Peter Ryan '57

Written on the 23 May 2018 by Old Collegians Association

Peter Ryan '57

Excerpt from 2005 Rostrevor Magazine

Peter Ryan attended Rostrevor from Peterborough between 1950 and 1957. For most of that time his parents operated the Railway Hotel at Peterborough. His brother John attended between 1946-8.

Commencing at Rostrevor as a boarder in Year 6 must have been quite a daunting prospect but Peter explained that it was not as daunting as speaking to a packed Adelaide Town Hall as Head Prefect in 1957. In 1950. Peter estimates there would have been around 15 boys who were under the age of twelve in the Junior Dormitory, but all seemed to settle into the residential life without too many problems under the experienced care of Br Gurr.

Peter Ryan.

While at Rostrevor, Peter was involved in a range of activities; so much so that he was a very worthy recipient of the Dr Jim Rice Prize in his final year. bestowed for contributions to leadership, sport and study. Peter was a Prefect in 1956 and Head Prefect in 57. he represented Rostrevor in the 1st XVIII in 1956 and 57 and the 1st XI in 1957. He was also President of the St Vincent de Paul Society, President of the YCS, President of the Public Speaking Society, President of the Br Leo Murphy Literary Society and winner of the Maths II and Physics prize in his final year. In 1955 he was awarded a Commonwealth Scholarship to study at Adelaide University.

In 1958 he commenced studies in Civil Engineering and joined David Salkeld ('56) a fellow old scholar with whom he has sustained a lifelong friendship.
His transition to University 'evolved' rather than was planned. At the end of Intermediate he had commenced plans to begin an apprenticeship at Islington in the Railways. His solid results in Intermediate prompted Br J V Bourke to speak with his father about his potential to continue on at school and so that is what transpired.

Over the last three years of his degree Peter studied part time and worked for the Highways Department who was to become his employer for the next 32 years. On leaving school Peter played football for SAAFL clubs Exeter and Semaphore Park and with Semaphore YCW on Sundays. Semaphore YCW won several premierships in his time there and his biggest thrill in football was being selected to play for SA YCW against the Vies in Melbourne and to come away with a win.

In 1964 he married Janet and they have had four children: Maria, Paul, Anthony and Catherine. 

His first few years with the Highways Department saw him on a rotating program for young engineers gaining experience in a range of areas. In 1967 the family moved to Crystal Brook for 4 years and he became the Assistant Regional Engineer for the Northern Area of the State encompassing road maintenance to all the outback minor roads. In this time, he also had oversight over the sealing of the Barrier Highway from Terowie Lo Yunta and the road from Quorn to Gordon.

In 1970 he was awarded an Australian Road Federation Fellowship which provided 12 months study at Purdue University in LaFayette. Indiana, USA. He returned to Australia with a Master of Science Degree in Civil Engineering.

On his return he worked in Adelaide for two years and then accepted a job at Pt Lincoln as a Regional Engineer where the major job was to seal the 495 kilometres of the Eyre Highway from Ceduna to the WA border. This project was finished in 1976 and officially opened the day after the birth of their youngest daughter, Catherine.

In 1979 the family moved to Pt Augusta where the major project was the pre­ construction and construction of the Stuart Highway from Woomera to the NT border, a distance of 782 kilometres. He recalls that it was during this period that he experienced one of the most interesting and successful days of his working life. North of Marla the Stuart Highway alignment passed through a series of hills adjacent to the homelands.

From the 1957 Annual. First XVIII
Back Row: R Francey, B McNamara. R Kalvaitis, J Clifford, M Day.
Second Row: B Rodgers. P Salkeld. M Byrne. I Kelsh, P Bussenschutt. R Taylor, D Nutt, D Pak Poy.
Seated: P Ryan. J Campbell. G Harrison (V.C.). P MacMahon (Capt.), D David. J Day, A Sallik.

Of the Jndulkana Aboriginal settlement. Peter was aware of the sensitivity of the area to the traditional owners and called a meeting with them to assist with the alignment of the road. Peter and the Elders climbed one of the hills and from this vantage point they discussed were the road could and could not go and as they did they marked it on an aerial map. As a result. the traditional owners wishes were respected and the Highways Department could proceed with their work.

On his return to Adelaide in 1983 he was appointed the Regional Engineer for the North and West of Adelaide and later he was appointed Regional Engineer for all the metropolitan regions of Adelaide which involved the management of day labour, maintenance and construction as well as all contracts. A significant project he oversaw at this time was the completion of the Gawler By Pass which was a mix of bridge and road construction.

He left the Highways Departments in 1994 and was appointed State manager of Emoleum (a company involved in asphalt surfacing) in SA and the NT. He worked on projects such as resurfacing the main runway at Adelaide Airport, Airport and the RAAF base at Edinburgh for a further 4 years before retiring from that line of work and he and Janet became the proprietors of the Elliston General Store.

In 2002 they retired to Pt Lincoln and are kept busy with family and working around the house, helping out at St Vincent de Paul and following the Waybacks Football Club (where he coached the Under 11's in the mid-seventies). all of Peters rural shifts were in the Diocese of Port Pirie and as a result many lifelong friendships have been forged with priests in the Diocese and the St joseph sisters of Pt Lincoln and Caritas College Pt Augusta. One of the first priests he and Janet acquainted with was Fr Eugene Hurley who is now Bishop of the Diocese. While living in Pt Augusta they were regularly visited by Br JV Bourke ('27) who was working in the Diocese at the time and Matthews ('56) who boarded with Peter at Rostrevor.

Peter has been a lifelong friend of Frank Slater ('S3) and has re-acquainted with old scholars Laurence Low ('54), Brian Modystach ('56) and Brendan McCormack (·56) since shifting to Port Lincoln.
He is saddened to relate that Laurence Low was one of the many farmers wiped out by the lower EP January bushfires. Laurence's White Flat property and home were destroyed by the fire.

He has fond memories of life in the Boarding House with the likes of Barry Reader and Elkin Reilly, whom he catches up with from time to time. and the positive influence of Br John Bourke and in his Senior years.

The ROCA thanks Peter for his time in composing this article and wishes he and Janet a long and healthy retirement together.



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Author:Old Collegians Association


Glen Stuart Rd Woodforde Sa 5072 Australia


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