A Call Out Of The Blue: 'This Is Gough Whitlam'

Gough Whitlam at his wife Margaret’s funeral two years ago. Photo: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

Gough Whitlam would stun people by telephoning some of the many who wrote to him.

In recent years Gough would still go to his office on the 14th floor of 100 William Street, East Sydney, each week to deal with correspondence.

He would arrive in a wheelchair and often greet people on the street as they walked by, causing many a smile.

It’s not known how he would choose the people to call, what it was about their letters which prompted him to make immediate contact rather than sending a short written reply.

Leone Britt, who lives in country New South Wales, says Gough Whitlam was a giant of a man in all ways.

“But he was not too big to phone me, even though he had never met me, in 2004 to thank me for writing to him to thank him for my free University degree,” she wrote on Facebook.

Rebecca Giggs says Gough rang her at work in Perth in 2005.

She was organising a dinner to mark 30 years since the dismissal.

Gough’s voice on the other end of the phone: “Is Giggs a hard ‘G’ or a soft ‘G’ like ‘Gough’,” he said.

This flummoxed her. Gough has two Gs, one hard, one soft.

“We had a laugh and he told me he thought the hard ‘G’ denoted a certain robustness of personality,” she says.

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