Gough Whitlam was a big influence on my life in terms of my personal critical thinking and understanding of issues in Australia and the world.
I was a teenager in the 1970s struggling with understanding anything and everything. I was on the edge of potential VIetnam conscription, benefited from a free university education and medicare and experienced the cut and thrust of The Dismissal. The geographer in me also appreciates and understands his role in regional development.
Dad was a pharmacist on Elizabeth Drive Liverpool and we lived in the seat of Werriwa in my pre teen years and Dad met him several times at community events. He was talked about in a lot of adult conversations that I listened into for a decade.
I saw him once in first year university talking to students on the university lawn at Sydney University. One year I was at a book expo in Darling Harbour and while looking a a book in a stand I looked across at the Oxford University stand and saw him with a glass of champagne in his had.
He was larger than life when I saw him up close and he noticed my shock at seeing him. He just smiled at me and did a cheers with his glass. I have never forgotten that kind gesture.
I will have a nice time reflecting on Gough Whitlam during my run tonight.