Stonehaven and District Probus Club

at their last meeting members of the Stonehaven Probus club were entertained by Mrs Roz Marshall to an illustrated presentation intriguingly titled ‘Letters to my father’.

As a young Australian girl Roz came over to visit the ‘old country’ and ended up marrying and staying here. Over the years Roz and her family have exchanged frequent visits and the family bond remains strong.

So does her fondness for her birth country and when, on one visit home, she stumbled across an old brown package stuffed with letters it sent her off on a magical history tour of her family’s roots.

She discovered that most of the letters had been sent to her father, James Gordon Hardman, just before and after his retirement. Mr Hardman, who had begun his career as a solicitor, rose to become Principle Registrar to the Australian High Court - in those days situated in the city of Melbourne.

Though mainly letters of thanks to James for his and his department’s help, many revealed details of the ups and downs of the life of a senior civil servant. Wanting to know more, Roz wrote to the then Registrar, a Mr Phelan, who invited Roz to visit him at his offices, now in the Australian capital of Canberra.

Canberra is unique among Australian cities. In 1908, it was decided that Australia needed a capital city but that it should be independent of the two largest cities, Sydney and Melbourne - as with the American model of Washington. A site was selected and the design contract was awarded to the American husband and wife team of Walter and Marion Griffin. Although work commenced in 1913 it was not until after World War II that the city became the thriving hub it is today with its Parliament, university, libraries, museums and above all its charming ‘garden city’ atmosphere. Plus of course its High Court.

Mr Phelan was most interested in the letters and persuaded Roz to allow some to be archived. In return he arranged for a tour of the whole complex for Roz and her party. Since that time Roz has learned a great deal more about the Australian Constitution, the workings of the Court and the part her father played in it.

The vote of thanks was given by John Callander.