A sixpence bet.
That simple deed, in 1915, gave rise to one of Macarthur’s best-known clans.
Stuart Dench of Wollondilly North Rotary, and his wife Ally – an executive director of the Wollondilly Council – are both big shire identities.
Stu’s pistol-packing mum, Patty Dench, is a Camden legend (with a park named in her honour) after winning an Olympic medal in 1984.
And Stu’s grandparents, Charlie and Flo Dench, ran an Ingleburn butchery where they were household names to generations of shoppers.
Yet, this clan – as we know it – only exists because a Campbelltown girl, Ivy Frost, mocked Charlie in WW1 for not enlisting and bet him a sixpence that he didn’t have the guts. Charlie proved her wrong, and took the coin he won to war as a lucky charm.
It worked. Although badly wounded at Fromelles, he returned alive…and with an English war bride on his arm, Florence Whybrow.
That sixpence became a local version of the Butterfly Effect. You know, that famous chaos theory metaphor that traces the origins of a hurricane in China to a butterfly flapping its wings in New Mexico.
Many of us history buffs love following those same treads, trying to join the dots on the twists and turns, and realise how many things we take for granted in Macarthur today are the result of silly, lucky, or unintended wing flutters years ago.
I have in the past pondered in speeches and articles that if a butterfly had flapped its wings in a different direction on a particular day, Campbelltown CBD might now be located where Kentlyn is, Camden might have a St John’s Catholic Church on its hilltop, and Douglas Park might today be Hoaretown.
So, I must admit, the Butterfly Effect also popped to mind last week when an avid Liberal supporter I know in Camden sounded off about the shenanigans in Canberra last week, putting most of the blame on independent Kerryn Phelps for putting “national security” at risk with her Nauru Bill. I asked him join some dots:
1. Why is Kerryn Phelps in Parliament? Because she won the Wentworth by-election.
2. Why was there a Wentworth by-election? Because Malcolm Turnbull had quit.
That famous chaos theory metaphor that traces the origins of a hurricane in China to a butterfly flapping its wings in New Mexico.
3. Why did Turnbull quit? He had been dumped as PM.
4. Why had Turnbull been dumped? Because of a (rather inept) political coup, with local Hume MP Angus Taylor a high-profile key player.
5. Who did you vote for? Angus Taylor.
So Phelps/Labor might be “to blame”, I suggested, but does chaos theory mean that you walking into the ballot box last election was the butterfly flaming its wings in New Mexico and last week’s crisis in Parliament was the hurricane in China?
He didn’t agree. It was all Phelps/Labor. Fair enough.
But I will say this. “Chaos theory’ is now not just a concept but the best description for federal Parliament.
And I heard ScoMo telling us last week’s antics had “endangered national security”.
If that’s true, that “threat to our borders” wouldn’t have happened at all if the hard right of his own party hadn’t created the landscape that allowed it to happen. Turning a majority government into a minority government was all the Libs’ doing, with no help from Labor, Greens, One Nation, or the Nats.
If ScoMo and his cabinet of egos want to know the architect of last week’s “national security" hurricane, I suggest they visit a hall of mirrors.
Or a butterfly sanctuary.