MY father was born on a Monday and died on a Friday. Monday to Friday. A week. A lifetime. In the 89 years between the beginning and the end, he experienced the best of times and some of the toughest times, too
He was born on 26 January 1925. Australia Day. His family at the time was immensely wealthy. His grandfather, Major Philip Charley, was one of the founders of BHP. At that time, he owned a seventh of the company, a personal share that amounts to around $28 billion in today’s terms.
Throughout his childhood, Dad was surrounded by the trappings of extraordinary privilege: one of the grandest houses in Australia, a place they called Charley Castle, with a Rolls Royce in the driveway, a private zoo, the whole of Mount Tomah as a personal playground, and a horse stud where ‘Breaker Morant’ worked, before his fateful one-way journey to the Boer War.
Dad spoke of dinner parties attended by the Duke of Windsor amongst other notable foreign visitors, and of his grandfather’s gracious love of entertaining.