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Customer in the Spotlight: Peter Walsh

Updated: Sep 15, 2021

As an engineer, local community member Peter Walsh has worked on projects across the globe, but his family life takes root in Glenferrie.

Peter was born in Richmond and spent the first 18 years of his life in Coburg. Peter went to school at St Margaret Mary’s in Brunswick where, with the post-war influx of European migration, his first grade class contained over 100 students.

Peter’s family moved to Rosanna when he was 18. Peter himself moved into the residential halls at Monash University in Clayton not too long after to complete a Bachelor of Civil Engineering from which he graduated in 1974. It was around this time that he met his wife, Christine, through mutual friends. They spent their youth attending folk music shows all over Melbourne, and the pair have now attended the Port Fairy Folk Festival more than 10 times over the past 30 years.

After completing his degree, Peter began working for the engineering company Scott and Furphy. Initially, he worked on civil engineering projects such as stormwater developments before specialising in infrastructure structural engineering, including highway bridges & water treatment facilities. From there, Peter began working on design of schools and TAFE colleges whilst at the Public Works Department. For the last 30 years - up until his retirement 12 months ago - Peter has worked in the oil and gas industry as a consultant for multinational engineering contractors such as Exxon, Bechtel, Fluor and Halliburton, managing local and international projects for both on-shore processing facilities and off-shore oil and gas platforms.

Peter has also been a part of the St Vincent de Paul Society’s Hawthorn Conference for the past seven years. The society provides financial assistance to those in need using the donations of the community “whose generous support helps people who are struggling”, he said. The Conference visits 10-15 local households a week to provide aid and assistance. They have recently had to provide remote services over the phone and through post to minimise the spread of COVID-19, especially for clients who live in multi-level apartment buildings.

Peter and Christine established themselves in Hawthorn in 1985, soon after they were married. Eager to start a family, they renovated the house to give them plenty of room to raise their five children. Peter admits the house feels a bit vacant now since the last bird left the nest three years ago, especially with the COVID-19 shutdown and restrictions. Ordinarily, their two-year-old and four-year-old grandchildren stay with Peter and Christine a few days a week while their parents go to work, but they have not been coming over now that their parents have been working from home. However, with the relaxing of restrictions, Peter was finally able to see his six-week-old granddaughter for the first time. The family enjoy holidaying at Ocean Grove, where Peter enjoys kayaking and longboard surfing.

During these particularly home-bound past few months, however, Peter has taken the chance to dive headfirst into hobbies around the house. He has always been a keen handyman - he renovated a lot of the house himself when they added a second storey and made ground level extensions, even teaching himself how to tile a bathroom. Peter has also been enjoying jigsaw puzzles from Mind Games as well as gardening, “which was something I’ve been meaning to do. It’s been a good opportunity.”

Having lived in Hawthorn for 35 years now, Peter has visited the Glenferrie shopping strip many times over the years. While the pair generally do not need to shop as much anymore as they did to feed a house full of growing children, Peter still visits Bunnings on Burwood Road and Australia Post on Glenferrie Road every week. On special occasions, they like to go out for dinner at local restaurants such as Rococo and Tao Tao House for a nice meal.

As many people move into the area and with the influx of students brought by Swinburne University, Peter believes it has been a shame to see some old, heritage homes being demolished for multi-unit developments. Unfortunately, he has observed that, “amenity has reduced by virtue of increasing residents. You can’t have such population growth without some downside.” Reflecting on traders over the years, he has noticed that “the types of businesses have changed. 20 years ago, every second store was a computer shop. Now, it’s more restaurants, cafes, and the like.”

When it comes to Glenferrie, said Peter, “It’s always evolving”.

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