I was a neighbour to the O’Keefe family just after the authorities failed to remove them from Australian soil. The widow of an Ambonese (Indonesian) serviceman (he had died fighting the Japanese), with eight children, subsequently married an Aussie and produced a ninth. They were charming, attractive and nice people.
Mrs. O’Keefe used to do the Charleston (a dance the oldies will remember) with style. The family all spoke excellent English too (except the baby, he was too little). While the authorities wanted this family out of the country, there were swarthy Sicilians and Anglo-Indians, as dark as the O’Keefe children, coming into the country, whose standard of English was either negligible or not as good as that of the O’Keefes’.
The bloody-minded politicians (to whose tune were they dancing?) also tried to remove other worthy people (including ex-servicemen) in the country, because of their colour. They also happened to be Asian; some were Christian. Were coloured people that frightening?
It was at this time that the poor Aussie was vainly attempting to bring his Japanese wife into the country. It was also the time that my wife’s family successfully lobbied for ministerial authority for my entry as a permanent resident. Obviously, the Aussie ex-serviceman had not sought help at the highest level, where justice and a lot of common sense could be found.
The journey south passed quickly due to our dialogue about politics, sex, and war. The boat called into a number of small ports, and an indication of life in the coastal townships was the way in which passengers rushed into the hotel, often the only one, and placed a bet on the horses. It seemed to be a matter of some urgency at each port.
On one occasion, a smartly dressed lady walked the mile between the boat and the township (it was a high tidal area with the ship berthing way out). She rushed into the pub and shouted out her bet to the barman. A large man standing at the bar near the barman, turned away delicately to read the wallpaper patterns until she had left with her drink and the ticket for her bet. We found, to our amusement, that this sensitive chap was a part-owner of the bookie business, which was illegal. He was also the local policeman.
At another township, at ten o’clock in the evening the pub closed and we were standing on the veranda with bottles of beer to take back to our cabins. The young local cop, displaying his Irish accent, told us most rudely to get off the premises immediately or he would lock us all up.
We could barely fit into the jeep belonging to a resident, while the cop frantically rushed around, frothing at the mouth, waving his truncheon, again threatening to lock us up because some of us had our bums sticking out the back and sides of the vehicle. The poor local Aboriginals must have had a hard time with this professional thug, who seemed to be itching to get stuck into us.
In fact, it was noteworthy that there were no Aborigines (of any shade of black or brown) in the pubs in these coastal ports. The only ones visible were clearly either stockmen or prostitutes, judging by their clothes and stances. There were a few European migrants, judging by their accents. These seemed to be prospectors, en route somewhere. They seemed to be acceptable to the locals – due, I suspect, to their confident demeanour.
… … Arriving at Fremantle, less than a year after I had departed, I took the train to Melbourne, traveling for days across the desert from west to east. There was a strange beauty about the desert. And it was ever so peaceful.
When the train stopped at Port Augusta, another passenger and I saw a crate marked WHY-ALLA (the name of a township) with a space for the upright of the crate splitting the name. We wondered how the authorities reacted when, next day, they would have read below that in white chalk (I do not know where we found the chalk), TRY-BUDDA (we did not have space for the ‘H’ in Buddha).
(These extracts from ‘Destiny Will Out’ confirm the accuracy of the advice given by a yogi to my mother that I would go south from Malaya to study, and that I would be overseas a lot. It was only after my retirement that the spirit world showed its role in my tribulations.
My exposure to life in Australia in all its aspects, including being a tram conductor and a factory hand, and drinking lots of good quality beer with fellow workers, as well as the personal tragedy arising from academic failure, prepared me for a life of hardship in white Australia but which allowed me to find myself through personal freedom. It was my father, who had planted the thought of freedom as paramount in one’s life, who guided me in my search for intellectual and spiritual freedom.
The Immigration Minister who attempted to deport the O’Keefe family had claimed that he was only upholding the law. Yet, he is on the record to have said the following: ‘Two Wongs do not make a white’; and ‘Australians would not want to see a chocolate Australia in the Eighties’ – or words to that effect.)