Apart in Perth

5 August to 8 August 2002

While we were in Perth, I spent a few days apart from Susie and the girls for the first time in over three months. While they took some time to look around Perth, I attended a workshop at Curtin University that had been organised by a former colleague at the University of Sydney, Professor Gavin Mooney.

On the first day I took the car and located Gavin’s office, and negotiated the use of a computer and a printer.  I used what time was available to write a 20 minute presentation.

On Tuesday afternoon, Gavin hosted a round table discussion about culture, ethics and the law in Aboriginal health. He had invited a number of people including a delegation from South Africa, several Aboriginal Health Workers, and a colleague called Shane Houston who a decade later would be appointed a Deputy Vice Chancellor at the university where I work. I presented my paper on Tuesday, and that evening attended a dinner for all the delegates hosted by the Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences, whom I had seen remonstrating with the crowd at the opening of BEAP a few days earlier.

Gavin hosted a discussion that ran all day Wednesday. On Thursday there was an additional meeting on the Truth and Reconciliation Process in South Africa.  The South African contingent was led by an academic called Lucy Gilson. One of her colleagues gave a moving summary of his life under Apartheid, and how the Truth and Reconciliation Commission came about.

In the short time I had to talk to him alone, Gavin suggested we might work together some time in the near future.  This took me by surprise, as he had been quite dismissive some years earlier when I approached him as a potential supervisor for my PhD. We parted on cordial terms, but my memory of that workshop is now tinged with sorrow: just over 10 years later, Gavin and his new partner were brutally murdered in Tasmania.

On Monday, Susie and the girls focussed on schoolwork, but they also did some shopping and went to the post office.  On Tuesday, they went to see a movie called Bend it Like Beckham in Leederville.  They also went for a walk and had a picnic in Kings Park, near the apartment where we were staying.

Ruby walking in Kings Park, Perth W.A.
Ruby in Perth W.A.

On Wednesday they went for a bike ride along the Swan River. They returned to the apartment for lunch, and then went to the museum in the afternoon.

Ruby and Clare cycling in Perth, W.A.
Ruby and Clare cycling in Perth, W.A.

On Thursday they went to Scitech, the Museum of Science and Technology, and then came out to Curtin University to collect me at 3.30 p.m.  We then dropped Susie in the city to check for mail at the GPO.

On our last day in Perth, Susie went shopping in the morning whilst I took on the task of trying to get the trailer inspected so that we could get it registered.  It took me six phone calls to even find out where to go to obtain a certificate of inspection, and when I finally turned up at the right place, I still had to wait around for ages and deal with surly counter-jumpers.  Finally, I got the piece of paper I needed, after handing over an immodest fee, and sent it back to Susan Feez who was minding our house in Sydney.

For our last dinner in Perth, Susie cooked some nice John Dory fillets, which we ate with potato and beans.  After that we packed up … and packed up some more.

When we pulled out of Perth on Saturday morning, it started raining as soon as we got in the car.  We stopped in Subiaco on the way out, where Susie bought a second hand mobile phone.  Then we set out along the Great Eastern Highway, on the long road that would eventually lead us back home to Sydney.


Perth from King's Park
View of Perth from Kings Park




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