My father had been living at home since my mother died last year. I had arranged to spend a week with him in August, but two weeks before I was due to fly over to Whyalla he fell and broke his hip. He had a successful hip replacement operation, but the general anaesthetic really played havoc with his (previously mild) dementia. He was in hospital for three weeks and then transferred to a nursing home, where he is slowly recovering.
So my one week turned into two, spent mainly cleaning and clearing out the house with my sister, as it’s highly unlikely he’ll be able to return home. In the back room we found one of the original tea chests (pic 1) into which we packed all our worldly possessions for our assisted passage from England to Australia in September 1966. My parents were never ones to throw anything out!
I went to Whyalla High (pic 2) and played football for Wanderers at Swandel Park (pic 3) but never really looked back after leaving for Adelaide Uni in 1971. In fact, as my old schoolfriend Dave said, apart from uni holidays as a postman or digging out weeds for the council, the two weeks is probably the longest I have spent there since I left.
They have good coffee in Whyalla these days. I had my morning cup at Sempre, diagonally opposite the Art Deco pearl of the north, the Hotel BayView (pic 4). People in Whyalla have never lacked a sense of humour (pic 5) or a strong political conviction. Seeing the flag as I drove past Whyalla Scaffolding (pic 6) prompted me to muse on the upcoming Scottish independence referendum. When the Scots vote to disassociate themselves from the union, the union flag will become a mere historical artifact. The non-Scottish parts of the United Kingdom—as well as certain far-flung former colonies in the South Pacific—will then have to find themselves a new flag. And what better option for Australia than the independence flag that was fluttering so proudly against the bright blue sky?
My mother worked for the Whyalla City Council in the Ada Ryan Gardens for many years. When she died last year, we asked if the council would consider erected a bench to commemorate her time there. While she was a worker, never a volunteer, the bench is in a lovely spot and I think they have done a pretty good job (pics 6 and 7).