Kallista 1956


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'Nature has no lines', says my father, as we sit in the garden of 'Talisman', the house built by his grand father, the artist Tom Roberts. 'In nature there are only places where tones and colours meet.'

Washing Day [c. mid 1920's], Oil on canvas 29.5x55.2cm signed lr (in black) 'Tom Roberts' V.S.418. Provenance: 1932 National Gallery of Victoria.


This painting (upside down) shows Lillie hanging out the washing in the garden. Noel said he used to watch Tom working in his studio. Tom would stand with his back to a painting and bend down to look at it between his legs. If the picture worked upside down, Tom said, it was finished. It had to work as an abstract arrangement of pictorial elements.

Tom and Lillie planted English trees, shrubs and flowers around the house. Beyond the gates a rain forest still stands, a native wilderness of trees, plants, animals and birds.

Noel builds a TV set with a small green and white cathode ray tube. He makes it with no chassis to make it easy for him to fix, fine tune the picture and sound, and to replace valves. Friends and neighbours come to watch The Olympic Games broadcast from Melbourne.

Noel drives every day to work at AWA in Melbourne. Once a week he brings home a WK (White Knight) or a VC (Violet Crumble bar) as treats.


Someone who worked with my father contacts me in 2006 and writes:

I started with AWA in 1956 as an apprentice and spent several years in the Marine Dept where I met Noel and Arthur Dixon, Arthur was an enthusiastic bird watcher. When Arthur, Noel and I worked on the ships at Williamstown, we would park by the waterfront, watch the water birds and eat our lunches. Arthur retired about 1958. There were also John Clarke, Bruce Ayling, Ted Lovell, Sir Lionel Hooke (who went to Antarctica with Shackleton's expedition) John Fear, Peter Varco (who had a severe stutter) Archie Miles, Neil Hill, who had Austin seven car, Eric Facklamb, Eugene Tiermanus. Colin Wilkinson, (2 way radio) Don Leithead, (Public Address) who was a Ford v8 believer. Clive O'brien, Paul Tattam, Ron Jenkins. The last three were Benardo boys who were sent out from England as orphans after the war. Noel will know these people

Noel and I worked on the wharfs, on tugs, (one tug Noel will remember was the Howard Smith), ships etc also two-way radios and radiotelephones associated with the marine and port authorities. One day Noel and I went to the Yarra docks in response to a call from a bulk coal carrier. They had a damaged echo sounder. The coal grabs had damaged the lead-sheathed cables, which ran from the WheelHouse to between the double hull bottom. We borrowed a huge spanner from the engine room and removed a cover on the upper hull. Next thing we heard was a person shouting at us from three stories up. Apparently this cover should not be removed unless the ship is in dry dock. I can't remember what happened after that except that I threatened the shouter as I thought he was very rude and over the top.

Noel was a big influence on my early life with the training he gave me. I remember going to the docks one day where there had been a fire in the radio room of a coastal trader steamship the Euroa. I said to Noel we might as well throw every thing overboard as it was burnt. Noel said no a coat of paint would fix it. I thought he was joking. He said open it up. It was an ancient AWA K13 spark transmitter still used. There are no people around today who know what a spark transmitter is or was.

Another event I remember was a group of us went to Rosebud or Dromana where a large ship had missed the channel and gone aground on the mud close to shore. We installed a radiotelephone so the crew could talk to their families.

Geoffrey Williams, November 2006


Melbourne hosted the Olympic Games.

September 16 - television began in Australia.

The Federal council for the Advancement of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders was established.

Barry Humphries created Edna Everage.

The Australian Almanac, Pub. Angus & Robertson 1985