Gardening Australia star shares his hearing loss story

Before Peter Cundall became best known as the one-time host of longstanding TV show Gardening Australia, he served as an infantry soldier in the Korean War. It was his time in the army that also caused him permanent hearing loss.

After leaving the Australian Army, Peter moved to Tasmania to start his own gardening and landscaping business before launching the world’s first gardening talkback program in 1967. It was also around this time that Peter first realised he had issues hearing.

“I was a machine gunner and we had on the front of every machine gun a device that sent sound forward.  But most of us took it off and threw it away because the device was so heavy. Without even realising it, that’s when the damage to my hearing started,” says Peter.

Ear ringing

Peter's realisation that he had issues was gradual. The first problem I found was tinnitus, which sounded like rushing water. Later on, I found that if there was a group of people in a room talking, I’ll quite often be sitting there missing some of the points that they were making. So I would be forced to say, ‘Excuse me, would you mind saying that again?’, he says. 

After a thorough hearing assessment with an Hearing Australia audiologist, Peter opted for a very sophisticated pair of hearing aids which he describes as so tiny that you can barely see them.

Helping others take action

Peter speaks of the importance of others to take a leaf out of his book and take action on hearing loss.

It’s tempting to postpone doing something about hearing loss. Men in particular tend to resist because they think hearing aids are some clunky mechanism. But of course, modern hearing aids are absolutely remarkable and can be virtually invisible, he says.

Now that he has hearing aids, he hasn't looked back.

When I went out to my garden with my hearing aids, I found the noise incredibly distracting at first. I never knew that birds could be so loud. After I got used to them, it was like I was in a new world. I was back to being 22 years old, and I could hear everything again, he says.