Army “sprog” became radical hippy activist

Anti-nuclear campaigner John Zawada tends his Toodyay permaculture garden.

By Ieva Tomsons

TOODYAY couple Dr Despina Weston and John Zawada are refugees from opposite ends of the world with complicated life stories which The Herald will run in two parts, beginning with John.

John was born in a displaced persons camp in West Germany in 1946 before migrating to Australia with his Polish family when he was four years old.

Arriving by ship at Fremantle in 1951, the Zawadas were despatched to Northam Migrant Accommodation Centre before John’s father was allocated to work at Bailup Farm Mill in Gidgegannup where they lived in small cottages with 14 other Polish families.

John struggled at Mt Helena Primary School for two years but fondly remembers the orange school bus driver who could roll a cigarette with one hand while driving.