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Christmas Day 1974
by RICHARD SANDS
Christmas Day 1974 promised to be a very exciting and happy one. I was 11 at the time and my family and I had just moved back to Melbourne from New Zealand only 4 days earlier so this was the first Christmas we had spent with our family and friends since 1971.
Anyway the day started quite well, I remember we opened our presents and saw the neighbourhood kids and all compared presents and so on. The TV was on for a while and it showed some Christmas themed cartoons and was switched off in time for Christmas Lunch which we were hosting for the extended family. Lunch came and went, there were more presents and we all did what we normally would have done for Christmas, which was play with our new toys outside and in the neighbourhood park ( One of them was a kite ).
Eventually the guests left and the Neighbours all went home. We had our dinner and settled down to watch "Half a Sixpence" on TV. During the movie my mother mentioned offhandedly "Did you know there was a big cyclone up in Darwin today ?" This was the first I had heard of it, and I like everybody else in the room said no.
The next morning i went to the local shop to get a copy of "The Sun". Darwin was all over the front page, complete with pictures of the incredible destruction. My first thought and feeling I had was guilt. I thought how could I have not known about this all day yesterday, and why did I have such a nice day when so many of my fellow Australians did not. I felt very ashamed but above all, very concerned about the poor people up in Darwin.
I also remember a National Telethon on Channel 9 a few days later ( I think it was New Years Eve ) for the people of Darwin and I still feel very proud of Australia and Australians whenever I remember it. I also remember Bill and Boyd "debuting" their song "Santa never made it into Darwin" on that same telethon.