• I Remember…when being a hippy was hip (at least to us) – Part 5


      0 Not allowed! Not allowed!
      “For The Times They Are A Changing” [Bob Dylan]



      This is Part 5 of an ongoing series of articles on:
      “I remember …when it was great to be”.

      [If you haven’t read the previous article that leads into this one, you should! Just click on this link - "Take Me Back!"

      The times were changing, but when you are involved in the change as well as being swept up in it, it’s not easy to recognise that change. In fact it takes time in order to adequately reflect upon these changes. It might be said some people that those of us who had taken the ‘alternative’ path in society, indeed had plenty of time, but in our own way we were busy bringing about change even if we weren't conscious of it.

      Now many of us, accident or design, walked down the path of life that was vastly different to out parents, but some of us went a step further and didn’t just break the ‘rules’, we ignored them and fashioned out own.

      It is popularly believed that the ‘hippy/alternates’ must have represented the majority of people born between 1945 and 1955, and whom the late 1960’s/early 1970’s would have been the majority of people between the ages of 16 to 26 years of age. Not so! In fact that ‘hippy’ scene was relatively small. There is no ‘scientific’ way of getting a number, but I would estimate that they wouldn’t have exceeded 500 and that may indeed be grossly over-estimated.

      Located in the main around Prahran and St Kilda, these folk really were on the cutting edge of the alternative society, that as years rolled on and on has not only gained an acceptance, but has gained a recognition for actually generating or at least facilitating some of the major changes in society, technology,ecology and the 'arts', all over the world.

      If Melbourne had a Haigh–Ashbury, it would have been Greville Street Prahran, and my story covers certainly the beginning of those days through the halcyon period. But to get there, the story needs to roll back a little.


      Greville Street, circa 1974

      It must have been around 1968 that we all started smoking weed for the first time. There is no point trying to pretend I can remember the first (or second or third) time. There is no point trying to remember where even. It just happened, although for some of us, not without some work.

      It was expected that among those of us in the extended group, that we would not only contribute the material to smoke, but would also contribute to the rolling of the smokes for that extended group. I never smoked tobacco so the rolling of a joint was both terrifying, and extremely messy. My answer to this problem was to buy a large packet of tobacco, several packets of papers, to find a quiet place and roll cigarette after cigarette until I could at least roll something that looked like it wouldn't disintegrate and resembled a shape that was acceptable.

      Most of the ‘gang’ that I have referred to in previous parts to this story were involved in one way or another with some fairly serious smoking sessions. This gave birth to the legend of the "DB" – the Drug Box, that one little "hippy" in the group would carry around. The "DB" was a largish cash tin, locked of course, that held in it everything that may be needed for a fun time. This included, but was not limited to, weed, hash, tobacco, papers, matches and cardboard for making filters.

      With great ceremony the "DB" would be produced, carefully unlocked and the contents revealed. It wasn’t so much that the keeper of the "DB' was the only one ‘holding’ but "it" was certainly ‘revered’ all and became both an in-joke but also a part of the smoking ceremony.

      There were other drugs tried and tested, eSpecially ‘speed’ (Amphetamines), but in these early years there were no hard drugs what so ever. The other major drug of choice was LSD! There were many group ‘trips’ taken and in the majority of cases they were most enjoyable, although LSD, or ‘acid’, didn’t infiltrate our world until around1969.

      In fact in so many ways, it was Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD) that was responsible for my changing my pathway as an Industrial Chemist and the straight and narrow path to conformity and suburbia, to that of a genuine hippy, that for a short while even tasted the path of the political radical.


      Lysergic Acid Diethylamide

      So this part of the story starts as the decade of major change, the 1960's, was ending. Yet for me it really was the start of a new journey and little did I know the impact of things that were to occur in 1969 would have on me, in both a short and very long time basis.

      I was still working at Albright & Wilson (introduced in Part 4) and to summarise where I was at with that job, I was unhappy! My studies had bogged down – I was doing a Diploma of Applied Chemistry at Swinburne Institute of Technology (as it was then known) and while I had blitzed all the practical subjects in every area of the Diploma, I was struggling with the theory.

      Then there was the issue that I was walking around in the daytime in a white lab coat, collar and tie and brushed back hair, but on the weekends and in fact at every opportunity away from work, I was in the was in the world of the alternate, not quite a ‘freak’ yet – but certainly in some serious training.


      At Albright & Wilson just prior to resigning

      For the first time in my life I could afford a new car, a 1969 Datsun 1000 Fastback Coupe! It wasn’t my first choice, that indeed was a Fiat Coupe, but the Datsun was cheaper, so that’s what I ended up with. I actually enjoyed driving it, and while it didn’t quite have the flair of a Fiat, at that time it was considered to be very desirable because of the swept back hatch and it provided me with the status my job deserved. Yet at the same time my world was slowly but surely being turned upside down and inside out, somewhat resembling a 'Mobius Strip' where I was beginning to feel trapped my circumstances, my choices, yet being aware that there was some thing else beside this twisted mono-dimensional existence.


      The Datsun 1000 Fastback Coupe

      I didn’t have a full-time girlfriend, that passionate sojourn with Anthea referred to in early parts of my story, was well and truly dead. So this also meant I had money in my pocket. I was still hanging with all the guys from my music world, but there had to be more. Something was seriously wrong and I really did feel trapped.

      Then, out of the blue Mark B asked me if I would drive him to NSW. He had been invited to a post wedding cruise on the Hunter River and was told he could bring some friends. So I thought, why not? Sadly I no longer remember who came with us, but the Datsun was full with my friends, we had some smoke on us and an adventure ahead. This is what I needed.

      It was an uneventful trip except somewhere across the border we were pulled over a cop in a car. Not cool! Four young guys, all with long hair, ‘holding’!

      I got troubles, whoa-oh
      I got worries, whoa-oh
      I got wounds to bind
      [We Five]

      We never actually got time to even start to sweat, let alone open our mouths. A car from the opposite direction, traveling fast, suddenly pulled up and the driver leaned out of the window and told the cop, that a car had flipped on a turn-off just up the road. He looked at us, misery and despair in his eyes and said, “This must be your lucky day"! walked quickly back to his car, turned his flashing lights on and took off. We sat there, quietly, for at least 30 seconds before someone said, “I think this is going to be a great trip!” He was right, I just didn’t understand at that time how prophetic that sentence was.

      Some details are now hazy, some events are so clear, but here is what I do remember. We got to the boat and it was a big motor cruiser. There would have been about 20 people on it including the four of us. Everyone lit up and the boat started sailing up the Hunter River. The day was warm, the sky blue and we hadn’t a care in the world.

      Then the hostess began walking through the crowd holding a large silver tray. On the tray was a cut glass bowl and the bowl was filled with large gelatin capsules. As she paused, each person took a capsule. Behind her was the host with another silver tray with glasses of champagne. She stopped at me, I had absolutely no idea whatsoever as to what was going down, but followed blindly and took a capsule, then a glass of champagne and washed the capsule down.

      I later learned that they were "Double O" capsules of . . . wait for it! White Lightning!! This had been eSpecially imported this couple (who obviously had excessive amounts of money) and, although I didn’t realize it at the time, I was about to embark on my very first trip on acid, and that it was actually LSD made the legendary ‘Owsley’

      So here is the very cute scene. A large luxury cruiser on the Hunter River, a s glorious day weather wise, 20 or so people who had all just ingested some of the most potent and yet clean LSD (unfettered with the terrible -products much of the acid that was manufactured in years to come would suffer from), and among them this young innocent hippy!

      "He'll fly his astral plane,
      Takes you trips around the bay,
      Brings you back the same day,
      Timothy Leary. Timothy Leary.

      Along the coast you'll hear them boast
      About a light they say that shines so clear.
      So raise your glass, we'll drink a toast
      To the little man who sells you thrills along the pier." [Moody Blues]

      It really is almost impossible to accurately describe an acid trip, because it transcends words but words are all we have. Not quite correct, but I’m getting slightly ahead of myself again. It started very pleasantly, lots of laughing, good company, and, a quiet humming which got louder and louder. It was not an unpleasant or disturbing hum, in fact it was very pleasant. Suddenly I looked up, and then I knew why it was called ‘White Lightning’! That’s what I saw, and at the same time the most glorious all encompassing feelings of love and harmony overcame me, and, I passed out!

      I came to with a couple of people caringly asking if I was OK. I never thought to ask, and was never told how long I had passed out for, but the man asking had a long beard, the sides of the boat had canvass blinds rolled up, and I knew where I was, on a boat, in Galilee, with Jesus!

      “Put your hand in the hand of the man who stilled the waters

      Put your hand in the hand of the man who calmed the sea
      Take a look at yourself and you can look at the others differently
      puttin' your hand in the hand of the man from Galilee“ [Loretta Lynn]

      I don’t really remember how long that little fantasy lasted, but there was much merriment on board and I felt great. Then someone suggested we row to shore and I went along. It really was a beautiful day, and I was in a world unlike any I had ever experienced. Everything took on a new meaning and although these many years later I can not really remember what it was I saw and concluded, it was profound and it was right. Then I guess it must have been a second ‘peak’ – a period where the intensity of the experience climaxed yet again, another powerful white flash.

      Once more I lost consciousness in terms of being aware of my surroundings, but I am told I began to draw amazing patterns in the sand. However one other person wasn’t having such a good time so it was decided to return to the boat.

      As we rowed back it seems that I removed my watch and flung it into the sea declaring that I no longer needed time, as everything was infinite. Then I removed my glasses and flung them into the sea declaring that I didn’t need them because everything was crystal clear!

      The remainder of the journey we were all on was calm and quite wonderful. As I would learn and witness over the years to come, the majority of LSD that was ingested had varying degrees of impurity which meant both the ‘trip’ and the coming down could be far less gentle than this first trip on ‘Owsley’ pure acid had been.

      To this day I have no idea how I drove back to Melbourne without my glasses because one thing was certain, things really were not as clear as I had declared on that row boat – but we got back successfully, except, things were never quite the same again!

      Something inside me had been hard wired, been switched on. I had changed. I had taken the first step of the process that Timothy Leary had spoken about when he famously declared, “Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out!”



      In fact it wasn’t long after that having turned on, having tuned in, it became right to drop out. I remember clearly, I walked into the laboratory at Albright & Wilson and the sun was streaming through a window, and the room lit up! I knew in that very moment that my career as an Industrial Chemist was likely to be over because my life lay elsewhere.

      As mentioned earlier, I had excelled in my practical studies at Swinburne, but struggled with the theory. So much was happening at once it was hard to keep up with. So with the revelation that that morning in the lab provided, and the fact that I was struggling with my studies, I walked into the Chief Chemists Office, and quit!

      A week later my induction into the ‘alternate society’ was not yet strong enough to overcome my ‘programming’. I suddenly panicked, what had I done? I MUST work, because everyone does. In that panic state I applied for yet another trainee chemist job at Peters Ice Cream, received an invitation for an interview and, as I spoke of in part 4, discovered to my horror that the Chemist in Charge at Peters Ice Cream was my old nemesis from Albright & Wilson – Harry Mantel.

      I never stood a chance! My career as a chemist was well and truly over!

      But fate wasn’t about to let me wallow in any manner, for fate turned up in the guise of Mark (Barnes). Barnes was still a student in the Swinburne Art School and decided in early 1970 to take on Directing the Swinburne Review and he said that between him, David Pepperell and myself, we could just about write, produce, direct and act the entire review ourselves.

      So it was that the three of us became the Producers of the review known as, “Swallow A Camel”. Along with Mark’s Art School girlfriend Mary, were several friends and we put together a show that was a mixture of Dadaism and Monty Python, which at that time was a program largely still new and unknown in Australia.

      It was a mixture of pure genius and complete anarchy. There were scripts but many of the sketches, particularly the one’s with Barnes, Pepperell and myself, relied significantly upon clever ad-libbing. We drew upon the images of people and personalities that we had come across and mixed them with Pythonesque type situations. Sadly there are no known photographs of the shows, but once the audiences got the hang of the fact that this was a show where they needed to totally suspend their belief systems, they really enjoyed it and it was a raging success.

      I actually Googled the show and could only find one reference, that being from Tim Robinson who credits “Swallow A Camel” as his first lighting production job. Tim, I don’t actually remember ever thanking you – and in case I didn’t, ‘Thank you!’


      Tim

      While we collaborated on the show, which I had plenty of time to do being unemployed, Mark and I moved into a shared house in Wattletree Road Malvern. It was there that I met Godfrey, who for obvious reasons preferred to be called Geoffrey. A tall man with a thick black beard and a very English accent, about my age, we became friends and along with Mark created all sorts of havoc climaxing one day with Mark chasing us through the house with a hose, turned on!

      Not something I’m terribly proud of today, but then we were young, we were irresponsible, and if not stoned, certainly drunk!

      Now yet again I must jump back in time, not too far, in order to follow yet another time-line of events which along with having that first acid trip, resigning, applying for a job and finding my ex-boss, who despised me, was the interviewer, leaving the Chemical Industry, and being with Mark and Godfrey, would all coalesce with some new elements, in a most magnificent way.

      About 6 months or so earlier, late in 1969, I was driving from Melbourne CBD back to my parent’s home in Jordanville, along Dandenong Road. I had just crossed Chapel Street when I noticed this very lanky, longhaired ‘freak’, hitchhiking. Simultaneously I concluded no one would stop for him, but that I must. Now this was important, I clearly remember thinking I must stop, not could stop or should stop! So, I stopped. Thus I met David, who would become a critical part of my life. He was trying to get home to his house in Carters Avenue in Toorak. This wasn’t exactly the way I was going as it meant a detour of about 2.5 Km, but into some pretty heavy traffic, but I took him anyway.

      We talked along the way, the details long forgotten, but he had a nice vibe about him. I dropped him off and went home. The whole incident forgotten within 24 hours.

      Back to Wattletree Road. It was obvious after the chaos we caused with the hose incident that we had to get out, and quickly. I checked the local papers for a room to rent, and answered an advert for a room in Davis Avenue South Yarra. Sadly I don’t remember all the folk’s names because they were good people. But there was an artist – Bill, a girl, and a second girl - a teacher, who lived in a bungalow out the back.

      Look, it was pleasant and I enjoyed the stay, but it was mostly memorable for being quiet. I was there for about 3 months, and in all that time there was not one party, no loud music – it was like a retirement village, but we were all young!

      However, while I was there, I received a message from Mark. It appeared that there was a great building for rent in a place called Greville Street, and he wanted to know, did I want to move in? Did I ever!

      It was now that things really went ‘Alternative’! Greville Street, in early 1970, wasn’t even a ‘hippy hang-out’ at that stage. It was tired, it was run down, and it was largely abandoned.

      Now the history of Greville Street from this period onward deserves to be told, but the truth is it can never be told just one person because after a short while, there was so much going on, that no one person had a handle on it all. I had an attempt at putting some of the jigsaw together in an article posted on the Toorak Times about Greville Street, and much of that article will be revisited here, but I think I can embellish it even more.

      Warning! This part of the story will jump backward and forward and even sideways because so much went on and because I struggle to really remember the sequences correctly.

      When we moved into Greville Street, circa 1970, it was just becoming one of two central gathering places for the growing 'hippy' scene in Melbourne. Contrary to popular belief, that 'scene' wasn't a big one, in fact to be labeled a hippy was done with considerable venom the community at large, but we wore the label without actually giving it much thought, because we were living and discovering a lifestyle and philosophy where we weren't concerned about the labels others may use, even when they directed those labels toward us.

      The Greville Street scene was growing quite organically, not planned, and hell we didn't want, let alone have, the desire to create a 'scene'. It just evolved because the shops and flats were in poor repair, the street, certainly from the train line up to Chapel Street, was largely abandoned and we needed cheap places to live in, and no one else would live there. Besides, we needed somewhere to be ‘invisible’.

      It wasn’t the gentrified, active, clean street we see today as we move down it, past the myriad of cafes and clothing shops. Far from it! Greville Street was run-down and much unloved, but it had one thing going for it, the rents were very, very cheap. So it became one of two hubs for the growing hippy scene, the other being in and around St.Kilda.

      Oh, and very few businesses were operating in Greville Street at that time.

      The Station Hotel down next the train line was operating and would soon become one of the most important venues for live music in Melbourne, largely due to the efforts of Mark, but that comes later. One of the other businesses that were operating was the Transylvania Restaurant. Even today you will find people who will wax lyrically about the food at the Transylvania. Mind you, we only ate there very few times, because we simply couldn't afford it! The goulash was superb and the schnitzels even better.

      The soon to become well know Feedwell Foundry, was yet to open. Sadly I didn’t have a camera in those days, in fact, I didn’t own much of anything when I moved into the building Mark had found. That building was called Dobie’s Bakery. Prior to us moving in it had been the home of a group of “revolutionary socialists”, from 1969-1970, and later it became the Feedwell Foundry. ,However for a period of 18months or so it was the home of a rag tag bunch of hippies, freaks and bikers. The old bakery is unrecognisable today, but stands divided into two businesses, one of which is a boutique right opposite Grattan Street. Look progress is inevitable, change is inevitable, but as I walk down a very sanitised, 21st century et and see a boutique where the old Bakery once was, I wonder about progress!

      Over a very short time the number of residents of Greville Street grew quickly and while there were many, many characters, and while I don't profess to have known everyone, I can recall many of them. Let’s start with the denizens of Dobie’s Bakery.

      It had many visitors, but the mainstay was myself, Mark, John Bois (a well known muso who would shortly join the Dingoes) his girlfriend Lorraine, a big gentle bikie called Harley (for obvious reason that he rode a Harley), real name John, and his girlfriend Robin, also a bikie, and thenfor a while, Lyn Tilley, whom I will come to later. These were the original inhabitants. Very welcomed visitors included the Williamson Bros, Dr. Pepper, Boris, Chris Stockley, Snowy Townshend, Mick Elliott and Rob Westfield (a beat poet and photographer who had escaped the world of teaching) and many other weird and wonderful folk.

      Various hippies and assorted desperados along the street from the railway line up to Chapel Street included, Roger and Pea ( recently arrivals from England) Tony and Mickey, David and Sparrow, Helen and Charles and, Godfrey.

      I remember Roger was a well-spoken lad who with Pea (a sweet small girl) lived in a flat above a shop just passed Izett Street, on the left going up to Chapel Street. We generally had good supplies of smoke, little food, and very little recorded music. Tony actually had a record player, but it stopped working. We would often drop over for a 'social', and ask where the record player was, desperate to hear some music, Tony always replied, “It's in the cupboard, but I'm certain if I leave it in there long enough, it will fix itself”. He was so convinced it would!

      There wasn't much obvious life passed the railway line, because the houses were in slightly better state of repair, so the owners lived there and were as straight as a runway! But there was a house down there, called Toad Hall, that had all manner of muso's live there, including Barry Charles. According to Barry, its residents included Barry S (rogue), Andy T (muso) Greg Q, (singer song writer), Mal and Annie M, Albert L (Left Wing Socialist) and Gypsy.

      About 6 months after we moved in Captain Matchbox also moved into the street. They lived in a house opposite the hotel, and they were masters at the bizarre! I suspect much of the 'creativity' was due to Mick and Jim Conway. They had mannequin legs coming out of the house walls, a torso through the door, bizarre sculptures from the eves, those guys were true freaks! In fact, the street was becoming a safe haven for hippies and freaks alike! The straights rarely frequented it, and even though the cops were located in Greville Street, in the Town Hall building, with some notable exceptions they did tend to leave us alone.


      The Prahran Police Station & Court
      Cnr Chapel Street & Greville Street


      We didn't have much, but didn't care. Booze and drugs (what we now term ‘soft’ drugs) were, along with the odd taste of alcohol, our main diversion – sadly as the years went on the needle started to become visible, and the gentleness that permeated Greville Street quickly disappeared. But for that short period of 18 months we had our own Haight-Ashbury. The Bakery had seen better days, but it still had a form of decorum - it wasn't a 'flop house'.

      Now to deviate for a moment! It was sometime early in this period that I found myself at a party, and who did I run into? The guy I picked up in Dandenong Road – David. We renewed our acquaintanceship and I really connected and from this party our friendship grew. David was also living in Greville Street, in a top flat opposite the Prahran Police Station actually, an irony that did not escape me given the serious smoking that used to go on in his flat, and little did I realize what adventures awaited me in that flat within 12 months.

      And so it was that I began to find myself in two groups, both making themselves at home in Greville Street, but both slowly going in different directions. At this stage I was committed to the Bakery and that group.

      So most of the guys in the 'Bakery Group' were still heavily involved in music and certainly smoking, but with far more emphasis on alcohol and certainly were living an 'alternative' lifestyle to the 'norm' of the day. The other group consisted of David, and along with Roger, Tony, their women - Sparrow, Pea and Mickey and some others including Godfrey, were in many ways the real embryonic "hippies" of Greville Street.

      There are so many stories, but one that comes to mind is the time we uncovered what must have been the delivery cellar for the Bakery. It was called Dobie's Bakery because it obviously had been a bakery at some time in the past. This cellar was rather dank, but having left the trap door open for several days, it did dry out, and we threw carpet down there, lit candles and decided it was a goodplace to sit and have a smoke. There was one session in particular that comes to mind. I remember Mark was definitely there, Chris S may have been and quite probably Dr. Pepper, probably John and a couple of other people. I was given a detonator someone and then dared I wouldn't fire it off. Well, being young foolish and in a very silly state, I did! The resulting noise would have been loud in any circumstances, but in a brick cellar with little chance of the escaping cleanly, the resulting explosion was loud, oh, it was very, very loud!

      "Boom bang-a-bang, boom bang-a-bang
      When you are near
      Boom bang-a-bang, boom bang-a-bang
      Loud in my ear"
      [Lulu]

      The rush for the steps leading back into the main building was nothing short of a stampede and Mark was last out followed a goodly amount of smoke. He walked around in a total daze, he said his head didn't stop ringing for hours. As for me, well I may have been foolish enough to fire it off, but i wasn't that stupid, I was out of the cellar before it actually exploded and was rolling around on the floor in hysterics!

      There weren't many people in the street, as I wrote previously, Greville Street at that time was largely abandoned. Good job too, obviously the police were not called as they didn't come down and, they were only up the top end almost on the corner of Chapel Street.

      in large we were not hassled all that much the cops. In fact there was one event that should be recalled to show how there was even an element of civilisation between us 'hippies', and the authorities. Before I relate that story, let me tell you about the bakery.

      The shop took up the front of the building, and behind it was a large room where all the baking and preparing was conducted, and for whatever reason we rarely used that area. When you went through the shop, there was a set of stairs to the left that curved around in a spiral before opening up into a passage. To the right were two bedrooms, one on the right and one overlooking the street.

      Mark and I inhabited these two rooms. To the left there was a kitchen and a large room with barn doors, which we sometimes used, opening the double doors up and sitting with our legs dangling out over the lane on warm evenings. As you came up the stairs you could also go straight ahead into a second passage, to the right was a large bedroom room that John and Lorraine used, also overlooking the street, to the left a bathroom and further down that passage another bedroom that Harley and Robin used.

      So, with such a large premises we always had a reasonable number of people, with and without partners living there. Mark would decorate the front window of the shop with all many of weird and wonderful (but utterly useless things; such as opened empty matchboxes, bent coat hangers, torn photographs, a rusty can faded plastic pegs- you get the idea, and he would label them very carefully (just as carefully as he arranged them in the window) with, "Display Purposes Only - Not For Sale!" In some ways was an extension of "Swallow A Camel" in a shop version.

      So, back to the story of the Bakery and the 'Police". There is also little point in avoiding the issue of drugs. Of course they were around, but of course as I indicated earlier, the scene as it was in Greville Street at that time had not degenerated into the harder drugs. Cannabis was the drug of choice, and the odd hallucinogen and all of the streets denizens were keenly aware that the police were just up the street, although it was the dreaded ‘Drug Squad’ that had the worse reputation.

      The other body we were aware existed was Customs. However, Customs were primarily interested in the importation of illegal substances, not the use. This was bought home clearly with one incident.

      There were a group of us sitting at the kitchen table one day, having a cup of tea and a quiet smoke, when all of a sudden a face appeared around the doorway from the stairs, and a voice said, “Customs!” No time to think about who didn’t lock the shop door, but quick enough that the bag of weed on the table disappeared so quickly Harry Houdini would have been impressed.

      "Then I went and got busted (yay)
      They say I'm maladjusted (he's a fool)
      I never can be trusted
      anybody anymore, yay yay yay
      I got busted (yay)
      My own mother was disgusted (she's a fool)
      I got busted
      ( the Law)"
      [Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band]

      Five Customs men came into the kitchen, and quickly spread out throughout the house. Their searching didn’t take long because as I said earlier, we didn’t have much, eSpecially in the way of furniture. So they congratulated us on keeping a clean house and said they would depart. We weren’t going to create an issue about asking for reasons for their visit, let alone warrants, but obviously someone had made an accusation against us – which had no foundation. No one in our home had been involved in importing. Then all of a sudden the same guy that had poked his head around the door initially, stuck his head around the door again, and said, “It’s ok, you can put the bag back on the table now”, and he disappeared.

      So we hadn’t been as fast as we thought, but, these guys were not interested in a bunch of quiet hippies having a smoke, and what’s more, even though we trod very carefully for a couple of weeks, there were no follow-up visits the Drug Squad. To this day I appreciated how these guys went about their job, in a time when there was a growing hysteria about smoking, and the penalties were draconian!

      Now I should mention that at this stage driving a near new hatchback car just did not fit the scene, so I sold it! I was walking along Elizabeth Street in Melbourne, past the bike shops and I looked into a window, and I saw it! Black and Chrome, shiny, truly magnificient. It was a Triumph Trophy, and I wanted it! It had been part of a small number imported into Australia the New South Wales Police, for possible use as highway patrol bikes.


      A 1970 Triumph Trophy, very similar to mine,
      except I put 'ape-hanger' bars on mine!

      In fact they had been 'worked on', and were Specially geared for highway riding. My pocket was full of money from having sold the car. I didn’t even have a bike license, but when I walked in and lay the cash on the table no one asked for one.

      "Get your motor runnin'
      Head out on the highway
      Lookin' for adventure
      And whatever comes our way"[Steppenwolf]

      Before I knew it I was in the lane behind the bike shop, the shop owner kick started it, I hopped on, I opened the throttle and down that lane I flew! I managed to be aware enough to jam the brakes as I hit a pile of rubbish bins. Over I went. Out of the rear door of a hotel all these bikies poured.

      No one laughed! They picked me up, took me inside and I was given a brandy. Back out we went, I had a crash course in bike riding (a static lesson), I was put back onto the bike, and away I rode. I only ever came off once more in about 18 months of riding (and why it was only 18 months will be revealed later!). So, I passed my bike licence first go - mind you I went on a 100cc something or other, and in those days there were no restrictions on the license. The bike may only play a part in my life for a short number of years, but what a part, and how it was tied up with the Vietnam War is another story - an amazing story in its self!

      My ‘Easy Riding’ life had begun.

      To go to the next part of this story, just click the link below.

      In Part VIWas I Going To Be A Hippy, Or A Yippy?
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