Nostalgic Moments : Days of Yore A Blast from the Past
Jindabyne - A visit to a town that once was
A coach full of seniors pulls up to the side of a lake
Welcome to Nostgalgic Moments - Days of Yore A Blast from the Past.
The tourist coach pulled up on the edge of the deep, man-made lake. The passengers got out. All were ‘seniors,’ many a good deal older than me. Everyone made their way down to the waters edge to board a large catamaran which was nosed into the bank. We shuffled aboard using a gang-plank, some limping, one pushed in a wheelchair. Moments later, twin 125 Hp motors roaring, the cat backed out into deep water. By then we all sitting at tables in the main cabin, looking out the windows at the rock and tree-studded hills.
That was when I saw the photograph. It was lying on the table in front of me, a large colour print, an aerial photo of a little snowy mountains town. In an instant I was back in time, back in the day’s of yore. It had been forty years since I’d visited the town in the photograph.
My memory carries me back to September 1962
In my mind I was slip-sliding in my ‘58 VW Beetle on a soft, wet, mud road that had snaked up from Australia’s East coast way back in 1962. As I recall, it was raining. My mate, Mac, and me, young and in our prime at twenty-six years of age had decided to take a holiday in the mountains. We’d left Sydney early, driven way down to Bega before turning up through Nimitabel into the High Country.
It’d been almost dark when we’d pulled up at an old country pub. Sorry, no vacancies! No, they were full up. But if we didn’t mind sleeping out on the built-in veranda out back, they reckoned they could find enough blankets for us to kip down.
Boot camp at Flinders Naval Deport, Winter of 1954
Nostalgic Moments - Days of Yore :American President JFK was addressing America with the world listening in
After we repaired to the bar we realised we really were in mountain country. Rugged old men wearing well-worn Akubra Hats and Driza-bone coats lined the bar. But no one was talking. These mountain men greeted us with a slight nod of the head and went on listening to the radio broadcast. American President John F. Kennedy was addressing the nation -and the world- informing everyone that if Chairman Nikita Kruchev did not pull his missiles out of Cuba a state of war would be declared on the Soviet Union.
My mate, Mac, ordered a couple of beers and said quietly to me. “We’ll be back in, Tom. Navy are probably drafting the recall papers right now.” Two years out of the Navy and still on the Reserve List, I could only concur. But in that hotel bar in Jindabyne it all seemed academic.
The skiing season was over but there was plenty of snow about
The following day we drove up above the snow line. It was September and the skiing season- what there was of it in 1962- was over- despite the deep snow. We didn’t sight a soul. Abandoning the VW a mile or so above the snow line we trudged across frozen streams and up, up, until we came to the stone marker on the roof of Australia. Occasionally there were flurries of snow. At times the cloud came down giving us completely white-out conditions. But we made it up and back okay.
Forty years...forty years...it seemed like yesterday
And here I was forty years later, floating out over a man-made lake with the old Jindabyne hotel ninety-feet below our keel. Yes, the Snowy Mountains Authority has buried that old pub beneath millions of tons of icy water. Rainbow trout now swim where Mac and I had drank cold beer and listened to JFK. Forty years. It seems like yesterday. Oh, what days ...those ... nostalgic moments...those days of yore. They certainly were a blast from the past.
The old town of Jindabyne is now underwater, just offshore of the new town
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