Cheryl Elston - Special days and fruitcake

Running time
2 min 37 sec
Department of Veterans' Affairs


I don't recall doing anything for Melbourne Cup, but we certainly did for Christmas. Like I said earlier, the cooks did a bit of a special spread. I think we ate plum pudding and fruitcake for about the rest of the six months after Christmas. The RSL had sent us just fruitcake after fruitcake, and it was fantastic, but after, we had boxes and boxes of it. So we had fruitcake for lunch, dinner, breakfast almost.

We tried to make things special. People would send over Santa hats, things like that, so you'd wear them on the ward. But everything, we didn't shut down. We kept going. We had a job. So you tried to dress the place up with what little we had. I always seemed to be on shift, I don't know why, but they'd do something in the mess.

So where the dining hall was, they'd do a bit of special dinner or something like that with what they could. We did have Australia Day over there, and that coincided with the Indian, I think it was the Independence Day, we're about the same time, so there was a bit of a do on that night where they played. It was primarily the Indians. They did dances and displays.

The commander got up and did a bit of a talk. Our guys got up and did a couple of things, and that was a bit of a barbecue. So little things like that just to break the monotony of Groundhog Day. Occasionally, there'd be a trip into the actual capital, into the city. Initially, that wasn't much. There was a little bit of a market. And over time, from seeing it for the first couple of weeks that we were there, and then towards the end where you went in and tried to buy a couple of things to take home, to be mementos and memories, the market had probably grown 100 times. So that was a promising sign that they were healing and people were coming back into the city and re-establishing business as usual, day-to-day life routine, which was good.

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