Local Member of Parliament, Tony Piccolo’s earliest recollections of his life in Australia include the Kudla Railway Station and walking down a muddy Coventry Road to catch the school bus.
This Saturday (11th March) marks the 60th anniversary that he and his family (Dad, Raffaele, Mum, Maria and older Sister, Antonietta) arrived in Australia at the Port of Melbourne.
His family were collected by an uncle and cousin who already lived in South Australia and taken to their new home in Kudla, alongside the Railway Station.
Mr Piccolo said his family stayed with his uncle and auntie and their family for about 6-9 months until his dad purchased a property nearby.
“My uncle and auntie (Vincenzo and Amalia DiDiano) sponsored our family to settle in Australia,” said Mr Piccolo.
“My Dad started work the very next day, as Uncle Vince worked at Holden and took my dad with him, and he worked there for over 20 years until poor health forced him to retire early.”
“I turned 3 on the ship on the way to Australia, while my sister was almost 5 years old and she started school few months after we arrived.”
“I started school a year later and remember catching the old “butter box” bus to Evanston Primary School.”
“While I could not speak a word of English when I started school, I have no recollection of not being able to do so.”
At the end of primary school Mr Piccolo attended Gawler High School, then went on to study economics at Adelaide University. He later completed a master’s degree in education management, majoring in Human Resources at Flinders University.
Mr Piccolo said he holds very fond memories of his school days and didn’t experience any taunts as the new boy on the block.
“Both my local schools were very working class and we just learnt to get on with each other, although my high school was much more culturally diverse than my primary,” said Mr Piccolo.
In 1981, at age 21, Mr Piccolo ran for a vacancy on the (then) District Council of Munno Para and was re-elected in 1983. In 1985 the boundaries between the two Council’s changed and he ran for an alderman position on the Town of Gawler, in which he topped the vote.
Mr Piccolo spent almost 25 years in local government, the last 6 as Mayor of the Town of Gawler until he was elected to State Parliament in 2006.
His role in local government did not pay a salary, so he also worked fulltime, starting in the chartered accountancy field, then the State and Commonwealth Government and his last position was as Business Manager at Trinity College.
Mr Piccolo said he has always been grateful for the courageous decision his parents made to migrate to Australia.
“While most of my extended family still reside in Italy and I have emotional ties to my town of birth (Acerra, Napoli), my parent’s decision to migrate opened up opportunities I would not have had in Italy.”
“I am very fortunate to date to having lived a good life because of my parents hard work and the opportunities this great country offers.”
“I have lived in Kudla for 52 of the 60 years I have been in Australia, the other 8 in Evanston Park.”
“Gawler and its people have been very kind to me and have enabled me to have a “job” that I love doing.”
“As to the future, Mr Piccolo said while he has the energy and drive, and if the people still want me, I will continue to serve this community in some role.”