Looking back without rose coloured glasses

Photo of author

The Hume Highway between the Cross Roads and Campbelltown
Hit the road, son: The Hume Highway between the Cross Roads and Campbelltown was built in the late 1970s.

Nothing concentrates the mind like being asked to give a speech about your memories of 20, 30 and 40 years ago.

On May 4 I will be speaking about the local media and politics as part of Heritage Week in Liverpool.

I started my newspaper career in Liverpool, and as fate would have it, finished it there almost three years ago after taking a redundancy package from Fairfax Media.

When I accepted the invitation to speak at Liverpool it didn’t take long for the memories to come flooding back.

The funny thing was that I also started thinking about Campbelltown.

This may seem strange but there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation for it.

You see, while being based at Liverpool as a cadet reporter, my duties included covering the Campbelltown region because the company I worked for didn’t have a newspaper there.

Indeed one of the first stories I covered was the Appin mine disaster.

But my paper also covered the construction of the Hume Highway expressway between the Cross Roads and Campbelltown.

Well, like all good papers it did more than that: editor Brian Hart successfully campaigned for public telephones to be installed along the route for people in an emergency.

There were no mobile phones in the 1970s so this was an insightful campaign for those times.

And I was also asked to cover council meetings in Campbelltown and remember meeting the legendary John Leary for the first time.

The council PR man grabbed hold of me and enthusiastically said, well, Eric, you’re gonna love Campbelltown, let me show you around.

And we piled into his company vehicle and off we went to check out the new estates west of the railway line at Raby, Eagles Vale, Kearns and St Andrews.

Newly married, I was living at Liverpool at the time and saving up to buy our first home.

A couple of years later we moved into a house in Duncansby Crescent, St Andrews and the rest, as they say, is history.

So, almost 40 years of living in Campbelltown, half of those as editor of local newspapers, and I guess you get to know what’s going on.

If I were asked to give a speech about Campbelltown I would talk about some of the great journalists who started out from this neck of the woods.

And then there’s some of the political giants I came across, from John Kerin to Craig Knowles and Mark Latham, long before he became an “outsider’’, whatever that is.

On the council were people like Gordon Fetterplace, Jim Merry and Bryce Regan, and in the late 1980s Meg Oates, who is still there.

If I were marking them, I’d see they fell down on a couple of areas.

The big one was spending years and many resources opposing Badgerys Creek airport – it would be operating now and maybe even be connected by rail to Campbelltown.

What a boost to the town that would be, and for all of the Macarthur region.

Lack of planning was another flaw of those years, but it’s easy being a genius with hindsight.

Overall, looking back over the past 40 years one would say they did OK in Campbelltown but could have done better.

As for Liverpool, well, you will have to wait until after May 4 to find out what I think.

Homes on the west side of the railway in Campbelltown.
Homes on the west side of the railway in Campbelltown.



Leave a Comment