Danny got a boat to Australia, taking several weeks to get there. The boat was half passenger, half freight with only 25 passengers. He celebrated his 20th birthday on the ship and they kept giving him whiskey. By the time they made their stop in Perth he was too pied eyed to notice the gang-plank was not yet connected to the pier. As he was walking off the ship, an older lady who had been looking out for him noticed what was going on and tackled him just before he walked off the plank to his probable death with the state he was in. Guess mothers prayers and some guardian angels were keeping him alive!
This ladies husband was a manager at the Australian Wheat Commission and he gave Danny a letter of recommendation to help him get a job there. He was the only one who got work, all of the others standing in line didn’t get a job. Staying in a hotel in a little place called Lake Grace, a town of about 150 people, Dan quickly learned the ropes of what he was supposed to do. One of Danny’s jobs was a weigh-bridge officer, weighing trucks coming in and out. Farmers would be in the truck going in to make it weigh more and then be in the cab on the way out. He had to be attentive to make sure they weren’t cheating. He was only there a couple of days when he ran into a fellow Canadian, Harry Utrim. Not just any Canadian, but one who was a poker-playing buddy or our father! What are the chances of that? A relative of Harry’s lived there and he was visiting at the exact time that Danny was staying at the hotel. He bought dinner and drinks and left the next day. Danny has never seen him since then. Jumping ahead some 50+ years to the present day, a good friend of Danny’s in Thailand used to be the bank manager years ago in that same little town of Lake Grace, Australia, how curious!
After Danny started getting paid he sent money to Mick back in Singapore, but he had already gone home. Seems the money he sent was lost on the other end, but three years later the bank on Fraser Street and Marine Drive in South Vancouver got the money back. $50.00!
Danny stayed in Australia for three months working the whole harvest. He was living in a small trailer by a paved pad where the farmers would dump the wheat in a pile. An auger would pick up the wheat from that pile and load it into rail cars. One night he went into town with two of the farmers, on the way home while crossing the plain they all fell asleep, including the driver! The truck now unmanned started going in a big circle until it ran out of gas. They had to be rescued the next morning!
The people of Australia were hospitable. He was invited to one house for Christmas and another house for New Years. After the New Years party Danny was dropped off at his trailer. The trailer was up on blocks and as soon as he stepped in the door he felt something crawling all over his arms. Scared to death and needing to get out of there in a hurry he turned around quick, but the farmer had already left. So by the light of the moon he started walking the seven miles back to the farmers house. This was scary in itself, who knows what critters were lurking out there on this lonely road in the middle of the night. The only thing he saw was a three-foot lizard that walked across the road in front of him. Turns out he’d left something on the counter in the trailer and the one inch meat ants were swarming all over. He arrived back at the farmers house around 4:00 o’clock in the morning, so he climbed into the front of the farmers truck and went to sleep. Later that morning they returned to the trailer with some diesel fuel and burned the eight inch ant hill that had sprung up in three short days.
Kangaroos propagate like rabbits in Australia and they were quite a nuisance to the farmers by destroying their crops. The farmers would take their pickup trucks out at night, shine their spotlights to blind the kangaroos and shoot them. You could see the bullets flick through the light and Danny got quite good at shooting as well. One little joey the family had kept as a pet had a ribbon tied around its neck. It eventually ran away and later they ended up shooting this once loved pet too. One kangaroo they were chasing jumped clear over an eight foot fence. They have powerful legs!
After the harvest was over Danny was hired by one of the farmers and worked for a couple more weeks with him. The job was to dig up Maley trees, a small bush with a hard root system and load them onto a flat deck trailer. He was now staying in a room that was built on the side of the farmers house and one night Danny spotted a red-back poisonous spider in the wall next to his bed. Every time he tried to kill it, it would slip between the boards, he had to get to sleep so eventually he went to bed knowing that the spider was only a few inches from his head. He woke up in the morning none the worse with the spider still in the same place! The outhouse had to be checked for snakes and spiders every time it was used as well. Snakes were known to even chase people! Driving into town with the farmer’s son one day there was a five foot long brown snake stretched across the road in front of them. The farmer’s son got out of the truck in bare feet and killed the snake with a tire iron. Australia has more poisonous insects and reptiles than any other country in the world. It is a wild country with brave people who have adapted to the life there.