This episode in my story was hard to deal with when it happened - and difficult to write about now. However, this is a part of my story and not to be glossed over. Yes, I was a victim of a scam artist - but there seemed to be a 'guardian angel' (or angels) at work at the same time.
After working in the fruit harvest I remained in Hobart for a few days of sightseeing. The most inexpensive accommodation that I knew of was the YMCA so I booked in there and, thereby, I met a very engaging young man with a 'hard luck' story of family feuding and missing funds. I loaned him some of mine. Each time I asked him to repay he came up with another hard luck story - much of which involved a pregnant girlfriend.
Another complication was limited access to my own funds due to bank closures over holiday weekends as well as the fact one could only receive service in a branch of the bank where one's own account was located.
After wasting time in Hobart I hitchhiked up to Launceston to see if I could get a seat on the ferry to Melbourne. As Easter and Anzac Day (Memorial Day in both Australia and New Zealand) practically coincided that year, that was a very long weekend and the ferry was completely booked. I had the option of flying across the strait but I was a pound short of the fare and my bank was closed.
I went for a walk through a lovely park in Launceston and then returned to the downtown core. Walking along the street I encountered another young man who had been a guest at the "Y" in Hobart. He was bubbling over with excitement as he had just booked passage for a vacation to Great Britain. I blurted out my problem and, immediately, he loaned me a pound note (as well as his address so that I could return the loan).
While I had been up for a ride in a small aircraft with a friend who had a pilot's license years before in Canada, I had never been in a commercial aircraft. This was a few years before jet planes came into commercial use so it was an old fashioned, propeller one - and we took off during a thunderstorm! The flight across the strait was bumpy yet exciting. Melbourne was shrouded by clouds and mist until we began the descent into Essendon Airport. I was sitting on the side of the plane that gave me a view of the downtown core and it was breathtaking!
Once on the ground I telephoned the people with whom Brian and I had visited on our way to Tasmania and, immediately, they invited me to spend the balance of the weekend with them. I even got to go with the husband to a Congregational Church for worship the next morning.
On Monday the banks were open again and I was able to access my account.
Another one of the fellows whom I had met on the ship to Sydney (another dining table companion) lived with his widowed mother in North Geelong some 45 or 50 miles west of Melbourne. I went to the railway station to catch a train out there but made a mistake which proved to be another example of my 'guardian angel' at work. I was on the express to Geelong proper and it did not stop at North Geelong so, when I alighted at Geelong Station, I set out to walk back.
On my way I came upon a young guy up a ladder working on a house. As it so happened, he had been on a hitchhiking holiday in Europe so recognized me for whom I was. He came down the ladder to chat and then invited me, if my friends were not at home, to come to his house to meet his young wife.
At the house in North Geelong Noel was at home but his mother was away. I returned to where Peter was working and he took me home. I remained with them until Noel's mother returned from her trip. Eventually two letters containing money arrived and I was able to continue my journey.
While still in Melbourne I had encountered another of the fellows who had borrowed a pound from me. In repayment he invited me to go with him to the Melbourne Cricket Grounds in order of attend an Aussie Rules football game. Throughout much of Australia 'Aussie Rules' is very popular - but, in Sydney, it is traditional rugby. There I was a regular attendee at rugby matches cheering for the Eastern Suburbs (the part of the city where Bondi is located). I got to attend another Aussie rules game a year or so later so I will write more about that game when my narrative reaches that point.
I think that Ric - and other friends - will attest to me being too trusting. However, the episodes of which I have written, while difficult, were both humbling and inspiring.