THE MEETING of these two men (above) in Maleny’s Upfront Club recently looked like a happy reunion. In fact they had never met before.
Harry Rayeroux (left) had looked forward to this meeting for more than 50 years. At last he could say hello to his hero, Colin Petersen, the child star of the 1956 movie, Smiley and a Maleny resident.
“I saw it at least eight times – every Saturday,” says Harry who was born and raised in Mauritius. “It was dubbed in French and took some time to get to Mauritius. But I was about 12 or 13, and there was something about Smiley that made me really think about Australia. I wasn’t interested in the koalas and the kangaroos. For me it was the lifestyle, the people and the Australian way of life that really attracted me.”
Harry finally emigrated to Perth in 1966 at age 18 and always harboured a wish to meet the boy who had inspired his desire to become an Australian.
Now a father and grandfather, and with a successful engineering career behind him, “It’s like a dream come true,” he adds. “I have been talking to my children about Smiley for years and they would say to me, who knows dad, one day you might get to meet him.
“Now it’s happened I am flabbergasted,” says Harry overcome and with a tear in his eye.
“You created a little paradise for me as a child”.
“I was nine years old when I made that film,” says Colin,
“and as I look back I think Smiley captured an ethos at the time, an ethos that has, by and large, disappeared … certain values and attitudes and an Australian sense of a fair go.
“Culturally it was a different country then,” continues Colin, “but Smiley didn’t whitewash society. The film was true to life. In the movie my father was a drunk and we were a poor family. So I can understand how the overall picture was so enticing.”
“I am very much a fanatic for Australia because this country has offered me everything,” says Harry. “Australians have always been so helpful to me and I have raised my children to be Australian.
“I didn’t know where you were in Australia,” says Harry beaming at Colin with a wide smile. “Then I saw the article in the Hinterland Times (2010). It’s been a long wait to meet you. You have made me the Australian I am…”
“No…” Colin responds. “ I inspired you to become the man you are.”
Both men parted with big smiles on their face, and one could only marvel at the power of the silver screen.