Humans of Aura
Leslie Buffett: From abracadabra to the magic of a Triumph motorcycle
I was born in Auckland, New Zealand, on the 16th of May 1948 and lived there until I was nearly 19. I attended St Mary’s College in Ponsonby and went onto Auckland Girls’ Grammar. When I was growing up in Ponsonby it wasn’t what it is today - now a very high-end arty suburb of Auckland. Next to Ponsonby was the suburb of Herne Bay which was then quite exclusive so when people asked me ‘where do you live?’ I always replied ‘Herne Bay’. These days I wouldn’t be able to afford to live in Ponsonby as it is very expensive.
My parents moved to Norfolk Island in 1966 and I followed them to Norfolk for nearly a year in 1967. Then I headed off overseas and that’s probably where the more interesting chapter of my life began because I worked for three years as a magician’s assistant travelling throughout Asia and the Middle East. This included a three-month stint in South Vietnam in late 1968 where we were entertaining American troops. This often involved hopping off and on C-130 Hercules military aircraft, waiting for days in airports to be uplifted to yet the next gig, living on powdered eggs, hamburgers and french fries.
Our magic show involved a few big illusions with swords etc and having to emerge from incredibly small boxes … but no I don’t have any scars! The show (comprising other artists) also included me doing a bit of go-go dancing with one of the other girls (it was 1968 after all). I was ‘Danielle’ and we wore quite skimpy bikinis with tassels that probably gave the impression we were able to move a whole lot better than we actually could. I think my mother was horrified.
In 1969 we found ourselves an apartment in Kowloon and based ourselves in Hong Kong for two years, travelling to Singapore, Indonesia, Guam, Japan, Thailand, Taiwan and several times to the Philippines, then to the Middle East (Beirut and Cairo) working in nightclubs. Now, looking back, I don’t think I fully appreciated the experience ... being just 20. After three years, at the age of 23, I was well and truly over that lifestyle and went back to Norfolk Island and my parents. In 1976 I married a local and stayed on Norfolk until 1984 when the marriage fell apart. I went to Melbourne with my three children where I lived for 13 years, working as a secretary/personal assistant.
In 1997, when my children had left home and my parents had moved to Brisbane and were getting quite old, I made the decision to also move to Brisbane. Whilst I didn’t initially need to look after my parents, at least I was close by. I worked as a legal secretary for HopgoodGanim Lawyers until I retired in 2015. That firm was handling the legal work for Mark Taylor and Tim Russell (now the directors of Aura Holdings) so I knew Mark and Tim’s background, business experience, honesty and integrity.
Moving to Brisbane enabled me to pursue another of my dreams, perhaps not everyone’s cup of tea, and I know it’s a bit different - but I have a love of British motorbikes. So, at the age of 50, as an empty-nester, and having little in the way of responsibilities other than my job and my parents at a distance, I decided to learn to ride a motorbike. I have owned five Triumph Bonneville motorcycles, two of which were Bonneville Thruxtons. I still wish I had one – even if it was just to polish and admire.
In 2010 I had a motorcycle accident and injured myself when I hit an oil spill on the road. It was the one day I decided to ride without my leather riding pants but thankfully I was wearing my jacket, gloves and boots, but wasn’t protected around my knees and legs. I landed on my left-hand side at 60mph and was black and blue from the waist down.
After the accident I vowed and declared I wouldn’t ride again, but I really missed it. Motorcycles had been a big part of my social life for over 10 years and I rode with the Ulysses Motorcycle Club, a social group of mature-age motorcycle enthusiasts whose motto is to Grow Old Disgracefully (though we rarely lived up to that motto). We’d meet every second Sunday and go for a ride and it very much became my one and only social outlet (by this time looking after my parents was very much hands on). I found without a motorcycle I had few like-minded friends so, in 2012 at the age of 64, I bought my last motorcycle – another Triumph Bonneville (what else!) However, I discovered I’d lost my nerve and ended up selling that Bonneville after six months. It was a timely disposal because I needed a half-knee replacement following injuries from the accident. So, no more bikes for me – now I’m strictly on four wheels only. I still keep in touch and meet up with my Ulysses friends – it’s a good social group.
In between retiring and actually coming here to The Atrium Lutwyche in 2021, I decided to return to Norfolk Island, but quickly found it wasn’t the right move for me and only stayed three years. In 2019 I was diagnosed with cancer and had to come back to Brisbane in any event for treatment. The fact I needed continuous health monitoring sealed the decision for me to again make Brisbane my home. I am well now but need checks every year for the next three years.
So here I am at The Atrium living with my two fluffball cats (Rupert and Buddy) and my very tacky Rod Stewart mirror. I had to leave all household items and furniture on Norfolk as it’s too costly to air freight everything back to the mainland. My cats and my Rod Stewart mirror (a bit of a joke gift from my daughter) could not be left behind so they flew back with me.
My life, I admit, has been a bit different with pockets of interesting times (three years as a magician’s assistant, living on a remote island and riding British motorcycles) but I’m pretty basic and boring otherwise. I love the quiet life and am loving my life here at The Atrium!
At Aura Holdings we feel very privileged to have so many wonderful residents living in our villages. A big thank you to Leslie Buffett, a resident of The Atrium Lutwyche, for sharing experiences from her eventful life.