On this day back in 1985 I was packing and preparing to explore Australia, after spending two months working as a nanny in Sydney.
My first job had been in Enfield, one of the western suburbs. I looked after two year old Gemma while her parents were at work, as they interviewed for a new permanent nanny.The dad was a freelance photographer, originally from the UK. The mum worked in advertising in the city. They were both very relaxed. I had a nice big room in their old style house that was partly renovated. This job made a change from my sole charge roles in NZ. Here I had company in the evenings if I wanted and was only responsible for Gemma during the day. It was interested talking to the parents and getting their view on employing a live in nanny.
I had weekends off to do more sightseeing. I learned more of the history of Sydney with a visit to the Hyde Park Barracks, built to house six hundred convicts, now a museum. Rooms were set out with hammocks, clothing, rations of how the first convicts lived. There were exhibitions on transportation and early Sydney.
The family invited me on a day trip to the Blue Mountains, stopping at Leura and Katoomba for stunning views across the valleys and landscape beyond the mountains.
Gemma was an easy, cute little girl and the weeks passed quickly on this job. I was caught in the middle of trying to potty train though. I didn’t have use of a car either. Even so, it was the best job I had with the parents around.
The next jobs was three weeks looking after two children, Georgia aged three years and Christopher aged fifteen months. I was granny sitting on this job too. The Grandma was eighty years old, quite spritely, born in Estonia.
The house was lovely, in Centennial Park. All open plan, bar area, billiard table, swimming pool, steam sauna and gym, two Mercedes in the garage that I had keys to. The parents were travelling in Europe and going on The Orient Express.
I drove the Mercedes 450 SEL. It was a big car but I soon got used to it and enjoyed driving it, sometimes going the long way round rather than just to shops and school gates.
We walked in the park most days, fed the ducks. Sometimes it was difficult with the Grandma, with the kids playing the adults off against each other. The grandparents had come to Australia as refugees after the Second World War. The only real drama during that job was during a couple of days of torrential rain, worrying if the swimming pool would overflow.
I had a few days between jobs and was able to stay with friends of friends again. I did more sightseeing in the city and took a tour of the Opera House, learning about the building and concert hall and theatre inside. I enjoyed days at the beach and relaxed, appreciating my own company.
I did a day trip to Palm Beach, commenting about the beaches we drove through, Deewhy, Collaroy, Narrabeen. All places that were local neighbourhood to Aussie Mate at the time, and now the area where our daughter lives. I also mentioned Newport, where we stayed on our Silver wedding anniversary two years ago. Small world.
Palm Beach is beautiful, sitting at the end of a long peninsular, with ocean on one side and inland waterway, Pittwater on the other. It is the location of “Summer Bay” in the tv show “Home and Away” but that didn’t start until later in the 1980’s.
My final nanny job was with two children in Lavender Bay. Dannielle was four and Garrard eight months old. The parents went to Japan for a week and again I had grandparents nearby. They were a Jewish family so I learnt a bit about their culture and food. We had a fun day at Taronga Zoo as they were season ticket holders.
My nanny jobs in Sydney were as varied as those in NZ and a good way to earn money to cover my travels. It certainly made a change from working in a bank