King of the Mountain

What a sad week! RIP Peter Brock. All remaining Australian icons should just sit very still and not do anything. Don't go out. Don't touch anything! If you're not Australian you might wonder, Peter Who? Well, Peter Brock was quite simply a motor-racing legend. There's a race in the town where I was born called the Bathurst 1000, in which mighty V8 cars drive round and round a mountain-top circuit for one thousand kilometres. It's a strangely captivating event. I'd always get up to watch the start and vow not to waste six hours in front of the telly, but inevitably I'd be sucked in to the epic drama, all the speed and smoke and smashes. Brocky won Bathurst an incredible nine times.


And he wasn't just ace behind the wheel. He was, as one of my aunts has repeatedly declared, "a complete spunk". When we first heard the news of his passing, Gareth asked, "Was Brocky a larrikin too?". He'd not heard of the word until this week when the media repeatedly used it in reference to Steve Irwin. Oh no, I explained. Brocky was a gentleman. As dashing and debonair as one could possibly be in a loud shirt smothered in sponsor logos. I moved back to Bathurst for university and got to witness Brockymania close up. I loved those few days when you'd be woken by the low rumble of race cars up on the Mount. Bathurst is normally a quiet town but once a year its population swells, much like the way Edinburgh goes manic during the Festivals. Except with more beer guts and flannel shirts. Everyone in Bathurst seemed to look on Brocky as an adopted son. One time my friends and I went down to a Meet The Drivers session to take pics for our photojournalism class. The queue for Brocky was three times longer than for any other driver. He charmed the pants off everyone from mulleted petrolheads to tiny kids to salivating housewives, all tan and sparkling brown eyes as he signed autographs. Another year I was working in a coffee shop in a shopping centre, bored out of my tree watching customers screw up their faces as they choked down my cappuccinos (Note to coffee shop owners out there: Never hire someone to make coffee that doesn't like coffee. They have no respect for the beverage). There was a sudden clutter of teaspoons and excited whispers, Brocky! It's Brocky! There goes Brocky! People poured out of the shops and trailed after him. Turns out a local radio station had set up outside the supermarket and were doing a live interview. I can't remember a bloody word he said; I just remember how the crowd gathered round in an adoring semi-circle, clutching their shopping bags or lapping at soft-serve cones, as Peter Perfect turned on the charm. Momo, who is a legend in her own right, is quite possibly Brocky's greatest fan. She wrote a beautiful tribute today that left me misty-eyed. He really will be missed.

About Shauna Reid

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15 thoughts on “King of the Mountain

  1. sorry this has been a total Obit Blog lately and i know this will bore the pants off 99% of you. but had to write something… you know that feeling when there’s someone you’ve seen on the telly since you were *that high* and they pass away and there’s this weird mix of sadness and nostalgia…

  2. Its interesting that both of them died doing what they loved best. Hey, does this mean I’ll die eating chocolate?????

  3. It’s true, you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.

    Who would have thought that these blokes weren’t invincible.



    Australia is in shock.

  4. And Colin Thiele a well known author of children’s stories such as Storm Boy and Blue Fin died this week of old age. Not quite as exciting as Brocky and Irwin but also an Australian Legend, in my lunchbox at least!

  5. I don’t know if mind if we loose another few celebrities…as long as I can elect which ones. Greer. Howard. Hanson. Any other suggestions?

  6. I too am shocked by the death of my own favourite legend Brocky- it’s a bit hard for me too even process it here, living in Shanghai, as nobody except the handful of aussie I know can comprehend what a hero he was. Everyone wants to talk to me about Irwin, but for me, personally, Brocky was my man.

    As an aside, I’ve been reading your blog (and loving it by the way) from Shanghai, where I currently live – and when I read that you are originally a Bathurst Girl, and I’m a Blue Mountains Girl, and thought: “Whew- small world!”

  7. Peter Brock was my first crush! I was always up early with my dad to watch the start of the race, and like you ususally ended up slothing in front of the TV till the end. I thought he was a complete hero, and that one day I would grow up and marry him.

    RIP Peter Brock

  8. Sory to all the Aussies for losing two very different icons.

    I only get a fraction ofthe affection that Brocky was held in but even that shadow of understanding is sorry to see him gone.

    Hoges, Humphries and James should be taken into protctive custody.

  9. Yeah, a very sad week. I sat glued at Oran Park for Brockie’s last official touring car event. The place was packed. Such charisma.

  10. Peter Brock was one of my only claims to being-near-fame. When I was a young teenager (about a teenagers lifetime ago now) Peter came to my house to shoot a story for Burke’s Backyard. We had a super long and steep driveway and Mum made him tea while the crew built a billy cart. I was filmed driving the cart (that Peter ‘built’) down our driveway. I was such a nerdy loser but he did sign a book I have on the development of the commodore (I did say loser!).

    It never went to air 🙁

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