60 seconds with… Wayne Peake

Wayne PeakeWayne Peake works in the School of Humanities and Communication Arts. His main responsibility is looking after the School’s large number of higher degree research students and assisting them with confirmations of candidature, annual progress reports thesis examinations and travel arrangements. “I was a higher degree student here myself, so I believe I have an insight to the demands our students face,” says Wayne. “I also provide administrative support to the School’s Research and Higher Degree Research Committee. My favourite job is producing the School’s biannual staff newsletter, The HACA, which is a lot of fun.”

How long have you worked at UWS and what’s the best thing about working here?
Since 2007. Having access to a terrific library collection, working with friendly and good-humoured professional staff colleagues, and being able to chat with academics researching in fields in which I have an interest, such as history and writing, is terrific.

Which campus are you based on?
At Bankstown, which is great because I can walk to and from work from my home in Picnic Point.

What is your favourite place on one of the UWS campuses and why?
I love the rolling hills at Werrington North because I always think what a fantastic golf course they would make and how much I could charge for green fees if I owned it. Frogmore House would make a great clubhouse, too. I also have fond memories of the athletics track at Bankstown campus as my son Bryce scored his first try playing rugby league there, for Revesby Heights JRLFC.

When you’re not at work, what will we find you doing?
Going to the races at Warwick Farm or Mudgee, bowling at Picnic Point Bowling Club, fishing in the Woronora River, and attempting to paint portraits of my favourite racehorses.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a race-caller like Ken Howard, who my grandfather used to listen to in the beer garden of the Padstow Park Hotel on Saturday afternoons. Howard’s calls made the hairs on my neck stand up. I had a terrific memory for jockey colours and used to call coloured paddle-pop races in the creek behind our house in Panania. Unfortunately, my calls sounded like I was gargling with a mouthful of marbles.

What was your first job?
Working as an administrative officer for a well-known telecommunications provider in the early 1980s, which back then we inmates affectionately called “riding for the ‘Lazy-T’ Ranch”. I walked in and they issued me a pen, a pad of paper and a cigarette ashtray. There were no computers. Things were different then.

What has been your greatest success?
I was proud to run with the torch during the Sydney Olympics and be a co-editor and writer of the Official Report of the Games. I do a bit of writing and won a publication subsidy from the Australian Academy for the Humanities for a book Sydney’s Pony Racecourses (2006). I set up the Ascot Press last year and published the short story collection The Gambler’s Ghost. I was invited by Cambridge University Press to contribute a chapter on Australian horseracing to The Cambridge Companion to Horseracing and that was published in May last year. But my greatest success is my family.

If you could go to just one country in the world for a vacation, which country would it be and why?
I want one day to get to the Tuamotu Archipelago, which is a remote part of French Polynesia. They are apparently truly unspoilt South Sea islands and with any luck I might get shipwrecked on one, with all the essentials of island life, like beer and champagne, washing up on shore next day, like I were Robinson Crusoe.

What are your favourite book, movie and/or album?
My favourite book is The Heart of a Goof, a collection of short stories with golfing themes by PG Wodehouse, the great humourist of the 20th century. Favourite film is Smiley, which was filmed in technicolour around Camden in then rural Western Sydney in the 1950s and starred the immortal Chips Rafferty. I know some of the ‘extras’ who appeared in it. Favourite album is Man Who Sold the World by David Bowie.

If you could invite anyone to dinner who would it be and why?
If he were still alive, Banjo Paterson, so that I could ask him about Australian horseracing in the early 20th century. Among the living, the cast of Seinfeld, mainly to see what sort of entrance Kramer would make through my door.