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Wayne Anthoney OAM Aus Day 2022

Address via Zoom to Port Augusta Council

Wayne Anthoney OAM

Mayor Benbow, Deputy Premier Mr van Holst Pelikaan and esteemed guests.

I wish to also acknowledge the Barngarla people, the Traditional Owners of the land on which we virtually meet today. I would also like to pay my respects to Elders past and present.’ The Barngarla people are connected to the areas surrounding Port Augusta, Whyalla and Port Lincoln and indeed much of the Eyre Peninsula.

First of all, hearty congratulations to the Australia Day Award winners.

I am not going to talk about the virus today. Not a word.

I'd like to offer congratulations also to the people who took out Australian Citizenship in Port Augusta today. People from Pakistan, India, the Philippines, Vietnam and Wales. Our son-in-law Joost den Hartog is a Dutchman who took Australian citizenship about ten years ago and for him it was a very emotional experience, because he loved Holland, but he loved this country more. We are a multicultural country where people from many cultures mix together and are welcomed and celebrated and it is a land of opportunity.

Port Augusta is a fascinating place. It has a rich history and is the gateway, as they say, to Port Lincoln and the Eyre Peninsula, The Nullarbor and Western Australia, the Flinders Ranges, the opal fields and the Northern Territory.


  • I love the arid land country, the red earth and the saltbush. I've visited the Arid Lands centre several times, and I've seen whales in the harbour.
  • My mother had a brother, Uncle Paul Cornish, who lived here all his adult life, after he came back from the war, and worked on the transcontinental railway. Some older people here might remember him.
  • Our son Tom Anthoney moved to Port Augusta in 1993 and after working as a physio at the hospital for a couple of years set up his own physio business. It became very successful and Tom was well known. In 2008 he moved back to Adelaide with his family and now has another physio business in Willunga, but he does love the place and comes back for a visit whenever he can.
  • After a couple of years in his practice here, he hired another staff member, an Indian physiotherapist named Deva. It must be said that Deva initially copped a bit of racist flak, but when people found out how good a physio he was that soon stopped. Deva took over the business when Tom moved south and it still is a great success.
  • I spent many years working for and with Aboriginal people, mainly in Central Australia and in particular from 1996 I worked ten years for Pitjantjatjara people and lived mainly in a caravan at Yulara near Uluru. This meant I traveled to Adelaide and back quite a lot, and en route I always stayed a night or two in Port Augusta with Tom and family and got to know the place, and find out about it.
  • I have a friend named Ghil'ad Zuckermann, who is a linguist, specialising in recovery of lost languages. He spends a lot of time working with Aboriginal groups, in particular the Barngarla people, to help them reclaim their old language. Last year he published two Barngarla dictionaries - Mangiri Yarda (Healthy Country: Barngarla Wellbeing and Nature), and Barngarlidhi Manoo (Speaking Barngarla Together).
  • A few years ago I lived in Port Augusta for about a month, working for the Indigenous Community Volunteers organisation. My work involved traveling north to the Flinders, south to Port Lincoln and places in between, meeting Aboriginal individuals and groups who were setting up businesses in tourism or whatever and who might be able to use some assistance from skilled volunteers – anything from book keeping to welding. Believe me, I found that there were a lot of such groups. I also know of the great work of the Bungala Aboriginal Corporation, in supporting and guiding local indigenous communities in finding employment, training and education opportunities.
  • I think my first trip to Port Augusta was in 1974, when, as an actor I played the undertaker in Sunday Too Far Away, which we shot out at Carriewerloo sheep station. My most recent trip was two years ago, when I played the Catholic priest in the TV series Stateless, giving mass to a group of interned women. I wore magnificent white and gold robes while everyone else was in rags. It was a very interesting time because they were also shooting the riot and escape scenes and a couple of hundred extras were involved. Many had been refugees, mainly from the Middle East, and many were local Port Augusta people. No doubt some of you folk were involved. I had some fascinating talks, with ex-refugees and with locals, most of whom seemed to know our son Tom.

In summary, all sorts of things happen in Port Augusta and there are all sorts of opportunities.

  • Australia Day is a time for all Australians to reflect, respect and celebrate.
  • We’re all part of the story of Australia – from those whose ancestors walked on Country for tens of thousands of years to the newest Australian citizens.
  • On Australia Day, we reflect on the past, present and future.
  • On Australia Day, we listen and respect each others' stories, contributions and aspirations.
  • On Australia Day, we celebrate being Australian together fair and free.




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