ABC Radio Hobart’s Saturday morning gardening talkback guru Peter Cundall announced last weekend that he will put down his headphones and secateurs and retire from the show he has fronted for 50 years.
The 91 year old told ABC listeners: “I was only thinking the other day, when I first started the talkback in the late 1960s, the people who were then just born, babies that were born on that day, are now 50 years old, and probably got children and grandchildren of their own, and I’ve been broadcasting, non-stop, almost 52 weeks a year ever since.”
He believes his 50 years on air is a world record. “That very first broadcast in Launceston in 1968, believe it or not, was the very first gardening talkback in the world, because it was the first time that anyone had ever tried it,” he said.
Cundall was born in Manchester UK in 1927. He began vegetable gardening as a child, and had a love of “messing about in the dirt”. Cundall left school at the age of 12 working to support his family before being conscripted to the British Army towards the end of World War II.
It was his military experience that eventually helped him migrate to Australia. Cundall saw an ad in a newspaper looking for volunteers to join the Australian Army to fight in the Korean war.
After his war service, Cundall moved to Tasmania and started a landscaping and gardening business in Launceston, where his career in radio and TV began.
As he told his listeners the news last weekend, Cundall praised his long-time broadcast partner, Hobart weekend breakfast host Chris Wisbey, describing him as “one of the most kind, decent and amazing bloke(s) to work with.”
His final sign-off last weekend was not his usual “that’s your bloomin’ lot.” Instead he farewelled his listeners with: “Remember, old gardeners never die, they just gradually turn into compost!”
Listen to one of Peter’s final shows here.