Sara Brown

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Sara Brown

Brett has asked me for ‘my story’ – I am happy to do this but not quite sure what it should include. Is it to do with my life post-Telopea or more wide-ranging? So here goes, and please feel free to scroll through any boring bits.

I was born in Canberra in June 1950 and grew up in Griffith. I am very proud to say I am a 5th-generation Canberran on both my father’s paternal and maternal sides. My great-great-grandfather James Brown was a convict, sentenced in Edinburgh, Scotland, to 7 years transportation to NSW in 1834, convicted for what can only be described as a prank. After his sentence was completed he was employed as a shepherd at Lanyon where he died in 1861 as a result of a falling tree breaking his neck. He is buried in the Lanyon Cemetery.

My paternal grandmother was Sarah Southwell, who worked as a house servant at Yarralumla where my paternal grandfather Archie Brown was also employed. The Southwells settled in the Canberra district in 1838, and celebrated 150 years in Canberra in 1988 when Australia celebrated its bicentenary. My mother was born, and grew up, in Hobart and came to Canberra post-WWII when the Public Service was expanding. The eldest of four children born to William and Elizabeth Brown, I attended Griffith Infants School and Griffith Primary School before starting at Telopea Park High School in 1963. I left Telopea at the end of 1966.

In the first half of 1967 I attended Reid TAFE as a student in the Public Service-sponsored Stenography Course. The Public Service was desperate for stenographers and this was the first year of 2 intakes to meet the demand. On graduation mid-1967 I was appointed to the Australian Bureau of Census and Statistics (now Australian Bureau of Statistics) in the Treasury Building in Parkes. I was with ABS for 10 years, starting in one of the typing pools and leaving as private secretary to the Australian Statistician. Along the way I was secretary to Penny Watson’s wonderful father Keith Watson, Director of the Census Division. I took leave without pay from mid-1970 to mid-1971 and spent  a year overseas – working in London in the winter months and travelling throughout Europe for 9 months.

I married Andrew York in April 1973 and we have two daughters, Jessica born in July 1976 and Rebecca born in December 1978. Sadly, Andrew and I separated in June 1993.

I was a full-time mum until Rebecca was 7. Wanting to get back into the workforce on a part-time basis I did a word processing course at Woden TAFE. To cut a long story very short, I then worked at the Australian National Botanic Gardens for 10 years (1986-1996), working on creating a database of the Herbarium collection.

From 1997 to 1999 I undertook a full-time Diploma of Horticulture course at CIT, Weston, and was very lucky to be awarded the CIT Medal for Horticulture on graduation.

I have 4 grandchildren – Benjamin, Patrick, Isabelle and Lincoln – and love every aspect of being a grandmother.

My other interests are photography, family history, gardening, knitting, travel and riding my bike. My precious parents are both gone – my mum in June 1997 and my dad in January 2003.

Updated February 2018

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