Photos and comment courtesy Robin Henry: 2011
“One man’s sweet / sad memories” – Centralian Advocate (Alice Springs) newspaper cutting
It was a stinking hot December at Tennant Creek in 1961 when my 40-plus mother was ready to deliver the outcome of an unexpected pregnancy. In the sixties, Tennant Creek, if not The Alice, was a hop, step and a jump away from the Wild West. All that was missing were guns, legal bordellos and perhaps the American twang.
December had been a particularly wet month. A day or two before my mother was due we had been swamped with rain, so much so that the relatively new Orlando Mine was flooding. My engineer father Joe had spent most of his time underground with a team of electricians and fitters finding ways to pump the water out and save the electrical switchboards from being inundated and thus shutting down any chance of pumps operating. Fortunately they were successful.
While it was still raining, my father tracked me down working a school holiday job with Geopeko and told me that mother had been sent to Alice by ambulance because the local hospital and staff couldn’t handle her delivery. We had to drive down, he said, and make sure she was OK.
Drive we did – all night. In those days the road was about a truck width wide with scrub almost to the edge of the road. When another vehicle approached, which was relatively rare, drivers had to put their left wheels just off the bitumen so both vehicles could pass. Travel was slow and there was no air-conditioning other then that blowing through the open windows. It was an eight hour trip with a couple of stops.
Much to our surprise, when we arrived at the Alice Springs Hospital (now the RFDS building), we were told that the ambulance hadn’t yet arrived. We had not even seen an ambulance on our trip. an hour or two later we were told the baby had been born near Barrow Creek in the back of the ambulance on the edge of the highway in very unpleasant conditions.
As my mother related the story, it was no mean feat. Expecting a daughter, she had already decided the name. “Michelle Patricia” but when she told the midwife, she thankfully suggested it wasn’t really appropriate for a boy. So my brother’s first name was “Butch”.
Eventually my parents, in their inordinate wisdom, decided to give the Michelle Patricia handle the flick and replaced Butch with a more prestigious name , Kendall Stuart Henry: Kendall after the name of the midwife and Stuart because he was born on the Stuart Highway.
As a previously sibling -free kid, I didn’t really want any competition, but he was a lovely little blue-eyed fellow with blonde hair and it didn’t take me too long to realise that as I was 14 years older he wouldn’t be a threat. I was more like another father than a brother to him.
We became good mates and continued to be so until his sad demise at the Gold Coast in 1976.
How many of these stories are lost with the passage of time?
Robin Henry, Alice Springs
A collection of photos taken around Tennant Creek during the 60’s
Mrs Eddy was married to mining engineer Graydon Eddy who worked at Peko. Her son, John Eddy was one of my mates. He is shown in another shot.
My mother and father Bobby and Joe Henry. Father Joe was electrical engineer at Peko Mine from May 1957 until March 1965.
Henning Ree Andersen was a cabinetmaker employed in the carpentry shop. He was from Denmark. Dad took us underground at Ivanhoe on an inspection tour.
Ray Maher was 24 when I took this photo. He worked for the then Exploration Department of Peko Mine NL and later Geopeko when the exploration arm became a separate business. He remained with Geopeko until he retired. A week or two ago my wife Christina (a midwife), delivered one of Ray’s grandchildren. Ain’t it a small world?
My father and I visited the dam, off the Peko road when the first major rain came and filled it to the brim.
This was my first car which had been owned by Bent ?, a motor mechanic who appears in other photos.
The number plates were 12-250 and I still have them on my car today
I worked with both of these guys at Peko in the welding workshop. They both became Australian citizens on the day the photo was taken.
Bent ? was a motor mechanic at Peko. Sigfried Leitenberger worked as a miner and was married to the lovely Fay Leitenberger (Hudson).
We often went to the Edna Beryl Mine pool for a swim and BBQ. Here is a photo of one of our trips which I took. Can’t recall the surnames of most of these people, but Mick was a panel beater in TC.
My parents with my brother Kendall Stuart Henry. He was born on 13 Dec 61 in an ambulance near Barrow Creek and died aged 14 on 3 Sep 76.
We had pulled up to have a cuppa.
When it rained, we headed for the TC to have a much needed dip. No Mary-Ann Dam then!
Jon, taken outside his house next door to TC Police Station. His father Eddy Vallins worked the Susan Mine with his father-in-law Len Purkiss (Of Purkiss Park fame) and later worked at Nobles Nob. Jon’s mum Jean worked for a travel agent (I think) and of course was the daughter of Len Purkiss. Len, I think was the first MLA for Tennant Creek.