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Vale Susie 'Bunty' Rowland, The Matriarch of The Campaign Palace Melbourne in the 70s and 80s

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Many in the industry will be deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Susie 'Bunty' Rowland (née Harris), who was considered the matriarch of The Campaign Palace, Melbourne in the 70s and 80s

Vale Susie 'Bunty' Rowland, The Matriarch of The Campaign Palace Melbourne in the 70s and 80s

A tribute from The Campaign Palace co-founder Lionel Hunt: 

Susie (Bunty) Rowland was the matriarch of The Campaign Palace in Melbourne even though
she was only 21 when we hired her.

We called her Bunty because she was rather posh, in an English way, although she was a Melbourne girl through and through.

She was, I think, only our second hiring , and she had to do pretty much everything - answer the phones, type my copy, run Gordon's and my private lives (no easy task) and, in winter, even come in early to light the fires in our grand old Victorian terrace house in Cecil Street, South Melbourne.


Thumbnail image for Hunt-Lionel-NEW.jpgShe created this extra role herself, appointed herself to it without feeling the need to interview other candidates, and awarded herself an extra $50 a week. A fire starter and self starter, both.

Talking about typing my copy, I didn't realise it at the time but she would take my scrawled handwriting and edit and change it to suit herself and then give it back to me without saying a word.

Many's the time she gave me back my heavily and secretly changed copy, only for me to say, after reading it, 'Mmm, rather good don't you think?'

She loved a good time and wasn't alone there. Well before mid day there would be the pop of a wine cork and Bunty would pour herself a glass of Mountadam chardonnay and carry on typing. Unfortunately she would often put the glass on the carriage of her typewriter and forget to remove it when she tapped the return key.

'Shit', we'd hear, and another $200 typewriter cleaning fee.

Despite all this, some would say because of it, Bunty was the very backbone of The Palace, supremely capable, utterly loyal and loved by all. Office manager I suppose you'd call it these days. More like Mammasan.

She did, of course have a life outside of The Palace. She married Peter Rowland, the doyen of Melbourne high society caterers, and became an (once again self
appointed ) 'architect'.

She designed their own French chateau which was I believe the first house in Melbourne with an underground carpark.

She also had a deep interest in Egyptian tombs.

No doubt the two things are related.

She was our first long service leave recipient after 12 years devoted service, which seemed like a lifetime in those days.

We gave her an around the world business class ticket and where did she go? Cairo, of course.

Now, 30 years later it's hard to believe she's gone.

All those early Palace people are going to feel it deeply.

And me, who am I going to get to fix this up and type it?


From The Campaign Palace co-founder Gordon Trembath:

Susie was on top of everything, always. So much so, in the forty forty or so years since years we worked together at The Palace Susie always remembered my birthday. And it was a bit of a joke between us that although I knew her birthday was in October I didn't remember what day. And only a few days ago I finally extracted the date from her and messaged her back that she should expect to hear from me with bells on come October 8, but that wasn't to say we shouldn't catch up before then.

GORDON-TREMBATH.jpgNo hint in that simple little exchange that she was anything but well, and now your terrible news! Right now I don't know what else I can say that doesn't sound trite. But really, Susie was, as they say "a class act", and much loved.

Everyone liked and respected and enjoyed Suzie's company, without exception - Chris Dewey, Jack Vaughan, Harold Mitchel and even Wayne Sidwell spring immediately to mind. Jo  Shorrock too (and she'll have a lot more names). Lionel and I of course loved her to bits, as I'm sure also did Terry Bunton and Ian Watson, both of whom I remember always enjoyed her company immensely. A lot of laughs whenever with Susie.


Former Palace creative director Jack Vaughan sent in this tribute:

As lots of people have probably already explained, Susie was called 'Bunty'. Dunno why, except for her slight lofty upper class bearing.

Anyway, she basically ran the Palace.

VaughanJack.JPGShe ordered the booze, organised the taxis, booked the airline tickets, got us lunch tables at favourite restaurants, gave petty bureaucratic officialdom short shrift (and very articulately), purchased all the office supplies, ushered in the clients and kept them diverted while we were still in the back room trying to have the idea. And much more. You get the picture. Indispensable.

Every agency should have one of her.

Bunty was a touch formal when she was 'on the bridge' but had the ability to completely change after closing time when she'd let her hair down big time.

I'm sure she was just as valuable in her later roles, after the Palace. So lots of people will miss her, and her sense of capability and reassurance.

From former Palace creative director Ron Mather:

Caring, efficient, quirky, loyal, funny and much loved. All qualities that were essential to successfully look after a creative department as demanding as The Campaign Palace's was.

Thumbnail image for Ron-Mather-new.jpgAnd Susie had them all.

I have many fond memories of Susie, or Bunty as she was known. 

I remember once when Lionel and I decided to go on a survival camping trip, taking no food and only fishing rods. Of course we didn't catch any fish and we were really hungry. Then we discovered an Esky in the back of the car, full of lamb chops. Susie had put them there, making sure we wouldn't go hungry. That was typical of Susie.

RIP Bunty, you will be missed by many.


From former Palace creative director Scott Whybin:

Susie (Bunty) was the personification of The Palace Melbourne in the late 70's and 80's. God, she knew how to have fun. Yet she was always a perfectionist and did everything with utter style.

WHYBIN_SCOTT-SMALL.jpgI'll never forget my first day at The Palace in 1984. Susie presented me with a list of Melbourne's top 15 restaurants. (I was at the tender age of 24) and then asked me to sign it.

Scott, she said, "You are now registered at all these restaurants and all you have to do is sign."

It was before FBT and she then whispered to me in that beautiful, high, posh little voice, "And remember Scott, the more you spend, the more you save".

God please make sure there's some Crystal on ice for her arrival. She deserves every sip.

Rest Bunty. Love you always.


From former Palace CEO, Des Speakman:

Susie, lovingly referred to as Bunty, epitomised all that was special about The Campaign Palace throughout its halcyon days.

She was gorgeous, classy, funny, efficient, passionate, knowledgeable and by nature a lover of life. And she adored and was protective of 'her creatives', providing them with breathing space from overly enthusiastic suits and clients, caring for their needs and helping create an environment that encouraged them to be the best they could be.

Bunty not only embraced the culture, values and personality of The Palace, she contributed heavily to their development.

She will be sadly missed but leaves an indelible memory for all of us who had the good fortune to work with her.

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Campaign Brief, Fri, 13 Apr 2018 02:43:15 GMT