So much of a Dad’s work can go unsung. Father’s Day is one of the precious few chances we get to celebrate him. Peter shares his special story this Father's Day as part of The Dad Files editorial series.
The butcher and the baker
When Peter moved to Bathurst as an apprentice butcher at 16 years of age, he didn’t know one person in town. “I remember arriving and going wow, this is it, the big city!”
Peter worked incredibly hard. He met his wife Deb who worked in the bakery and together they bought Banjo’s Retreat 27 years ago, a rustic, older-style timber café named after Australian bush poet, Banjo Paterson. Peter juggled working in the café and as a butcher but eventually gave up the butchery to work with his wife. At one stage they sold the business to spend more time with their young family, but then bought it back, expanded and moved it to the front of the Stockland Mall.
Now they have a great team of 40 people across two shopping centre locations. “We focus a lot on our coffee, training our baristas, making our coffees affordable for the average person,” says Peter. Catering for the working people of Bathurst clearly pays off in many ways, as Peter observes, “We’ve met some fantastic people, we still have customers coming in now that we’ve known for the whole 27-year journey.”
Even with all that enterprise, hard work and success, Peter says that the most important thing in his life is being a father and a mentor to his children and his grandkids. “Before my father died he said his biggest regret in life was not spending enough time with my brother and myself.”
Being a parent is an honour and a privilege
“Our eldest son was 5 years old when I met my now-wife Deb and he takes my name. He’s always called me dad. The four brothers are as close as anything.” They have 4 sons: Michael (33), Kurt (24), James (23) and Josh (21).
Twenty-four years ago Peter’s second son, Kurt, was born 10 weeks premature, “It was a whirlwind. He was a tiny thing; I got to hold him in one hand for a few seconds before they whisked him away.”
“Until you look back you don’t realise how big those moments are.”
“My kids are all characters, with the same morals but are so different in what they think and do. They’ve all worked in the business, it gave them a good understanding of working common sense They’re all working, buying and building houses and they know it’s not handed to them on a platter. They realise if they want to get somewhere they have to get out and have a crack.”
He laughs when he talks about youngest son, Josh ‘the storyteller’ who was ‘the worst’ and would pull out ridiculous stories with such a straight face. “Once he told his grandparents we’d sold a boat and bought a new one.”
“Myself and my wife always wanted to be around our children. Being a parent is an honour and a privilege. As a family we spend a lot of time together. We’re all very close.”
Father’s Day is a very important day for Peter and his family.
“Everyone’s around for a dinner at my house. It’s another day that’s good to bring everyone together.”