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Bio

Today Peter Norvill is the owner/operator of Rock Dhu, a sheep and cattle property, 25km NE of Murrurundi in the Upper Hunter Valley of NSW.  The Norvill Family has been working this land for generations.  

(Click on the "family" link for photos and more details)    

Peter was born in 1950, the only child of the late Lionel and late Enid Norvill and has lived almost all his life on Rock Dhu. He was schooled in Murrurundi and Tamworth. After leaving school in 1965 at age 15, Peter was employed by his father on Rock Dhu. He took over the family property Rock Dhu in 1977 and he continues to graze sheep and cattle to this day. When Peter took over the running of Rock Dhu, there were about 2,500 sheep and 1,000 head of cattle.  

(Click on the "farming" link for photos and more details)  

In 1988, Peter became the first Australian to fly solo around the world in an aeroplane and was awarded an OAM in recognition of that achievement. He has also undertaken many other commemorative and record-breaking flights.  

(Click on the "aviation" link for photos and more details.) 

As you could imagine, it is essential for a pilot to have a good working knowledge of weather and weather patterns. For eleven and a half years Peter broadcast his own live-to-air weather show ten times weekly for the ABC, as well as for a commercial AM and an FM radio station.  

Peter was the original patron of and motivating force behind establishing the Norvill Art Prize, which is a biennial art competition now administered by the Murrurundi Arts Council, commencing in 2000 with a $10,000 cash prize for the winner and increased in 2012 to a $15,000 first prize. 

(click on the link to the left in the menu bar for details about the Norvill Art Prize).  

Peter is not only a grazier - he is also an artist, storyteller, an entrepeneur and a philanthropist.  

(Click on the "art" link for paintings and on "stories" for a selection of Peter's short stories) 

Peter has written and published a number of books and publications, including: 

Solo Around The World (Hardcover edition 1988) 
Solo Around The World – A Colour Supplement and Update (out of print)
Weather – A Basics and Commonsense Guide to our Weather
Politics, Economics and Mismanagement (out of print)
The Norvill Art Prize – A Background to the Award (August 2000) 

These publications are available for purchase, when in print. To see more please click on the "publications" link on the left.

Christening, 24th February, 1951.
God Parents, Martin and Olive Norvill,
Blandford

I must be able to escape
from here somehow ...?

I am saying, “How much longer
are you going to keep me locked
in this pen?”

'The Great Escape. Free at last ...!

PHN with "Colly" and "Snow"
at the junction Warlands and
Wilsons Creeks 1960s

"Butch" and "Snow" on PHN,
Mayne Street 1960s.
"Snow" was part Dingo
... and boy, did he know it!

With Dusty, 1966

With Snow and Butch

Click on the image above to read
PHN's letter to the Editor,
Australian Flying Magazine,
June 1966

I make the (unofficial) claim to be the
first to design the Ultra-light Aircraft.

Ultra-lights were appearing in the
skies later 1970’s and early 80’s.

I got to fly one – a Condor -
at Gunnedah’s Ag-quip Field Days
early 1980’s.

But my drawing here is 1966 – way
before we saw the Ultra-light.

The problem was, I was too young back then to be able to build my design.
Had I been a few years older ...

PHN Certificate of Entrance 1971

I failed in the school system. Some of us do.

I have to learn, by reinventing the wheel.

I cannot learn easily with hands-on teaching. I have to teach myself.

Interestingly, through Primary School I was quite OK. One year I even came second in my class and was only beaten to first place by a banker’s son, who would later go on to be a doctor (who would later be charged with malpractice). 

It is very clear to me I could have left
school at the end of 1962, aged 12, after completing what was then 6th class, and gone to work, because the next three years were mostly wasted time.

Once starting High School it was clear Maths was going to be my worst. Primary School maths was fine because it was ‘numbers’ but soon as I started High School and they brought the alphabet into Maths, that was the end for me. I never passed another exam in the subject.

I left school after third year at age fifteen.

A few years later, aged twenty, I decided to give school one more try. I applied to study for the next year of high school, what was then fourth year, via correspondence.

The report here is the end result. Little had changed. I was still failing in the system.

PHN Certificate of Registration for
National Service 1970



Peter (aged about 18 months)
with his Father


Peter (aged 2 years) with
his mother

A camera was in the frame from
an early day - even if this one
was busted

God knows what it was I
was saying ...

At least I didn’t have to do the
mowing. Note the tobacco tin in
Lionel’s back pocket. He would
cease smoking abruptly only a
year or so after this photo
was taken

Peter and Joan Purcell
Christmas Day 1953
The Unknown ... a quarter of
a century after this photo above
was taken the three points of a triangle would come together
in a dreadful tragedy ...

Note tractor. This was my
favourite toy at the time. It and
most of my toys mysteriously
disappeared soon after. I
searched everywhere and some
years later found parts of the
tractor in our property rubbish
tip, damaged almost beyond
recognition

Peter and "Snow" - on the
bridge Peter built over
Warlands Creek, 1962.
I was swearing at Snow to sit still while the photo was taken.

My bridge, from start to finish,
lasted just 3 days. Late afternoon
a storm went around the top of
the valley. We got barely a few spots of rain here but up the top
of the valley obviously there was
a torrential downpour.

It was mid summer. The air was
still and we could hear a roaring
noise up the creek, getting louder.

We watched in disbelief, as a
vertical wall of water came down
Warlands Creek. The water was
up to the top of the bank,
carrying every imaginable type
of flood debris, including tree
trunks and fence posts.

My bridge splintered like
matchsticks. All gone in seconds.

This was the only time I have
seen an actual wall of water
here in any flood.

If you refer back to this photo, at
the right end of the bridge you
will note two anchor points,
one is a piece of rock, the other
is a peg driven into the
creek bank.

After the flood hit, everything
was gone ... except that peg.

That peg was the sole reminder,
that any bridge had ever
existed ...
apart from this photo taken by my
mother that afternoon with my
Brownie Box Camera.

Just on the right (out of the
photo)those days there was a
long-drop toilet. All this part of
the creek bank is long gone,
as floods overthe years have
eaten it away.

Peter, "Colly" and "Butch", 1966

With a young Snow

My one and only traffic infringement, ever. 1973.

Young woman driver came out of
a side street which has long a go now been designated a give-way.

She had just come from a club, yet
she was not breath tested at the
accident scene


A spot of gardening

Peter's first car

At Old Boys Home, Murrurundi

With Butch, Old Boys Home

Beside the Armstrong Siddeley,
‘Nugget’ on the bonnet, 1956.
Old Boys Home

The latest batch of pups



At the fishpond

Peter (aged 13 years)

Peter on horse, 1966

I had the best billycart. Steel
wheels at the rear made it incredibly fast and erratic on tar.
The wooden box being so big and strong dwarfed everybody else's.
I found it in the alley at the back of the Chemist shop (Murrurundi).
They had just finished unpacking
medicines from it.

Hefron Lookout

PHN, Kempsey
North Coast holiday

Moonee Beach

Moonee Beach must have had
relevance in our earlier holiday
history. I only remember us going
there the once in the 1960’s,
when the previous (top) photo
was taken but this old photo
(bottom), by coincidence taken
almost on the same spot, has
written on the back of it ‘Good
old Moonee’, so it has significance
to someone in the earlier
family days