Kalgoorlie longing finally fulfilled
and Rupert’s mother years later I discovered, had paid for me to go to Geelong.
QOf course that is Rupert Murdoch’s mother Elisabeth, later Dame Elisabeth Murdoch. About five years ago I read somewhere that Rupert Murdoch’s mother was 100. I wrote to her and thanked her for paying for a large part of my education. What happened was she felt her son and her nephews were going to this school but this little boy from England, whose mother was a war widow, didn’t. I wrote a letter to Dame Elisabeth thanking her and I got a handwritten letter back. She said something like “you didn’t tell me what you’ve done the last 60 years” so I wrote back and I said I’d been working for the BBC but not to tell Rupert — he’s not the BBC’s best friend.
AQSo you’ve had these long links to Australia and a long link to Kalgoorlie. You’ve now been here, you’ve even been to your first Kalgoorlie Cup? Yes it was terrific. Thanks for taking me, that was marvellous, it’s everything you read about.
AQYou’ve written many books where you and some colleagues from Cambridge and Oxford University were the first to travel from England right down to the tip of Singapore? People attempted to drive all the way and had even driven from Europe to Calcutta before World War II, it was a long way but no essential difficulties. Nobody had ever gone beyond Calcutta, so when you’re 22 years old you don’t accept the difficulties, you just say “well hell, we’ll give it a go”. We went to the Rover car company and they lent us two early Land Rovers. We had one painted light blue for Cambridge, and one painted dark blue for Oxford. The two were rivals. We succeeded and I wrote a book 60 years ago and it’s still in print. At the time I was more concerned with getting a tyre puncture but I look back and think
A“that was remarkable, I’m rather proud of that”.
You might write a book about Kalgoorlie one day? I’ll certainly incorporate it if I do write a book. The publisher of that first book is keen I write another with the title I suggested, Before It’s Too Late, and I’ll go to four to five places in the world I’ve never been that I want to go to, and four or five places I have been to which I’d like to go back to. When I have the mental stamina to write another one . . . I’m not committing at this stage but if I do, Kalgoorlie will feature. It’s a marvellous place to be because you go to Sydney, great, you go to Melbourne, great, but if you want the real Australia you’ll go to Bourke or Alice Springs or Kalgoorlie, that’s where it’s at. I thank all the people I met in Kalgoorlie, friendly is an underestimate, they positively want to help you. You don’t have to ask them they’ll almost come to you and say “you look a bit lost what’s the problem?”
Tim Slessor at the two-up shed in Kalgoorlie-Boulder.