Peter Spencer


Who is this bloke?

Peter was born in Sydney in 1958 and has lived in Canberra since 1969. Peter and his wife, Linda, married in 1979 and they ran a successful business before retiring in 2016. After raising their four children, Peter and Linda now enjoy exploring Australia in their caravan, bushwalking and soaking up the local history of Aussie towns.

Peter grew up in a household who were fiercely proud of their country and their heritage. His father volunteered and fought for Australia in New Guinea during the Second World War.

Peter is a great-grandson of William Monckton on his mother’s side. William is the central character in 'Too Young to Hold a Gun'. William rode with the bushranger Fred Ward aka Captain Thunderbolt.

For over 40 years, Peter has been fascinated with bushranging and family history and this book is the result of his extensive research into these topics. Since his youth, Peter has been intrigued by the pioneers of this great country and, in particular, his own ancestors. There are many myths and legends about the early bushranging days and Peter’s travels have involved visiting many haunts of Captain Thunderbolt, as well as other well-known bushrangers throughout NSW and Victoria to uncover the truth.

'Too Young to Hold a Gun' is Peter’s debut novel; however, he has always been a keen writer and storyteller, with his twelve grandchildren being completely spellbound by his ‘off the cuff’ bedtime stories. Read more if you dare…

Who am I?

This is where I tell you all about my achievements in life according to my academic skills, qualifications, Degrees, Doctorates and capabilities like every other home page would. Well, I am going to disappoint you greatly as I was academically lazy and did not follow that path in life. Instead, I have life skills from the school of hard knocks to share if you are patient enough to read on.

I was born in Sydney, on the good side, the North Shore. Life was great growing up in Elanora Heights, in the hills behind Narrabeen. There was a nature reserve of bush to the back of our house, I spent most of my time up there, climbing over sandstone outcrops, pushing my way through Banksia and ‘Blackboy’ Grass Trees and catching tadpoles in the puddles. All the good stuff for a typical boy. My family moved to Canberra in 1969 much to my disgust. I attended Scullin Primary and Belconnen High School. I left school in Year 10 to pursue a career in the Plumbing Trade. I started working as an apprentice plumber in 1975 and finished my trade in 1980, the same year I started to work for myself.

After I finished my trade studies I then returned to night school and obtained my Higher School Certificate. I met the love of my life at church, my darling Linda, and we started dating in 1975, we were married in 1979. Linda and I ran the plumbing business, Spencer & Sons Plumbing for over 40 years. Should I say Linda ran the business and let me think I was… 😉

My grandfather, Archibald Spencer started the family plumbing dynasty. His son, my father, took the reins, followed by myself and now my eldest son Simon. He is fourth generation Plumber, quite an achievement in this day and age, if I don’t say so myself. We bought our own house in 1980 and are still here 43 years later. There’s a lot to say for contentment.

My Linda gave me four wonderful children, two boys and two girls. They all grew to be wonderful adults, whom I am immensely proud. Our eldest son, Simon now runs the family Plumbing business, Spencer & Sons Plumbing with our son-in-law, Steve. Steve was already a plumber with an opposition company. My daughter Carly married him, like we needed another plumber in the family 😉 Together with Simon’s wife at the helm they are all doing a stellar job. Both of our daughters, Krystal and Carly are wives with happy healthy children. We have twelve gorgeous grandchildren, nine granddaughters and three grandsons.

In 2014 we lost our second son, William John, known as Bill to me and Billy to his mother. He had a freak accident on a skateboard, hitting his head and suffered a catastrophic brain bleed down at Narooma on the South Coast. He was flown by helicopter to Canberra Hospital for emergency surgery to relieve the pressure on the brain. We really lost our boy on the asphalt at Narooma. Bill was kept alive, breathing, by a life support machine while we made up our mind whether to donate his organs or not. It was an easy decision for us as we only had to follow the example of our beautiful boy. You see our Bill was one of the most generous people I have ever met, as the saying goes ‘he was generous to a fault’.

On the 7th of October 2014 we stood in a small room in Canberra Hospital and watched a young, nervous hand, shaking as it flipped the switches and removed tubes and cables. The trainee nurse turned off the machine as she had been instructed, the machine that kept my son’s chest rising and falling as it forced air into his lifeless lungs. The young nurse withdrew the thick tubes that went down his throat, placed them beside our son and walked away. As a family, we all stood and watched as his golden heart stopped beating. It took nearly five minutes for it to finally give up the battle without oxygen. If I could have stepped forward and taken his place, I would have, in a moment.

His organs were whisked away to Sydney under a police escort and there they saved five lives. Five lives given a second chance to have their chests rise and fall for years to come. Five lives saved, giving all who know them a second chance to keep their loved ones. Fives lives who have suffered for so long will now have a chance to be good as new. Good luck to them. Linda, myself and Bill’s girl of his dreams, Leigh, had the pleasure of meeting the man who had that golden heart pumping his life blood. We all listened to Bill’s heart with a stethoscope. The emotions are indescribable. I didn’t know whether to laugh, cry, scream or get angry. My boy’s heart was beating on in another man’s chest. We also have met the man with Bill’s lungs. We have spoken to him on numerous occasions, his voice and breath all owing to our son.

Time has helped me live with the terrible loss of my Bill, however the hurt and pain always lies just below the surface, ready to cut its way through at the smallest reminder. Someone said, “Grief and tears are simply love with nowhere to go.” We have shed our fair share of love with nowhere to go.

Through a set of circumstances, that I would be happy to tell whoever will listen, a song was written about our Billy. Again, through an amazing set of circumstances I was put in the path of a famous singer/song writer, Eric Bogle. (Google him if you don’t know who he is). Eric was given this song written by Bill’s uncle Simon Wilkins. He loved what he saw and subsequently included this song on his following album called ‘Voices’. The song itself, Eric called “Ballad for Billy”. We love it, look it up, if you knew our Bill, you will love it too.

Life goes on here in Canberra. We are a close family, supporting each other when needs arise. Closing ranks and being strong when the winds of dissention blow. Retirement found us early. It took some time to adjust to its way of life after running a demanding business for over four decades. But, hey, here we are and loving it. It allows us to see lots of our beautiful grandchildren. It allows us to support family and grow closer to our wider family across the country. (More about this under the ‘History’ heading).

So, what do I do to fill in my time? I hear you ask. I am an avid gardener. I enjoy my days in my backyard and find weeding and watering therapeutic. It is extremely satisfying watching your efforts grow and flourish, happy faces in the form of flowers beaming all around you. Backyard nature at its best. A few years before my retirement Linda and I were fortunate enough to purchase an amazing caravan. We now spend much time on the road, three months over winter basking in the sunshine in Queensland and other months travelling this wonderful country of ours. This is where we are supposed to say, “Life is Good” and it is good in many aspects, “living the dream”, even. However, life would be better if my son Bill was still with us. Life is not good for him, and the grief left behind for us sours most activities.

In recent times I have developed a passion for writing. I have been writing my thoughts down, ramblings really, but interesting non the less. Well interesting in my opinion, others may think they are the ramblings of an old man. Well maybe they are, who cares, I don’t. You can read some of them under the ‘Ramblings’ heading. Even more exciting is the fact I have finally written the book I have been threatening to do for years. The tale on how this Historic Novel came into existence will be explained... when I get time 😊


“Keep the fire burning bright so we can find your trail'

Ballad for Billy