The Durrant Epistle For 2003

18 December 2003

To all our dear friends and family,

Season Greetings, a Happy New Year and A Most Prosperous 2004.

Where did 2003 go and what does 2004 hold for us all, as we grow more knowledgeable!

2003 like the many years preceding years (50 of them now!!) have been packed full of “stuff” and for us nearly all-good stuff.  Gareth has been in Taiwan for the whole year, Janet left for the UK on 28 July and I was made redundant from ASC that same day.  The second half of the year Kay and I worked together under our own Company with significant time spent in Karratha and some in Leinster.

Despatching Gareth was both emotional and exhilarating.  The opportunity for Gareth to spend a year in Taiwan is superb, however, the house became very quiet after he left and there was a void most difficult to fill.  Thanks to modern communications we have been kept up to date with Gareth’s movements and there has been a constant stream of “Dear Mum, got nun, send some, love son!” the costs just continue.

From Gareth

For my part, I have spent this last year as an exchange student in the Republic of China, Taiwan.

It has been an incredible experience made so much richer by the friends I have made.  But as all good things must come to an end, this adventure is almost over and I am now in the process of counting down the remaining days till I return home.

Being in a country, which is by so many standards, opposite to my original home has had many advantages.  I have learnt a lot.  Firstly, obviously about the country’s culture, language and history.  Subjects, which have led to hours of amusement and fascination.  Also I plan to continue this interest when I pursue Asian studies and Commerce at university next year.

Secondly, I’ve learnt a lot about myself too.  I feel I have the confidence to cope and adapt to new challenges and environments and a maybe grown up a bit.  Thirdly, I think by travelling I have been able to see a different way of life and had the opportunity to compare and contrast my original culture to my host one.  I guess one of the best things to come from that is the realisation, that in culture, there is no real right and wrong, just a difference.

These differences have made this year special.  Whether it be partying with my exchange student friends (An international bunch of nutters), spending time with my dearest home stays (surrogate family to me this year) or with my class mates at the high school, these differences made life more interesting and the experience unforgettable.  I will be back down under in January next year, hope everyone has a great Christmas and new years.  Best wishes to you all!

Back to Peter & Kay

It is hard to keep track of where the year went but it commenced working for ASC, which I must say, was a great experience.  I was with the Company for 16 months and a most tumultuous time it was.  I saw the redundancy coming and less rebellious type could have avoided that outcome.  However, I chose to accept the inevitable and after 10 years away from the submarine fraternity I was amazed at how some things never change.  Issues I had been dealing with before I left the Navy (mostly people issues) but lack of spares and bureaucratic processes are just not fixed.

I was busy working the first six months with ASC and travelling to and from Adelaide regularly.  Kay and I went to Gloucester NSW in January for Swampy’s 50th.  A weekend to remember with a few brain cells lost.

I went to Canberra in June for Liberal Party business.  August up to Karratha and Leinster then I started my “time between appointments” with a fishing trip to Princess Charlotte Bay north of Cooktown in FNQ.  (Far North Queensland)

I flew to Cairns via Sydney and on Sunday 31 August took a flight in a 10 seater Cessna Caravan, with seven other friends, for a one and a half hour flight to Musgrave Station.  The flight was pleasant and the views of the Cape were quite spectacular.

At Musgrave station we had time for a cuppa then we had a four-wheel drive trek on a very average dirt road to the Annie River where the boat, the MV Boomerang, was anchored waiting for us.  Home for the next seven nights.

We sailed down the Annie and into the Kennedy River, both muddy, mangrove-lined waterways and out into Princess Charlotte Bay.  We transited back and forward across the bay to Stanley Island and Stokes Bay.  In Stokes Bay, amongst the Prawning Fleet we procured fresh prawns for the week.

We fished Clack Reef for Nannygai, which is the Scarlet Sea-Perch or better known as Red Emperor and had our best days fishing with over 30, possibly more, big fish.

Each time we transited the Bay, out to the reef and back we set trolling lines for the pelagic fish like the Spanish Mackerel, Tuna, and Sail Fish.

We fished the Marrett River in search of the elusive Barramundi.  We set the crab pots and had evening meals of fresh fish, crayfish mornay piles of fresh prawns and salad.  Absolutely amazing repasts washed down with copious quantities of good wine and beer.

Out in “tinnies” to catch Barramundi, a fine band of fisherpersons and the Barra were quaking in their scales!  Up and down the river, trolling, casting back and forth, we caught, Trevally, Bream, Cod but no bloody Barra.  Only one Barra caught late in the day but not by me.  I caught the biggest fish of the trip a 12.5 kg monster.  Problem being it was inedible.  Apparently a Chinaman and poisonous, but it was still a thrill to bring it in, it fought very well.

The last night on the boat was a Bar-b-q on the upper deck, which turned out to be quite a party.  We finished off all our grog (beautifully estimated) and drew stumps at 02:30 am, much the worse for wear!  One of those spontaneous evenings where everyone has a fabulous time.  It was a magnificent trip, I brought home about 10 kg of fish mostly fillets and a couple whole

September and October saw us both working in Karratha. I timed my exit to coincide with the start of the world cup.

In November Kay and I went to Sydney for a special weekend, my 50th birthday.  Highlights were a long lunch at Doyles on the beach at Watsons Bay and the RWC semi final watching Australia beat NZ and Sunday catching up with Kay’s family, a most memorable birthday.

The year has also been productive from a Rotary perspective.  We had Cyril from France from July 2002 to July 2003, not always at our home but started and ended with us.  His family also visited us.  This Rotary year I am the International Director for our Club.  Next year 2004/05 I have taken on a District role as an Assistant Governor and that commitment to Rotary is significant.  We have another Rotary exchange student, Angelika, join us from South Africa in January.

My interest for politics continues I remain President of the Mt Claremont Branch of the Liberal Party, Chairman of the Policy committee and a member of the Campaign committee for the WA Division.  I have representation on State Executive and State Council.  Our challenge is to return the Libs to Government in WA next year, which will be the first State to have any chance of doing so.  With a Federal election coming up next year also our resources will be tested but it will be a most interesting time no doubt.

Kay commenced 2003 with regular Contract work with Stocklands, a Property developer.  She was able to name her times of work and enjoyed the experience.  Going into the second half of the year Kay had work with the Liberal Party and Topic Caterers along with additional work from Stocklands.

From Janet,

Well this year started off me working full time after deferring uni.  I was working as a full time nanny, which I really enjoyed.  So after inheriting the travel bug from my parents, just like my brother, I decided to combine the two!  This landed me in Haslemere Surrey UK!  I arrived at the end of July and have enjoyed every second!  I work for a family with two boys aged 8 and 10.  I’ve fallen in love with London and go every week.  Plenty of shopping, sightseeing, meeting people and going out!  I plan to travel Europe before I go home possibly December 2004!  Hope this letter finds you all well have a fabulous Christmas and an even better new year!  Cheers Janet xoxo

Back to Peter and Kay

We have adopted Kings Park as our garden; we regularly wander there and to the Botanical Garden.  During the year we experienced a concert with West Australian Youth Orchestra and George at dusk.  Just absolutely amazing.  Another time we gathered to See Rocky Horror for the umpteenth time at the Sunset Cinemas.  Almost 1980 revisited, the cult was out in force with Magentas and Rocky’s everywhere.  Beside the entertainment, the park is just as great place to walk or ride and being just across the road we make use of it.  I know Peter is looking forward to (beside a beer with his son) a walk in the park with Gareth to chat with him about his Taiwanese adventures.  Many a Durrant decision has been made along the pathways in Kings Park.

With no family at home and having just visited my relatives on the east coast, we have decided to spend Xmas in Darwin to see Peter’s aunty Val and a gathering of the cousins.  Val is not well so the family are all in Darwin.  For me it’s my first visit, so besides a few touristy things I plan to just relax beside the pool with a Gin and Tonic or two.

On the home front, after renovating the kitchen in February we finally repainted it at the end of September.  With 11 foot ceilings, I had to hire scaffolding, so we planned it for a weekend that Sue and Ted would be able to help us.  As it turned out, Peter flew to Karratha and so we were left to do it with only 3 workers.  Thank goodness for Ted and Sue.  I think sometimes he planned it that way.  There are still things that we have to do to the house, but we’ll slowly move towards that next year and not inform Peter until the day.

My sister’s youngest daughter left for London in December, Janet has met up with Amanda a few times and they intend having Xmas and New Year together.  A newly qualified secondary teacher, she will be staying in the UK until August 2004.  I’m trying to convince her mum to come to UK with me, but with Jewel’s first grandchild due in March; I think it will be hard for her to drag herself away.  Cliff and Ada are also looking forward to their first great grandchild.

At one stage this year I was in Karratha housed in my room away from 43 degrees heat, watching Dockers and Collingwood play at the Oval in London.  Peter was at Subiaco Oval ‘being rained on, watching South Africa play in World Cup, Janet was at the game in London in brilliant sunshine and Gareth messaged us all from Tenimien Square Beijing, China.  How diverse, all so far apart but in communication with a touch of a button or rather several.

With a year that saw our off spring ‘fly the coop”, Peter celebrate the big 50, Australia lose the World Rugby Cup, we have still managed to keep smiling.  Our life is never dull and we look forward to another year of exciting times with Gareth back home and our new rotary exchange daughter, Angelika.

Where ever you maybe whether east or west of the Nullarbor northern or southern hemisphere we wish you a very merry Xmas and a happy new year.

Don’t forget the invitation is always open for visitors. Love to have you stay.

Kay Peter Janet & Gareth

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