Phillip Garth Law AC CBE
1912 - 2010
Personal Stories and Memories
Brian Harvey wrote:
I knew Phil as a fiercely independent person with a personal life that was very private.
Some years ago I visited Phil at his home in Canterbury. Nel was still alive then however she was bedridden and Phil looked after her every need without there ever being a suggestion that she should be cared for in some hospice, Phil was chief cook and bottle washer and then some to his beloved wife Nel.
In Phil's later years at Canterbury just prior to him selling up and shifting to aged care, there was a downpour and the carpet at the rear of the house got saturated so Phil now in his 90s proceeded to pull up the damp carpet on his own, it would have taken only one phone call and there would have been an army of ANARE people to help.
Jim Haggart wrote:
We all know of Phil's leadership qualities and rapport with the expeditioners and this was summed up very succintly by the speaker on behalf of ANARE, Life member Malcolm Kirton at Phil's 90th. Birthday Celebration in 2002. It was said in front of 175 people, (but not printed as part of the official speech) during Malcolm's interesting address, --- "There was many a time we could have screwed the little bugger's neck but we're all here because of him". It received loud applause mid - speech.
At a Midwinter Dinner in the '90's Phil was 45 minutes late!His excuse was his car had broken down on St. Kilda Road and he recieved help to to push it out of the traffic but he could not flag down a taxi.The intrepid explorer however was successful in hitching a ride in a pink concrete truck that was stopped at the lights. But the driver could not drop Phil off until he had got another load of Readymix from the Port Melbourne Depot. There was relief when Phil arrived and much hilarity when he told the story.
In 2003 I was privileged when Phil wrote the Foreword for my structural repairs welding book.He was 91 and dressed resplendently in his long creams ready to play tennis at 10 a.m. when I arrived at his home to give him a book. Morning coffee and biscuits were also laid out.
What a privilege it has been to know him...
Warwick Deacock wrote:
I was a member of the 1962/3 ANARE summer expedition to Heard Island when there were three of us, Budd (leader), Stephenson (geologist) and myself( assistant scientist (climber handy man preferred !) We attempted to summit Mawson peak on Big Ben (named by Bob Dovers, son of one of Mawson surveyors.) We failed due to the weather and also the fact that we had scientific gear where food would have been more acceptable, but then science was our task. We enjoyed a' tribulation' Age and the SMH reported us front page missing etc.
So in 1964 I decided to try a return match privately. I approached Phil for ideas and he suggested the vessel that we eventually did use, The Patanella, which he had allowed to sail to Macquarie Island to research elephant seal harvesting. She was excellent.
During the planning I received a letter from Garfield Barwick minister for External Affairs, indicating that we could not visit Heard. Legal opinion indicated that at that time we could. In the back ground were two 'Missing Link's a Legal QC and very quietly (I am sure) Phil.
We went and we succeeded, end of story.
Phil was heart and soul for such private enterprise and I am sure heated a few telephones, unofficially on our behalf.
In 1963 at Spit Bay Phil, movie camera and all, was swept off the bologny boat into the sea. Of course he survived .
I have copied in Grahame Budd a member of the 64/5 sailing trip, Grahame was i/c of the science programme.
I believe that the South Indian Ocean Expediton to Heard Island somewhat sailed in the wake of Mawson, however in our case we were purely private,
Government in this case presenting just another problem to be overcome... 6 of the crew were 'sharp ANARE's.'