Living in Melbourne – The Early Years
From April 1980 onwards I was working on the farm with Stan. It was a time of great adjustment for both us, being without both Mum and Dad and we weren’t always easy on each other. We argued a fair bit and certainly didn’t see eye to eye about many things. Since I had come back to work on the farm, Stan started to develop great hopes for me to go to Agricultural College, then continue on working on the farm forever and to marry and to continue the family name. But he was to be disappointed. Towards the end of the year, I soon realised that the farm was not for me and, much to Stan’s chagrin, I announced that I would be moving to Melbourne in 1981 to study. I made an application to re-do my Higher School Certificate at Blackburn High School – a Dept of Education designated music school and arranged to stay with my Aunt in Mulgrave a suburb in outer Melbourne.
January 1981 I borrowed the family truck and took my piano on the back of it to the bungalow that I would be living in at the back of my aunt’s house. This piano had been in my possession since Stan had bought it for me when I was 4 years old in 1965. It had seen many years of hard labour with me beating on it, had been lifted by crane through the balcony into the first-floor flat that I had shared with my sister in Ballarat in 1979, lifted out again and returned to Glenthompson and now was making another trip, this time to live in Melbourne.
My year at Blackburn High School was pleasant enough and I made good friendships with a few people, notably a boy called Warren. Warren vas very interested in biology and plants and many a time we spent at his place discussing all sort of things to do with biology and other sciences. His family were very kind to me and put up with me hanging around their home regularly. Warren’s mother frequently invited me to dinner and even took me on family outings with them. I guess I was rather lost and always craved a family atmosphere.
The following year 1982 I gained a place at the Conservatorium of Music at the University of Melbourne. I started there as a piano major and lasted 6 months. I hated it and found the whole concept of studying and trying to earn enough to live completely distasteful. And thus began a lifetime of wanting to study but never being able to stick at it. For many years, I wondered what was wrong with me, but couldn’t put my finger on it. I thought that maybe I simply didn’t have the aptitude, maybe I was lazy. This habit of starting things and never finishing them has almost become a signature of mine and it has been the bane of my life. It was to be 20 years before I found out the reason.
I left the Conservatorium and started working for a small independent record label – Move Records in Eaglemont. The owner, Martin Wright, who is as dedicated to promoting Australian Music today as he was when he started the business, is a kindly, amiable and very intelligent person who has built up an enviable reputation for his devotion to local Australian composers and performers. He operates the business out of his home and I worked at first part time, then full time for him from 1982 to 1985. In that time, I worked as office boy, accounts clerk and assistant recording engineer and even made cameo appearances on some recordings. These days, Martin has turned his garage space into an excellent high quality recording studio with a wonderful Yamaha concert grand piano.