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Petersilka, Augustin (Gus) (1918–1994)

by John Farquharson

Gus Petersilka, n.d.

Gus Petersilka, n.d.

ACT Heritage Library, 00261

Augustin "Gus" Petersilka, who, through his championship of outdoor eating made himself a Canberra institution, has fought his last battle. Gus, 76, died in Woden Valley Hospital yesterday, after a five-month battle with cancer.

At the cafe where he fought his first battle to serve his customers at tables and chairs on the footpath, he used to have a sign: "Do it now. Tomorrow there may be a law against it." That reflected Gus's attitude to life and all he did to bring life, heart and a touch of his native Vienna to the nation's capital.

He saw Civic as Canberra's heart and, in his various ventures there, mostly centred on Garema Place, Gus did his best to make that a reality with his outdoor tables and chairs and often live jazz on Friday and Saturday nights.

In looking back over his life just before he died, Gus said that "coming to Canberra was the most wonderful thing that happened to me". To him it was also the place which gave him a fair go. And in 1978 the city recognised his contribution to the community by naming him Canberran of the Year.

His last concern was that his ideals and philosophies might be edited and put into book form. He is survived by his wife, Jenny, and a nephew.

A profile about Gus was published in the Canberra Times on October 2.

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Citation details

John Farquharson, 'Petersilka, Augustin (Gus) (1918–1994)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 27 September 2020.

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