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With Carol Bellis

by Sam Regi
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In a story session with Carol Bellis, at her home in the Gap, Carol unfolds a narrative that spans continents and decades. From her upbringing under South Africa's apartheid regime to the transformative decision to make Australia her home, Carol's journey is one of resilience and adaptation. This conversation captures her reflections on navigating profound contrasts in societal norms and personal freedoms, while also exploring the values she hopes will shape her family's legacy—a testament to belief in oneself, gratitude, and the courage to embrace new beginnings.

00:00 / 05:51

Press play to listen to an extract from the conversation with Carol.

"We brought all our clothing in a trunk. That's all. And our car. We had to wait three days in Sydney to get to the car. Took a while to get come off the ship and pass immigration and all the tests. So that's why we stayed (in Sydney). And while we were there, we saw a few sights and went to the zoo. And oh, there's a whole other story about that..."  - Carol Bellis.
 

Carol
It was home. it was familiar. the same as anywhere else where you're born. But I didn't. I didn't like the apartheid system. And looking back, I just don't know how I could have even lived like that. it was so cruel. So we had been thinking of leaving South Africa because of the apartheid system. And also because it would mean that when my son grew up and became 18 and turned 18, he would have been conscripted into the army, which was the law then.

Carol
That's two reasons, but it was just something that was brewing in the background, until one day a lady passed in front of our residence, walking along the street, and I was out gardening, and she, we struck up a conversation and she was so interesting talking about certain unrest and things that were going on in the background, that journalists and newspapers were not allowed to publish.

Carol
It was banned. And so I invited her in for a cup of tea. it was a day when my husband working from home, and it was a day when my husband had been to the bank in to negotiate a second mortgage on our house so we could extend it. And anyway, so I was having tea with her, and she was telling me all about the unrest that was brewing in the underneath that no one really knew about.

Carol
She was somehow connected with some illegal organisation, in South Africa. And I found it very interesting so that internally I had been thinking while she was talking that we've got it, we've got to emigrate. And so when my husband came back from, bank, he announced that, the bank was turning down his application for a loan or a second mortgage.

Carol
And I said to him, it doesn't matter we’re migrating. So that's how it started. And he was he wanted to go as well. So he was in agreement. And so that's probably why I don't have any ties to the actual country. It's got beautiful parts of the country. The countryside is gorgeous, but yeah. just growing up and childhood and that's it.

 

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Carol Bellis at home.

 


And then coming to Australia, It was just, as I said, that sense of freedom

Carol
And the change and once we settled in and got to know the place more, there was always comparisons about what was better in South Africa when we were still homesick. This was much better in South Africa than it is now and that sort of thing.

Carol
I did a lot of that. I don't know where the Chris did, but that's just my nature, I guess. Always comparing. Yeah, but I've never, ever regretted it. Never. I don't think he did either. In fact, I know he didn't regret the change. Yeah.

Sam
And so, having lived so many different lives, so many different chapters in so many different places.

Sam
what is your legacy?

Carol
That's a big question.

Sam
I thought we'd end, on a bigish question.

Carol
Oh my goodness. what is my legacy.

Carol
Give me a clue.

Sam
I'd say for your family, what are some of those messages, those values, those traditions that you want to pass on? And you've got such a strong story and you're passing that story on through what we're doing now. But what do you want them to take away when they listen to this.

Carol
I think mainly just believe in yourself. Just be present. Just value what you have and not what you want. Don’t always look into the future all the time. Just appreciate the present and have gratitude for what you have now.

Carol
Believe in yourself.



 

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