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Dad’s childhood spent clinging to the sheep’s back


My father Jack Spackman grew up in abject poverty, a widow’s son, in the tiny town of Grenfell, way out past the Blue Mountains in rural New South Wales, Australia. He was the second of four boys born to Charles Spackman – known to all as Jim – and Doris Fogarty.

Jim died in 1937, just months after the birth of their youngest son Bob. The eldest, Alf, was four years old. Doris and her sons survived through the kindness of relatives but the extent of the debt was mostly hidden from the family history Jack told, coming up in oblique ways that were never truly explained or understood by your young Girl Reporter.

For example, Jack loathed lamb – couldn’t stomach the smell of it cooking and wouldn’t have it in the house. To this day, it’s a meat I associate with restaurants and other people’s tables, not my own. Continue reading

One more thing

  • Your Girl Reporter blogs fortnightly on the past, present and future of journalism – from growing up in Hong Kong, to working in the UK and now observing the state of the world from my native Australia. Don’t know where to begin? Let me recommend some stories my father told me here.

Once I was a girl reporter. Now I’m an interested observer

Covering the past, present and future of journalism. The views expressed here are entirely my own, as is the content except where expressly credited or linked to the original site.

Sally Baxter was a girl reporter who appeared in a series of books published in the 1960s. She inspired me to become a journalist, if that's any recommendation.

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From the vault