Johnny, Tea and Me

On the weekend whilst enjoying my usual morning cup of coffee, I started thinking about how the habit had come about since during my early years, drinking tea was such a huge part of my life.

My lovely father Johnny was a creature of habit; you could set your watch by him. He was hard working, talented, and patient and had the best sense of humour.  He was also a seriously dedicated tea drinker. Right on the dot at 7.20 am every morning he would knock on my door with the newspaper and a delicious steaming hot cup of loose leaf Lanchoo Tea.  He did this every day until the day I married and moved out!

At 7.30 am he would wheel his Honda 50 or ‘Postie Bike’ out and in all kinds of weather ride to the other end of town with his crib (Broken Hill/Cornish slang for food, provisions or light meal) and thermos of tea to begin his day as an Electrician on the North Mine.

3. Johnny and Tea

Johnny Wharburton – first on the left. Electricians going underground to electrify the shaft. They would literally be lowered down in the bucket behind them.

At 4.00 pm the Mine whistles blew signalling the end of the day shift and the beginning of night shift.  You knew for certain that Johnny would be wheeling in the gate at exactly 4.20 pm and the family gathering of afternoon tea would begin! In fact I can remember most of the mining families in our street followed the same ritual. Tables would be set with the Lanchoo tablecloths carefully saved for and selected from the catalogue, along with homemade biscuits, scones, patty cakes or fruit cake cut into very small columns.

For me the words “drinking tea” stir up memories of drinking tea with the family, tea with my gran, ‘Billy’ tea on our family camping trips, thermos tea on our annual holiday trips to Adelaide, tea at smoko time on the property and tea at CWA … tea, how did we come together before tea!

“Tea is certainly as much of a social drink as coffee, and more domestic, for the reason that the teacup hours are the family hours.” Arthur Gray – The Little Tea Book.

So back to my thoughts and why now, I’m so fond of coffee.  Barry and I went walking on the weekend and came across a delightful little coffee shop.  We ordered a Latte and a Mocha which were promptly delivered with such beautiful, intricately decorated froth; we were slightly hesitant to drink them.

coffee 3

For me now my morning tea in bed and afternoon family tea has been replaced with coffee shops and cafes, lattes and mochas.  When and why did I switch my love and devotion from tea to coffee?

On moving to Goodwood Station in the 70’s I was introduced to the ‘delicacy’ of coffee and powdered milk by my father in law.  To this day, the memory of lumpy powdered milk floating in my coffee is enough to make me go many extra miles for fresh milk! In those days coffee making consisted of a teaspoon of International Roast, milk and sugar and hot water … that was it! Now we have Caffe Latte, Cappuccino, Macchiato, Piccolo, Ristretto, Espresso, Vienna, Mocha, Affogato, Long Black, Flat White – the list goes on.


Recently when I had a spring clean I found a drip filter coffee machine, plungers, a vacuum machine, a pod machine, an espresso machine and a milk frother. It seems my love of coffee has developed into something of an obsession.

Although I don’t drink as much tea now as I did in the  ‘good old days’ and it’s certainly not such a focal point in my life, it will always be like an old friend who I look upon with great fondness. As my wonderful Dad used to say, “A cup of tea can fix anything”.

Do you remember saving the end of the Lanchoo tea packet and with great excitement be able to select a gift from the Lanchoo catalogue?

lanchoo tea

Annie’s Escape to the Country …

Guest Blog by Annie Kiefer, State Honorary Secretary

Day dawned; I was ready and set to go on my Adventure “out west”.  A place I had never truly and properly visited until now.  Sure, I went to Broken Hill to our CWA Conference, but all I saw was the Entertainment Centre and our accommodation. No time for tripping around.

I boarded the Dubbo train, feasted on scones, jam and cream – ladies not nearly as good as the CWA ones at the RAS – and later that night arrived in Wilcannia (this time via bus). Torrential rain followed me all the way to Cobar.  Drought, what drought I was forced to query?

My dear friend Annette, (aka beastie due to a typographical error) met me in downtown Wilcannia in the dead of night. Well, perhaps not the “dead” of night, but it was pretty dark.  We journeyed through to White Cliffs and then to Polpah Station via a couple of flooded creek beds. Again I queried, “What drought? to be told “It’s a Green Drought”! That night I fell into bed – after all, I had been so excited that morning that I was up and about at around 4.30 am.Annie 4

The next morning I awoke early and we travelled into White Cliffs.  What a wonderful town is White Cliffs.  There was to be that Friday, Saturday and Sunday, an Arts Festival. The town had been “wool bombed” and was bedecked in the most amazing knitted, crocheted and woven bits and pieces. Fences were covered in knitted flowers, crocheted rugs adorned the local hall where an old ute was parked out the front completely covered in knitting with a full sized knitted driver. The local general store had an amazing assortment of bollards out the front each topped with pom poms. I inspected the CWA Hall and marvelled at what wonderful accommodation it is. The local branch rents the Hall out for visitors to stay in (and it has air conditioning!!). I met Jim at the local coffee shop who shared all the finer details about finding opals and showed us a couple he had found.  They were enormous. I couldn’t understand why he wouldn’t give them to us.Annie 2

The next day we went out exploring on Polpah. I saw real live emus, real live kangaroos, real live rabbits, leopard trees, real live eaglets in their nest, skies full of budgerigars and real live huge numbers of sheep.  I was fortunate enough to visit neighbouring Goodwood Station, and watch the crutching of their sheep. It was so fascinating. And the shearing personnel were so patient and kind and talked me through all the procedures and answered all my naïve queries!

Let me say here and now that I am a “dyed in the wool”, pardon the pun, city slicker from waaaay back, so everything was a real first for me.

I was absolutely astounded and almost speechless by the size of the sky. Enormous Blue Huge Tremendous Magnificent Words actually fail me!! (And those of you that know me, know that’s a first!!)Annie pic

I found such a wondrous beauty in all things I saw.  From the red dirt to the beautiful skies, to the marvellous trees and the wonderful wildflowers; each was a joy to behold. (Annie picking up pressing tips from CWA member Louise Turner)

We visited Peery Lake where I was fortunate enough to see some aboriginal rock paintings. We walked out to one of the islands in the Lake (now nearly dry) and saw where the springs come from. On this trek we were accompanied by visitors to the area who were being shown around by the Park Ranger, there were a couple from Melbourne, a couple from Sydney, a couple from Yass.  We then journeyed to Goodwood Station where we were entertained by a guest who “just happened to bring his guitar” along, and where we enjoyed a lovely lunch prepared by Louise Turner, who, with her husband Zane, owns this Station.Annie 3

Next day, there was “Open Day” at the dugouts. My beastie, Annette, and I travelled once more into White Cliffs where I enjoyed visiting various underground homes.  One such home would put “Vogue Interiors” and “Belle Magazine” to shame, such was its magnificence. (In an underground motel)

On the Saturday afternoon we visited the local Hall and admired the work of many local artists. Their artwork was first class. In the evening we again travelled into White Cliffs with Annette’s grandson, Finley, to attend the Festival Concert.  And what a concert it was, “The Waking of the Indigenous Animals”, choreographed locally by White Cliffs residents was inspiring. So was the magician!

The next day we picnicked in the creek bed. I saw bird life I had long forgotten – Eagles, Zebra Finches, Willy Wagtails, Sparrows which all seem to have disappeared from my suburb in Sydney to be replaced by the Indian Myna birds.

You, in the outback, work so hard for what you get. You work unceasingly. You achieve much. Life is not easy, but your cheerfulness, your laughter and your kindness will remain with me always.

Thank you Annette and Barry, Denika, Finley and Max, Zane and Louise, Keely and Clancy for your hospitality and your warmer than warm welcome. I had the best time and not only that, each day I was fortunate enough to dine on the best freshly baked bread I have ever tasted.

I have lived and travelled all over the World, but none is more beautiful than my own country and my own (2)

(Annie with Mabel Turner who is an orphan)