I had the good fortune to have been raised in northern NSW where the clean air, pace of life and outlook of people gave rise to my understanding of things natural, uncluttered and honest. I played a lot of sport whilst growing up the old saying jack of all trades, master of none, being applicable in my case. I wasn’t a bad horsewoman, played hockey, softball, swam competitively and learned to fly gliders.
Because of a change to the structure of my family (divorce!) I completed my schooling in New Zealand. This had the effect of changing my career plans (Agricultural Science at New England University) to Teachers College at North Shore, Auckland. I became quite political during that time of my life. My father and I had raging arguments about my left wing attitudes. He has since been appeased by my throw-away line, all thinking students have a leftish period when they challenge the status quo.
Life as a tertiary student was simple if not a challenge. It was the era of the Vietnam war, yet I don’t remember too much about that. What was important was that the Enid Blytons Noddy was banned from University Readings and literary giants declared that he was a homosexual and violent! We had clandestine Noddy Readings whilst consuming beer and battered oysters month after month.
In 1970 I started a 16 year teaching career, moving from high schools in NZ, NSW and SA. I taught English, Australian History, Social Education and PE. For some five years of that time I wrote text books and programs for Open Access Education. By that time my specialist area was Social Education.
By 1980 I needed another challenge, and I tossed up between returning to tertiary studies (ho hum) or undertaking an 18 month Officer Training Course with the Army. I chose the latter which was fun and fortuitous because it paved the way for me to take leave from the Education Department and spend four years as a Staff Officer (Operations) with the Army in SA.
I was a field artillery officer at that stage, but subsequently did courses in Electronic Warfare and Training and Development, which gave me an interesting outlook on life.
Let me pause to say that during all this career stuff I had married and been blessed with Karmen. She and I had lots of adventures together as she was growing up. I think the relationship was unorthodox because her father and I were only married for five years, so we tackled life together.
In 1987 I remarried. The lucky fellow (still) is Tony White a Duntroon graduate who once, for a short time, was my boss in the Army. The days of calling him Sir and saluting him morning and night are over, much to his chagrin. Tony is now retired from the Army and is helping to put together the ANZAC Ship Project.
Back to me. Life as a remarried with lots of new kids and a groom who was often OS necessitated another career change for me. I returned to the Education Department in 1991 to assume a new role in Behaviour Management. Home is on a 10acre patch not far from the Whispering Wall on the edge of the Barossa Valley. As a consequence, I have developed an interest in wine particularly the reds of the Barossa.
It was in those early days of 1991 that I conceived Operation Flinders. It just seemed right, as the kids with the real behaviour problems seemed to lack direction, self-esteem, decent challenge and good role modelling.
To date, I have been supported totally by a dedicated team of risk takers who have shunned red tape and tackled the project with humour and vigour. We are where we are today as a result of these folk. They are what makes Operation Flinders so special.
Some day I will ride in the 100mile horse endurance race called the Quilty. But right now the challenge is to make Operation Flinders a confirmed part of the SA Calendar.
Pamela wrote the above article in 1993.
Pamela passed away on the 13th of August, 1995 as a result of cancer. She didn’t get to ride the Quilty but left a legacy to the young people of South Australia which lives on.