50 to 50 #1: Born in Gawler

Fifty days from today is my 50th birthday. Yes, Five Zero. This is the first in a series of blog posts to celebrate that milestone.

I’m not quite sure how this will unfold, except that each day I’ll find a photo or object or concept that relates to the year of my life in question — in this case that’s, erm, gulp, 1960 — and see what emerges.

Today’s photo was taken when I was just six weeks old.

That’s my father holding me. He was 35 years old. Yes, rather old for that era, but he’d been married before and had a daughter. The fact that he divorced and re-married was so scandalous in rural South Australia that the daughter was taken away to live with her grandparents and they cut off all contact with him. The first time I met anyone from my father’s side of the family was at his funeral a decade later.

And yes, dad is smoking around the baby. Different times, eh? Not the ever-present pipe I remember him for, but a black Bakelite cigarette holder.

The dog’s name was Toby.

The photo would have been taken by my mother using a Kodak Box Brownie camera in the back yard of our house at 43 Adelaide Road, Gawler. The house is still there, but with what looks like a really low-grade renovation.

I’ll also be posting photos at Flickr (there’s another 6-weeks-old image there already) and mapping locations at Google Maps (see over the jump).

As I say, I’m not sure how this will unfold. So let me know what you think, and what you’d like me to talk about.

View Stilgherrian’s Life in a larger map

14 Replies to “50 to 50 #1: Born in Gawler”

  1. @Sean the Blogonaut: I don’t think Gawler has been rural for a good couple of decades. I’ve often explained its relationship to Adelaide as the same as Campbelltown‘s to Sydney. It’s at the edge of the commuter rail network, and people do treat it as a dormitory suburb.

    Well, they’re not quite the same. Google Maps shows that there’s still a good-sized farming gap between Gawler and the main block of Adelaide suburbia, whereas there’s suburban housing developments all the way to Campbelltown.

    In any event, I was referring to my father’s family’s home town of Orroroo.

    1. Hey Stil. I live about 15mins by car from Gawler on the Northern fringe of Adelaide suburbia. Indeed there is some land between here and Gawler but the suburban creep is relentless Northwards and I suspect will join up with Gawler sometime. The nearly completed Northern Expressway built between Gawler and Pt Wakefield Rd to shuffle trucks from the North down towards Port Adelaide is likely to serve to shift more people Gawler way. Already there’s new housing developments around Gawler spreading it out, and talk of extending the rail out beyond Gawler where the Northern suburban line now ends.

      I like what you’re doing with the 50 to 50 stuff. One thing, is it possible to put hyperlinks from the Google Maps entries back to the particular blog post? Kind or making it easy for someone looking at the map to get to the blog post. I think that’d be neat.


    2. @Dave: Linking from Google Maps back to the blog posts is an excellent idea. I’ve just set that up now. I can see that the “Stilgherrian’s Life” map will eventually become quite a rich resource. For stalkers.

  2. In 50 days you’ll be eligible to join the Penrith Valley Seniors Computer Club (I’m a member) and there’s a wide variety of aged care facilities for the over 50s. 50 is the age society expects you to retire.

    BTW: I mentioned your name to a Christian who does research (research for a doctorate) in Tanzania at a retreat in the Blue Mountains (Hazelbrook) yesterday evening. “You’d obviously be aware of Stilgherrian and his social work in Tanzania” were the words I used.

    Although he didn’t seem to know about the important work you do in remote African communites he does read Crikey so I suggested he keep an eye out for your name.


  3. @Bob Bain: Given how health and lifespan have improved over the last century, it does seem odd to be considered “senior” at 50 years old, as if special treatment is required.

    You’ve got the tense wrong about Tanzania. I was there for 10 days last June-July on a specific project, so in the grand scheme of things I’m not sure how “important” that is and whether it has gained much profile at all within Tanzania itself.

  4. This is good stuff Stil, I just posted a comment referring to this over on Louise’s 52 Suburbs blog as hers reminded me of your “50 to 50” posts.

    What I love is the history lesson you’re giving us about Australia as well. Keep it up.


  5. @Tony Hollingsworth: I’m not sure I like the idea of my life being considered “history” already, but thank you for the comparison to 52 Suburbs because that’s an excellent series.

    Work pressures have prevented me posting every day, but I will definitely catch up with a post today and extra ones to get me back on schedule.

    Oh, for some reason your comment was marked as spam. I’ve no idea why. Otherwise I’d have responded yesterday.

  6. @stilgherrian

    “You’ve got the tense wrong about Tanzania. I was there for 10 days last June-July on a specific project, so in the grand scheme of things I’m not sure how “important” that is and whether it has gained much profile at all within Tanzania itself.”

    As a newly appointed committee member of SLUG (which meets at Google on the last Friday of each month) and with the commitee scratching it’s head for speakers I suggested Stilgherrian (that’s you) and Project Toto. SLUG has been around years and years and years.. but it’s only recently I became a member and by some mysterious slight of hand got elected as a committee member for the coming year:-


    At SLUG (at Google) they do BOFs (Birds of a Feather) on topics such as OLPC (“One Laptop per Child”) which possibly has greater relevance to Africa than it does to Australia.

    Anyway if you should have time from your busy schedule to enlighten the unlightened at SLUG at Google (Pyrmont) at the end of May (last Friday I guess) then refer to the contacts page above.

    BTW: I’ve attempted (as part of my role as Secretary of the Fellowship of the Round Table) to interest Mark Pesche regarding telling a crowd of unknowns what will happen after December 20th. 2012 when the world will change forever according to advocates of the “end of the world Mayan calendar” theory.

    The only response I got so far was a somewhat cryptic “Um. But I actually have a _very_ good idea of how the world is going to change.”


  7. @Bob Bain: Thanks for the thought, but currently I’m not taking on any more media or speaking gigs. I don’t see that changing any time soon. Overload is an issue.

  8. @stilgherrian ta.. It seems SLUG aren’t as desperate (for speakers) as I thought they might be 🙂

    I think I might devote more of my time to “tasks that should be done” rather than canvassing for pollies and persons of note which has taken up a considerable slice of my time from October 2009 to early April 2010.


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