supply minister' for the town. Alice Springs had a multiple staff. The Doug McKenzies were living in the Manse adjoining the John Flynn Church, the Ross Lays in part of Adelaide House, and the Jim Downings in the old Methodist Manse. Jim's responsibility was for the Aboriginal welfare ministry. The Parish had a full time Secretary, Jim a part time Secretary and Barney Brown who lived in the Radio Hut was the full time caretaker. When completed, the Ross Lay family moved into the Newland Street Manse. In every instance, other than Darwin, each staff member was paid by his own denomination as were their expenses. The combined Parish of Darwin and Nightcliff paid the full stipend of Alan Baldwin and Brian Bray. Graeme Bucknall was the only Staff member paid by the United Church Board! The other Congregations gave a donation each year to AIM. or FMIM. and the Congregational Union supported Jim Downing. The Woomera Protestant Church with a Methodist Chaplain applied for admission and was received int
o the U.C.N.A. They made no financial demands.

I was staggered by a method of financing that created the mendicant attitude that was deeply rooted both in Church and government in Northern Territory. Canberra footed the bills for the latter. Hospital costs were either free or so minute that any one with good Hospital cover made a profit while in hospital. In Victoria I maintained the concept that every new congregation accepted its financial obligations from its inception. I always met the group seeking help to establish a new congregation and helped them assess their potential and estimated
income. Next, I explained the initial loans and grants they could expect from the Loan Fund and Home Missions. With the promised financial support of Home Missions, the Congregation accepted full responsibility for Loan repayments.

However I needed time before raising this vital issue with the United Church Board Partners. I had been in Darwin in 1968, 69 and October 1970 - the latter for a Conference setting up my new administration, and I was staggered by the phenomenal growth rate in the four years. Darwin Congregation had a record for self help that would have been outstanding anywhere. They had financed and built their new A-frame Church and paid for it in some ten years of Stewardship enthusiasm. As envisaged, Gordon Symons who was in charge of Methodist Aboriginal Missions [M.O.M.] in Arnhem Land and related administration and social work in Darwin had been appointed with me as joint Executive Officers. Our first United Church Board meeting in Sydney authorised us to initiate a feasibility study regarding future development. We also requested the U.C. Board Mission heads to confer with the relevant Executive Officer prior to making ministerial appointments. This was rejected and became my next target. My first year was a mixture of frustration, excitement and loneliness. I received copies of correspondence between the Mission 'Heads', Harry Mackay, Henry Wells and Fred McKay concerning decisions on which I had no input. In the first months of my appointment I was aware that my position was a minor threat to the independent responsibility my colleagues had to their own Australian Inland Mission [AIM], Federal Methodist Inland Mission [F.M.I.M.] or Congregational Secretary, Henry Wells.. I was unknown to all except the McKenzies but we soon built deep friendships with the others. All of us in this physical isolation were victims of a mental isolation that is o
nly overcome by a shared love-faith human relationship.

At my July meeting with the United Church Board Executive, I initiated my request for self responsibility and accountability through a Block Grant to the fledgling United Church in North Australia. The answer was no, so I made a written submission to the November meeting of the Board - the last for 1971. I had made up my mind that if I lost out on my submission I would resign on an agreed date the following year. The present situation had neither vision nor challenge, nor the self determinism to create an indigenous Church. As usual, prior to the Board meeting, I met the denominational heads and to my surprise they accepted my submission which was confirmed by the full Board. I was half way to my goal and so surprised I sat through the meeting in a dream. I still had a long way to go. My participation in decision-making was bugged by the age long reluctance, as Don Zimmerman had noted, of Mission Boards to give up their empires, or in this case to relinquish their authority. This did not apply to MOM or AIM for in terms of my charter they gave me total support; but from Henry Wells and Harry Mackay I received a few distressing knocks in the process. On Friday 3 December 1971 I wrote a personal letter to Fred McKay in which I expressed my deep trouble and conce
rn for integration and an indigenous Church in the North:

In what role do FMIM. see me in this appointment? If I am not to develop the initiative and self direction of the United Church Congregations and our own Conference then I cannot remain here as an agent of denominational mission. Some decisions seem to indicate no expectation of Church Union. The Anglicans who came late into this field have already developed a self identity as a Church in the North, which we are now seeking. I see more clearly than ever, that unless we get this identity as an indigenous Church the United Church Board and I are both wasting time and money. It is hard enough to live with the endless 'gossip & rumour' in the North without having to fight it in 'high places'. If we cannot get mutual trust
in my Ministry it is a grim look-out for our expectations.

Isolated on the opposite of Australia from face to face contact with my peers I was undergoing an experience of abandonment I had never know in all my ministry. My confidential correspondence with Fred McKay was my safety valve. I am thankful to this day for his confidence in me and
the wise counsel and support he gave me in my time of tension

Maybe we are all going through an awkward phase at the moment because the church union question is so unpredictable. FMIM. have a good contribution to make and when the chips are down I believe they will come in just as whole-heartedly as MOM. Thank you for writing as you did, however to me there is tremendous streng
th in being able to share things as we really want to. [ Fred ]

The realisation that I was not the only one of my peers under threat gave me a healthier perspective. Thankfully, like the Darwin climate, my clouds began to roll back during the southern autumn of 1972, though some irritants occurred to the end of my four years. On the other question of participation in appointments and planning, I received my first break-through in the following e
xtract from a letter I received from Fred McKay on 10 December 1971.

'Harry Mackay seems to indicate in his letter that you are entitled "to a degree of particip
ation in the decision-making process". I would go a long way further.'

Graham and Doreen Bence replaced the Brays at Nightcliff at the beginning of 1972 and remained until Church Union. During this period, Graham with his meticulous mind compiled the structures that enabled us to become a Synod of The Uniting Church in Australia. As planned,
the East and West Kimberley areas of Kununurra and Broome Derby and the
M.O.M Arnhem Land Congregations and MOM Staff and administration, became a part of the United Church in North Australia on 1 January 1972. The inclusion of the two Presbyterian Aboriginal Missions of Mowanjum in the West Kimberley and Ernabella in N.W. South Australia were admitted in 1974. To their credit both Aboriginal Communities voted for admission a year or more before the Presbyterian Board of Mission approved. However, in anticipation, we welcomed representatives 'as associates' from both to our 1973 Conference. I confess with some pride that, with Church Union, this became the bounds of the Northern Synod. In 1970 when I accepted this appointment, I was stimulated to respond not only by the challenge offered in the tentative 'job description,' but by the proximity of Darwin to Timor in particular and Indonesia in general. This was included at my
Commissioning. The 1970 Board meeting gave me my charter in five points:

1. To reside in Darwin in a Manse provided and furnished.

Experience indicates the wisdom of siting the Administration in Darwin, and our residence right in the heart of the City. It is true that without the C.S.I.R.O. Cooling system our residence, which faces busy Cavenagh Street, would be noisy and du
sty. We find it convenient and comfortable and appreciate the quality finish.

2. To enjoy office facilities and secretarial assistance.

I am using the very large room in the undercroft of our residence. As I am out of Darwin for a considerable part of the year this meets my
office needs. I do my own typing except stencils for which I engage casual help.

3. To liaise and confer with[ Gordon Symons ] the Chairman of the Methodist Mission District in p
romoting the eventual integration under one administration and in a common mission.

This had been a happy experience and much smoother in operation than I think some have imagined
. Gordon's planning has everything in readiness for MOM membership on I January 1992.

4. To exercise a pastoral ministry, leadership and administration responsibility..

I have always held the strong conviction that an administrator can only administer from a field situation and make valid judgments from facts discerned at the grass roots level. My frequent visits to all the centres incorporates administration through mutual trust and confidence in a pastoral ministry. As the Board is aware, there are instances of tension where I see it as my role, first to contain the situation from further deterioration, while trying to lead the parties concerned into more creative roles and areas of defined responsi
bility. Even if I disagree with ideas or actions I must show trust and support for my colleague.

The United Church in North Australia is a much more fr
agile vessel than I ever imagined and it could not contain any 'night of the long knives'.

5. To explore the meaning of mission with the whole integrated Ch
urch in North Australia with special reference to its relationship with the Church in Asia..

The field for mission in North Australia has a greater diversity than most people imagine. It is a very pluralistic society ranging from Aborigines l
iving their traditional life style to the Australia's top bracket scientists. This multi racial


society with contrasts greater than any southern State, demands the relevance of an INDIGENOUS multi racial Church. A transplanted Church only speaks with any relevance to transplanted Christians. We transplanted southern Christians have a complex new field of mission to explore. and enter before we are truly multi racial. Our proximity to Asia, like our multi racial society, is a fact of our life. The Indonesian Christians of the Islands of Roti and West Timor are closer to the congregations of Kununurra and Darwin than is Tenna
nt Creek. I am not talking about mission to Indonesia but shared mission with Indonesian Christians.

In July 1972 Gordon Symons and I made an official visit to Kupang where we were the guests of Peter and Jan Stephens. our Church Fraternal Workers in the Indonesian Province of 'Nusa Tengarra de Timor.' Peter organised a trip through Timor to the border with East Timor visiting, Churches and Church work along the way. The transport was in Peter's 4 wheel drive short wheel based Toyota over washed-out mountain tracks where floods had demolished the Dutch built bridges and roads. We also visited the Islands of Roti and Alor by courtesy of Mission Aviation Fellowship. On the single engine Cessna flight to Alor we flew over the highest mountain in West Timor -700 metres higher than Kosciusko. As we passed over the top we suddenly emerged out of cloud to see the dramatic direct descent down the mountain side into the incredible blue of the sea so far below. Jos Adang, the Moderator of the Reformed Church of the Nusa Tengarra Province came with us from Kupang and excited us with what we saw in our short visit to his home island of Alor. The population of Alor is 80% Reformed Church. In Roti, the nearest island to the Kimberley, our guide was Max Jacob the local Church leader. Roti is about 130 Km long and had a population of 80,000 - about the same as Northern Territory in 1972. There were 76 Primary schools of which not one had a permanent building. We had an overnight stay in the east end of Roti as observers at a Christian Education Youth Conference. My part Welsh blood was emotionally moved to hear the unaccompanied youth choir singing all four parts o
f, 'Guide me O thou great Jehovah'. We were overwhelmed by the generosity of their simple hospitality.

The warmth of our reception by these our nearest northern neighbours in these three islands had 'broken down the dividing wall' of race and culture. In Kupang we met Itja Frans the Principal of a small Agricultural College near Kupang, and the genius behind improved farming and Community development projects. He trained Lay Pastors in agriculture to prepare them as self-supporting 'worker-priests' in the rural communities. In this he was assisted by Max Jacob on Roti where Max is in charge of goal setting for Congregations. The following year we invited Jos Adang, the Moderator of their Synod, along with Itja Frans and Max Jacob to Darwin as our guests at our Annual Conference. After Conference I took Itja to the Kimberley Research Station at Kununurra, and in Northern Territory to Government agricultural and animal research stations at Berrimah, Beatrice Hill, Tortilla Flats and the Humpty Doo Rice Fields. After his training for the Ministry, Itja completed three years at Boger Agricultural Centre in Java. Our Agronomists and Stock Breeders alike were impressed with Itja's knowledge and endeavours to motivate change in peasant subsistence farming in Timor and Roti through better skills, improved strains of sorghum, hand feeding of Banteng Cattle etc. Fixed strains of improved sorghum seed were sent back with Itja and the Kununurra Congregation and Kimberley Research Statio
n sponsored a visit by one of their agronomists, Mike Whiting, to visit Kupang to share ideas with Itja.

In 1973 Jean and I took three weeks of our bi-annual leave to visit East Java, Bali and Kupang. Though this was a private exercise we spent all our time with Church workers and added a fund of information to the little I had gleaned the previous year. Much of this 'rubbed off' on the United Church in North Australia both through inter-church exchanges and the visit in 1974 by Dr. and Mrs Wayan Mastra, Moderator of the Bali Synod. This visit in particular was the introduction to the contribution Doug and Maisie McKenzie have since given to the Bali Church. The Mastras were our guests during their stay. We drove them as far south as Alice Springs and stopped for a night at Mataranka Hot Springs on the way back. They met with members in Alice Springs and discussed teacher and student exchanges. Noela Hassell, a member of the John Flynn Church, who had commenced learning Indonesian became a leader in this field. On leaving Alice we drove the 1,100 Km to Mataranka in the day. This distance in a day and the empty spaces amazed the Mastras. The Islan
d of Bali then had a population of two and a half million living on the same area as a big Cattle Station!

Jean and other Darwin women played hostess to two women Church leaders from Kupang, Mrs Ngefak and Mrs Sarhertian, whose visit was sponsored by the Darwin Women's Fellowship. They made headlines with their photos in the local papers, but more importantly they forged another strong link across the Timor sea. Jean's and my significant conta
ct with Indonesian women occurred in Surabaya when John Rossner took us to meet Dokter S [Fiep] Kryut. Fiep, the daughter of former Dutch Medical Missionaries in Indonesia, is now an Indonesian Citizen. Apart from her medical training in Holland, she has lived all her life in Indonesia where, in Surabaya, she established and is the Medical Superintendent of Madi Santosa, a 100 bed maternity hospital, plus another 180 bed for sick women and children, and a family planning clinic. This Christian Hospital was supported to the best of their ability by the Surabaya Churches. There was NO government assistance as in Australia. Fiep had given the whole of her life in skilled dedication to the women of her adopted country. In October, 1974 she came as our guest in Darwin to experience something of our work with aboriginal women.

I arranged for her to meet with several leading Doctors and Health workers involved with aboriginal women and children. This included a day visit to the Catholic Mission on Bathurst Island. She also experienced the vastness of North Australia when we went by plane to Kununurra and then with Gordon Ewin by Cessna to Halls Creek in the East Kimberley to see our Nu
rses working with aboriginal women and children. After returning home she made a significant comment in her letter:

'And to express my heart-felt gratitude for the travelling through North Australia. I has been an unforgettable time for me. Thank you all. I wrote a report on the visit and some after-thought. Maybe I am wrong - hope to be - in some of the conclusions. But I feel very distressed when thinking of our aboriginal co-citizens. And I know the goodwill in you all and in your Government. I looked in Timor and Sumba with a kind of "new eyes" and felt that it is better not to be rich and to work hard for a simple living. Only the things one ach
ieves with labour are of real value. Not the many things just given without effort. With love and best thoughts, Fiep

Fiep Kryut had also observed the gross inequalities between the 'most favoured' Aborigines [if this description is recognised as relative] and the 'least favoured'. Those living on Bathurst Island and in Arnhem Land towns are a proud and independent people, while the 'fringe dwellers' outside the support of Missions and Settlements suffer the greatest disadvantages. Pride in a
few Church 'Missions' is no excuse for indifference in the face of social and racial discrimination - black or white. She concluded with the statement that the only place for the Church to be is with the
doors open to the world - people coming in and going out to serve. Only humble people can meet fellow men really.
Fiep Kryut matched her life with her conclusions. In 1980
she received a Doctorate, Honoris Causa, from the Free University of Amsterdam - the first woman to receive this honour.

My vision for an 'indigenous Church' involved me in endless travel, mostly by car, crisscrossing the 850,000 square miles from northern South Australia to Broome in West Australia. This exploration and involvement in exploration into mission took me out of Darwin to our congregations of Woomera, Alice Springs, Tennant Creek, Katherine, Nhulunbuy, Kununurra, Derby and Broome, the AIM Hospitals of Halls Creek and Fitzroy Crossing, and the Aboriginal people of Mowanjum and Ernabella and Finke. In my four years as Executive Officer I clocked-up two hundred thousand kilometres by car alone in my endeavour to sow the seeds of an indigenous Church. To be truly indigenous,
the Church must also relate to its total field of mission, and as Feip said, 'only the humble can meet fellow men really'.

My 1973 works diary contains no more than forward planning and alterations made in the ever changing works situation. I never had time to keep a daily diary of events. All official correspondence and most copies were in Sydney or left in the Darwin Office. The following is no more than an outline of one hectic year. In any case my biography is NOT a history but a remembered response to situations and most of all to people of many races and cultures. On 22nd. January, Bob and Thelma Ower arrived in Darwin and stayed overnight with us and the following Sunday I inducted Bob into the Katherine Parish. Bob's appointment was the first in which I shared in the decision. I had visited Bob and Thelma in their Victorian Parish and very happily supported their appointment. This also concluded two years during which Jean and I had shared some of the Katherine parish work with Lorna Stevenson and used the Manse as our patrol base. From the time of the Baldwin's departure in 1972, and until 18 March 1973, I acted as interim Minister of Darwin Congregation, and conducted both Services most Sundays. During this Darwin interim ministry, I officiated at eight weddings, four funerals and regular hospital visiting. On Sunday 18th March I welcomed Doug and Maisie McKenzie to Darwin and Inducted Doug into the Darwin Parish. The following day I left for Alice Springs where I became Interim Associate Minister with Ross Lay. While I was in Alice I had two cholera injections, visited Finke and Ernabella, flew to Sydney for the April Board Meeting, returned to Alice and visisted St. Philip's College, th
en called at Tennant Creek, Daly Waters and Bachelor on my way back to Darwin. Four days later, on 26 April, Jean and I, with


Eric Bucknall, left for Indonesia and returned on Thursday 17 May in time to share the following Sunday's Service with Graham Bence and Baptise our new grand daughter Beverley Chambers. The following week I flew to Nhulunbuy for three days then returned to Darwin and drove east on the old track to the East Alligator River to visit the new Work's Department Camp constructing the temporary village to house the initial work on the Jabiru Uranium Mine. Camped fo
r the night and returned to visit Tipperary Station on the Saturday and Daly River Crossing on the Sunday for a Communion Service.

By the middle of June we were on the road again to Katherine, Kununurra, and V.R.D with Stations visits on the round trip home. Within a day or so Jean had a fall and broke her left ankle which put her on crutches. Jean's accident delayed our departure for the July Board meeting. We decided that she must fly to Melbourne and I could then drive down alone in the fastest possible time, and together call at Woomera and the other stop-overs on our return. I arrived in time to catch a Sunday plane to Sydney. We left Melbourne on Friday, 6 July, and returned via Drik Drik and Mt. Gambier to see a cousin with terminal cancer. When we stopped near Penola for a picnic lunch, I took the crutches out and put them on the pack rack, forgot them and drove off. Someone now has a pair of 1950 model Darwin Hospital crutches. We were at Woomera for the Sunday Service on 8 July and back in Alice Springs the following Sunday, 15 July, for Lloyd Shirley's Induction. We camped in Tennant Creek Manse did some visiting and I held a Congregational meeting and I took the Sunday Service on 22 July. After a few days in Darwin for change of clothes etc. we set out for our major Kimberley visit. We were in Kununurra for the Sunday Service, 29 July, then during the week called overnight at Halls Creek and Fitzroy Crossing Hospitals on the way to Broome for the next Sunday's Service, 5 August - five Sundays in succession - Woomera, Alice Springs, Tennant Creek, Kununurra and finally Broome!
The total distance, shown on my 1992 RACV Road map of Australia, from Melbourne to Darwin and then on to Broome is 5,466 Kilometres.

This followed my fast drive from Darwin via the Western Highway to Melbourne, 200 Kilometres shorter than the 4,200 on the way back. That was the craziest time-table I ever kept. For most of that distance between Pt. Augusta and Broome we were on the old broken bitumen or terrible corrugated [and longer] gravel roads. We had a good rest with Dean and Ginny in Broome before returning directly to Darwin to welcome the Stephens family from Kupang on completion their term in Timor. During the week they stayed with us we let them see something of the Top End of the Territory before I drove them to Alice to catch the Old Ghan for Adelaide. I remained In Alice for a two day Seminar On 30th August as noted above, Jos Adang, Max Jacob and Itja Frans arrived fr
om Timor for our Conference and the weeks that followed. Jean remained In Darwin until she flew to Melbourne for some family business.

On September 21st I returned to Tennant Creek where I took the Services and remained most of the four weeks until Sunday 21 October when I welcomed Neville and Val Place to Tennant Creek and Inducted Neville as their Minister and Patrol Padre. This was my fourth and last Induction for 1973 and my fourth and last Interim Ministry that year. The following week I had a meeting with the Alice Springs Parish Council, then on to Ernabella, Fregon, Woomera and Melbourne for the November Board meetings. This was my second car trip south without Jean. I had three tyre blow- outs between Granite Downs and Woomera, used both spare wheels, and continued without a spare! I arrived in Woomera on the Friday and had a great week-end with the Measdays and a stimulating Service on Sunday and remained a few days. On the way to Melbourne I experienced, as I thought, some gastric pain. I had one very agonising attack next day while Jean and her Aunt Alice and I were in the City. As so
on as possible we went back to Greenwood St. and the pain gradually eased. I flew to Sydney on Monday and returned as usual on Thursday.

I had not felt well all this time so went to see our Bennettswood Doctor, John Bartram, who discovered I had high blood pressure. I could not remain for tests so he advised me to take things quietly till I could have tests in Darwin. Jean and I set out on the most leisurely camping trip we ever made to Darwin. Four days to get to Woomera for the week-end, three days to Alice Springs where we spent a week in the upper room in Adelaide House and finally to Darwin where Dr. Stack diagnosed a stone in my kidney. This was confirmed by X-Ray but I had to wait until the next year before my surgeon could book me into the Theatre in the over-crowded old Darwin Hospital. All that plus administration, typing reports, Parish visits and the wonderful patrol segments. completed our hectic 1973. The operation succeeded - just. I had draining
tubes for twenty one days. The surgeon and Jean came every day. It was April 1974 before we were on the road again for a happy final year.

In June, 1974, while Gordon Symons and I were still in office our Standing Committee Executive took the first step to setting up a new administration structure headed by one Senior Executive with the title, 'Director of Mission and Services'. Each nomination contained the same name of Bernard Clarke. While Gordon and Rita Symons were on Long Service Leave, his Deputy, Bernard, was my creative Colleague. The position of Administrative Secretary. a new position, had already been widely advertised, and the U.C. Board meeting accepted our nominations, appointed Bernard Clarke and Brian Williams. Brian had a Degree in Science and a Diploma of Administration. Brian and Molly arrived in Darwin soon after and in the few months we had with them before Cyclone Tracy they won their way into our hearts. Gordon and I had agreed that we would bot
h retire from our Executive positions at the end of 1974. Gordon retired to Adelaide and I took up my new appointment as Centralian Patrol Padre.

In my final report to the Board in 1974, I concluded with two s
ignificant comments. The first looked at the limitation of our part-time patrol system. Some of these limitations had been expressed by the Cattlemen:

The United Church is able to spend large sums of money to provide ministry to Aborigines, and this is okay by us, but there is no longer a man with a specific ministry to Cattlemen and their families. Katherine and Alice were once Cattleman's towns, now we are outsiders. There is a culture/language barrier between cattleman and urban man
in the Northern Territory. On the rare occasions when the station people are in town they neither feel at home in Church nor understand the language.

On the creative side the report commended the phenomenal development in the relaxed and shared relationships between black and white members of the United Church during the last four years. The 1974 Uniting Church in North Australia Conference set a high in mutual enrichment. It was also a moving experience to welcome the joining congregations of Ernabella, Finke and Mowanjum, representing Aboriginal Communities in South Australia, southern Northern Territory and Western Australia.. The welcome itself was a high 'water mark' for it was given by the Arnhem Land members of Conference in th
e traditions of their own culture. The significant factor had been the growth in trust between one another within the United Church in North Australia.

I concluded my report saying: We are on the exciting journey to a truly multi-cultural Church and are progressing towards an indigenous Church.

TRACY REVISITED

Jean and I moved to Alice Springs before Christmas to allow the Shirley family to go South on their bi-annual leave. On Christmas Eve of 1974 our three married families gathered with us in the Newland Street Manse. John and Gwen, to our amazement arrived from Perth two days earlier than we expected. Euan and Rhys slept in the back while John and Gwen alternated driving and sleeping to be with us on Christmas Eve. They had followed the old Eyre Highway to a point about half-way between Ceduna and Port August then turned north on Sheep Station tracks to Kingoonya where they joined the old Stuart Highway to Alice Springs - a distance of some 2,500 Km mostly on shocking roads. Stephen and Kirsty with little Beverley arrived by car from Darwin several days earlier as did Lynette with Tara and Fiona by plane. Ruary, who was Assistant Education Staffing Officer, flew down that evening with the intention of returning after New Year's Day. Kirsty insisted that we must have a Christmas Tree so we went to a local Nursery and bought a young Cumquat tree in a tub. We were attracted to it because it was in flower with several golden fruit. The Christmas decorations, the colourful wrapping paper, the lovely white blossom and the green and gold cumquats, gave us the loveliest Christmas Tree we ever had. Next winter I planted it in the front garden as a Cyclone-Tracy living memorial to the Hope born on the first Christmas Day. Though Ruary was uneasy about a cyclone approaching Darwin, many residents still in Darwin went about their Christmas celebrations without too much concern. Ruary was out of bed before dawn to ring a Darwin friend. Alice Springs had not been connected to the new Micro-wave Telecom link from Queensland via Tennant Creek to Darwin. The Telecom Operator, who could not raise Darwin, assumed the Line was down. Ruary sat by our radio and picked up the first news which came via a Western Australian Ship's Radio message from Port Darwin to Perth. With all communication broken with the northern suburbs, it was some hours before Darwin Central and the world realised the horror of the 95% total des
truction of the far northern suburbs. That anxious Christmas Day was only relieved for us by the fact that our Darwin families were with us in Alice Springs.

Early on Boxing Day I drove Ruary to the Airport. All Commercial flights had been cancelled and when I wanted to remain but he packed me back home. As he did not return we knew he had managed the seeming impossible-which he had, thanks to the wife of the Deputy Prime Minister. Darwin was without electricity, and without water except at the pipeline into the City. Telephone communication was quickly restored from the City Post Office and several days later Ruary was able to ring Lynette's parents at Tarcombe, Victoria who in turn phoned us via Adelaide. We learned that when Ruary disembarked at Darwin his Boss, who had charge of the Casuarina High School Refugee Centre, handed the responsibility to Ruary while he joined the officials handling the embarkation of women and children at the Darwin Airport. Ruary had to walk through the wreckage to get to their home and to his amazement amidst the total destruction he found two gold heirlooms of Lynette's lying on the front lawn! The modern re-inforced concrete Casuarina High School had suffered minimal damage and without electricity, water or sewerage, was sheltering thousands of homeless men women and children. The Darwin High School had been turned into a giant meals centre. If Cyclone Tracy had struck Darwin before the great Christmas exodus with its wind gusts estimated as high as 300 kilometres per hour, the death toll would have been horrific. For those still there, it was providential that it happened at night when most survived huddled in bathrooms, toilets or in the laundry-store room in the under-croft. Others had escaped, while t
here was still time, to Cyclone Shelters such as Casuarina High School. Graham Bence, in a post Tracy letter, described their experience under the Nightcliff Manse:

Rachel, Owen and Ruth took shelter in the [down stairs] shower room, Doreen and I in the toilet. For six and more long hours, soaking wet and with water continually pouring down on us, bitterly cold and in no way able to improve the situation, we stayed there in the darkness or in torchlight listening to the unbelievable noise, crashing thunder, the noise of buildings breaking up, our own home disintegrating above and around us. When ever there was an extra loud crash we would shout to the kids next door, "Every one O.K.?" and we heartened to hear their cheery response. At some time during those first few hours we heard them begin to sing "We shall overcome". Doreen and I joined and we sang as lustily as we could. We even managed a couple of Christmas Carols. When the eye [of the cyclone] had passed, hell was loosed again with twice the intensity. The sky was almost continuously lit with the most brilliant and panoramic lightening. The thunder cra
shed even more frighteningly and the wind blew at greater strength - close to 200 miles per hour. We endured all this, together,wet and cold, for another three hours.

Brian and Molly Williams, like so many others, were sheltering in the concrete single brick store room in the undercroft. When the eye of the cyclone passed 'all hell' broke loose when it is claimed the wind intensity reached some 300 kilometres, and from the opposite direction. As it began to b
uckle, Brian rushed to the opposite wall but to his horror the one sheltering Molly and little daughter Kerry collapsed. Graham Bence relates the consequential tragedy:

We were concerned for one church family and as soon as we could we got the car [from under the house] and Doreen and I went to find them. To our horror, we found that Molly had been killed and Brian and his baby daughter had been taken to hospital. We saw Molly's body still at the house, and then rushed into the hospital, or rather crawled, because the roads were almost impassable. I found Brian, white with shock and completely dazed. Kerry had just died, and he wanted to know where Molly was. Realising that he was already so shocked I was able to tell him quickly that Molly too
was dead. It was a moment in which he could feel no more pain. Then I took him to colleagues in Stuart Park whose house was relatively whole, and left him in their care.

Earlier in December, Ruary and Lynette had paid the deposit for the purchase of their, until then, rented house. The three bedrooms had completely vanished while the living room wall, minus roof, had crushed the kitchen. Surprisingly, Ruary was able to save some undamaged kitchen equipment. His undamaged air-conditioner was just one of the thousands of articles and equipment looted in the early weeks. The lounge, dining and kitchen section of Stephen and Kirsty's rented house had vanished completely - including refrigerator, deep freeze and kitchen stove leaving a bare polished jarrah floor. The wrecked roof was in the back yard - or more likely one from another house. One wall had crushed Beverley's bed and dol
ls and the main bedroom was similar. The bathroom was open to the world but the toilet was intact but without a roof. They lost everything including their wedding presents.

The people of Alice Springs raised a magnificent relief fund in two days. I do not remember the total but it was well over $100,000. The organisation set up by the Service Clubs and Government Agencies operated with remarkable efficiency and the response from the people of Alice Springs unlocked a great outpouring of compassion and assistance for the families escaping by road from Darwin. The first cars having driven almost non-stop began arriving on Boxing day. I was one of a team assigned to meet the cars at the northern outskirts of Alice. Each of us in turn would wait for several cars, assure the occupants of the help they would receive and then drive in front to guide them to the reception centre at the old High School. It was heart breaking to see them - children still in their night clothes and every one dressed in whatever they could salvage out of their wrecked homes as they fled on Christmas morning. I do not remember a car that was not damaged. At the reception centre they were directed to the various places where their needs could be met without cost. Welfare provided money, the Hospital medical help, garages repaired cars, clothing was provided and many were given temporary home care and hospitality. They were all given a choice for the completion of their journey. If they wished to continue by road to Adelaide their car would be made roadworthy free of any cost - including new tyres. Or their car, in its present condition, would be sent by rail to Adelaide and they could fly free of either cost. We only heard of one attempted fraud. Four men had declared that they were driving so their car was fitted with brand new tyres. By some means they then arranged for the car to go by rail and presented themselves at the Airport. But the garage owner, who had put the new tyres on their car, was by this time at the Airport handing out the f
ree air tickets. He phoned his garage with instruction to replace the new tyres with the old and left the culprits to find their own way back to their derelict car and Adelaide.

Early in January, I secured a permit for us to re-enter Darwin. We packed our Caravan with food and a second large Gas Bottle, and headed north. Having passed through the Security Post at Noonamah, we drove past the increasing devastation and pulled in to the Manse in Cavenagh St. we had vacated a few weeks earlier. We parked the Van in its original spot beside the under-croft. Our former home was without a roof and the kitchen was a complete wreck. A huge tree had landed on one of the Manse bedrooms. Maisie had been south for Christmas but Doug and daughter Kirsty survived sitting in their bath - with their dog. Doug had secured a portable Lighting Plant which gave both of us minimal lighting. We had our own gas for cooking and water had been restored to the central city area. Lynette and Kirsty had gone south with the girls and Stephen had secured a permit to return to his government job. I was helping a very reduced staff in the United Church Office while Jean had joined the 'clean-up gang' working in the various staff housing flats and houses. The cyclone damage in the central area was considera
bly less than in the horrific destruction in the northern suburbs. I wrote the following paragraphs in the emotion of our first fortnight and posted it to the United Church Board:

Darwin has the most expensive rubbish dump in Australia. There is an estimated $500.000,000 of smashed refrigerators, cars, tape-recorders, Christmas toys, imported timber, roofing iron, copper hotwater tanks, babies slippers, cameras, clothing, furniture and other household and personal possessions. This lot constitutes the worldly possessions of about 90% of the 12,000 Darwin residents who were evacuated or fled the horror. Many of these may never return to see their shattered houses in a crazy tangle of roofing iron, particularly in the family population from the far north
ern suburbs. Each tangled mass of timber, concrete bricks, broken fibro-cement and glass, in varying degrees, mirrors the agony and shock suffered by, children, mothers and fathers.

In the city where the damage was less, some small degree of normality has returned, but in northern Wanguri where I have been working with my son-in-law each evening after office hours, there is the eerie silence of a ghost town - except when the wind blows. The grass nourished by rotting food is growing over
the shattered crockery on former lawns. A few trees are beginning to show some tentative shoots, but the eucalypts are bare and the birds have not returned to these desolate suburbs.

To sift through the rubbish of a home one loved and remembers is a compulsory values clarification. Maybe our values have been as grotesque as the freaks left by the cyclone - a T.V. set on an empty elevated floor without walls and on another a babies cot and again a solitary toilet pan and no remnants of the toilet or bathroom. I saw a babies bootie hanging on one of the few power lines still up. Ruary and Lynette's 14 cubic foot deep freeze packed with beef that levitated from an elevated floor to the lawn was redeemed next morning by a homeless neighbour for Casuarina High School refugees. Weeks later it was taken from the sodden lawn and when plugged in it worked instantly, as though le
vitation had been built into it for this very need. Maybe the values of the average Australian are as grotesque, expensive and as little value as this five hundred million rubbish dump.

This is the hard lesson I hope we have learned in values clarification in North Australia. The Darwin pioneers of 1975, many of whom will live in caravans and sub-standard housing or with husband and wife on the opposite sides of Australia, will need the special care of the Christian fellowship. The United Church Staff here, ministers, lay men and women are sensitive to these emergency needs, and they are the ones to evaluate and request the kind of support they need from the U.C.N.A. and the southern churches. Their response to the emergency has been magnificent, but they now have to define their role in re-construction. The response from our own United Church congregations has been instant. Arnhem Land, separated by geography, is supplying most of the skilled church housing re-building team, the majority being Aborigines, under Ken Nowland's supervision. Yirrkala sent in the most generous financial support, as has Alice Springs and others. Yirrakala also maintain a supply of fresh fruit. Katherine, Kununurra, Derby, Broome, Tennant Creek, Alice Springs and Woomera all welcomed, supported, refreshed, accommodated and otherwise demonstrated love and care for thousands of weary and shocked evacuees by air and road. For the first time since coming north I can say with deep feeling there is a new sense of solidari
ty within the United Church in North Australia that makes us truly one people , and by God's grace, His people. Yes, our values system has been shocked into its own drastic re -construction.

Feb. 1975 [End report ]

Most days after work, Stephen and I drove out to their wrecked house to clean up the wreckage. When this was completed he secured a permit to place the Caravan, which Kirsty had purchased in Melbourne, beside their house. Their Water had been restored and they were able to use their roofless toilet via the rear stairs. The bath was also usable and as they had no neighbours the absence of walls did not matter. They were the only ones living there on the edge of this new housing suburb. Edge it truly was, for feral Water Buffalo came wandering in at night to graze on the cyclone watered house gardens. Kirsty told us that when the buffalo became entangled in roofing iron and house wreckage already banging in the wind gusts, the sounds of their bellowing created a crescendo of noise that made sleep impossible. Fortunately there were nights with the gentle music of wind blowing through cyclone constructed wind instruments. In that lonely desert of destruction they were very courageous to live there alone. When re-building resumed they were transferred to Brisbane for 12 months. Lynette and the girls lived at Bachelor, and Ruary joined them at week-ends until they were given a new ground level concrete block house in Anula. This model had excellent cross-ventilation and was remarkably comfortabl
e. Stephen and Kirsty waited longer for their new residence which proved to be a two story concrete home where the cross ventilation was not so effective and the kitchen faced the hot morning sun!

It took a long time for the human and physical scars left by the cyclone to show evidences of recovery. Trees still standing had been stripped of every leaf and stood as stark reminders that nature as well as flora and fauna shared in the suffering. On the human side, the families that did return, as in the case of our two, lived a primitive, makeshift existence. Administration and business functioned under extreme difficulties and the growing tourist industry, lacking accommodation and other facilities, went into recession. I do not remember when it began to resume, but I do know that a group of Japanese arrived in Darwin eighteen months afte
r Tracy, and their coming opened a new door of international understanding in our lives. For me, it led me to find a link in suffering and compassion linking Tracy, in some small way with Hiroshima.

Early in 1976 Bernie and Carlene Clarke extended our northern contacts with S.E. Asia. Their visit to the Christian Church in Japan resulted in a long term association for Jean and me with a non-Christian and Christian Japanese. Bernie and Carlene met Jack and Beth McIntosh, Canadian Presbyterian Missionaries working with the big Korean community in Osaka. Through Beth McIntosh they were introduced to Masanori Hayakawa a specialist child education and the founder and head of a Japanese International Cultural and Athletic Association. Hayakawa had already planned a Student visit to Australia and was seeking an Australian contact. Bernard Clarke was the answ
er to a Shinto prayer for help. He organised Hayakawa's contacts in Darwin and Alice Springs and through the Methodist Church in Adelaide and Sydney. Yes, Jean and I were the Alice Springs organisers.

As arranged by Bernie, Hayaka
wa's group landed in Darwin for the commencement of their four Australian contacts. In two later visits that I arranged for them in Alice Springs, they by-passed Darwin. Masanori Hayakawa with Miss Tami Uchida, a school teacher who spoke English and 27 young Japanese High School and a few University Students arrived from Darwin on the 4.30 pm Plane Monday, 2 August 1976, and were accommodated by us in the Y.W.C.A. Hostel. Between that time and 3,30 pm Thursday I had organised a day trip to Glen Helen and Ormiston Gorge, a visit to a Camel Farm plus shopping and sightseeing in Town. Wednesday afternoon and evening we had two public displays by the group. . The first was at 4 pm on the lawns of St. Philips College where college and towns-people watched Hayakawa and three young men dressed in black robes in a display of the Japanese martial arts. Two young men demonstrated ceremonial sward fighting with incredible skill using razor sharp swords in thrust and parry a hair-breadth from each others face or limbs. The girls, in colourful kimonos, sang Japanese folk songs and one played a stringed instrument like a cross between a guitar and a harp. Their poise, singing, and costumes seen in the late afternoon sunlight against the background of the red rocks and giant red-gums, created a memorable experience for all of us.

The group were guests at St. Philips for the evening meal after which we transported all of them with all their musical instruments to the Town Youth Centre where they repeated their program before another excited audience. The Alice Springs youth group also displayed some their skills. Thursday morning we visited Yirara the Aboriginal College where the Japanese Martial Arts had the young aboriginal students absolutely fascinated and the older boys in particular. After the outdoor demonstrations they all met in the college art room. It was fascinating to watch the cultural interchange as Aborigines and Japanese students by sign language an
d laughter crossed the cultural boundaries. On the final morning we learned that their plane departure had changed from morning to mid afternoon, so we organised an Aussie barbecue on the lawns of the Y.W.C.A.

I went to my own butcher and told him why I wanted about 10 kilograms of sausages. He was so interested that he reduced the cost by 50%. Judy Acaster and Barbara Ross in particular were Jean's greatest helps in organising this hastily organised barbecue lunch. Barbara brought along baskets of home grown oranges and mandarins. This was the only time the group had time to relax and enter a happy relationship with us. After the lunch we sat around in the warm August sunsh
ine under the predictable Alice Springs winter cloudless blue sky, conscious of the surrounding colourful ranges. Tami Uchida told us she was the only Christian. She never married and her life was in her Church.

During 1978 I was amazed to receive a letter from Hayakawa inviting me to visit Japan in August as the guest of his International and Cultural Association. I would fly with a South Australian High School group from Blackwood led by two of the School's teachers - one being Koshun Nishida, Secretary of the Japanese Teachers' Association (S.A.). My air-fare would be covered and most of my expenses in Japan. Between 6 pm. Saturday 12 August and 4.30 pm Monday, I travelled from Adelaide to Sydney to Tokyo to Osaka to Tokushima arriving there only 24 hours after leaving Adelaide. It was 9 hours non-stop flight from Sydney to Tokyo for our 7 am arrival at Narita the new Airport continually guarded by 700 soldiers. Two hours through customs - very easy and courteous - then 600 Km flight to Osaka in a 280 seat Jet. It took half an hour by bus on an elevated express way over some of Osaka's three million people to the City Centre. Mrs Hayakawa and Janette McIntosh welcomed and guided us to the right train. Janette came with us to assist Koshen Nishida as an interpreter. We, with all our luggage, tumbled into an express suburban train packed to the roof and 45 minutes later we changed trains, even more packed, to board the Ferry to Tokushima
on the Island of Shikoku. We were welcomed with flowers and Mr. Hayakawa. I have never known such fine-tuned schedule Hayakawa had worked out. This was possible because Japanese trains are fast and always on time.

We had private accommodation in the 500,000 City of Tokushima. Next morning we were given the first of a surprising number of Mayoral Receptions and then a scenic tour around this beautiful City set amidst inlets and mountains. My Hostess lived in a new two storey house with the most modern plumbing I have seen anywhere. I slept like the just that first night on my Japanese bed after that hectic sleepless journey. Our hostess had gone to the expense of providing bacon and eggs with English tea. Her son was a University Student. We met a group of Japanese High School Students whose singing was lovely. Ours responded with Waltzing Matilda. I demonstrated how the 'jolly swagman' put the jumbuck in his tucker bag.' On the Monday evening, dressed in Kimonos bearing the City logo we danced [after an hour of practice] a section al
ong the main street in the thousand year old AWA-ODORI Festival, a remarkable experience as was the whole three weeks in Japan. We continued by train and Ferry to the mainland to catch the Bullet Train to Hiroshima.

Y
ou can imagine my surprise on leaving the train at Hiroshima to be met by Tami Uchida. She had been visiting her mother who survived the second atomic bombed City of Nagasaki. Mr. Hayakawa told her of my visit. She came with us in our Taxi to the Hiroshima Museum and took me through the Museum. We had left the others on arrival and walked back through the beautiful gardens of the Memorial Park where 30 years earlier several thousand human were either incinerated or survived a living death. It was an emotional and sobering experience for me. Tami had made no comments and we travelled back to my Hotel on a re-cycled pre-war tram with sawn plank floors. Tami had Dinner with our group then caught the Bullet back to her own home in the ancient City of Hemeji.

Next day we travelled on an express train North West through mountains to the lovely small City of Niimi. The Mayor welcomed us with a gift to each, of a luscious Niimi peach. At the Youth Hostel, I said 'good morning' to a Japanese girl with a local group and she replied in perfect English. When I asked her if she had been an exchange Student in England, she told me she was an English Teacher but had never been
outside Niimi in her life. In Japanese High Schools, English is a compulsory language which students can read but rarely pronounce. This charming girl had learned her perfect English listening to the B.B.C. Overseas Service.

We were taken to a family co-operative in the next valley where hand-fed Black Japanese beef cattle were prepared for market in Stalls attached to the houses. In 1978 my Australian Dollar was exchanged for 215 Yen and the cattle brought an average price of $2,000 Australian! We were then taken for a picnic lunch on a grassy area with one of the most beautiful mountain views I have ever seen. We returned to the local Community Centre where some of the farmers wives tried to teach the Adelaide girls Japanese cooking. Later their families then joined us for this evening meal after which the women and children entertained us
with Japanese dancing and the men demonstrated the most dramatic dancing I have seen in Japan. We camped there in our sleeping bags and to complete such hospitality, the farmers wives were back in the morning to say farewell.

Travelling now by coach we crossed over the range, past our picnic site, and down the scenic descent to see a high waterfall in an area surrounded by Maple Trees inhabited by monkeys - what a sight this would be i
n Autumn - then on to Hot Springs with a few men bathing in the raw. We were still on table-land country and to my surprise, travelled through country that reminded me of some parts of Gippsland with Dairy farms and Jersey cows.

This undulating table-land valley led us to Hiruzen Heights where I saw free ranging cattle. Most of the area was given over to holiday camps Youth Hostels and, the other extreme, a few expensive Country Clubs. Julu and August were holiday time. From Hiruzen we continued by Coach over the mountains through the beautiful rain-forest of Mt. Daisen National Park. We then came down to the maritime p
lane between the mountains and the West Coast of Mainland Japan. For the next 80 Km to the City of Tottori it was mixed farming with rice fields, vegetable farms and pear orchards. Early pears cost 80 cents to $1 each in the City.

We were guests of the regional Capital, the City of Tottori for our two day visit. This included accommodation in a new air-conditioned Youth Community Centre, with meals and transport. I had a lovely room to myself with shogi screen windows and a coffee table. The Centre is out of town and has bike tracks, adventure playgrounds and sporting complexes and walks in the famous Tottori Sand Dunes. After our Mayoral Reception at the Town Hall, we were taken to the beach. Watching Television that evening, we saw ourselves sitting around the big council room table with the Mayor at the head, followed by our kids swimming in the cold blue sea where the currents come down from Siberia. A Senior High School Student welcomed us in an American mid-west accent but like the pretty young Teacher in Niimi, he had not been out of Tottori. His home was next door to the Mormon Elders of the Church of the latter Day Saints. About 40 Students representing the 20 Junior and Senior To
ttori High Schools joined with us for the evening meal. Later, some of the girls in Kimonos performed a beautiful rhythmic twirling display with umbrellas banded in red, gold, silver and white circles, with tiny bells and streamers.

Our train to Miyazu followed the western sea coat with beautiful views of the ocean and secluded villages. Miyazu is claimed by the Japanese to be one of the three famous beauty spots in Japan. Set around the curve of a magnificent land-locked harbour dotted with small islands and the forested mountains rising on all sides it is easy to accept the claim. The sandy beaches along a na
rrow strip of land planted with 8,000 Japanese Pines almost enclosed an inner lake. The sandy beach could have been Australian, and the bathers sunbaking likewise, but the pine covered hills and mountains belonged to beautiful Miyazu.

We were welcomed to Miyazu with a great banner across the front of the City Hall, and received under the portico by the Mayor and Officials of the Rotary and Lions Clubs of the City. All three were joint sponsors responsible for the total cost of our visit and private accommodation. I spent the night with three others in a complex of three narrow two storied old fishing houses built partly over the water. Our bathroom was in the form of a stone grotto paved with water worn stones used also in a miniature swimming pool each about 25 centimetres above high tide. My young mates stepped from the bathroom directly into the sea for a swim. Our evening meal was held in the middle
house with all the extended family seated on chairs around a large table. I enjoyed the Japanese bland food and Japanese beer, but above all I remember a happy company of men and women who crossed the language and cultural barrier with ease.

Next day I went by train with Jeanette McIntosh to Osaka for my two memorable days with my host family, Mr & Mrs Kazutoshi Tatsumi. We were met by Takesi Fujimura who left Jeanette at her home , and then took me to the Tatsumi home where he remained for the evening meal. Takesi Fujimura is the young Architect we met in Alice Springs with the first Hayakawa Group. Kazutoshi Tatsumi is a Master Builder and Takesi is his Architect. The Tatsumi home is luxurious with beautiful timber panelling and stairs polished like a quality table - but then every body wears slippers in the house. There is a western style room on the left with bar and le
ather lounge suite separated from a traditional Japanese ornamented room and Shrine, by two big plate glass walls enclosing a Japanese Garden. The western style very functional the Kitchen and traditional Japanese Dining room are on the right.

The Toilet down stairs is western and Japanese up stairs. The Japanese are curious about age and when I said I was 79 I understood that they exclaimed that I was older then Mrs Tatsumi's mother who lives with them in a grannie pent- house. This entitled me to a legless chair with an upright back so I was able to relax ad enjoy my meal Mr. Tatsumi seeing me trying to pick up a meat ball with chop-sticks uttered the only English I heard from him, 'Kill it', so I skewered it with a chop-stick. The Tatsumis and Takesi took me to the City Central where I experienced a deafening Disco, three Bars in succession and then a Geisha 'Parlour' furnished with small tables and comfortable chairs. The middle aged Geisha Lady was a trained conversationalist for she maintained a
dialogue with my friends full of laughter, interspersed with 'nibbles' and drinks. She then demonstrated a traditional fascinating dance movement with fans and a young Girl performed a graceful and unexpectedly innocent Dance of the Seven Veils.

The following evening the whole family took me to a traditional Japanese Restaurant where three middle aged Ladies, in traditional clothes, cooked the meal on our table and waited on us at the same time. I enjoyed the food and the Sake - a bit like a liqueur. Mr. and Mrs Tatsumi were both slim and taller than average Japanese and made a handsome pair wearing western clothes with style. It was lovely to see them walking around town hand and hand. Central Osaka Mall was as brilliant with lights as 5th Avenue New York BUT without any cars Both evenings were spent along the Grand Mall which extends for over three kilometres alongside a big canal in which the Neon lights were r
eflected. Music groups and other enjoyable entertainers had allocated places and contributed to the colour and pleasure of both evenings. The size and attractiveness of Osaka was a very pleasant surprise for me - enhanced no doubt by the Tatsumis.

Takesi Fujimura took me for lunch at a speciality shopping complex under a grand new Hotel. When I offered to pay he said, 'No, no, my girl friend is joining us.' I was delighted to find that the girl, now a University Student, was the pretty young girl who played the harp-like stringed instrument at St. Philips College. She had the same rare Asiatic loveliness we knew in Astuti. We dined on lot-fed, beer massaged, Kobe beef at $40 each serve, plus all the 'trimmings' and drinks. I was t
hankful I was not footing the bill which I estimated at $200 Australian. - and that was in 1978 with the exchange rate at 215 yen to the dollar. The Tatsumi family, including Grannie, rose early next morning to farewell me - an emotional experience.

Next morning it took six hours for Jeanette and me to reach her parents holiday Cottage at Lake Norjiri in Nagano Province. The Norjiri Lake Association was formed to Lease a big section of the hillside overlooki
ng the Lake. Missionaries who join the Association can buy or build a Summer Cottage which enables them spend at least a month here during the July-August holiday season. I had been invited to preach at the 11 am Service. I spoke on Hebrews 13: 12-14.

The use of this passage evoked a moving response from a congregation where every member was not only
an alien, but living outside the culture, language and laws of his or her own country. In comments after the service, and in personal conversations in the next two days, person after person spoke of the necessity to remain aware that they were "outside the Camp" with their Lord, sharing with Him in the suffering of the underprivileged of Asia and with them in their struggles for meaningful faith, service and justice. This gave me a deep sense that I was a privileged person to be given this unique opportunity to share with them the contrast between the 'Commandos' in the field, and the troops in the Barracks going through their drill year after year.

Jack McIntosh gave me another parable which I saw in the life and work of Jack and Beth McIntosh in the Korean Church in Osaka. This Church was building a new five storey Community Centre to include areas for worship, education, recreation, residential flats for some of their six full time staff, and significantly, the establishment of a child-care and pre-school for 150 children. The total cost was $2,500,000 Australian.
This small Congregation of 250 families had already given $1,350,000 - $5,400 per family. My disbelief was settled when Jack showed me the printed budget and contract papers, and added, "You don't know Korean Christians." The remainder of the finance included
$650,000 from the Osaka City Council - $300,000 as a gift and the balance a Loan.

Koreans cannot become Japanese Citizens, yet a secular non-Christian authority, the City of Osaka, subsidised an alien Church in recognition of the community services it provided for residents of their City. The remaining $600,000 came from Korean Churches in Japan and Korea including $92,000 from West Germany, C
anada and the U.S.A. Jack, an Ordained Minister of the Presbyterian Church of Canada, was the only non-Korean on the Staff. With his Koreans Co- workers they have developed a remarkable community program. He is also an out-spoken advocate for Korean Civil Rights.

He and Beth went to Osaka soon after their Marriage and were still there in 1992. Their children are now in Canada having completed or completing their Tertiary Education. Beth is able to visit Canada but by 1991 Jack's advocacy on behalf of the Stateless Koreans had so incensed th
e Japanese Authorities that should he leave Japan, he would be refused a re-entry Visa. He is a gentle person with a dedication to a just cause for which he is prepared to suffer - such is his and Beth's commitment to the people to whom they have given their lives.

I completed my visit with the group in Habuka, a beautiful high country valley with summer rice fields surrounded by the Snow-capped mountains which provide the Ski Resorts. We met with 400 High School Students assembled in their very big Gymnasium who greeted us in their best English, singing 'Advance Australia Fair, and 'Click go the Shears'.
Our group, responded with their only song in Japanese. Masanori Hayakawa, Koshen Nishida and I spent the night in a delightful Japanese Inn conducted by friends of Hayakawa. I enjoyed my final genuine Japanese meal with a few glasses of Sake for a good nights sleep.

Early next morning I photogra
phed their small Japanese garden, a happy conclusion for it was the most delightful I had seen. I had been three weeks in areas rarely if ever visited by tourists a privilege made possible by Masanori Hayakawa who proved to be a wonderful friend I have never forgotten.

0Masanori is an ideal
ist who, following his University years in Tokyo, renounced his wealthy family involvement in the Japanese SHARP Corporation and gave his life to child education, and building international understanding among young people as a means of peace and good-will between Nations.

Following his 1979 visit to Alice Springs he concluded his letter to me with these significant words:

Among o
ut happiest memories are those which bring to mind our stay in the homes of Australian Friends. May the memories of the times we shared remain alive for many years to come! Who knows what fruits they will bring forth in international peace and goodwill. With kindest greetings.

Beth McIntosh told me he is also a fine artist and had painted the Christ of Sorrow in blue and the Christ of Glory in gold, then turned both to the wall in his S
tudio. He was unable to paint the face. As a Japanese, who I believe practiced Buddhist meditation, he was aware of a mystery in the person of Christ that defied human delineation. What a probing thought for every Christian who is overly familiar with the mystery of the Eternal.

Tami Uchida, the committed Christian whose mother lived through the atomic destruction of Nagasaki, walked with me through the
beautiful resurrection of Nature in the Hiroshima Memorial Park where thirty three years earlier tens of thousands of little children, women and men, died in an instant holocaust. Suffering is universal and not equated to colour or race, but compassion is rarely other than personal.

Tami Uchida helped me to enter into the universal compassion of the Christ whose suffering and glory Hayakawa recognised but could not delineate and by which Tami lives. My compassion for Brian in the
tragic death of Molly and Kerry in Cyclone Tracy became an integral element in the compassion I experienced with Tami Uchida as we re-visited her horrific 'Cyclone Tracy' with an unspoken awareness of our bond in a universal and eternal compassion and love, the source of all meaning.

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