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Soldier back for local tour

Monday, 11th November, 2013

Duncan stepped inside his father’s old printing shop and found the cast iron shingle that once hung above the front door. Duncan stepped inside his father’s old printing shop and found the cast iron shingle that once hung above the front door.

By Craig Brealey

As an RAAF man, Duncan Cook might have been expected to have flown with his special guests to his home town of Broken Hill.

A quick, comfortable trip from Sydney would have made a good impression on the guests - after all, one of them is his girlfriend Abigail and the others, well, one day they might be his in-laws.

But Stuart and Lee Gaw, of Nantucket, Massachusetts, USA have long held a dream of visiting Australia and they wanted to see as much as they could and that included the famous Aussie outback.

So, after a few days in Sydney, Duncan chauffeured them to the Silver City in his Subaru.

“We came out to get our families to meet,” said Duncan, whose father Ray used to own Silver City Printers in Blende Street.

“We estimated that they live about 16,000 miles apart!”,

Duncan, who did a six-month tour of duty in Afghanistan as a radar technician for the NATO forces, had met Abigail in Sydney while she was out here studying marketing and living in Coogee, a beautiful spot that she was very happy to show her parents when they flew in about a week ago.

“We had three days in Sydney and then a two-day road trip to Broken Hill,” said Stuart.

“It has been a real adventure for us, especially seeing those little towns like Nyngan and Cobar and Little Topar.

“We have always wanted to come to Australia and New Zealand so this was the perfect excuse.

“Sydney is something like Boston, in a way, but I was surprised at the tropical feel of Sydney and all of the palm trees, and the outback was lot more arid than I had expected. I imagined it would be more lush.”

Duncan made a point of stopping off at Little Topar, which Lee said she found  fascinating.

“We have nothing like that at home,” Lee said. “There it is all antique homes, cobblestone roads, big, beautiful beaches and cranberry bogs.

“But the little towns and the landscape did remind me of Arizona and the American south-west.”

Nothing like home, indeed. As Stuart explained, Nantucket is a sand island off Cape Cod on the Massachusetts coast that was first settled by the English in the 1630s.

“It’s about 30 miles out to sea and about three-and-a-half miles wide by 14 miles long,” said Stuart, who is a builder by trade on an island famed for its beautiful old houses.

Nantucket is best known to history as a whaling port in the 19th Century, said Abigail, and in the novel “Moby Dick” by Herman Melville there is a whole chapter devoted to the island.

Duncan, who has visited Nantucket four times so far, described it as everything an Australian might imagine stately, old east coast America to be.

“It’s like going back a hundred years or more. All the houses have shingles and American flags flying in the front yard. Because most of the houses are historic, you have to maintain your house.

“It feels nostalgic because it reminds me of Broken Hill in a way, how in both places you step back in time.”

Duncan, his dad Ray and mother Barbara have been happily showing the Gaws around town (Mundi Mundi, Pro’s gallery, dinner at the Broken Earth on the Line of Lode...) before they jump back in the vehicle and motor slowly down to the NSW south coast to sample of drop of the famous Aussie red.

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