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The Author

Joan Turnour was born in 1931 when King Geroge V was on the throne and Britannia ruled the waves. Her father was leading signalman on the Egmont, part of the Grand Fleet based in Malta and families enjoyed an expatriate life. In 1939, England declared war on Germany and they returned to an English winter with snow up to the windowsills. Joan describes the threat of invasion; nights playing monopoly waiting for the siren to give the all clear; and the excitement of D Day when thousands of planes and gliders filled the sky and Winston Churchill announced Allied troups had landed in Normandy.


There were no ‘mod cons’. On Monday morning the copper was lit for washing and clothes were ironed on Tuesday with a heavy flat iron heated on a wood stove. Floor coverings of linoleum were softened by handmade rugs; hot water bottles and bricks heated in the oven warmed your bed.


In 1952 posters of beautiful young people in a tropical background persuaded Joan to migrate to Australia. The voyage to Melbourne took six weeks on the 28,000 ton MV Somersetshire and on arrival she was delighted to find work with a wage twice that of England. After two years Joan set off to work around Australia and her adventures really began in Darwin when she met Jack, in charge of seed production for the Humpty Doo rice project. Five months later on the 20th December 1956, Jack and Joan were married; four days after the proposal because the United Church Minister needed three-day’s notice. The wedding was a complete surprise to their friends invited for drinks at the Hotel Darwin and then told that in half an hour they would all leave for the church.


Joan moved to Humpty Doo to live in a demountable hut and when Jack opened a new research station further south on the Adelaide River drove over buffalo plains to take spare parts to the men. In 1958 they bought 20 square miles of undeveloped land and pioneered their own property. Their four children were born in the Darwin hospital.


In the 1970’s Jack joined an overseas consulting firm and they lived up country in Indonesia. Joan describes the challenge of cultural differences; of learning a new language; and of home schooling the younger two children while the older children were at boarding school in Australia. Over the next twenty five years Joan shared life with Jack in both Indonesia and the Philippines until he retired to Brisbane, Australia, in 1997.