Tuesday 26th October 2021

My Favourite Decade. 8/51. #LifeThisWeek. 18/2019.

My Favourite Decade. 8/51. #LifeThisWeek. 18/2019.

Given my age, and my so-called group status as a “Baby Boomer” it would not be a surprise to read that my favourite decade is the 1960s.

The decade where my childhood faded, and the teen years beckoned then ended with my teaching career started.

All from ages 12 to 20.

Why oh why was it the best?

I wish I had an image for each of what I remember as highlights but instead, it’s a list and there are a few back up pics.


Into a new to us Primary School that was much bigger than the one we went to in Wollongong and I had many more people to get to know and achievements to make. The best part of 1960 was having Mr Duffy as my Yr 5 teacher and knowing that I too wanted to be a teacher.


Year 6. There were two classes and there was quite a bit of competition to do well and whilst I was not as academically gifted as many I liked the ‘leadership’ aspect of Year 6 and our relative independence. We were allowed to leave the school grounds and walk to the local shops for lunch when we had money for that. I remember hot chips and a malted vanilla milk in a carton.

It was the end of year camp that was not so wonderful as my first period decided to arrive during the 10 day camp on Lake Macquarie. Never mind, no swimming, but you can write and edit the Camp Magazine. It was fun. And it was printed on a metholated spirit printer. Remember them? They were still around when I began teaching.

The BIG deal too that year was the Year 6 Farewell Dance. Oh My! Hair done, new dress selected, stockings to wear (a garter belt held up the stockings, a bra fitted, with due embarrassment, at David Jones’ city store and my first tiny heel on a shoe. Wow.


To High School. We were the cohort of the first 6 years at High School in N.S.W. for the ‘new’ Higher School Certificate as planned by the education review called the Wyndham Scheme. We were indeed guinea pigs but off to the almost brand new single sex public school Manly Girls High, I went. I was put in the top class and there were a total of 7 or 8 classes per year. Getting to know new friends and to go to sport at a local swimming pool and to work with a timetable and catching a bus to school was all part of this time.


My social life was more fun than school but still I persisted. I would have preferred French and Art as my 2 picks for subjects added to the compulsory four but my dad insisted on French and German for the matriculation purposes in Year 12. But even though it was not as clear as that I complied. I was still part of Girl Guides but not devoted at all and went on a pretty wet camp south of Wollongong. I left Guides once I could. I also began teaching Sunday School. I like little kids and the idea of teaching. I was not as enamoured with the church side of it.


More independence and I began regular paid evening baby sitting gigs which I continued with the same family till I left for my first teaching appointment. I also began doing some school holiday office duties at Dad’s work. I sure was not interested in helping Mum much. I did a typing course at night in Manly where it was safe for me to catch a bus home in the evening. I went to an after school Ballroom Dancing class each week (i.e. meeting boys class) and my first boyfriend was from the local boys’ school. Ah Col. We had some good times and I got my first friendship ring the next year.

I went to see the Beatles in June with my friend and my brother. It was amazing to actually see, not so much hear, the Beatles.

I began collecting records. Dad was keen on all music and I could play my 45s (the small ones) and my 33s (the big ones) on the family stereo.

I got my first transistor radio and was glued to the evening shows with Mike Walsh and won prizes as I was quick on the phone. Yes I “was” doing homework but could multi-task!


A big year. Well, that was how it was made out and in terms of the new 6 years of school it was. We had to sit an external examination  called The School Certificate. In completing the School Certificate, the plan was that unless you wanted to go to University, Teachers’ College, enter Nursing or Secretarial College,  then you left school at the end of Year 10 to do an apprenticeship or go to a job. About 2/3 of the whole Year 10 would have left. It was a big shock doing our first external examination to find that the “one” compulsory component – poetry – of the English paper was not one I had prepared for nor knew much about it. Neverthless I passed all of my subjects, and we celebrated with parties at people’s places.

It was the year Sound of Music was released and more movies that genre were about: Doctor Zhivago, My Fair Lady, and so on. When we went to the movies, there was always a double feature with the main movie starting second after interval. I had a new boyfriend by the beginning of the next year, and we met via the social group at Manly Presbyterian Church.


Again social life precedes school life but the existed side-by-side thanks to joining forces with the local boys’ high schools to appear in a Gilbert and Sullivan Show, and to attend dances. Of course. Greater independence as some of the boys now had cars was for me to be ‘dropped’ by Mum or Dad into Manly on a Sunday afternoon and attend the social/church event and afterwards to go to a local coffee shop. Very trendy.

I continued to do some holiday work for Dad, and to babysit but social life aka love life beckoned more. It was during Year 11 that we of the first to do the HSC got to select and wear a senior uniform and to have some freedom with some teaching time off for ‘study.’ I was active in the School Magazine and social events but came down with a crash when my Year 11 results were not exactly stunning.

I moved on….to


Ah, a big year and one in which the boyfriend and I split (bye Rob) and hello Stu. Met through the same place. Good old Manly Presbyterian Church Fellowship. This one was already at Uni! He had completed the last of the Leaving Certificate (like my never yet met husband) and was doing Ag Science at Sydney Uni. He had a car. He lived at home with the friendly younger brother and his mum. My younger brother got to meet his, and with their neighbourhood friends, THESE blokes are still mates! Me, broken up with the bf in 1970 …another story for another time. Oh yes, here it is here.

This year was when I got my licence: P’s, could borrow Mum’s car, had more social engagements inclyuding Uni balls, and then realised I needed to put my head down to actually study in the lead up to the H.S.C. It worked, and in saying that it was a slight disappointment that I did not get a NSW Dept of Education scholarship in the first round of offers, but early in 1968.

Meanwhile from end of H.S.C. in November my father had secured a job interview for me (thanks Dad, not!) and in early December 1967 instead of holidaying like my friends, I began as a filing clerk in the human resources section of the A.B.C. in Elizabeth St. If I was happy about one part of this, I was now 18 and could meet up with bf and his mates after work and we could go to the new Wentworth Hotel, the Menzies or even the one where the Hilton is now and have a drink. I did not drink much at all but it was nice to go to those places.

1968 – 1969.

Yes, you are off the Balmain Teachers’ College: sign here to ensure your ‘bond’ of employment for 3 years after graduation and we will send you anywhere in N.S.W. as you will be a permanent teacher. And stayed that way until 2003.

I signed, our neighbour was the guarantor as was the case back then, they paid me $22 a fortnight to become a highly trained and eminently qualified teacher. It was a rigorous course: 5 days a week, every single day taken up with learning how to teach and what to teach kids aged from 5-12. Whilst I specialised in Infants teaching I qualified as a K-6 teacher. I LOVED it all. We had Wednesdays for optional activities and another arvo for sport – we had to learn what we would teach. All set in the now very posh (but not then) suburb of Balmain where the smells of making soaps at the local Colgate factory as well as the plumes from the coal-fired electricity plants at White Bay.

My social life continued with many activities based around our mutual friends’ birthdays. 21st parties were huge. As were Sydney Uni and NSW Uni Balls. I think I went to at least 4 in a year. New dress, please Mum! And I was lucky. Mum kept me looking good by being my accesory and ally in clothes shopping and hair dressing appointments.

School was even more part of my life. We did 2 pracs each year, a prac of our choice at the beginning of the second year after Christmas holidays and we also attended the North Sydney Dem School to watch selected experienced teachers and learn from them. I did well at Prac. I loved it. I had wanted to do this for a very long time and now I was.

I got to do pracs at my old primary school: Balgowlah Hts – Yr 3 and Yr 2, Mona Vale P.S. – Kinder, Neutral Bay Yr 1 and North Sydney Dem Year 2 (I was given this prac as my teaching and preparation was excellent and the Dem school was a prized place.

Graduation was formal. My parents and boyfriend attended. He had finished his Bachelor of Ag Science and was looking for work in North-western NSW. He landed a job at Tamworth. In the school holidays at the end of 1969 into 1970, my preferred teaching place came for me. I accepted: a North-western NSW country town called Barraba: about 45 minutes from Tamworth. To find out what happened next: go here. I have already written about it!

That is why 1960s was/is my favourite decade!

What is yours?


I join in these two other Monday Link Ups from Australian Bloggers.

Alicia is at One Mother Hen here for Open Slather and Kell is here at All Mum Said for Mummy Mondays. Go over and link up there too!

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Next week’s optional prompt is: 9/51. Taking Stock. 4/3/19.
Inlinkz Link Party




  1. I am in awe of your specific memory down to years! Do you have a diary or a really great memory??? Clearly I don’t. I also have to ask if the $11 a week to attend Teachers College was enough to live out of home? How did people do it if they didn’t live nearby to one? $11? Even in those days that can’t have been a lot of money (or was it?). Mum and Dad’s huge house on big land was $30K so maybe it was…(they had fixed interest so paid it off over 30 years because they got more interest from the bank than the repayments in the end. Ha!)

    • I do have a good memory. Often for trivial things. But as a teacher I guess I remember all my years as an adult where I was teaching at the time.

      I kept a diary and a memory book and some years ago got rid of a lot but kept a few things. They are in a big white A4 folder and it’s there I access some of my photos.

      The teacher’s college scholarship for me was someone living at home. I had no expenses from my parents as I was studying. I also had school holiday jobs. We would get the CHEQUE given to us each fortnight at Balmain TC (a Thursday) and then most days, I had caught the bus from the city (Dad worked in the city so I would catch a lift with him to and from home) to Farmers. That is the store that was replaced by Grace Bros on corner of George St, and then became Myer. Farmers, would cash our Dept of Ed cheques and the cash was awesome.

      My husband lived at Armidale (away from home) when he did his training. He got less because the Dept of Ed paid for living and some meals in term time when at college.

      It sounds so little now but truly, in “those days” it was good. My salary in my first year (1970)as a teacher was $90 a fortnight. I lived in the country and paid some rent and food expenses in the share house where I lived with 3 other teachers.

      I could tell you more about the small size of our mortgage in 1993 when we decided to go bigger and so called better but that would make me sad..we lost just about all of it.

      Denyse x

  2. So many happy memories of the 60s, Denyse. And so many trailblazing moments. When I was in primary school, I remember the worksheets smelling like vegemite and cheese, the ink was purple. Much more exciting than the smell of photocopies…

    SSG xxx

    • Thanks so much. Yes, it was fun re-living these. I saw my Dad today and told him I thought the 1960s were the best decade and he tended to agree.As a business man he saw the not so good decades of the 1970s and into the 80s before he took early retirment.

      Your son will never experience ‘smelling the stencil” sigh!

      Denytse x

  3. You have terrific memories of the 60s, Denyse. It must be quite a thrill for you to see the Beatles live. Thanks for sharing your story and photos.

    • It sure was a thrill to see the Beatles and in 2014 my brother and I went to the 50th celebration of their Australian tour at the Powerhouse Museum and we both found it fascinating to read their contracts and saw so many more photos. It was a good time to be a teen!

      Denyse x

  4. I was smiling while I read this Denyse – so many similarities to my my high school days and beyond (even the boys from youth group!) Mine runs almost parallel except it would be the 70’s rather than the 60’s – simpler and more innocent times and no social media to be embarrassed by or to live up to!

    • I am glad I put a smile on your dial because I know today was a possibly a challenge for you.

      I think the level of innocence was lovely as was the lack of social media too.

      Denyse x

  5. What a lovely round-up. You’ve had so many experiences. I am not surprised you ended up a principal!
    My favourite decade so far has to be my entire 30’s. It’s the decade of having very young children. I also had no cancer and I was just younger! They were sweet years. I am still having fun with my bigger babies now. No more prams, babies and little kiddy things to endure in my 40’s. Quite relieved after six kids!

    • Thanks so much Jody. I think your personal decade that you call a favourite sounds so lovely. How wonderful enjoying so much about being a mum to young ones. Not everyone does but your love shines!

      That nasty C word arriving was totally wrong. Bugger that!

      I love how much you can and do embrace the life you are in. You are one great role model of living life as is.

      Denyse x

  6. My school years were my least favourite years. Ever since then though I love the year I’m in – except for 2016…I didn’t love that. I’m a pop music tragic so love the music from the 70s and 80s…although also some from the 90s and the noughties…who am I kidding? There’s something to love from every decade.

    • That is sad about school. Maybe it was for me that school gave me a great social life most of the time so it was fun. I am not a swot by any means although I did try MUCH harder in Year 12.

      As for 2016, sorry for that memory.

      Music is such a great connector to times in our lives for sure.

      Denyse x

  7. Hi Denyse what a great walk down memory lane. I remember watching the Beatles when they arrived in Australia although I would have been about 7 in 1964. I can remember my HSC and my teen years were spent running a Ballet Studio after school. I don’t know what my favourite decade would be Densye, I actually think it was my 50s when I grew into someone who finally knew where they fit in life. I agree with Jo, there is something to love from every decade. xx

    • I like the way you have approached this. Not by the decade on the calendar but by the decade you think is the best fit for you. I think I picked the right decade by age for me too. However, despite the many health challenges my late 60s threw at me, I am proud to be facing 70 feeling well (as well as an aching body in some parts lets me be!) and content. My husband is first, this Wednesday and he is totally a no birthday fuss or celebration person. He has tolerated a 40th, 50th and 60th but wants nothing for 70th. I understand we are all different too. I probably will not want any or much fuss either in late November. I enjoyed my 50th (family only) and my 60th which was the same time I retired for the second time so I had two events: family lunch and a High tea.

      Have a good week!

      Denyse x

  8. What a great memory you have Denyse and the stories you share are so evocative. I agree those years are ones of such growth in all areas. I have written a post and shared my favourites too. Thanks for the opportunity to share with you.

  9. Sounds like a lovely decade with so much happening Denyse! Must confess my teenage years weren’t my favourite years!

    • I think it takes some consideration for me to admit this was an awesome decade. Of course there were some negative things too but in essence it was the ‘almost no responsibility part and lots of fun’ that stood out before becoming married and a Mum in 1971!

      Denyse x

  10. Gee you’ve got a good memory! I think the eighties were the greaties and for me, they’re hard to beat!

    • That’s terrific for you about the 80s Sammie!

      Mine were full of family responsibilities, a very unwell spouse, starting a part-time degree and going onto 3 Dept 0f Education promotions & new schools, having a hysterectomy, and a daughter do her HSC and a son start school….

      Yep. BUSY!

      Denyse x