Reffos and Tulips.

IMG_0126 Tulips.JPG

A carpet of Tulips in Bowral.

The film ‘The Ladies in Black’, left enough of an impression for me to urge people to see it. The film deals in some parts about the influx of reffos into Australia during the fifties. That’s the period this Australian film is set in. The ‘reffo’ was a shortened term for refugees. Our family came to Australia in 1956. We were not reffos in the strictest term. Europe in Australia during the fifties was seen as a war-ravaged stain on a map. Geographical and political differences between Hungary or Holland were beyond interest or hardly known. The issues in this magnificent movie really hit home. The differences (and similarities) in cultures are what this film, in a kind and humorous way, points out. The poignancy for H and I was overwhelming. One is always pleased when things we experienced about the past, agrees and coincides with others. When pointed out in a major film, it is double pleasing.

The ambiguity of migrating to another part of the world will probably stay with me till the very end. Was the pain of leaving own country and friends worth it?  The mental dehydration suffered in foreign and strange suburbs! Those differences experienced between the locals and the Reffos during the fifties, the lack of herrings, garlic ,olives, and real coffee. The blight of the determined curmudgeon.

Australia in the fifties was a kinder and more tolerant place though. The governments of that period did not foment xenophobia nor detained refugees on hellish islands for years on end.

The present Prime Minister is a fervent Pentecostal believer. Yet on his desk he proudly shows a sign ‘We stopped the boats,’ referring callously to the detained refugees on those islands. Their punishment is used to warn and prevent refugees from trying to come to Australia. They are saying ‘if you try, and come here by boat we will lock you up on those islands for the rest of your life.’ In the fifties Australia did not try and demonise a single African group doing 1 % of crime and yet close their eyes to the other 99% of crime perpetrated by local born.

The tulips belong to a different class. Nothing scary here, dear readers. You can tell they are just there to give us pleaure.  This photo was taken this morning. There must be thousands of tulip photos being e-mailed around the world. The Tulip show in Bowral was magnificent.

It always brings me back to the time in Holland. I used to cycle to the tulip fields. Can you imagine seeing tulip fields as far as the eye can see? In different colours too. The tulips in Bowral are in cahoots with sun and clouds. I am sure they talk to each other.It dazzles and so many people taking selfies. In years to come grandchildren might find the tulip photos in drawers and wonder about the lives at earlier times.

Try and see ‘the Ladies in Black’, and the Tulips.



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19 Responses to “Reffos and Tulips.”

  1. janesmudgeegarden Says:

    If there’s one mantra I particularly despise its ‘Stop the Boats’ started by the odious Tony Abbott and continued on, ever since that time.
    Several people have recommended ‘Ladies in Black’ and it does sound like a movie worth seeing. I don’t think Bruce Beresford ever made a bad movie. Thanks for the review, Gerard.

    Liked by 2 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Amazing how Scott Morrison can boast of having ‘stopped the boats’ by detaining refugees including children, and at the same time professes a pious stance in religion, children and God.

      He must be practising some deft conscious footwork reconciling those opposites.


  2. shoreacres Says:

    A friend and I did a little more exploring, and Ladies in Black isn’t going to be available here for a while. It’s been released in the U.S., of course, but it’s not anywhere close to us.

    For that matter, neither are the tulips. They’re a spring flower, of course, but even next spring I’d have to travel to find any. They simply don’t do well here without a good bit of pampering, and they require so much pampering that the best place to see them is in the exclusive areas of Houston, where people have gardeners and enough extra refrigerator space to keep bulbs cold for the requisite amount of time.

    But there aren’t any fields of tulips, and none popping up in yards, naturalized cousins of the landscaped ones. I hate that, because I grew up with them, and always looked forward to them. On the other hand, I don’t have to cope with below zero temperatures and feet of snow, so that’s good.

    I laughed at your phrase “determined curmudgeon.” I happen to enjoy a true curmudgeon, so stay determined!

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      The tulip festival was a huge success. Better than last year when the timing was all wrong and the tulips refused to show up during the allocated 2 weeks time. You can’t dominate nature.
      We tried growing them but the effort to overwinter them by keeping the bulbs in the fridge together with beetroots and celery stalks proved too difficult. You would not want to get the bulbs mixed up with onions. During the Dutch hunger-winter of 1945, eating tulip bulbs out of desperation caused lots of deaths. They are toxic.

      Spring is now in full glory, Linda. The nation is anxiously waiting for some good soaking rain. It is supposed to start and pelt down this afternoon. Keep your fingers crossed. The drought is starting to bite severely. A couple of weeks of steady rain would be nice.

      We are supposed to be paying an extra levy of 10cents per litre of milk in aid of drought stricken farmers. A great idea. They are also talking of farming being made drought proof where during good times savings must be put in place to allow droughts to be endured and overcome. Easier said then done!


  3. shoreacres Says:

    Oh, shoot. Let’s try this again.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Julia Lund Says:

    I can’t imagine leaving my homeland forever. When done willingly, it must be difficult enough, but fleeing … who does that without a desperation beyond the imagination of those who are safe and sound?

    Your tulip field memories will stay with me.

    Liked by 2 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      I remember my parents talking about moving to Australia. After the decision to migrate and we were accepted I was promptly taken out of high school and made to work delivering fruit and vegetables on a bike to the different embassies in the Hague.. The earnings went to my parents but I kept the tips. I bought a camera ( Agfa Clack) from the savings which I used to take photos of the boat trip to Australia. I loved my camera.
      The most generous givers of tips were the Americans working in the Hague embassy. They used to give me hot soup and huge tips.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. kaytisweetlandrasmussen83 Says:

    No sogn of the movie yet, though I understand it is somewhere in the US now. Your tulips are gorgeious. I can only imagine how lovelyu an entire field of them would be. We have a large display in the spring in Golden Gate park in San Francisco,though we did not see them this year.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      I am sure the movie will be available in video or on TV by the ‘on demand’ method, Kayti.
      We have a ‘smart’ TV. It is hellish to program it though. It nearly came to blows. I now read in the news those ‘smart’ TV can be used to spy on the owners by experienced hackers. They would not find much in our household. We live fairly sedate lives. I drink butter-milk and Helvi loves her sourdough bread.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. doesitevenmatter3 Says:

    I will find the movie to watch! And I will always stop to gaze all the flowers I see! 🙂

    Thank you for sharing your memories of moving to another country…and your memories of tulips! 🙂

    I can’t imagine how difficult it was for your parents, especially. I have family and friends who have told me of their memories of moving from Europe to the USA or from Europe to Canada, etc. Some moved before WW2 and some after.

    I’ve never seen fields of tulips! I wish I could! But, I have seen fields of wildflowers, daisies, sunflowers, and poppies, etc. 🙂

    HUGS!!! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      The tulip industry is huge in Holland. We try and have flowers in the house most time. I am surprised how popular plastic flowers are, especially on graves. I will specify no plastic on mine, please, ( and keep off the grass)
      I have inherited my dad’s displeasure at seeing plastic flowers.
      We are right now getting good soaking rain. The farmers are jubilant.


      Liked by 1 person

  7. petspeopleandlife Says:

    Tulips remind me of Holland and of seeing a flower filled field bloom with the benefit of books and magazines. They will grow here in Texas but as Linda, has written, they do not do well in warmer climates. I think they probably flower nicely in north Texas and possible west Texas where the winters are severe with freezing temps and snow.

    Now about being an old “determined curmudgeon.” I have not thought that of you. It is simple- you state your mind and mean it but there is also humor in your personality and I like that. You are a nice man living a lovely life.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      You are most kind, Ivonne.
      We are now getting good steady rain. Let’s hope it keeps bucketing down for a couple of weeks. The farmers will be so happy.
      The tulips in Bowral must be happy too. In a few weeks time the bulbs will be dug up and sold to the public for a reasonable price.
      We tried growing them but with little success.

      I always think of Texas as a kind of wild place. This is the fault of my fondness as a schoolboy for cowboy movies. Did I hear the Nobel Prize for Medicine 2018 has been shared and awarded to a Texan man? James P.Allison and Japan’s Tasuku Honjo?

      Liked by 1 person

      • petspeopleandlife Says:

        Yes Gerard, you are 100% correct about professor Allison who is a cancer immunotherapy innovator. He worked with drug companies for many years and came up with the immune “system technique” (which are my words for lack of better word sto use here) that has an affect on the T-cells. There is a medication now used for stage 4 melanoma, which vastly extends the life of these patients. Dr. Allison is with MD Anderson research at the University of Texas. The actual hospital is in Houston, Texas and is located among a number of hospitals. MD Anderson is known world wide and people of all races and ethnicity come there for treatment. I’m sure this honor will spur even greater research.

        You are partially correct about Texas being a wild place. It so large with a variance of altitudes, ocean front, sub tropical rain forests, cross timbers, scrubland, flat land, canyons, hills, valley and, well you get the picture. It is sort of a mini Australia if one were to make a comparison. Texas would fit in one small corner of Australia. I doubt anyone has ever traveled every area of Texas but maybe they have. d

        Liked by 2 people

  8. rangewriter Says:

    As long as I live, I’m sure I will never get used to the fact that while your tulips are bursting with beauty, our leaves are blushing and fading and falling. It’s just so weird! lol

    Regarding Ladies in Black, I haven’t seen it yet. Sounds like I need to. I hate to say this, Gerard, but I think Australia and the USA are twins separated at birth. There are so many similarities.

    Liked by 1 person

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