A long-time Queenstowner has hosted Australia’s top Anglican cleric after bumping into him by an amazing coincidence at his Melbourne mansion last year.
Peter Doyle – who took Archbishop Philip Freier to Lake Hayes for the A&P Show and other local venues over the past week – is still stunned at how he first met his new “good mate”, who was also elected the Anglican Primate of Australia last June.
Holidaying in Melbourne with son Tim, Doyle says they thought they’d catch up with Queenstown friends Ella and Phil Wilson, who were also over there for the Melbourne Cup horse race.
Armed with a box of beers, they headed off for Phil’s address, which turned out be around the corner.
What they didn’t realise is the Wilsons were staying in another suburb on the other side of the Melbourne that shared the same street name and street number as the Archbishop of Melbourne.
Peter says they arrived at a huge mansion and were greeted by a man in purple church garb who turned out to be the archbishop himself.
“We chatted for maybe 20 minutes – we got on like a house on fire from the word ‘go’.
“He then says, ‘how are you going to go over and see your friends?’
“I had no idea, so he said, ‘hop in the car and I’ll take you over’.
During the drive, Peter says the archbishop pointed out landmarks including St Paul’s Cathedral, saying, ‘that’s where I work’.
“I said, ‘so that’s where you do your thing on Sunday?’
“He said to me, ‘no, I don’t now, I get a bloke in – we call him the dean’.”
Before dropping them off, Peter says Freier told him he and his wife Joy were going on holiday in New Zealand and might visit Queenstown where they’d honeymooned in the ’70s.
Back home, Peter sent Freier a letter thanking him for his hospitality and offering to return the favour.
Out of the blue, Freier emailed last Wednesday saying he was staying with friends in Queenstown and would love to take up him up on his invitation.
Peter took the archbishop and his wife to the likes of Millbrook, Jack’s Point and the Earnslaw slipway at Kelvin Heights.
A marriage celebrant himself, he told the archbishop, ‘you showed me where you work, I’ll show you where I work’ – so took him to the Stoneridge chapel at Lake Hayes.
Peter introduced him to fellow Lions Club members at the Lake Hayes A&P Show last Saturday, where he also bumped into local mayor Vanessa van Uden.
“Then on Sunday I went to [St Peter’s Anglican] church with him – [the vicar] was blown away that the top man was there.”
Peter, originally from Australia himself, says: “We’re really good mates now, he’s an absolutely excellent bloke.”
Thankfully, the pair’s next meeting won’t rely on luck – Joy’s given up their private phone number.