My Letters from Europe Part 1 – 1958-59

 The Road to Freedom and Adventure

This is an account of my first travel experience beyond Australian shores which began late in 1958 and extended to January 1961.

It is told through my letters back to my family in Australia and has resulted in a veritable book which I have been encouraged to share in my blog, chapter by chapter.

Battered old slides and the occasional postcard have been cleaned up and downloaded to provide visuals to illustrate the collection of the aerograms that I regularly sent back home.

I lost many photos through inexperience and an unreliable camera, and I am indebted to my Aunt Linda in particular for gifting me her photos and postcards before she died to add to my collection.   She had travelled abroad just a few years before me.

As I had never cultivated the habit of keeping a regular diary, my mother had agreed to keep a record of the journey for me by saving my letters.

In transcribing them, I have occasionally interspersed memories, feelings and more factual travel details that help to fill out the story,while staying true to the experience.

The ocean journey began on 17th of September 1958 from Sydney, after travelling up to Sydney from the family home in Wagga Wagga , and lasted for five long weeks.

SS Strathnaver (2)The first chapter, ‘the Strathnaver Journey’, begins with the notes that I jotted down once on board and before the actual letter writing began.

Our route was along the southern coast of Australia and across the Indian Ocean, through the Arabian Gulf, and the Suez Canal, visiting Cairo and the pyramids, crossing the Mediterranean, stopping off at Marseilles in the south of France and finally berthing at London!


Chapter 2, ‘London 58-59’  I finally land in London, after my long sea journey.  I spend some months in London, enjoying tourist haunts, settled in Earls Court and also I also worked a little as a locum pharmacist.


With a group of Italian students and two Swiss girls in front of the Italian UniversityChapter 3, Austria and Italy Spring ’59,  I ski in the Alps of Austria, then move on to Perugia in Italy, quickly learning to love all things Italian, pasta, the Italians and especially their language.


the Old Bridge over the Necker River .Heidelberg

Chapter 4, Germany, Paris. Summer ’59



Swedish countryside

Chapter 5, Scandinavia, Summer ´59



Edinburgh Castle from Princes Street.

Chapter 6, Hitch-hiking through Great Britain, late Summer ´59



An audience sala in the Vatican with Pope John. Uncle George stands 2nd left and I  am further left, peeping up between the lady with fox? fur and man in grey suit!

Chapter 7: Perugia, Italy, Autumn-Winter, ´59-60



The Fine Basilica  and Baptistry of Pisa

Chapter 8: Florence to Paris via Pisa, Genova and Turin, 1960



The rest of the journey continues in Section 2: My Letters from Europe Part II – 1960