I was doing some research on the Walkley Awards. Named after Sir William Walkley, the Walkleys are Australia's top journalism awards. This reminded me of a New England linkage and a possible explanation to something that has always puzzled me.
Born in New Zealand, Sir William founded what would become Ampol Petroleum. Now how does this link to New England and our fight for self government?
In 1961, the New England New State Movement launched Operation Seventh State, a major fund raising campaign to support a new self government drive. I acted as an usher at the launch, wearing my first ever suit borrowed from my Uncle Jim.
Our target was to raise 100,000 pounds, a very large sum in those days. We were successful, leading to a very major campaign culminating in the 1967 self government vote.
As part of the campaign, the Movement decided to mount a major car drive on Sydney. The aim was to flood Sydney with thousands of demonstrators in the domain matched by press advertising. Because it was a car drive, the decision was also taken to swamp parking spots around the Domain even though this would incur fines.
The drive was organised with military precision by a team headed by General MacDonald from Wallabadah Station as marshall. This was my second New State demonstration - I organised the first at the request of ABC Four Corners to provide them with some TV footage - and I thoroughly enjoyed it. But that's another story.
So what's the linkage with Ampol? While we were asked not to talk about it, and no-one did, Ampol provided free petrol. As I remember it, the company also offered to pay the parking fines.
The thing that has puzzled me? The Australian Soccer Federation acted to separate New England from NSW, creating a Northern NSW State League. I never knew how this happened. Now that I have read Sir William's ADB entry and learned of his connection with soccer, I suspect that I have the answer.