50 years ago … A migration to remember
Emigrating is something you only do once in a lifetime. And for Barrie Oldfield and his wife Sallie it was something to be experienced in the deepest and most adventurous way possible. They chose to drive overland in a Morris 1100. The journey took five months starting from Oxford, England in March 1963, embarking for Australia from Madras, India.
But before the journey adventures were already building up. Going to the embassy of the United Arab Republic to apply for visas for Syria he was met at the top step by a towering dark-skinned doorman, a deep scar across his left cheek. There was silence. Somewhat taken aback by this decidedly undiplomatic welcome Barrie stated his purpose, to obtain visas for their journey through Syria. Silence. He asked again. Still silence. ‘This is the embassy of the United Arab Republic?’ A long silence. ‘And Syria is a member of the UAR?‘ Another long pause…‘Not since three weeks ago’.
Being short of a Syrian visa was a small set back. The news that the Iraqi Prime Minister, General Kassem, had just been deposed was another. He had been dragged into the Bagdad television studios and machine-gunned on camera! So journeying across half the world, through territories and cultures never before experienced, and spending good times with people along the way was going to be a great adventure. And it was.
Just a few pictures to remember this significant event in our lives.
This Noria at Hama in Syria. One of four giant waterwheels still turning 15 centuries after being built. To hear the sound of the groaning timbers click here
Floating in the Dead Sea and then exploring the nearby caves at Qumran where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found.
(Not by us!)
Sitting at the top of a vast roman amphitheater at Jerash in Jordan, Sallie and Rima on right with other children who insisted we share a meal and spend the night with them. Such hospitality was commonplace once we had left industrial Europe.
Entering Fatehpur Sikri. This incredible sandstone city was built in the mid 1500s, the architecture influenced by the great Mogul Emperor, Akbar the Great.
Sadly, only 35 years after the great palaces and pavilions were completed the city was abandoned due to lack of a sufficient water supply.
An ‘Irish Bridge’ in southern Iran. Hit one of these at 50mph and all the luggage off the back seat ends up with us in the front!
Spinning wool off the sheep’s back in this garden island of Corfu.
A brief respite from the oppressive heat of the Indus Valley. Camp by the river Lidder in the Himalayan foothills, Kashmir.
A qanot in the drier part of Iran. Extensive underground channels bring water from distant mountains for the benefit of desert travelers and their herds. Steps down inside lead to cool refreshing, flowing water.
An armed police escort accompanied us from Neyriz to Serjan in southern Iran. Here they deploy themselves in a narrow defile where often bandits lie in wait to ambush unwary travelers.
Many more sights and adventures made this journey of migration an experience possible only once in a lifetime. Fifty years later its place in history adds another reality dimension.