Location: New South Wales, Australia
Date: 1979-1983 Part 2
Posted December 2010
While working at 2UE, I was recommended to Channel 9 as a copywriter
by 2UE's drive-time announcer Grant Goldman. He was also "the voice" of
Channel 9 and did all the voice-over promos during ad breaks. I got the
part-time job of writing the promos, which I did each day during my 2UE
lunch hour. Hour? Okay, maybe 90 minutes. It was easy work and paid more
than my salary at 2UE, so I was making $650 a week plus a few extra bucks
for my freelance copywriting for advertising agencies. AND, I also got
a couple of mid-dawn shifts each week on 2UE, so I was doing pretty well
in the bikkies department. That meant new car time!
That's a web pic. Mine was a gray '73 VJ Valiant with dark blue upholstery.
I'd already had 3 Valiants so why not buy a fourth? I figured I was destined
to own Valiants whether I wanted them or not. I spotted it at a used car
lot on Broadway in Sydney. It had been raining so the gray duco looked
pretty good. I parked my old Valiant, checked out the VJ then entered the
sales office. The salesman was reading a newspaper. "Excuse me, I'd like
to buy that gray Valiant." He jumped up, led me to the car, started opening
doors and bonnets and boots and pointing at things when I said, "Don't
worry about all that. I'll TAKE it!" He couldn't believe his luck. It was
a Sunday morning and he and I were the only two people within cooee.
I really liked that car. Sometimes I'd sit on my veranda admiring it
parked in the street while my dog Kelly investigated various smells around
It was about that time I started to take more than a casual interest
in photography. These are a couple of pics I took of buskers at Circular
Quay in Sydney, not far from the Opera House. The old blokes would have
graduated to harps by now, and the kids would be in their mid to late 40s.
I can remember thinking they must have thought I was a scrooge because
I didn't give them a tip. Hehe.
This is pre-Darling Harbor. The old disused railway goods yard was
being cleared to make way for the new harborside development, which gave
me a clear shot from the Pyrmont Bridge side to the bottom of King Street
(or was it Market Street?).
Top: The new flyover from Pyrmont to the Sydney Harbor Bridge during
construction. Bottom: Another perspective of the flyover that shows the
old railway lines of the goods yard.
Top: Pyrmont Bridge closed to traffic and about to undergo renovation
to become a pedestrian thoroughfare. Center: Pyrmont Bridge with the city
skyline in the background. Bottom: Another view of the flyover heading
toward the Harbor Bridge.
This is Darling Harbor in 2003, taken from more or less where I was
standing back in the early '80s, with the renovated Pyrmont Bridge on the
far left. Note how dramatically the city skyline had changed, especially
near the foreshore.
An aerial shot of Darling Harbor (center/right). Quite a change from
when I was there in the early '80s. And to think my little house in Glebe
was within walking distance to all that. Cest la vie.
A thank you letter from John Laws. He was another bloke who insisted
on giving me two r's. Incidentally, C.B.E stands for Commander of the Order
of the British Empire. He was awarded the C.B.E in the Queen's Honors List
one year for tearing my advertising copy to shreds on air.
Anyway, one day in '83 I got a call from Barry Augustus, the bloke who
hired me at 2GB. He was station manager of 4BH now in Brisbane, and he
arranged to meet me for breakfast at the Hilton in Sydney. Breakfast? 7am?
How uncivilized! But I went anyway and he offered me a job. I was kinda
bored with 2UE so I accepted.
I rented my little House in Glebe to one of the sales guys at 2UE and
headed for Brissie in my... oh... I forgot to mention my latest Valiant!
It was one of the last of the Aussie-built Valiants before Chrysler
sold its South Australian plant to Mitsubishi in 1981. It was a pretty
flash car... silver gray with a gray vinyl top, T-bar auto, light blue
velour upholstery and all the trimmings, powered by a 4.3 liter ELB straight-six
When I arrived in Brissie, I was booked to stay at a city hotel. I remember
driving into town and listening to 4BH on the car radio. "Oh, dear," I
thought. "This sounds awful." I was also surprised by Brisbane. When I
looked out the hotel window I could see mountains and trees. All you can
see in Sydney is buildings, so I thought, "Bloody hell, this is a hick
town!" Next morning I arrived at the station, housed in an old city building,
and Augustus showed me the pokey office I would share with another copywriter.
He had to be kidding, so I told him I was going straight back to Sydney.
He freaked and organized a separate office. That was a problem because
it had just been allocated to the announcers as a staff room. After I'd
settled in, one of the announcers walked in and said, "What are you doing
in here?" I said, "This is my office." He was furious hehe and complained
bitterly to Augustus. But I kept my office.
Pics of the house I rented at Taringa in Brisbane. A lovely old Queenslander
built on a sloping block with rooms underneath at the back, and a huge
backyard frequented by frill-neck lizards my dog Kelly loved to chase.
She never caught one though. She wouldn't have known what to do with it
if she had, so it was just a game. Frill-necks are funny to watch when
they run on their hind legs. The house was gorgeous, with timber ceilings
and ceiling fans... almost a mini version of Raffles.
Looking back, I think my problem with boredom or frustration was due
to my never taking vacations. Instead, I'd go from one job to another hoping
that a change was as good as a holiday. Within 3 months, I was disappointed
with Brisbane as well as 4BH, so I wrote to my former boss at 2UE and asked
for my job back. 4BH offered me $600 a week to stay, which was a considerable
sum back then but I declined. In fact, I told Augustus that I was going
back to 2UE for less money. He was cool, and understood that I hadn't used
my move to 4BH for profit.
My house in Glebe was still rented to the sales guy from 2UE so I moved
into the old mansion above (as seen from the North Sydney Rugby Club parking
area). The owner lived most of the time in a country town and visited 2
Winter Ave only occasionally. She wanted a sort of caretaker. My flat was
the old servants quarters on the left - one bedroom downstairs, with kitchen,
dining, bathroom and living upstairs. I had a key to the main house and
would check it now and then to make sure everything was okay. The house
is perched on a sandstone cliff which overlooks the valley, once a 19th
century sandstone quarry owned by the original proprietor of the house.
The pic of the valley shot through the living room window shows the Sydney
Harbor Bridge. Just to the left of the window was a pair of French doors
that opened onto the veranda with a view that stretched 180 degrees right
across the city and harbor. A pair of possums were regular visitors on
the veranda railing. I fed them bread and jam. Kelly wanted to chase them
but I told her they'd rip her eyes out if she tried.
One time the possums decided to establish their home in the roof cavity
and made a helluva racket at night. So every time I heard them scratching
around I banged the ceiling with a broom handle. They eventually got tired
of the noise and moved out.
But, as I soon discovered, returning to 2UE was a big mistake... kinda
like jumping outta the frying pan into the fire. So one of the sales guys
told me that Sydney's new FM station was looking for a copywriter.
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