From Talgai to top job
IF evidence was ever needed to back the adage “you can take the boy out of the bush, but not the bush out of the boy” John Penhaligon would be an optimal case.
A product of the now defunct Talgai State School and bearing a name synonymous with the Allora area, he is living proof urban backgrounds are not critical to success in the competitive world of medical science.
Mr Penhaligon grew up on a mixed grain and dairy property and in 1959 became a Scots College boarder, before studying science at university.
In a colourful career which took him throughout Australia – “I was very young, very inexperienced and nervous as hell” – he practised in laboratories from Bendigo to Cairns.
Using the gritty work ethic learnt during a Southern Downs childhood he earned a position as one of the Commonwealth’s chief medical scientists.
High achieving proved genetic for the Penhaligon clan. His older sister Jan studied at PGC before going on to become an acclaimed concert pianist. She is now married to renowned television reporter Ian Leslie.
But her brother, a self confessed “restless soul, discontent without a challenge”, abandoned medical science a few years ago to pursue business.
It is the later which has brought him back to his home country after four decades away.
“I was keen to do a real estate development and Warwick offered affordability and stability,” Mr Penhaligon said.
“There’s more to it though: This is a clean, family friendly place that is going ahead.
“The only reason I ever left was the cold.”
Coming back has proved an astute move as his residential project, The Lookout, is now more than 50 per cent sold with 10 of the 19 home blocks selling for more than $1 million.
“I investigated the Toowoomba/Brisbane corridor and west to the natural resources boom areas like Dalby,” Mr Penhaligon said.
“But I couldn’t find the same level of economic stability anywhere else.”