Born on 30 June 1947 in Canterbury Hospital, in Sydney, I attended Punchbowl Primary and Punchbowl High schools, completing the Leaving Certificate in 1965.
During my school days, I was more involved in sport than in the academic Schools in rugby union, swimming and athletics and, after leaving school, represented NSW in discus and played lower-grade rugby league with Canterbury/Bankstown.
My working life began as an apprentice carpenter and joiner at a joinery shop in Greenacre during which I completed the trade course at Granville Technical College. I lost my first job with Beresford Industries after the factory burned down in 1966. In late 1966, I joined Kingsgrove Joinery in 1968 but it burned down too. I then joined Cemac Pty at Auburn and, believe it or not, this factory burned down in early 1972.
Feeling like a jinx on the companies I worked for, I applied for my Builders Licence in 1972 and remained self-employed as a builder until 1996. At this time I employed an apprentice and a labourer and specialised in cottage building and second-storey conversions.
In 1983, I won a World Championship at Stroud - I threw a brick 129 feet 5 inches (39.33m). The “Strouds” of the world were the USA, England, Canada and I think; New Zealand. This event is part of the Stroud Gift each year.
The sun on fair skin started to impact me in early 1990, so I went back to school (University of New England) graduating in 1995 with a Bachelor of Business.
Between 1990 and 1994, while still building cottages, I qualified to teach at TAFE and taught the trade course to first- and second-year apprentices for three and a half years. However, the students reminded me too much of my own adolescence and the hard time we gave our teachers. So, with little trepidation, I gladly moved into the golf industry. I worked first as General Manager of Wingham Golf Club. Later I was General Manager of the Liverpool Golf Club near Sydney where I remained for 10 years, retiring in September 2008. Don’t assume that working for a golf club is good for your golf. I began the Liverpool job on a handicap of nine and retired on 16.
My wife Mary and I moved back to the bush in 2013. Apart from family, my life interests have centred around sport, music and musical instruments. I play mandolin, guitar and really bad violin and, since 1980, have been making mainly violins and mandolins. I was taught violin-making by John Godschall Johnson who has instruments on permanent display in the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney.
If I have any claim to fame, it is that I was commissioned to make a quartet of instruments for the 2007 Sydney Symphony Fellows. That is, a cello, a viola and two violins. The “Fellows” are young NSW musicians who have been chosen by the Sydney Symphony each year as having outstanding prospects. Recently, I have started making guitars. I have a passion for new designs in musical instruments as can be seen in my Blog at https://violinstocellos.wordpress.com. I have been a member of three bands over my life; a rock band called ‘The Revivals’, playing covers in my twenties; the Woronora Bush Band and the Wingham Bush Band up until the mid-90s.
I enjoy painting with oils and my wife and I have travelled extensively through Australia and Europe. It is difficult to condense seventy years of a wonderful life but it is easy to thank a wonderful wife who has supported the idiosyncrasies of my creative binges over the years.
Moved to Sydney and became employed in the Finance Industry until the Government said "We want you in the army". So in July 1965 I marched off to National Service for two years and had to leave “the gum trees by the road side and willows by the creek” for a while (reminds me of a song).
Now this is the most important part of my life. Whilst on leave from National Service I started to show interest in Miss Macksville and she in me to some degree. Well wouldn’t you know it, we were soon husband and wife and I say I have been a very fortunate man to have a wife like Jane. We have three sons, David, Paul and Ben.
On finishing National Service I moved to Newcastle with my civilian employer. During my employment we spent time on the Central Coast and in Tamworth. However in 1981 we moved back to Coffs where I opened a new branch for the NSW Building Society. In 1985 NSW Building Society became a Bank and I remained with Advance Bank until the mi-1990s when I left and started a Mortgage Brokering business working in partnership with Jane until we retired some three years ago.
Did I tell you I received a “B” pass for woodwork in my Leaving Certificate? It is now great to be able to put to work at the Men’s Shed what I learnt at school. If only I could remember. But no worries as there is always someone at the Shed who can help.
I was born in Leicester, England in 1948 and. with parents migrated to Australia iin 1958 as a £10 POMS. Lived first near Newcastle NSW then moved to Mornington Victoria in 1959 where I grew up until 1964 when I entered the RAN as a shipwright apprentice. Being a shipwright in the RAN in those days meant we had responsibility for everything in a ship excepting the main engines and electrics; consequently, my trade training included learning the trades of not only shipwright but also carpenter joiner, wood machinist, plumber, boilermaker, blacksmith and fibre glass construction. Following the acquisition of the original (OBERON Class) submarines and, from USA, the first (DDG) destroyers there was a requirement for specialist welders; so I was sent on a special duties welding course to qualify to weld high pressure steam systems and alloy steel hulls.
In 1979 I was commissioned as a shipwright officer and sent to the UK to study as a Naval Architect. My first job back in Australia was to teach Ships’ Stability to Engineering Senior NCOs. This was all fine until I realised I had little chance of going back to sea, so I undertook further training and became a fully-fledged Marine Engineer. Because of this I served as chief engineer on several warships of the line including the RAN’s survey ship where I was responsible for the survey equipment as well as electronics and communications. I served in Papua New Guinea on two separate occasions as an adviser to the PNG defence force which culminated in the award of the PNG Distinguished Military Service Medal. I left the Navy a couple of times during which I started my own business in light engineering and training apprentices for the building and engineering industries, while I built my own house in WA. I remained in the Naval Reserve during this time and was continually being recalled for training and maintenance supervision roles. One of these roles was to design a course to train naval engineering personal to dry dock ships: a course which I have delivered for over twenty years to both naval and civilian personnel.
Because of my time in PNG I became familiar with the Pacific Patrol Boat which was Australia’s gift to Pacific nations, and in 2010 I was posted to Cairns to oversee the third rebuild of these craft. This was a good excuse to settle down in the tropics after the cold weather in Melbourne. I now own a property at Mission Beach – south of Cairns. I now live between Cairns and Nambucca Heads with my partner Coral. During a previous period living in Coffs I was an early member of the Men’s Shed and helped to set up the Shed in Marcia Street. I am a keen folkie (singer and collector), a past Morris dancer and have played in several Irish and folk bands (including in PNG). I am looking forward to leaning on Barry’s expertise to build a guitar. I have five kids and six grand kids and am in danger of becoming a great grandad!
I was born on the 24th February 1945. I could never understand why a couple would conceive a child in the middle of the war in the Pacific. We lived in Sydney for my first 3 years then moved out West when my father got a job as fettler. We moved to Peak Hill and lived alongside the railway line in tents. We were only there for a short time as there was a house to rent at Gulargambone. There I can remember, floods, dust storms and grass hopper plagues. I started school there in kindergarten. My teacher was Miss Lenard. I only had a short time till we moved again.
My father was a keen fisherman and wanted to move closer to Nambucca Heads. This next move impacted on my life a lot. We went to a small railway siding between Grafton and Casino. There was no school, so for the next three and a half years my sister and I were taught by our mother. Saying there was no school is an understatement. Within a radius of a mile from our camp site there was. The signal box, a small railway platform about 12 foot long, a loop line which had been established during the war to speed up train travel. Four houses completed the landscape. Two at the siding and two about half a
mile down the track.
There were no other children. Learning to socialise was not an option. My sister and I would call out for papers from the passenger trains passing through. We lived within the boundaries of the railway. I can remember the first diesel engine that came up the North Coast line. Once a month we would catch a goods train to Casino to shop. Because we would arrive home in the dark the engine driver would stop the train outside our tents so we didn’t have to walk home.
The landscape at Mount Neville was uninteresting. It consisted of swamps, black sandy soil, Banksia trees, and what we used to call Black Boys along with Red Bellied black snakes. There was no electricity. We had a meat safe to keep perishable food in, a fuel stove to cook on, a primus for quick snacks or boiling water. Our lamps were kerosene. The main light for the kitchen and for mum and dad when they went to bed was a Bushel’s coffee jar that dad had soldered a lamp top on. Imagine when we got a Tilly Lamp. Our radio was battery powered and we couldn’t just leave it on all day. We had a large wind up gramophone. As a child I imagined Richard Tauber would have to sing into a microphone every time dad played a record of him singing.
From the high life of Mount Neville we moved to Eungai Rail. You can only imagine the culture shock I suffered. Moving to a city after all the isolation. I attended school. Starting in 4th class. We were still living in tents. (That is living in tents. Not living intense) we only stayed there six months. My father left the railway and got a job in a sawmill at Nambucca Heads. I finished my schooling at Nambucca, got an apprenticeship as a carpenter. On the completion of that I was called up for National Service. I met my wife Sandra just before being posted to Vietnam where I served nine months with 1 Field Sqn Royal Australian Engineers.
On my return Sandra and I were married. We have a son, daughter and six grandchildren. We moved to Coffs Harbour in 1974 where I carried on a building business. After a bout of ill health I retired in 1994.Mental illness set in, in 2016 and I joined the Men’s Shed. Apparently there is no cure for this.
I was born on the 25th October, 1949, the first born of twin boys. We were born on our fathers birthday at the Mater Misercordia Hospital at Crows Nest, Sydney.
We lived at Summer Hill, my father was a barber and worked at Newtown, and my first school was at Kegworth kindergarten at Leichhardt. I distinctly remember the fruit and vege man coming around, the milkman, the butcher and most importantly, the iceman who came weekly with a big block of ice for the refrigerator. The meat safe hung from the ceiling.
We then moved to the western suburbs and my father bought a business and residence from his father in the main street at Chester Hill. It was a barber shop, the residence was upstairs. Dad employed two other barbers, he sold a large assortment of sporting equipment, cigarettes and tobacco, and most importantly Matchbox toys. Just about every mother and father bought their child a matchbox toy after having their haircut. I can just recall that adult haircuts were 4 shillings, a child was 3 shillings and the matchbox toys were one and threepence. He also sold men’s grooming products, deodorants and toothpaste and brushes, and who could not forget Spruso, Brylcream and Score hair creams.
I attended Chester Hill Public School, and then to Sefton Co-ed Secondary School. There were two celebrities at Sefton High when I was there, Stevie Wright (he was a year in front) and then Terry Lamb. I can remember completing my last exam paper to receive the Intermediate Certificate. It was about 11.30am in the morning, (November 1964) and about one hour later I was delivering telegrams on a pushbike for (the then) PMG. I was earning about 15 pounds per fortnight. I finished up at Christmas eve.
In January 1965, cashed up with over 30 pounds, I had one hell of a holiday. February 1965, I commenced a 5 year apprenticeship as a Stereotyper with Australian Consolidated Press, better known as the Daily Telegraph. Sir Frank Packer was my first boss, he signed my Indenture. The last 6 months of my apprenticeship had to be done on nightshift. This suited me right down to the ground, all the free time during the day, plus 17% loading. At the completion of my apprenticeship, I resigned and went to work with at The Australian newspaper, who also printed the Daily Mirror. This was great job, it was night shift, and every Saturday night off as there was no The Australian newspaper on Sundays. Frank Packer closed the doors of the Daily Telegraph (as he was sick of all the strikes) and it was bought by Murdock, the paper then became known as Mirror Telegraph. Much more modern machinery was brought in, less staff needed, last on, first off.
I was lucky to be employed by Fairfax, and started at the Sydney Morning Herald, what a great job, good money, night shift and a great boss. I resigned from Fairfax in 1972 and I moved to the Central Coast, my father and I built a house at Budgewoi. I obtained a job in a small printing factory near Wyong. In 1974 I left the Central Coast and returned to Sydney. I joined the NSW Public Service and started at the Government Printing Office in my old trade as a Stereoyper. I was also working part time as a drink steward at North Sydney Leagues Club (once a Bear, always a Bear). In 1978 I applied for a transfer to the Attorney Generals Department and commenced duties as a Sheriff's Officer. I was stationed at Manly Sheriff's Office. After 4 years I received a small promotion as Relieving Sheriffs Officer in the Sydney North region. In 1984 I applied for the position of Officer in Charge, Sargeant, Coffs Harbour. I was transferred to Coffs Harbour in November, 1984, and Marion and I bought a 13 acre hobby farm at Raleigh.
In 1993, the office was upgraded, I was then promoted to Officer in Charge, Senior Sergeant. 1998 was not a good year, a lot of things went on, and I lost both parents to brain tumours. Christmas that year was when the black dog moved in, I was off work for 4-5 months. A couple of months later after my return, I was transferred as the Relieving Sheriff's Officer, New England Region. I spent over two years relieving at centres located at Port Macquarie, Tamworth, Inverell, Grafton, Lismore and Murwillumbah. I then had a Court Case with the Department, I had a further 10 months off on sick leave, I was then given a Medical Discharge from the Department in 2001 through Health Quest. I was only 51.
In 2002 I sold the property at Raleigh and moved to Middle Boambee, where I still reside. I obtained a Private Inquiry Agents Licence, where I could do Private Inquiry work, do repossessions for Finance Companies and serve Court documents. I only did the latter. As I had an ABN, I did a lot of work for a Building Assessor. The main duty was removing damaged garden sheds and replace with new ones, also removing storm damaged household contents. I was also making wooden items at home, such as dog kennels, Jack and Jill chairs and small ornamental garden wheel barrows.
In 2012/2013 I had another visit from the black dog, Doctors and Psychologists followed. I can recall walking down towards the entrance of the Mens Shed in Marcia Street, on about 4 or 5 occasions. I got to about 5 to 6 feet from the door and turned and walked away. I had to get out and about. About 4 years ago I obtained an Authority to drive taxi cabs, I do one or two shifts a week. Not long after that, I joined the Mens Shed. After nearly 5 years of taking whacked in the head tablets, I have now weaned off them. 2015 and 2016 saw Marion and I do 6 ocean cruises, plus I went with a mate to Vietnam and Cambodia last October. I thoroughly enjoy my time at the Shed, the help and the advice that I get when I am doing jobs, the camaraderie, the joking etc.
Love the new shed.
Wouldn't be dead for quids.
Life's great. RON
Bob White, born October 1943 in Sydney and raised there. I left school at 15 with the Intermediate Certificate in 1958 and commenced work with the old PMG, now Telstra, as a telephone technician. I mainly worked around the Glebe area and Sydney University. In 1963 I transferred to Canberra and then back to Sydney when my father died. I worked in the Sydenham telephone workshops but very quickly became bored.
A change of life then ensued when I joined the NSW Police Force in 1965. As luck would have it, I was sent to Glebe Police Station, knowing the area well was a great help. Shortly after commencing duty there, I attended my first murder, over the next couple of years I attended several murders, including the horrific abduction and mutilation murder of 3 year old Simon Brooks, Taken from the front yard of his parent’s home one afternoon and we found him stuffed into a storm water drain the next morning, unfortunately no person was ever arrested and charged over the matter. The chief suspect only died recently, but insufficient evidence was found to charge him.
My sport for some time had been shooting, using rifles and pistols. I joined the Police Pistol Club and represented the NSW Police at shoots around Australia. It also meant that I was involved in the selection of a new sidearm for Police, the Smith & Wesson .38 special revolver. This weapon replaced a total dog’s breakfast of pistols that Police had been armed with. At a later time I became involved with Specials Weapons and Operations and took part in a number of sieges.
Whilst at Glebe, I met a young nurse at RPA Hospital. This happened over a dead body I had found in a park. I asked her out and 50 years later still going strong.
In 1969 I trained as an operator with the Breath analysis section and worked all over Sydney. Late in 1969, 2 weeks after our marriage, I transferred to Tamworth to introduce the breathalyser to the northwest of the state. This meant covering an area that stretched from Murrurundi to Tenterfield, out to Mungindi, Yetman, down to Moree, Gunnedah and Quirindi. A big area for two Police to cover with many weekends away. It also involved a lot of public speaking, mainly to service clubs, whose members were trying to find a way to beat the breathalyser. There is no way.
After two children, I transferred back to uniform and was posted to position of Lockup Keeper at Inverell in 1974. In 1978 I transferred back to Sydney, to Liverpool, where I undertook Police Rescue training, and attended many serious and fatal road accidents and industrial accidents in the southwest of Sydney.
In 1980 I transferred to the NSW Police Academy at Redfern where I was involved with training new recruits. That year I was promoted to Sergeant. One of the things that new recruits were required to do was to become blood donors and a note from their mum would not get them out of it. All instructors, who were all old hands at donating blood always, went first to show the youngsters that it did not hurt. In April I was unable to give blood and a blood sample was taken. The next morning I received a call from the Red Cross asking me to see haematologist at RPA Hospital, where I was informed that I had a very rare type of Leukaemia for which there was no treatment and that I only had 3-4 years left. The doctor’s would be able to give a better forecast when I had my spleen removed. That would be the half way point. I retired from the Police and we returned to Inverell to live, as that was better than my wife bringing up two children alone in Sydney, Twenty months after diagnosis I had my spleen removed and that meant another 20 months. Twelve months into that I told that a treatment was being tried in America, with some success, I was offered the chance to take part in a trial in Australia. This was partially successful and I used the treatment for some time until 1998 when it just stopped working. At this point I was informed that another treatment was now available. This proved successful.
In 1996, we decided to move to Coffs Harbour by way of Dorrigo where I became involved with the SES as the Unit Controller, because of my Police Rescue experience. In 1998 we arrived in Coffs Harbour and I transferred to the SES Unit here. I acted as Deputy Unit Controller and then Local Controller with both Coffs Harbour and Corindi units with some 90 personnel under my control. In that time we experienced road fatalities, mini cyclones, storms, airport emergencies and assisted Police many times with evidence searches, mainly related to murders.
In 2013 at the age of 70, I retired from the SES, went on a bit of a trip overseas and then joined the Men’s Shed. All through my working life, wood work had been my hobby and all though not that great, I have learned so much at the Shed, it was a move well worthwhile.
I was born at Kyogle, Northern New South Wales, in March, 1939. My father was a carpenter and, with my mother and 3 siblings, lived at Horseshoe Creek, a small rural area 20 kilometres north of Kyogle. My Primary education was at the small district school there. We moved to Kyogle where my secondary education was completed at the Intermediate High school there.
I undertook an electrical apprenticeship with a local electrician in 1956, attending technical college at Lismore. Following the sudden death of my employer in 1958, my apprenticeship was taken over by the Northern Rivers County Council. After graduating successfully, NRCC offered me a position as an Electrical Mechanic in Kyogle, which I undertook.
I became interested in “all things wood” and purchased an A.E.Herbert workbench (Saw, Planer and Lathe, combination) which I still have. I met local beauty, Jan Spence, in 1959, and we were married in February, 1961 in Kyogle. 18 months later, with our first daughter 6 months old, I transferred to Bonalbo as the Area Service Mechanic covering Mallanganee, Drake, Tabulam, Bonalbo, Urbenville and Woodenbong to the Queensland Border, on call 24 hours a day with only one 3 day weekend a month off. We had a house which went with the position so we thought we had struck the jackpot!!!
The years there were challenging – no 2 way radios or mobile phones in those days. During widespread storms, while I was out restoring power, Jan would receive further complaints and I would have to ring back to her periodically from the homes of consumers, (some of whom would give me meals) to take these calls and carry on sometimes for quite a few hours before returning home.
After only 3 months in Bonalbo, it was discovered that I had contracted Tuberculosis. I was hospitalised for the next 6 months, spent 7 months in recovery, then resumed my position in Bonalbo, where we remained for 18 years with our family increased to 4. With our children reaching the age when they would have to leave Bonalbo to find employment or further their education, I applied for a position as an Installation Inspector in Coffs Harbour. Suddenly, my weekends were free, and I started my woodturning more seriously. I joined the Mid North Coast Woodworking club, received tuition from Neil Scobie & bought one of his designed lathes, then my persistence in turning resulted in exhibitions and selling items at various outlets.
I took a voluntary redundancy from Northern Rivers Electricity in 1996. In 1998, after having several holidays around Australia, I was contacted by Coffs Harbour Blinds & Awnings to see if I would be interested in designing and manufacturing western red cedar shutters, which I did on my own, for approximately 10 years. As orders became more than I could handle, factory made orders were imported. I am still employed part time assembling venetian blinds. We have caravanned and had holidays in most parts of Australia – and for the first time in 56 years do not own a caravan and live very contentedly in Coffs Harbour, being involved in a number of organisations, having a loving family, including 12 beautiful grandchildren and loyal friends.
I was born in Bellingen in 1954, my father worked at Bellingen butter factory and later at CDA milk and butter factory at Raleigh. I went to school at Bellingen Public School and one year at Bellingen High School. At the end of 1967 we moved to Coffs Harbour where I finished my schooling at Coffs Harbour High.
At the end of 1970 I left school and Started work at Dawson’s as an apprentice cabinet maker where I worked for 2 years. I finished my apprenticeship at Coffs Harbour Joinery. After this I worked for Modern Kitchens and then Graham Luchetti up until 1988 when I started my own business, “Classy Cabinets” which I had for 11years after which I worked for G & A Cabinets, Infracraft Joinery and then Coastal Wardrobes and Kitchens where I still work on a casual basis. I volunteered at the Coffs Harbour Regional Museum for 2 years and now at the Men’s shed.
In 1983 I married Yvonne Mckee, we have 2 children, daughter Christie who works for a local courier company and son Daniel who is a musician and lives on the Gold Coast.
After leaving school I got interested in Motorsport and watched local Rally events, Hillclimbs and travelled to Surfers Paradise to watch Drag racing and Touring car events. In the late 1970’s I started running at Drag racing events at Surfers Paradise International Raceway in my modified Datsun 1600 road car. After this I built a Datsun 1000 ute drag car which I trailered to Surfers Paradise and competed until about 1986. In the early 1980’s I joined Coffs Harbour and District Sporting Car Club (of which I am now a life member) and started running at Motor Khana events in my road car. After finishing my drag racing due to family commitments I started running local Khanacross, Autocross and Hillclimb events for many years, also involving my children who both learnt to drive competing in Khanacross and Hillclimb events from a young age. I was involved in the car club as a committee member, Vice President and Treasurer. I was also on the organising committee for the Coffs Harbour Rally for 10 years for which I wrote the Road Book and did Sweep Car duties.
After my children left home I decided to build myself a rally car which I always wanted, so I built the Datsun 120y that was the Khanacross car that the kids learnt to drive in, into a rally car and competed in Rally Sprints for about 8 years. I still compete in an occasional Khanacross to keep my skills sharp.
I also like camping and caravanning. We used to holiday at Scotts Head every Christmas for 2 weeks in our caravan when the Kids were young and up until the time that they left school. We also have a camper trailer and we usually try to have a couple of weeks away camping every year.
After 2 years living with Grandma we moved to Sutherland where I completed my schooling at Jannali Boys High. I left school at 16 wanting to become an apprentice motor mechanic or a carpenter/joiner. Dad and Mum thought it better to look for a job that was easier on the body so I ended up at Telecom training school in St Peters and Strathfield for the next 2 years.
Susan and I married April 1971 and we have 4 adult and 6 grandchildren. I was stationed at the Sydney Mail Centre doing maintenance on the automated mail sorting plant. It was shift work and the money was good but I hated working for the Government. There was so much petty corruption and union trouble. I took a chance in 1973 and bought an old Bedford truck and delivered roof gutters and down pipes to hardware shops around Sydney for the next ten years. I enjoyed the life but maintenance and repairs on the truck got to be a bit of a drag so I moved into the warehouse as storeman. I made more money as an employee in stores than I was making self-employed.
Over the next few years I worked as storeman, store manager, warehouse manager then moved into the office to learn purchasing. Since then I have had lots of jobs, mostly in stores, production or purchasing. A stint an electronics company in purchasing, 7 years in animal health for a multi-national then a trading company that imported mowers, brush cutters and garden machines. My shortest stay was 5 weeks at St George Private Hospital the maddest place I have ever worked. I tried a stint as a builders labour (which I enjoyed very much) then to 5 years with a family kitchen company and 5 years with a franchise cleaning domestic appliances and ovens around Sydney and the southern highlands. We bought or house in Coffs Harbour in 2010. Susan lived up here while I stayed in Sydney to try and sell our business. I finally moved up here in 2012.
I had intended to get a job to carry me to retirement but ended up on the dole. In order to satisfy Centrelink I started volunteering in Mens Shed and the rest is history.