PART 2 OF STORY - GROWING UP IN MANILLA 1955-1964                  
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The following story is Part 2 of an account of particular aspects in my life while growing up in Manilla during the years 1955-1964. Of how life was and my personal observations and feelings regarding this particular growth period.

This article is copyright protected -  No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the written permission of the author. (>)


For me and many others, a push bike was the ideal way to get around Manilla when you wanted to go anywhere. Even though we lived only a couple of hundred metres from the main street the push bike was the easiest and quickest way to travel. Manilla, as a country town, had a vast country area to explore. There were dirt roads and tracks everywhere and these were used regularly. A lot more natural fun than the concrete bike paths that you find in towns and cities of today.

In those days Malvern Star and Speedwell ruled the push bike arenas.

Once I grew a bit bigger than a 5 year old it was decided a push bike would be a good gift for me from Santa Claus (yeah, I know …. But we did believe in Santa in those days) The first bike I got was one without a bar.  That is, a girls bike.  It was thought it would be safer for me and easier for me to ride. Well, it didn’t go down so well as I wasn’t too keen on riding a ‘girls’ bike but as it worked out  it gave me the knowledge and experience of how to ride a bike.

Practicing riding was no problem as we had a big yard. (Story 1) From the back lane fence to the front nature strip was a long grassed training ground where you could pedal fast & slow, ram the brakes on near the house, slide around the house and down to the front road way. There was no kerbing and guttering at the edge of the dirt road out front so you could slam on the brakes and slide to a halt in the dirt.

So the big day came, which was either a birthday or Christmas, and I got my ‘boys’ bike.  It was bigger than me and hard for me to reach the pedals so chocks were put on the pedals for me to reach. This was more economical than buying bikes every couple of years. Once your legs grew you just took off the chocks. As you got taller the seat went up.

My parents were pretty strict on what was on the bike. It had to have a front light so that I could see where I was going at night time and also a tail light so the cars could see me from behind. Not that there were many cars at night time in Manilla but it was a precaution. 

Because it was your own bike you could jazz it up a bit with things like mud flaps. And the other thing you tried was to attach a bit of cardboard to the back frame near the spokes so the cardboard went into the spokes and as you pedalled it supposedly made a sound like a motor. But it didn't. It was probably annoying for others but fun while riding the bike thinking it did sound like a motor

Both lights operated from a small generator that was attached to the front wheel frame by a clip locking device. On this device was a release system so you could pull it back during the day and push it down to the side of the front tyre at night time.  On top of the generator was a free spinning wheel with indents around it so that it gripped onto the tyre and spun around to operate the lights.  The faster you went, the brighter the light out front. My front light had a chrome surface and was about 150mm x 100mm in size.  It was attached just below the handle bars and just above the front wheel.  Wires went from the generator to the front light and also to the back tail light.

The cubs and scouts (story 1) were on at night time so the bike lights came in handy. Not that there was any traffic around at night time as it was pretty quiet. And from my place the scout hall was only about 2 blocks away. I could either choose to go the front road way or through the back gate and up the small dirt laneway that ran behind the stretch of houses in the street. It was probably the most used.

At the end of the lane was a big pepper corn tree where the dirt pathway dropped to the dirt road so you used to launch yourself off the edge and land on the road way a metre or so away.  As it was quiet you didn’t have to worry too much about cars and dirt is always more fun to ride a bike on than a sealed tar road.

I also had to have mud guard’s front and back. This was so I didn’t get mud splashed up on my clothes and as I understand now, avoided my mother from washing clothes all the time.  In those days we didn’t have a washing machine.  Clothes were washed by hand in a tub with a wringer attached to the top of the tub where the clothes were put through to draw out the water, before you hung them on the line.

There was also a pouch attached to the front of the bike also.  This is where you had puncture outfits which included glue and tools in case you got a puncture away from home.  If you couldn’t repair the puncture on a bike trip you had to walk home – no riding.  This was because it damaged the tyre and tube and that cost money.  I had to repair my punctures and any other repairs needed on the bike.

In the early stages of riding I definitely couldn’t ride the bike with the handle bars down – that is, in a racing position.  This was classified too dangerous and the thinking was I could get a blood rush, start racing and maybe have an accident. They didn’t want me to have an accident. And in those days you didn't have to wear a helmet.

This bike was kept in good condition as the alternatives weren’t too positive – You had to walk and buying another bike was too expensive. So it went everywhere in Manilla with me and if I wanted to carry something I just attached it with elastic straps to a small bike rack that was behind the seat, above the back wheel or you had a basket up front.

I don't remember having to lock up the bike at a post down town or other areas.  Everyone knew you couldn’t steal a bike and if you did the local police would be called and there would be an investigation. That was how it was in those days – don’t get into strife otherwise the police were called.  And for a young fella that was pretty scary!

 As time went by you saw the older ones at school progressing to a car. After they got a licence of-course!  I remember one bloke who bought a VW beetle and rolled it soon after!

A push bike in Manilla was a necessity as it provided you with mobility and independence. There was no parental drive us here, drive us there and traffic in Manilla was minimal. Everything was in easy reach by push bike and we were given freedom to pursue our young lifestyle - as long as we were home at a particular time!




Billy carts in Manilla were a lot of fun – when you went down a hill.  Dragging them around to get to the hill was ok but the thought of going down the hill the fastest you could was the main fun of Billy Carts.

They were simple devises in the early stages. Four bits of wood, another piece to put your feet on – like stirrups, a couple of axles, four wheels, some bolts and nails, oil and grease, and a piece of rope to steer the front assembly.

After a while you got the idea of ‘modifications’. Like bigger wheels at the back, a seat that you could sit more snug into (like a baby car seat in a car – but they weren’t available in those days so you used an old plastic child’s seat that was thrown out at the tip), build a box for a seat, painted a colour of your choice and an antennae so it looked like you had a radio. You could even put dummy lights on the front and back to make out you had lights!

These Billy Carts were fun and at times you took some chances going down hills. In Manilla there were dirt road hills to choose from, where if they were high enough and long enough you could have races or do ‘burn outs’.  It was always fun on dirt roads.  You used to go hurtling down, turning the front wheels to one side and the other making the cart slide sideways, kicking up gravel and dust and leaving a trail of burn out marks on the road. Yeah, well, sometimes you overturned it and took off a bit of skin on the elbows and knees – but that was part of the fun!

There were other areas in Manilla that were more challenging.  Like the banks near the river or the banks up the side of a road or hilly areas on a country property close by.  Some were pretty steep and you also had to dig away the top ledge so you had a steadier launch site. If you didn't the drop was too steep at the launch area.  You also had to make sure there were no obstacles on the way down and especially at the end.  You didn’t want to run into a dead end as this would have been a head on collision and launched you over the front wheels head first - and damage the cart.

So you used to sit at the top and take a deep breath and talk to yourself.  Like - “Am I gunna do this?” While your hesitating the others are telling you to get on with it ‘cause they want to have a go.  “Don’t be a girl – go-on, go over, go-on, what-are-you-waiting for, come-on, hurry up”. 

You hedged your way over to the edge a bit more, the front wheels are still hanging in mid-air, you’re like a see-saw now and all you have to do is move your weight forward and -‘whoa-ee’ – your off.  The adrenalin is now pumping through your body, your eyes are wide open, your hanging on for dear life, the billy cart is bouncing up and down, your trying to control the steering to avoid a turn over, and bang, you hit the home run at tremendous speed, your feet go off the wood stirrups, pushing down on the dirt (no shoes) to slow the billy cart down. And your there - finished. You turn around, look up and think “Oh-shit”.

You stand up, grab hold of the steering rope – and walk up to have another go!

The thing about Manilla was it wasn’t far to ‘country’. Manilla was a country town but there was farm land and tracks just over the hill or down the road.

My father knew a metal fabricator near the bridge entrance in Market Street.  He got him to make a Billy Cart that looked like a small car! You could sit in it, with a steering wheel made out of a piece of bent metal with the driving arm attached to the front axle assembly.  Well, this was good but the problem was I grew out of it pretty quick!  But the thought was good and I look back now of what he provided for me in Manilla, with little money, and it was all good.

Billy carting was an inventive way to develop inner creativity.  You had to think about how to build it, where to get the parts, put it all together so it didn’t fall to pieces on the first trip, and strong enough to withstand some hard rides.

Billy Carts developed your mind – we didn’t have a Kmart and Big W to buy it off the shelf, wreck it and throw it away. You looked after it with pride ‘cause you made it yourself.

Billy carts were fun in country Manilla NSW.




The main sports in Manilla during the 1950’s were tennis, cricket, swimming, soccer, golf (story 1) and rugby league.  They were all played in different formats in and out of school.

Swimming was conducted as a school sport where the school used to walk down to the Namoi river near the little weir. We didn’t have a swimming pool in Manilla but we had the river, and really, this probably was better as it got you away from concrete and you were beside nature. This is where you also went for your bronze medallion – a type of swimming masters. You had to swim to the other side of the river and back again a number of times doing different strokes to achieve this medal. If the current was strong on the day it made it more difficult.

If I recall there was only soccer at school where the rules were you could hand ball it with your fists to make it easier.  Easier?  Yeah, I know - I still wonder about that one. Cricket was played at school also. Rugby league was played at the local showground but there were areas to practice at school.

Athletic carnivals used to be held at the showground.  We all walked down to the oval to do different running exercises on sports day. Like the 100, 200, 400 and 800 yard races.  Lets not forget the high jump! The 800 was the most strenuous being about 4 trips around the oval. Yeah, I gave it a go, just like I have done with many things in life. But at the end your really puffing and panting and have to sit down to recover! We also had the sack race, the spoon and egg race and a 3 legged race. So it didn't matter if you weren't athletically equipped - you had race games that were fun!

I tried all the sports and some fitted more than others.  Golf, as an older youth, became my sport of choice where I reasonably excelled (story 1). Golf should be easily available as a school sport, or after school, without the expense, as it gives particular young people the opportunity to find something else within themselves. Golf is where one can improve personal performances on different levels alone, to reach an inner attribute which cannot be achieved in other team sports - outdoors with nature.

I tried cricket, even went to cricket matches where my father used to play and keep score at the southbrook oval and also the oval where the caravan park is now, near the Namoi River. But it didn't work for me. My father though, ended up umpiring cricket and was selected as a major umpire for an international event in Tamworth one year.

That’s what it was like growing up wasn’t it?  You looked around, didn't really know what to do but you sort of had a go and found out who you were and where you fitted in with the big picture. I was a bit of a loner in those days (still am!) but was willing to try things out (did that all my life!) where some succeeded and some failed (yeah, I remember both areas!).  I fitted well into golf because I could go out to the course after school and play by myself. Ride the bike out there with just 3 clubs sometimes on the handle bars and play without shoes. No need to rely on team mates so you just headed out to do your own thing.

As a young fella my parents wanted me to be active, but not with rugby league.  I still remember my father disapproving of rugby league. You see, he was a soccer player in England and so was a bit biased and I think he saw rugby league as a bit of biff and bam.

However I still gave rugby league a go. I was about 8 years of age. You used to have to go to the sign up days, be weighed and be allocated a weight division. I guess the writing was on the wall on the sign up day when a teacher asked me why the hell am I signing up for rugby league!  It seems now he knew me more than I knew myself!  But I thought, $%#@ them, I am going to do it anyway. I wanted to find out what this rugby league was like and I wasn’t going to be a pussy and not have a go!  And throughout my life I continued to ‘have a go’ even if I didn’t know how to do it.

One of the best parts of being a rugby league player as an 8 year old was you felt bigger, older and tougher – even if you weren’t!   There was the Guernsey with shoulder pads, the white shorts with pads on the side, the thick woolly socks pulled up, and the football boots with sprigs. Well, the sprigs were the best, especially when you walked on concrete. Geez, you were walking with metal under your feet and that felt strong.

You felt pretty tough – until you got on the field and started to be pounded by the opposition!  The first tackle reminds you what rugby league is about – you get tackled, fall at times on the ball and get winded, and at the same time your face hits the ground, while someone else falls on top of you, to hurt and intimidate …. Welcome to rugby league son!

I found out rugby league goes against the natural survival instincts of our nature. Like, if you rode your bike up to a post you would try to avoid it wouldn’t you? Likewise with a car – you wouldn’t want a head on collision otherwise you’d get hurt. Well even in those days I viewed life as an outsider and found that if you ran up to a ‘post’ in rugby league (the 8 feet tall opposition player) you tried to avoid it, but unfortunately the ‘post’ still moves sideways and in front of you and hits you with great force!

The other part about rugby league were the rules. Stand back 5 yards, hold the ball like this, pass it like this, move to this position, watch the opposite player, catch the ball like this, don’t do this, do that etc. Geez, I thought I was back in mathematics class at school, but I was on a football field! Not only did you have to play rugby league you had to mathematically calculate what you had to do before and when you did it and also keep an eye on everyone else.  I thought it was supposed to be fun!

The big day arrived and we all ran onto the field at the Manilla showground for our match. There was no well-kept manicured football field in Manilla. There were bits of grass here and there in-between dirt. The eye opener was also when you viewed the other team with some members 8 foot tall weighing 20 stone! Well, they looked that way!  (Remember I’m under 10 years of age!)

There’s also a system of ‘try-outs’ for all players – which position does the coach put players in? I found out it follows a particular pattern for all players. You start off in either the 1st of 2nd row depending on your strength. Then your moved to lock, then to the wing and then to full-back. You knew in those days if you were full-back there was no place left to go - so that became the end of your rugby league career! 

But it was still fun and I remember it as a creative part of growing up in the sporting endeavours at Manilla. The Manilla Showground was an integral part of sporting events in Manilla.

There is one thing I must mention as I remember it vividly. There are some that are naturals and we had one in Manilla in our team.  They play hard, fast, run like a rabbit, force off defenders, not afraid to take on the 8 footers and score tries. We had this one in our team. One time at half time the coach was telling us all to virtually get our fingers out as this player was the whole team rolled into one.  Yeah, he was!  I still remember him getting the ball, hanging onto it and blitzing the opposition in a variety of movements throughout the game and scoring tries. I think he won the game for us!

Growing up in Manilla was a good time even if some sporting endeavours did not work out!



There was no such thing as KFC, McDonalds and all the other choices of chemical based plastic unhealthy food that we have today. From my research I have some understanding of why we have a mental and body health problem in Australia. One of the contributing factors is all those chemicals in the food. And the problem is these outlets are classified as normal every day eating premises.

We had about 2 cafes in Manilla's main street. One on the south side and one on the north side, where you could buy the general range of cafe food including milk shakes, hamburgers, fish and chips, and ice cream.  Not forgetting the Chiko Roll! Just like some cafes nowadays – without the wraps and sushi rolls!

But they weren’t really classified as ‘take-away’ in our family as my mother could cook all those things at home. But the hamburger meat was made by the owner and he also peeled and cut up his own chips. I believe he still does that today. The local supermarket at McKenzies used to sell brown paper bags or small boxes of broken biscuits - yeah I know - sounds unusual today, but this was a  snack we could have as a group down town (or alone!) and enjoy this for just 1-5cents.

But we did have a Chinese Restaurant in Manilla and that was our family’s favourite take-away on special nights probably about once each month. It was good, different and provided different taste sensations. The spring rolls were always tasty. For a young fella it was special and we all looked forward to our Chinese take away. I think the owner's name was Georgy Wu.

Another ‘special’ take away for me was one particular day each week or fortnight at the school lunch break.  Just over the road from the Manilla Central School (story 1) was a house with a small timber shutter on the front wall. This used to be opened up during the day. Behind the opening was a very small shop – a shop inside a house. You couldn’t walk into the shop, just stand outside and ask through the opening for what you wanted.  If I remember rightly it was the Bignall’s Shop.

They sold good meat pies, probably freshing baked because they tasted so good, with plenty of filling. It was my special day – buying a hot meat pie and pouring tomato sauce on the top and eating it with a smile! 

You see, in those days small things in Manilla gave you pleasure.  There wasn’t the choice as today and so when you ate a meat pie it was like getting a tasty present and enjoying the moment.  Eating the pastry, meat and sauce gave you a pleasure. I still can picture the shop and remember me eating the pie today.

Is it no wonder that the young today become distracted and dissatisfied easily where everything becomes a head spin – there is so much choice they never fully enjoy a moment with the simple things in life.  

As I write this today I can understand why a lot of things in our general society today are not right. And why I have opted out from that world.  Much of it is based on economics and ego formulations. Yes I agree we have to have an economic balance to survive but I remember Manilla as a place where the simplicity of pleasure in life was more prominant than the economics of survival.  Is this because I was a young fella in those days?  Yes and also no and also not really, because I live a simple life now, away from the economics of survival for ego gains, and I can see that if it is possible to live a life, like it was in Manilla in the 1950’s-1960’s, then life today would be more fulfilling and pleasurable for a lot more people.

I feel the advantages of living a life as a young fella in Manilla was a plus. Not only was it a small country town but we also didn’t have the additional distractions of the technological age that the young have today (story 1).  And because I went through life trying different things, I gained a perspective on a whole variety of life’s experiences – which eventually brought me back to the life I had in Manilla. It has been a revelation - and why I wrote about it.

The advantages of a country town like Manilla are vastly different than the city. A few years ago I decided to live and work in Sydney for a while and I ended up staying for nearly 3 years. (>)

One of my jobs was on a construction site (never done this before).  I had to get up at 4.30am to get to work at 6.30am (by train and bus) and didn’t arrive back home until approx. 5pm. I did this for 5 to 6 days a week for approx. 18 months on a full time basis. In many ways I enjoyed it as it gave me the experience of a different life and gave me the opportunity to think about life in its different elements. I look back on this time as one highlight within my life. It introduced me to varying perspectives that enabled me to formulate life in a constructive and meaningful way. It gave me *empirical experience. (*verifiable by observation and experience rather than theory or pure logic)  

My life in Manilla was vastly different than a life in the city, and for me, I have experienced both opposite sides of this equation. This knowledge, together with my other experiences throughout life, have added an holistical perspective to the big picture and given me the perspective to s.t.o.p.a.n.d.t.h.i.n.k. and view life, not from emotional impulses but rather intellectual reasoning - if we....... s.t.o.p.a.n.d.t.h.i.n.k. (>)




Story 1 I touched on the world of crystal sets and radio during the later half of the 1950's, and where I eventually  owned a transistor radio. This is an advancement on that story.

There were no sound players in our house so if I purchased any records they were played at a friend’s house – with great difficulty.  We all have our tastes in music and eventually they tell you to take it off so they can play their own taste in musical variety. So my main mode of music development was via the songs played on my own radio at home and then my transistor radio in the later years.

Musical instruments were unheard of for me. They were too expensive anyway. But I remember one friend going to Tamworth and seeing an electric guitar in the window of a music shop and he bought it. This was in the days of Beatle popularity.

The closest I got to a musical instrument was making one. I made a guitar. It was made out of a top and bottom layer of ply with small bits of timber cut out for spacers on the base part – an acoustic style guitar with a hole cut in the middle. The arm was part of the ply also with another piece of timber attached under it for strength. The guitar string tension arm was attached to the top of this arm. All the timber around the base part was glued and then filled in with putty and sanded back to a smooth finish. The same goes with the rest. It was painted white and red. I bought the strings and parts to hold them in place and there it was – a hand-made guitar.

So when a couple or so of our friends got together in a house where a record player was available, we used to sit on the floor with our instruments, playing them with the record turned up to its maximum volume and it sounded great!  Until the music was turned off and it sounded shit!  Generally it was the mother of the house that had enough and told us to bugger off and go outside to play.

The main form of musical understanding came from the radio stations through the transistor radio.  But I vividly remember the first time I heard pop music – this was just before my transistor radio days. At Manilla School there was a group of girls playing a record in the library. The record was called ‘The Hippy Hippy Shake’ by the Swinging Blue Jeans.  Well, that was the start of a musical journey for me.

The transistor radio became the voice for music in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s in Manilla and around Australia. From here you heard the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Animals and more.  The Beatles brought out many singles and EP’s. EP’s were four track songs in a coloured sleeve.  Do you remember “Please Mister Postman”? The Beatles became the group of the decade with many followers. Even the school teachers were followers.  I remember a teacher bringing the first Beatles album into class and asking the students the names of the faces that appeared on the front cover.

But it wasn’t only the Beatles that changed the shape of society and music.  We listened to many songs, including the Animals with “House of the Rising Sun”, Del Shannon with “Keep Searchin’”, The Rolling Stones with “Little Red Rooster” , The Nashville Teens with “Tobacco Road” and The Zombies with “She’s Not There”.  And they were only a very small number of many many musical groups and songs in those days.  It changed viewpoints of the world, questioned traditions, invoked discussion and moved society into a different direction than ever before.

Some parents didn’t like it. I remember my father saying once you couldn’t understand the words, until I mentioned you couldn’t understand the words in an Opera.

The hall beside the Manilla & District Soldiers Memorial Hall was used for musical activity. This was where you saw people dancing and doing the (Chubby Checker) twist, the stomp and a variety of mixes of dance movements. The hall was packed on those nights.

Even McKenzies, the local department store, got into the swing of things. McKenzies was ‘the’ big store in Manilla.  You could buy almost everything there.  In the men’s section they were selling Beatle boots, Beatle socks, drain pipe trousers, pointy toed shoes, thin ties in black or with a Beatles logo on them. It was all an adventurous time to get dressed up in the ‘right’ clothes before going out at night to impress the crowd - and the girls! 

I have to mention Brylcreem in the hair. This was popular for the boys. The idea was to grow your hair a bit longer than the short back and sides and then you could style it up and keep it in place with Brylcreem. It had the same effect as hair spray for the girls.

The drain pipe trousers were a bit too much at times for my parents.  They looked at the ease of having loose trousers as they were easier to move in, but mainly because they had their own perceptions of what to wear and look ‘right’ in public.

They were very strict that way. I was to be presented with a certificate for golf in my early teens at a packed hall school ceremony at the Manilla & District Soldiers Memorial Hall, and they insisted on me wearing a baggy type trouser that was fashionable in the 1940’s-50’s.  Yeah, well I had to. That’s what it was in those days – a strict upbringing.

The early 1960’s was a music revolution and to some, hard to understand and accept this change in life. There was a resistance to change within our society – especially if it questioned hard wired perceptions of an individual’s past world.

But generally in Manilla, for us young ones, it was fun!  Life was fun and happy because the music was fun and happy also.  It was a life of freedom and the 1960’s became the decade of change. Remember the Animals singing “It’s my life and I’ll do what I want”?  Well, those and other words changed perceptions in life and moulded everyone to think differently.

Today I still have the EP’s and singles I collected in Manilla, and over the following years collected albums of that era also.

Music development in Manilla was fun ... and a happy time.

Link to Australia's No.1 hits of the 1960's





Christmas, and the Christmas school holidays for us in Manilla was exciting and adventurous. You looked forward to it as a young fella. From the day we finished school about a week or 2 before Christmas we looked forward to the break and waiting for Christmas day with as much patience we could muster. Which was difficult as we knew what Christmas morning would bring us - presents. But it wasn't just presents, it was the feeling of what Christmas would bring us - happiness and a smile on our faces. It was the belief in this moment that provided our inner depth of excitement. And as 5,6, or 7 year old this was great!

The other part about Christmas and the school holidays was we had a lot of time during the days to do what we wanted to do. And that generally involved the other kids in the street or further afield.

I remember the large expanse of kikuya grass in our yard. This provided a thick carpet on the ground that provided a ground level of possibilities to play, without shoes, with other children. In the 1950's-1960's Manilla water was readily available and free. We used to have a sprinkler that watered the lawn and this provided a fun water game. We used to run and jump over the water from one side to the other - all of us laughing and enjoying the moment.

This grass carpet also provided an area to set up games like badminton, play tennis without a net, and set up the table tennis table on the lawn, cricket with a tennis ball and a box for stumps, quoits  and lets not forget water pistols! We also used to make our own kites and on a windy day run up the road to get them started. We had to be careful of the electricity wires on the side of the road though. The other game was hop scotch. Where we used to draw lines on the side of the dirt road for the squares to play the game. Hop scotch was also played on the concrete footpaths where we used to take our chalk and draw the lines on the concrete. There was also hula hoops, knucklebones or jacks, skipping rope (with two people holdings the ends of 2 ropes - called skippy) and even roller skating. Also hide and seek, tick and hand tennis against a wall. All fun and game activities outside in the yard that made you feel alive. 

The days during the Manilla school holidays were adventuous and active. Outdoor activities with a variety of other children in the street and in and out of each others yards. A lot different today with computers, the internet, tv, mobile phones, shopping centres, social media - all mechanically formulated external distractions that take you away from the real meaning of life - adventuous activities outside with nature.

Today its a life where yards are very small for these activities, or so small there are no activities for children. Where parents question whether it is safe for their child to ride a bike on the road, or even in the front yard, due to safety. For many, activities can only be enjoyed at a local park where parents keep a watch on their child. It is a restricted life where the freedom of creative play has disappeared and replaced with indoor visual entertainment that gives off electromagnetic waves that affects a child mental stability.

Where has society gone wrong? - By developing a society that depends on economic stimulus which is driven by narcissistic ego's viewing life as accumulating profits rather than the welfare of our social structure as a whole. It has to change.

Manilla was not like this. We didn't have these distractions. (see story 1) It was a life of free wills, a life of personal adventure, where our lives were created within ourselves, by ourselves, or with others, and enacted in a generally safe environment.

Being 5, 6 and 7 you believed in Santa.  Yeah that’s right – Santa. He was the one where your parents left the front door open at night so he could come in to give presents out as the chimney was too small for his size. Santa was the person where you left out a bottle of beer and a piece of Christmas cake and in the morning it was gone!  Santa was the person where some kids said they heard the bells ringing outside at night, while they were trying to get to sleep, and some even said they saw Santa!

This was a time where your parents attached a pillow case to the end of the bed for all the presents.  You must understand, for a young fella, a pillow case filled with presents was ‘huge’!  You sat on the floor and it towered above you.

The hardest part was getting to sleep at night because of the excitement. You were told if you didn’t get to sleep Santa wouldn’t come.

But he came and you were always the first to wake up in the morning – at 5am! Yeah, sometimes I used to lay there and think I should wait a bit longer in case I woke someone – but I couldn’t.  So paper was peeled off presents and the presents inside were revealed.  Some you had to use outside and this was the time where the other children in the street were riding their new bikes or showing off their toy cars and other presents. We received games also, like quoits, badminton and chinese checkers. And board games like snakes and ladders, draughts, cards and dominoes. Other presents used to be matchbox cars, kit plane sets so you could make your own plane - like the 'Lancaster Bomber' from the Dam Buster movies. Once finished you used to hang it from the ceiling via a fishing line, so you could look at it while in bed. Cowboy outfits with cap guns were popular, and ofcourse water pistols where the kids in the street used to have water pistol fights on the grass. During this time all the kids in the street used to go to different houses and yards and show off their presents.

Before Christmas Day my parents used to put up Christmas decorations in the lounge room.  From corner to corner and side to side near the ceiling - the decorations were hung. Christmas cards were hung up on a string and there was also a Christmas tree with decorations.

After opening your presents we had to go to church for the 7.30am service (story 1) or the 11am service, and sing different types of Christmas hymns that were included within the main service. This normally lasted about 1 hour. Sometimes we went to the evening service. Church was an important part of life in the 1950's and it was said that if you weren't christened or confirmed then you were not part of God's children.

Even though the summers were hot my parents just couldn’t resist having the traditional English Christmas lunch - Baked chicken with stuffing, or turkey and pork, crackling, gravy, vegetables, baked potatoes and Yorkshire pudding. Not forgetting a cake and custard sweet and then the Christmas fruit cake. My mother used to spend all morning in the kitchen preparing and cooking.

For drinks my father used to make his own ginger beer and this was bottled up ready for Christmas.

At the lunch table (and sometimes the dinner table) we used to wear Christmas hats and pull bon bons (crackers) and read the message inside.

As a young fella it was always great, and as one got older the festivities always continued – even if you didn’t believe in Santa!







As mentioned in my first story 1, we lived at a relative’s place when we arrived in Manilla – on a country property when I was 5 years of age. Later that family moved to another property called Earls Court, just outside Manilla, where their father was farming wheat and sheep.

The country position of Manilla meant you could experience farm life close by. My parents had kept in touch with the family we stayed with originally and from there we were able to experience a country farm life at close quarters when we visited their farm. It was when I was a young tacker and became another adventure and enjoyable to experience a different type of lifestyle.

Road safety wasn’t as it is today. We used to sit in the back of the ute and be driven around on those dirt bumpy country roads. It was fun though but not safe. We felt it but didn’t say anything as it was accepted that was it in those days.

Bush life was dry, dirty and dusty. Manilla was country but on a farm it is more dusty and dry, and where the smell of wheat, hay, dogs, sheep and wool were all rolled up into one. The other aromas on a farm are natural - meaning the smell of shit! Yeah, I know, how else could I explain it! This smell is part of farm life - whether it is the toilet pit for humans or sheep droppings - this is farm life.

We used to watch the farmer do some unusual things to a sheep’s back end which I can only imagine today as some form of de-sexing. I remember him once doing something with his teeth because he couldn’t quite handle the whole procedure with his fingers!

Shearing was interesting as the sheep were herded into a pen, dragged up to be sheared, where the shearer used to bend over and shear the sheep in pretty quick time.  Sometimes nicking the sheep and drawing blood – which made the sheep buck. Then pushing the sheep back out into another pen.

The smell of the wool was everywhere and you never forget this outdoor aroma of country Australia in Manilla.

Before they were sheep they were lambs and lambs needed feeding with bottles if they didn’t have a mother. That was where we came in – feeding the lambs with a bottle of milk. They were good when they were small and young but as they got bigger and saw you with the bottle or food they used to pound up to you and not stop. If you weren’t careful and hold the bottle to the side they used to run into you and send you flying backwards and while you were on the ground they vigoruously hunted around with head butts for the bottle!

We took a lamb home with us once and reared it in River Street. It was on a leash and ate grass and different things until it was too big and woolly and was picked up and taken to the farm again.

The farm was an older style homestead made out of timber with a variety of rooms and no electricity. At night time you had to use oil burning lamps to see anything.  Reading was also via these lamps.

There was an outside toilet and you either took a torch or the lamp at night time.  The toilet wasn’t close to the house as it was a large pit in the ground, with a hand-made toilet pan top and seat above the pit. It was never emptied and therefore would have been too smelly to be close to the house.

Yeah, it was smelly and night time was bad because it was dark. The wild animals were roaming around and making noises and you really didn’t know what you would bump into.  So you avoided the toilet at night time and if you wanted a pee you just went outside the house on the grass. You didn’t want the girls to hear you peeing outside so you tried to keep it quiet, and didn’t, and they teased you the next day.

The farmer had a number of dogs and they were chained at night to various kennels made out of corrugated iron roofing material or anything that would keep them reasonably dry when it rained. It didn’t rain much and the ground around the kennel was dusty and dry as the dogs kept moving about and barking at anything that moved or they heard at night time, and pulling at the chain they were attached to. If there was a commotion at night time with the barking the farmer used to go out to see what was happening and abuse them to keep quiet! 

During the day some were let off the chain and they followed us around.  While herding the sheep the farmer used to whistle and bark commands to the dogs and they used to listen and do what he wanted. I found this interesting – the dogs stopping, listening to the next command and then shooting off in the direction of the command.

There were different sheds near the house for hay and storage for the machinery. We went out at one time and helped with the wheat harvesting. I think I remember being high up in the harvester cabin at one time being driven around while it harvested the wheat.

It was a primitive existence compared to today’s living but many farmers existed like this while they forged a way for Australia’s future.

As a young fella I was invited out there to stay a week or so with the family. 

The reality was I was very young when I experienced this lifestyle, in another home in the bush far away from family, and so much of this was probably quite scary as it was unfamiliar and very outside the confines of my safe existence in River Street.  But in those days you thought things would be similar to your home – be they weren’t. 

This is how we grow as individuals but I do understand now what effect these experiences may have on minds and body later in life. We do forget things but some things, in some ways, remain entrenched within us as an implicit memory in a corner of our mind, and could surface as some other type of demon or positive attribute within our lives in the future. But the alternatives are 'not' to experience different things and therefore not grow. And it is important we do grow in life to reach wisdom.

Parents always mean well and live lives according to what they have experienced and believed in, and life for many families in the 1950’s-1960’s was constructed through this viewpoint. A viewpoint perspective where traditional values of strict guidance with constructive personal training to form the individual child's growth in life. And then the natural biological changes kicked in during the teenage years, where confusion rules for many years, until the frontal lobe is fully developed during our late 20's - and we begin a new chapter in our lives.

Sometimes nature is cruel and we are forced to maneuver around these aspects in life - an abnormal intrusion and far removed from our childhood lives. It is important we do not lose this childhood peace, this life of freedom in a haven untouched by our materialistic narcissistic society. It is important we travel back to our childhood days and capture this life, enabling ourselves to enter a realm, that is, really, true life. Some may have bad memories of growing up. I believe though, by confronting our childhood 'unknowns', fears, apprehension, and in some cases trauma, we can have an opportunity to complete our lives with a peace of understanding about our past. An understanding about our own individual present lives and how the past can give us inner peace. If you are cautious, just be strong enough to face the journey.

Never forget your innocence, the wonder of life - it is your doorway to peace and a better life as an adult.  

Manilla was a life of less distractions than there are today and a life where country freedom formulated a mind around natural personal endeavours. A freedom that was less complicated and a freedom that gave you time to think - rather than the fast paced society and distractions we have today for the young. Experiencing time off in their mind is now difficult for them to achieve. But it is a necessary ingredient to have balance and peace in one's life.

   From my observations, thoughts, experiences and personal search on these matters the future is not as bright for the young today, as it was for us young people in Manilla in the 1950’s-1960’s.

I look back now and see that predominantly Manilla life was safe. This was a country life that gave you freedom to explore the natural surroundings outside, within a world that was naturally peaceful.

Within the 2010 youth report on mental health in Australia, the majority of youth in Australia stated that mental health was the main issue within their lives and they needed help in this area.

 It has moved from the carefree lives of the young in Manilla during the 1950's-1960's, growing up in a free country environment, where hope and prosperity for the future was a natural progression towards a life that included well-being with employment security. To a life now of confusion, disillusionment and instability for the younger generation of today.

Why? I have my knowledge & theories, and this is another story for the future.

Many people have been interested in my story about Manilla; hundreds have read the story with the feedback very positive. It appears to have instilled a renewed interest in childhood memories in Manilla and a desire to reflect on their current and present lives. If my story changes your life views for the better, like it did mine, then the emotional ride is worth it. Your life is precious, it is the only one you have. Embrace, understand and come to terms with your past and your future will open up more horizons so you can move on and complete your life with more inner harmony.







  Manilla today - 2013/2014, (when I wrote this story) is visually much the same and still retains the 'feel' of what it was like in the 1950's-1960's. The main street shops are not as active as during the 1950's-1960's yet the main street has maintained its heritage quiet country feel and still projects the peace and quiet that is important to this environment. I go back each year and find Manilla still peaceful and worth the visit to recapture a life from the past, and understand more about the present.

I hope that this visual historical aspect is maintained in the main street, and the near surrounds, as I feel this is an asset today for Manilla and will be also in the future - retaining their country perspective. Other country centres have modernized their growth - this would have a negative result on the historical and depth of country soul in Manilla.

Manilla has an excellent Museum in the main street and I recommend a visit whilst there.

For me, Manilla will always be my home town.

For a range of other pictures and information click on the Manilla Home page button or here.

              Me, circled - 1962 class photo.
For the names of everyone in the photo please go to story 1.
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