What’s in a name?

Published on 26 April 2019

Peters Park

When the Peters family move into their modernist home on Archer Street, Christies Beach in 1964, a man named Cassius Clay has recently defeated Sonny Liston to become the world heavyweight boxing champion.

A band called The Beatles has just toured Australia for the first time and Martin Luther King is fresh from his Nobel Peace Prize for leadership in the civil rights movement.

A short walk from the Peters’ place, walking out of the driveway and past the family’s Holden FC wagon, is a dusty park filled with weeds and three-corner jacks.

Husband and wife Allan and Pauline have no inkling they’ll still be living in the same house 55 years later, and that the park will become the source of countless treasured memories for them, their daughters Ani and Leeza, and a revolving cast of tight-knit neighbours.

The fact the park could one day be named after the family must’ve been as far from their minds as someone walking on the moon (which would happen five years later).

But earlier this month Onkaparinga Council approved the formal name Peters Park with the community’s support – a nod to the family’s long history on the street and contribution to the park over the decades.

“The reserve is what attracted us to purchase there in the first instance, even though at the time it was nothing more than mounds of dirt, weeds and prickles,” says Allan, 84, an author and volunteer historian at the SA Police Historical Society.

“Being one of the first to move into the street, we believed it had huge potential to become something special.”

Dirt and prickle-covered kids didn’t stop the Peters organising neighbourhood get-togethers there (which would become annual traditions).

But by 1972, after fixing countless punctured bike tyres, Allan wrote to Noarlunga Council to request some landscaping in the park.

It was soon transformed with lawn, small trees and a sprinkler system, and it kick-started the Peters’ passion for improving their community.

In 1986 Allan, Pauline (a talented artist), Leeza and friends painted murals on the street’s stobie poles, with the council’s blessing, to brighten up the area. The project not only attracted the interest of the local Messengernewspaper, it inspired other creatives in the neighbourhood to do the same on their streets.

In 2011, the City of Onkaparinga approved and funded an upgrade of the park, with the Peters family providing feedback during the community engagement process.

The Peters regularly pick up rubbish from the park and report graffiti to council. Trees they planted in the park decades ago remain there today.

Their Christmas get-together continues each year, with neighbours telling the City of Onkaparinga that the Peters’ efforts to bring the community together have made them feel welcome and part of the family since moving to the street themselves.

Pauline says having the park named after the family was an “honour and a privilege”.

“We’ve enjoyed it being a part of our lives for 55 years, so I guess it really is like one of the family,” she says.

The Peters’ story is a reminder that behind the names of the various places we frequent in our day-to-day lives, there are often people with an extraordinary passion for their communities.