Friday, 2 February 2018

Curiosity Rewarded

Lenie Gwyther was born and raised in the Victorian town of Leongatha.

His was a farming family and as was common in the 1930’s. he learned to ride at a young age and was given a horse on turning 2. The horse was named Ginger Mick.

Lennie signed up to serve in the Second World War on turning 18 and was active in the pacific theatre in the final period of the war.

We went on to become and engineer and lived a quiet and productive life until his passing in 1992.

His interest in engineering was inspired by the wonder that was the construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. At the time of its construction, the Bridge was the largest engineering project in the world, ever.

The Bridge was opened in 1932 and the same year, Lennie had effectively taken control of the harvest when his Father was injured and confined to hospital in Melbourne. Lennie was 9 years old.

His grateful Father was keen to reward his efforts and Lennie wanted to travel to Sydney to see the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Keen to grant his inquisitive Son his wish, options were investigated for travel to Sydney.

Lennie had learned about the construction of the bridge by way or newspaper reports and radio programmes. He had never ventured further than the township of Leongatha.

It was a different time. Interstate travel was not common and options were generally by train or ship.

His parents agreed to him travelling to Sydney and his departure from Leongatha was an event in itself including being waived off by the Mayor.

Proof it was a different time is best illustrated by 9 year old Lennie travelling by himself to Sydney.

Further, he travelled on the back of his horse, Ginger Mick. It took 33 days and he slept in barns and stables, having first knocked on farmhouse doors seeking permission from the owner.

His trip became well known to the extent he met the Prime Minister while travelling through Canberra. It was widely reported and there was a crowd on hand o welcome him to Sydney.

Not only did he attend the Bridge opening, he was a part of the official party, as was Ginger Megs.

As I said, it was a different time. We would not allow our 9 year old children to embark on such a journey today. Further, the “authorities” would not allow it.

Lennie was not a seeker of adventure as much as a possessor of an extreme curiosity.

With all our easy access to information and the introduction of all things tech to our Children, I wonder of we provide an environment where curiosity prospers as it did in a by gone era.

Our Children are bombarded with so any options, perhaps their genuine interests and natural talents are passed over in favour of the next big thing?

To wrap up, it is worth mentioning that Lennie had his 10th birthday when returning home from Sydney.

He convinced his Father who had travelled to Sydney to accompany him home by ship that he had so much fun riding to Sydney, he would like to “ride home the other way” via Melbourne.

Again, it was a solo trip by an understated 9 year old, turning 10.

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