Canberra to Lelystad: Back to the ’60s in our 60s

The work on Endellion was finally completed and we headed off for the long trip south back to Paris.  In total we have just over 2000 kilometres to cruise before we reach Paris, but as we are not anticipating being there ‘til late November, we have plenty of time and lots to see and enjoy.

While back onshore in the boatyard in Weesp there was the chance to have a couple of “60’s” experiences.  How so?  Well first off old Canberra Grammar school-friend Paul Honen and his wife Keen came over from Amsterdam one afternoon to visit us.  We are both now in our 60s and there was lots of memories of those times so long back.  The 1960s had been such a great time for contemporary music.  We’d both caught the bug and learnt the guitar.  Paul was – and I’m sure still is far more competent on one than I am.   He played lead guitar in our school band “Syco Daze”.

Paul (centre) in the poster shot. Right Doug, left Greg.

Paul Hohnen, far right, on lead guitar. Drums: John Harvey, Rhythm: Doug Jerrems, Base: Greg Peters.

The Syco Daze repertoire was based around the memorable songs bands still without equal we reckon, were releasing week after week.  Songs from The Rolling Stones, The Trogs, Yard-birds, Loving Spoonful, The Who, Masters Apprentices, The East Beats, of course the Beatles and all the others. 

Paul and I had also played two of the four tempters in GK Chesterton’s “Murder in the Cathedral” the first and possibly only play performed in the school’s then new chapel. 

‘Murder in the Cathedral’ (school chapel) … Paul was not in the lead role though it looks like it (standing tall).

Growing up in Canberra at that time was different to other places.  It was still very much a small town in those days, but rapidly growing.  The sheep farms of the Woden Valley my school bus travelled through each day were soon “resumed” to become one satellite city of Canberra.  Then the same happened around my grandparents farm Belconnen.  Paul later sent me a link to a promotional film made at the time which captures it just as we both fondly remembered it.  We were growing up in a massive experiment in planning and building a city from scratch.  Life was good and issues like the GFC and Climate Change were still so long away.

Not too far from Weesp here in the Netherland we had another experience which reminded me of those early Canberra days. 

Early last century the government of the Netherlands came up with a plan to quite literally expand the footprint of its tiny country.

We were trying to find out where is everyone in Leystad centre, quite a spooky feeling.

Interesting architecture in Lelystad centre, no windows in this one.

The incredibly deserted streets of Lelystad, admittedly it was Sunday.


The massive sculpture at Bataviastad, ‘Crouching Man’ looking out over Marker Meer and IJssel Meer.

To create this new province, now known as Flevoland, meant building 25 or so kilometres of dykes to fence in huge sections of the Ijsselmeer Sea.  Then, the water was pumped out and by around 1960 new farms were growing crops and running cows down on the ocean floor, five (5) metres below sea level!  A new province of 216,000 hectares had been created; about one tenth the size of Canberra’s Australian Capital Territory. 

New towns and cities had followed.  Lelystad, its capital, which we visited by train from Weesp, was just like Canberra back then.  All the buildings, streets and bridges were new.  The trees all the same size and shape.  Everything neat, trim.

But, at least on the day we visited, the streets were empty and everywhere deathly silent.  Used to all the colour and bustle everywhere else in Europe,  Lelystad  felt deserted and a bit spooky.

Replica of the ‘Batavia’ at Bataviastad.

However we were there on a Sunday, and finally we found everyone including many tourists on the outskirts of town in Bataviastad, fashion capital of the region and home of the replica Batavia ship and museum.

About Lesley and Stewart

Loving great waterways of the world.
This entry was posted in Australia, History, Waterway life and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s