Upon arrival in Australia in 1965 (from England on the SS Oriana), we took possession of our family home located at 137 Mugga Way, Red Hill, Canberra, Australia.   The home had been custom designed and built, and was located in a very upmarket area of Canberra.  Red Hill, a typically outback rocky outcrop laden with deadly snakes & spiders as well as kangaroos, was literally across the street.

toby cowboyIt was from this home I had my first memories of seeing the newspaper photo of Neil Armstrong walking on the moon, learning to swim, my father heading to the war in Vietnam, and it was the only time in when our entire family was living together under a single roof in my memories.  We played “army” and “cowboys and indians” on Red Hill (with my older brothers nearly killed me by making me sit on a log that under it was a redback spiders nest).   My oldest brother, Richard used to be naughty by “mooning” cars passing by at night.  It was in this house that I learnt that my mother was actually Santa Claus, when my brother Tim took me into my parents bedroom the night before Christmas and showed me the closet behind the door had all these fabulous toys, that the next morning I would awake too thinking they were from Santa.  It was from this house that I first went to school, and first learnt about volunteering, doing “rag drives” for my school (collecting clothes from homes in the area for underprivileged)

canberra red hill 137 mugga way vista

Toby playing Cowboys and Indians circa 1969 Mugga Way Toby 1st day of Red Hill School from Canberra Mugga Way Pool Toby Mandy Scout Tim Canberra Aquavan Tim and Toby Simkin swim

From my mothers memoirs:

Before we left Australia in 1962 we decided that it would be advisable to build a house in Canberra, as Defence Headquarters was moving from Melbourne to Canberra. Canberra at this stage was still being built (and still is!) and Commonwealth Bridge and King’s Avenue Bridge were in place but were built over paddocks and the lake wasn’t flooded. The Scrivener Dam finally closed in September, 1963, but it wasn’t until the heavens opened in the following year that the space prepared for the lake filled up.

137 Mugga Way, Red Hill, CanberraWe visited Canberra and found a suitable block of land in Mugga Way. At that time all land was auctioned and the successful bidder had to build within six months or the land reverted to the Crown. Max’s father (Roy) went up from Melbourne for the auction, and the first indication we had that we had been successful was when we saw the headlines in a copy of the “Canberra Times” in Australia House in London, which read “Record price paid for block by Major Simkin”. We discovered that we had paid £3,600 pounds for the block, which in those days was a lot of money, but on present day values is laughable. We proceeded to build the house by post, which was a nightmare, particularly when it came to choosing all the small fittings!