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. Bob shares his special story this Father's Day as part of The Dad Files editorial series.
From New Zealand to Australia
Former Councillor and City Mayor of Wyndham Bob Fairclough is passionate about community. He is president of the Point Cook Action Group and Point Cook Cultural Committee, president of a community garden group and is involved with the Horn of Africa group. He is also co-ordinator for a diabetes support group in Werribee.
The father of 2 and now grandfather of 2 came to Australia from New Zealand 34 years ago, when he was offered a position as agricultural scientist at the Animal Research Institute in Werribee.
At the time, his daughter Anna was 11 and his son Jason was 9. Bob recalls it was a bit of a traumatic experience for the family, especially his daughter, who was transitioning from primary to secondary school and struggled with the idea of leaving her friends behind.
“I think we certainly did our best”
Being new to Australia, everything was different but the family pulled together a lot of literature about the outback, the wildlife and the things they now love to do, like whale watching. They also made a special effort to get out to places like Melbourne, the Great Ocean Road and Daylesford, walking around the town centre and going to the Lakehouse for a great meal. It really helped them settle into Australia.
“It was a difficult beginning with a great outcome. They've all done pretty well - got married, settled down and enjoy life. We're all very patriotic and Australia is definitely a great place to live.”
Food, the universal language
“As councillor and mayor, you get invited to a lot of functions where there’s food; Chinese, African, Korean, Burmese, Bangladeshi or Indian. It’s definitely increased my interest in different foods. We take that idea home and have discussions about food - we like to cook and to experiment. The better ones we repeat,” says Bob.
“These days, I see my role as being a sounding board. Jason and Anna regularly ring me to discuss how to deal with issues, and to share the things they've enjoyed doing, down to the small things, like which restaurants to go to.”
Changing jobs affects all families
“That's the one that we talk about, more than anything. The other is how to get on in their current jobs. It’s good to talk through the challenges.”
His son Jason’s children are now in their teens, so they talk about those challenges, too.
“I don't have all the answers, but you do your best. And I think that's what families are for - enjoying the good times and talking through issues of concern.”
“Father’s Day is a way your kids can recognise you and it’s a good way of them taking time out. My son lives in Sydney, but he rings me and asks me how the day's gone and what types of food I've eaten. My daughter often comes over and we go out to a restaurant. We have a bottle of wine, or maybe two!”
And Bob puts in a good word for Shadowfax Winery in Werribee - “a great setting, lovely meals and a really enjoyable way of spending a few hours,” he says.