A “New Australian” history

I’m back in Sydney to say goodbye to the home I grew up in and to give a wave to Mum and Dad now strolling forever in their beloved bush. I hope the house becomes a hearth of home and creativity to the new owners and I hope it finds people it deserves. There’s a lot of history in this house, “new Australian” history.

My Dad, Herbert S. Petter, ran an exclusive catering business in the 60s and 70s when big cats had generous expense accounts. Dad brought his Vienna and London schooling to a Sydney whose palate was strictly lamb and mint sauce with the occasional oyster to stray from old Blighty. Leo Scofield wrote about Dad and I’ve been going through lots of Dad’s fan mail. The time was a boom for Sydney society with “exclusive” being the new catchword. Mum, Frieda Petter, helped Dad and specialised in delicious cold cheesecakes. And then there were stories. I must write them down. Maybe I’ll do a book on Dad and his business with recipes and anecdotes of Sydney in the 60s.

And Mum, creative Mum. Waste not, want not was what she always said. Our house was full of wool and material, etched glasses, painted porcelain, patchwork and tapestries, spinning wheels, looms, …. Memories of all that will be in the book on Mum’s craft that I promised her. After retirement Mum joined the Pink Ladies and contributed her craft work to supporting the local hospital. Yesterday I heard that the Pink Ladies completed and sold a lot of Mum’s unfinished items. I can see her smiling with satisfaction.

Mum and Dad aren’t buried anywhere, they’ve become part of the land they loved and they have left their mark on it. People called them “new Australians”. I’m proud that they were. They started a new life here and they gave me a wonderful start to mine.