Introducing Tamworth

Tamworth in New South Wales is my home town and now aged 70+, I still think often and fondly of it. This, by the way, would be Tamworth before it was ever “country music capital of Australia”, when it was just another rural city in New South Wales, in the 1960s searching for some reasons to be mentioned more than once just because it appeared on a map.

I was born in Sydney in 6 April, 1948, and my parents moved to Tamworth in 1950, not long after the birth of my only sister, Maureen. My father, originally a farm boy from Tullamore in far western NSW, had asthma, and his doctor had recommended Tamworth as less humid, drier, healthier, definitely more congenial than Sydney. And so I had the benefits of a very free, wide-open Australian country boyhood. It was marvellous! A entire river to swim in. Hills to climb whenever you felt like it. A highway in front of the house to watch out for. Down the road, a bit closer to town, was the local electricity power station, which I now realise in days of climate change was one of the calling cards of my boyhood; it was regularly shut down as unwary crawling possums were fried into eternity. A stable weather pattern, safety, subdued seasons called Spring and Autumn, seasons that could be severe called Summer or Winter. And in summer, the heat! The heat was fantastic. I had as much sun as a child could bear, and I still hate the cold.  

My father was named Daniel Hilton Byrnes, from Tullamore NSW. My mother was named Sarah Smith, from Watson’s Bay, Sydney. My sister was named Maureen Joan. And I was named Daniel Thomas, the Thomas being for my mother’s father, Thomas Smith. But before I want to tell you more of my parents, I need to tell you about my family history …