“I don’t know how you’re going to fit my life into a little chapter like this. I was always a go-getter. I made the rules, I made the decisions, I did the things rather than being influenced by other people. I’ve done so many things, I have forgotten a lot of them. I’ve travelled all over the world and Australia. I went down to Antarctica and saw many varieties of penguins, I went to Virunga Mountains in Rwanda and saw the endangered mountain gorillas and places like Greenland where I saw icebergs that fascinated me.
I was born in Port Lincoln on the Eyre Peninsula and grew up on a farm at Yallunda Flat. My Dad sold the farm and I wasn’t very happy about that because I wanted to be a farmer and develop the Jersey stud that we had. He said ‘girls don’t be farmers’ and sold the farm. I was an only child and he was getting older. I was furious but I had no say, girls had no say, not in the fifties.
I did my three years at teachers’ college, art school and university. I was trained as an art teacher so I taught pottery, machine embroidery, desktop publishing and digital photography besides just drawing and painting. I liked to educate kids for their enjoyment and for possible prospects for jobs.
I did 50 years of teaching, two years at Maitland, one in Perth on Exchange and 48 over here and am very proud of having taught three generations of several families. I taught at Kingscote and Parndana, Vicki Chapman reminded me I had taught her. We came over here on a rural youth camp visiting during the April holidays where I met Robert Patterson at a dance, then I moved over here to get married.
Came as a shock to hear him say one day ‘I am leaving’ and ‘there is $10,000 left to pay off on the house.’
I didn’t expect him to go. I worked my ass off at school and paid it off, then in ’84, I went overseas. Probably coming home on the plane was one of the toughest times for the 24 hours I was on the plane. All I could think of was seeing him again when I got home then I had to come to the realisation that he wasn’t coming back. He’d gone. That was probably mentally a tough time. Mentally a tough time now that I am alone after my second husband Kingsford died and I am lonely. That is why I like to go out to sport, take photos and talk to people and see people, and that is why I got my little dog, Buddy. I made the dog so attached to me because there is no one else and I love him to death, he is so spoiled.
I was always fascinated by my father’s old Kodak Brownie, which was a folding camera but we are looking at 1954. I did my first shoot when I was 15 and then took all the wedding photos over here for years but half the marriages have since broken up and that sort of demoralised me a bit. It hurt to think they were so happy and then things went so wrong that their marriage just broke up. Having been through a broken marriage, I know what it feels like. In 2014 I became the permanent sports photographer for the Islander and that lasted until April last year when I got a phone call from the big boss telling me that my services have been discontinued. Lack of money and Covid were the reasons, he said—there ended my career with The Islander.
I still do photos and the clubs pay me $20 for appearance and $20 for fuel money when I go out of town, which is chicken feed and certainly doesn’t cover my costs, but it gets me out. I love taking photos and contact with people, and photography is the one thing I’ve always done. I need to get away from the house. I sit here at night and have a bit of a cry when I sit with Buddy and I look at Kingsford’s photos and think ‘Life’s gotta go on.’
I often wonder what my life would have been like if I’d stayed on the West Coast. I would have been a farmer or a farmer’s wife and had six kids, I suppose. But there were always happy times in my life; I was just doing things I wanted to do.”