My Hard Yakka Dad

Some of you may not realise (I know I didn’t until yesterday!) that Father’s Day in Australia happens on the first Sunday of September.  Which means in two days time!

It’s a bummer, really, because I had this Father’s Day all worked out since Susie Lindau’s post My Father the Madman back in June.  (If you haven’t joined her blog yet, it’s more than worth the ride… 🙂 )

The problem is, the mail usually takes longer to get to Tasmania than it does to the other side of the world.  And Dad doesn’t have a computer.  So now it looks like you’re going to get this before he does…I won’t tell if you don’t?

In my comment on Susie Lindau’s post, I made the mistake of saying my Dad was a ‘bit of’ an amateur inventor.  I didn’t expect her to be interested, but she was, so now I have to confess it was a ‘bit of’ a white lie.

My Dad is not so much an amateur inventor as an all-round fix-it man.  He is a builder by trade, and what that means is – even if he has not an ounce of engineering knowledge – he can figure out how stuff works.

Back when I was still young enough to be admiring, my Dad built a tractor-powered saw mill from second hand chunks of metal (that’s my technical term for it).  He welded it together, sharpened the saws by hand and it all worked like a dream.

I LOVED working on that saw mill.  I just wanted to be one of the boys, and Dad – desperate for all the help he could get – would let me play along.

I’d hang about on building sites and wood chops…

…even in the veggie patch…(actually, that’s not me, it’s a scarecrow 🙂 )

..and all the while Dad (and Mum, of course) were hard at work.

Maybe he could have been an inventor.  But there were never enough hours in the day for my Hard Yakka Dad.  (Hard Yakka is Aussie for ‘hard work’.  It’s also a brand of tough guy workwear.  Check out the video).

Even when we went camping, it was work, work, work for Dad…

And when eventually he got to stop?  Well.  No words necessary.

Over the years, we’ve had our share of differences. But the great thing about growing up is that you get to see your parents as people.  With stories, and a history of their own.

Dad, the eldest of seven kids, left school early to help his parents on the farm.

Later, he relinquished a Pacific Island dream at their request, and came home to build their house.

The rest, as they say, is history.

“What’s done is done,” he says. “No use dwelling on the past.”

But history is important.  It’s what makes us who we are.

Somehow, in its knowledge, anger dissolves.  It reveals a child’s disappointment in discovering the humanity of those we love.

Today, when I go home, Dad likes to take me on a tour of the homes he’s built.

He’s a stalwart of the industry.  One of the few remaining all-rounders.  Worth his weight in gold – they say.

Except Dad, out of some old-school sense of modesty, continues to charge less than half the going rate.

But at least he’s starting to enjoy himself.

Maybe one day soon, he’ll accept that retirement means ‘stop work’.

In the meantime, I’ll just love him for the Dad he is.

Wishing Happy Father’s Day to all the Hard Yakka Dad’s out there.

Maybe you know of one yourself?  Or maybe you, too, had a moment of discovery, when you finally saw the man?  Please share….


  1. says

    I loved your post. My Dad is no longer with us but I can relate. He was very handy as well. I had to laugh about the mail in Tasmania, the mainland is no better. I sent a parcel to my sister who lives an hour away and it took a week to get there and I sent it registered mail too. Then they didn’t put a card in her letterbox or try to deliver it so after chasing Aust Post all over the place we finally located it and she had to go and pick it up. UGH!
    cheers Judy 🙂

    • says

      Haha, so it’s not just Tassie, then? Actually, now that you mention it, I have sent mail to Sydney that got there over a month later (admittedly, it was before Christmas, but still!). Maybe we should go back to pigeons? 😉

  2. says

    Alarna Rose, what a beautiful story, and what beautiful people your parents sound. I don;t think there are many good old fashioned dads like that around any more, you were really privileged to have one.
    And the pictures were lovely, I really entered into your life – it actually looked idyllic to someone whose father never played with them and all the rest of the poor me stuff!!!..

    • says

      Hey Valerie – honestly, this picture is a lot more idyllic than the one I might have given you in my teens and twenties. But I have come to realise how much of it is to be treasured. It’s sad that your Father didn’t engage – we (and they) miss out on so much when they don’t…

  3. says

    What a great collection of photos! Your father sounds like a winner through and through. I have a dad who was an all-around fix-it man too and I can’t imagine how we would have gotten by without his skills. He could learn and do anything.

    Great post. I’m so glad we connected via Susie’s Wild Ride! 🙂

  4. says

    Awwww…..! I guess, you would always be proud to be known as a “Hard Yakka” Dad’s daughter. I’m so much glad to know about your dad, who is an owner of such a great personality, Alarna. I liked the whole memories you shared through those photographs too. Have a great day ahead. Cheers.\m/ 🙂


  5. says

    I woke up this morning with a start remembering your link about your Father’s Day post! I am so sorry it took me so long to get over here. Since Thursday, my computer has been on the fritz and it was so sloooooooowwwwwww. I am not sure why it is just motoring this morning. Yeah! Maybe my anti-virus software killed a bug.
    I LOVE this! What a wonderful story and tribute to your hard Yakka Dad! I love the photo of the two of you at the end. Such beautiful people you all are!
    He sounds like a great father and has accomplished so much!
    Thanks so much for the amazing shout out Alarna!

  6. says

    Ah, I love this photo essay. Love those pics of you as a child and of your dad. What a wonderful Father’s Day gift for him. What an impressive father. Happy Father’s Day to your dad.

    I love Susie’s blog, too! Always packed with fun and interesting posts! Take care!

  7. Coleen Patrick says

    This is a super sweet post Alarna! You made me smile, especially at the photo of your dad on the beach with his pants rolled up. 🙂

    • says

      Dear Boy! So good to hear from you (I hope the disconnection served you well?). Pepi is…happy, though he continues to lose his little marbles, poor fella. So sorry to hear about your father. It can’t be easy, growing up without a Dad…

  8. says

    What a wonderful dad you’ve got! An all rounder dad and an all rounder daughter, eh? 🙂

    “Hard Yakka ” Thanks for sharing this, very soon I’m gonna say “Hard Yakka!” to my chaps and boast around for having learnt the two words, for they do the same when they learn something new… not really 😛

  9. says

    I am pretty impressed by the sawmill! I have one of those fathers who can make a go-cart out of a piece of wire and an old washing machine. I have enjoyed watching my changing relationship with him over the years – and mine with my own children.

    • says

      The best toys are the invented ones! And yes, the most surprising thing for me has been the gradual change over the years. In a subtle way, I think most of it was prompted by the coming into being of grandkids / nephews & niece. 🙂

  10. says

    Your Dad looks so lovely! And I really like your quote ‘Somehow, in its knowledge, anger dissolves. It reveals a child’s disappointment in discovering the humanity of those we love.’ Sums up that whole feeling of growing up and realising your parents aren’t perfect….

    • says

      Thank you! I think it is natural for us to grow up thinking our parents are – or should be – perfect. For me, it was quite a freeing revelation to finally understand that, even if they aren’t, that’s ok 🙂

  11. says

    I think you know about how I feel about dad’s, however, I see your smiling face & read your carefully chosen words, and I say to you… I love you.


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