In early August 1976 after just 6 weeks working at the CBC Bank in Dorrigo I was transferred to Urunga Branch. The branch had only been open a few years and was very modern and spacious compared to the cramped conditions at Dorrigo. I still wasn’t old enough for my drivers licence so I boarded at a boarding house which was in the main shopping street. It was horrible. It seemed more of a half way house and many of its residents appeared “dodgy”. Thank goodness I only had to suffer it a few weeks before I got my licence and I moved back to Coffs to live with my parents and commuted the 20 minutes to and fro each day. Although the branch had a decent sized lunch room I used to drive down to the headland to eat my lunch. It was a great view. The hard part was going back to work for the afternoon.
Just prior to Christmas that year the branch was accumulating far too much cash for the managers liking and on the Friday he told me that we would need to transport it up to the Commonwealth Bank in Coffs Harbour. As I lived in Coffs I was chosen to be the bagman with $50,000 in cash stowed in the boot of my black EJ Holden sedan while the Manager followed in his own car. You can imagine how nervous I was. I was only 17. I am happy to say the transfer was accomplished without incident. Also while working in Urunga I learnt to be a teller. After a couple of weeks at the branch my hands were starting to peel and I couldn’t for the life of me work out why. I made an appointment with the Doctor at the Surgery next door. The Doctor asked me if I was a mechanic. Here I am presenting in crisp white shirt, tie and long black pants and shoes and he is asking if I am a mechanic. For such a highly educated man it seemed a pretty dumb question to me. Anyhow I said no, I was the new Bank Johnny next door. He asked me if I handled a lot of cash, specifically new notes. As it happened we used to get a lot of new notes and apparently I was allergic to the chemicals in the brand new notes! Here I was embarking on my career in the banking industry and I was allergic to cash! WTF? Counting brand new notes was never a favourite job so you can imagine what the other teller thought when I told him I wasn’t able to count them anymore and he would have to do the lot. I was quickly given rubber thimbles to use. After I left Urunga it never seemed to be much of an issue anymore.
So I have fond memories, one way or another, of my time in Urunga and my lunch hours spent down by the water.
As you can imagine the headland has changed over the years. I used to just drive and park anywhere. Now the foreshore has been beautified with a lovely grassed area full of tables and bench seats, bbq’s, toilet block and even a stage and amphitheater.
A salad roll and a can of coke would have set me back about $2.50 in 1976. Today it cost me $12 at the bakery.
The amenities are better. The view just as good. And you know what, today I didn’t have to go back to work! Yay!!