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My Eulogy: Dietmar Manfred Arndt

28/03/2015

Dietmar Manfred Arndt’s life celebration was held at the Christ Church Anglican Church, Melton on Friday 27 March 2015. He was buried at the Maddingley Cemetery, Bacchus Marsh, followed by a wake at the Bacchus Marsh Bowling Club.

Tullamarine early days_0002

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Some of you may not know me. My name is Alfred van Amelsvoort. I would like to begin by offering my condolences to Dietmar’s family: his wife Shirley, his children and grandchildren, and wider family members; and everyone present here this morning and those many absent friends of Dietmar and Shirley.

Shirley asked if I would focus on our early years in Tullamarine. However my talk will overstep that mark a little. Our lives intersected some 60 years ago, and Dietmar and I became friends.

Those early years were a time of pressure on non-English speaking emigrants to assimilate; the message was “you’re now a new Australian. So, leave all that funny stuff behind you.” The process was filled with friction and tension. Dietmar and I were both torn from our homelands in Europe to the Tullamarine Triangle: Dietmar was from Germany, and I was from the Netherlands. (Dietmar retained his unmistakable German accent.)

The Tullamarine triangle estate is defined by Melrose Drive, Sharps Road and Broadmeadows Road. In 1851 Mt Alexander was one of the largest of the early goldfields. The Central Roads Board constructed Mt Alexander Road that  followed the current lines of Mt Alexander Road, Bulla Road, Melrose Drive and Sunbury Road. (source) The Triangle was only 18-km from central Melbourne but fitted the expression of “Back o’ Bourke.” The roads were unmade and poorly defined. The area that was opened-up to building blocks was essentially a sheep-run over-grown by thistles, box-thorns and other weeds and boulders. Tullamarine had a population of 385 in 1955 with a multicultural community of people, in the Triangle, who had been displaced by the events of WWII—as was Dietmar’s family.

The Triangle then was surrounded by farms and offered us opportunities for exploring and work; we milked cows, we baled hay, we rode horses. (source) We sold ice cream and sweets from heavy carts in the newly built Essendon drive-in. We enjoyed the films, and a car wasn’t even necessary but desirable.

Our humble beginnings stand in contrast to our lives today. A contrast that’s difficult to grasp. That’s how different it then was.

OldTulla

Image of the Tullamarine Triangle Estate photographed from the Essendon Drive-In screen circa 1955

Dietmar and I were members of the Tullamarine Soccer Club. Dietmar was athletic and a top football player whereas I was often on the sideline cheering on our team.

We spent our summers swimming in local creeks and rivers (no longer accessible), different bay beaches, and, of course, Lorne—that was the in-place to be in those distant days. We were madcap campers and our expeditions took us to distant places. Those early years were largely an uninterrupted playtime.

Whereas, a little later, there were balls, discothèques, nightclubs, dance clubs, bars where we ventured. Dietmar was certainly not a shy wallflower. He enjoyed a drink, a smoke, a joke and a funny story, and later poker machines. 

The International Hotel, as it was known (now Skyways), was our haunt, and long after most of us had drifted away it remained so for Dietmar, and he and Shirley could be found there on Friday evenings. Dietmar never wavered from this routine.

Dietmar was the second last carpenter employed by TAA. TAA made him an offer he couldn’t refuse, and Dietmar chose that opportunity to retire from the workforce. He thus enjoyed a long period of freedom unhampered by a commitment to an employer. He was a freeman!

Dietmar and Shirley travelled widely. However, it was Dietmar’s prostate that truncated his interest in international travel. Whereas Shirley carried on travelling regardless—to this very day.

Despite our lives moving in different directions, my friendship with Dietmar never faltered.

I will bring my talk to an end by stating that Dietmar was a caring responsible husband, father and grandfather. Dietmar was loved by his family and received their support. I’m inspired by Shirley’s unblemished determination and commitment to Dietmar’s well-being and his welfare. I thank her for keeping us up to date with details of Dietmar’s illness, his treatment and his whereabouts. Dietmar couldn’t have asked for anything more.

It was two years ago when we gathered together a collection of photographs that capture the spirit of our tight-knit group of friends in the 1950s and 1960s. These images may be viewed online. (source) My sister Irene Bloomfield in an email wrote,

Those were care free fun days, happy days, that’s what they make me feel.

I too feel like that. I’m reminded of glorious carefree days enjoyed with fabulous friends—a period of freedom unlike any other I experienced at any other period of my life. We were the Tulla Boys! We were invincible! But ultimately, of course, we never were invincible. The collection includes some nice snaps of Dietmar. If you would like add your photographs to the collection than contact me.

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One Comment
  1. Lorraine kelly permalink

    Thanks for the memories, Freddie. I wonder if you might remember Michael Guillane – not sure of the spelling of his surname. I believe his family lived opposite your home? We were a younger group of Tulla youth and Michael was our friend, before his tragic death.
    We were thinking of holding a Memorial Service for Michael, and wonder about any surviving family or information that may guide us to plan a service for Michael all these years later.
    Any help would be much appreciated.
    Thanks and good wishes,
    Lorraine Kelly – formerly of Broadmeadows road.

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