Rudi and Liz

“I object to the term Grey Nomad – I’m fitter than most 30 year olds.”

As we waited for the petrol pumps to work at Barkly Homestead, we got talking with Rudi and Liz from South Australia. They had 11 pugs with them and were travelling to dog shows across the country. Liz really disliked the term ‘grey nomads’. Liz had gone back to Uni when she was in her fifties and was the proud holder of a Bachelor of Social Work. Not only that, she told us about a class member who was in her eighties!


“Don’t stress too much about stuff” was Phyllis’ advice for living life to the full.

Phyllis, from England, is a very active and fit 82 year old. Travelling to Australia for a family wedding, we met Phyllis while she was on a break from a cruise ship (where coincidentally, she bumped into The Ageing Revolution friend and erstwhile videographer, Adam W at a Gatsby night –  small world)!

Phyllis also wholeheartedly recommends dancing, especially bootscooting for both exercise and the social, fun aspect.

“I love bootscooting and my teacher is just wonderful, she’d love a mention,” said Phyllis.

Phyllis’ teacher Gaye Teather is quite well known in the bootscooting (or line dancing as it’s also known) world, choreographing dancing and holding classes regularly.

Phyllis is one of the many inspiring people we met when we set up in the Queen St Mall, Brisbane with COTAQ and Brisbane City Council for Queensland Seniors Week 2016.


“Never too old to play with balls.”

We met Lyndsay in Hervey Bay when her friend Marlene introduced us to all the tennis club ladies. Again, style doesn’t suddenly abandon you once you’re over 35! We thought Marlene had style and pizzazz and a cheeky sense of humour. Inspiring ageing humans really are everywhere.


The only true Australian sports are AFL and Stock Drafting…..and maybe Speedway!”

In his late 60s and from country Victoria, John is a keen horseman, a sport he only got into when he was about 45 after he gave away motorbikes. We met John on our way to Townsville.He told us all about stock drafting (something we knew nothing about) and Polo Cross. John was travelling solo in his high top van, with his two dogs Dusty and Bobby



“There were only two options – either join the army or work in a mental home. One of my friends who was a really gentle soul chose the latter and he saw terrible things and ended up taking his own life.”

Jack, 78, hails from Germany. He was a conscientious objector and left Germany to escape mandatory military service. After first travelling to Switzerland, he then came to Australia. When we met Jack, he was on his way,driving with his partner, to Airlie Beach to celebrate his birthday!


mara2A first hand account of migrating from Trieste, Italy to Sydney, Australia on the Lloyd Triestino Ship, Toscano Genova.

It was 1955 (not sure of the month but it was warm judging from the photos) and I was four years old and totally unaware of what was going on, as far as I knew I was going on a holiday with my parents somewhere exciting.

I remember my two grandmothers crying a lot but I was too young to feel sad about that.  I was excited about going on a big ship!!

The ship we sailed on was called la Toscana and it was a far cry from the luxury ships of today.  There was a pool, I remember that, but not very luxurious from what I can recall, the pool was just a big hole in the middle of the ship filled with water.  We set sail from our home town Trieste which has a beautiful harbour.  Nowadays the only ships going there are luxury cruise ships.  Trieste bay is very large and they have a regatta, called la Barcolana there every year in October which started 48 years ago.  Sailing boats and yachts from all over the world come to take part in it, it’s quite a big deal and Trieste Bay looks spectacular dotted with hundreds of sailing boats!

Back to 1955.  We had hardly sailed out of Trieste that I was already admitted to the infirmary.  I had fallen off the top bunk in our cabin, head first, and had suspected concussion, my father came running to find my head all bandaged up.  My mother was crying already.

In the cabin my mother always had a tin of sweetened condensed milk next to the bed and I was allowed to have one or two teaspoons a day, no more.  I always had my eye on that condensed milk.

The main things I recall from the ship was that when the seas were rough, things would roll out from under the cabin doors as there was a small gap and all end up in the corridor or roll into the cabins further down.  I remember going to a big zoo with giant turtles and lots of exotic animals, I believe that would have been the zoo in Columbo in Sri Lanka which was one of our ports of call.  I also remember that we had coconuts in our cabin that would roll out when seas were rough.  However my best and favourite memory was my mother playing a little piano accordion and every one singing and dancing to her music.  I think she was the best entertainment on board the ship, everyone knew and loved her for her music and singing, she was very young and very beautiful and still today one of our friends who is her age tells me that when he saw my mother he thought she was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen.

However my claim to fame, of which I was constantly reminded by my parents and friends Sand then later as an adult when I owned and ran a coffee shop in Leichhardt, by the patrons who came to have coffee and had been on the same ship, was the fact that I had stopped the ship in the middle of the Indian Ocean.

The only recollection I have of this is my mother was in the laundry just around the corner from our cabin doing some washing and I sneaked away and squeezed under the cabin door went on the bed and started eating the sweetened condensed milk.

Apparently what happened as I was told by my parents was that my mother turned around and I was gone and started screaming where is my daughter, my mother was beautiful and talented but not the calmest person in the world and panic was her first port of call in any situation.  For example when I was twelve years old we were in the city of Sydney in the department store then called Farmers, now called Myers.  I had a broken arm in a sling (which I broke roller skating up and down our street in Leichhardt, yes I was a live wire and constantly getting hurt and giving my parents grief).  Anyway I felt something on my neck and said to my mum to have a look and see what was there.  She just screamed and disappeared and I remember screaming too and waving my broken arm around and throwing off my coat attracting a lot of attention from everyone around.  The next thing I knew I looked down and there was a little white mouse on the ground more terrified than I was.  I just remember thinking you poor little thing and picking it up and one of the ladies behind the counter gave me a bag to put it in.  It was muck up day from the universities and one of the students had apparently placed it on my neck.  So another pet to add to my menagerie!  My mother eventually reappeared.

Back to the ship, my mother is screaming and I am missing!  An announcement was made over the ship’s loudspeakers and everyone was asked to look out for me, all the life boats were searched and even the pool was emptied as the water was murky and you could not see the bottom of the pool.  After searching high and low and I was nowhere to be seen the ship was stopped in the middle of the Indian Ocean and as I was told turned around to go back to where it was when it was first discovered that I was missing, I don’t know the details but hopefully not too far back!

My mother was taken to the infirmary and had to be sedated as she was quite hysterical.  My father then proceeded to accompany my mother back to our cabin.  They opened the door and there I was fast asleep on the bed after having consumed the entire tin of the sweetened condensed milk.  I kind of remember getting slapped on the face by my mother and then almost hugged to death, very confusing.  As the gap under the cabin was so small no one had thought of looking inside the cabin as they could not imagine that anyone could fit under there, I was pretty small in stature but not in spirit!!