posted by adrian on October 11, 2013

Dad was born in Sydney on the 5th January 1953 to the delight of his parents Barbara & Lloyd. He was their second child to big sister Christine, and a big brother to Stephen and Kathryn. He toddled around Mosman before travelling to England by ship at age 6, which must have planted the seed for his love of being on the water.

He grew up as a young boy in England with his cousins and enjoyed his early schooling years there.

One night, while his parents were entertaining dinner guests, he and his brother lowered their tents, sleeping bags and camping gear out the window, and set up camp in the back yard. Dad always loved camping and being outdoors.

He then returned to Australia with his family and shortly afterwards moved into their new home on Flinders way. He went to school across the road at Canberra grammar where he learned to appreciate science as well as enjoying playing cricket where he even got himself a hat trick.

After graduating from school Dad tried his hand in the mines in WA but the forests were calling. After a year Dad moved to Armidale where he started his forestry degree and enjoyed a year in the country. At the end of the year he moved back to Canberra and continued forestry at ANU where he made many lifelong friends and met the love of his live, my Mum. He also found his other love, a Paper Tiger Catamaran named Cabarita.

Mum and Dad got married in 1977, in St Christopher’s in Manuka, just down the road from where he grew up. Greg was his best man and his bro Stevie his groomsman. Mum and Dad had a wonderful honeymoon in Batemans Bay and I am told the highlight was the fishing.

After he graduated from Uni in 1978 he started in the Defence Department writing computer programs, as unfortunately there weren’t many opportunities for foresters in Canberra at the time.

Later on he moved to fisheries, which got him closer to what he loved. In this job he got to spend more than a week out at sea on a fishing boat bobbing around like a cork.

Dad enjoyed travelling and he and Mum went on a round the world trip, to America, UK, Europe and the sailing in the Greek Islands. They did the usual touristy things, but there was a consistent theme. Whenever dad visited somewhere he had this ability to sniff out the Maritime Museum and would spend hours there absorbing the history.

Later on Dad’s love of boats got more serious and he built by hand a Stringray named gvara, coming from the aboriginal word for big wind, which he enjoyed sailing on the lake and up and down the east coast in sailing regattas, even winning the odd race.

Dad and Mum had three beautiful kids together – myself, Alex and Jessie, and whilst Dad and Mum still enjoyed travelling it wasn’t very practical to take three small children on a boat, so instead we  travelled around in a campervan. The campervan was required because Mum was often left with three hungry kids past dinner time as dad had been too busy exploring the nearby forests to put up the tent. The Campervan took us on many great trips including to Ballarat where we panned for gold, and up the coast past the big banana.

Dad loved nature, and things that moved with nature. Sailing boats were obvious, but he also loved skiing, teaching Mum and us kids to ski, with many trips to the snow. He also loved natural objects, and loved wood. So apart from his boats being wooden, he loved making things from wood including an awesome billy cart for my birthday one year.

I remember the book of science experiments that he gave me one Christmas. After we had unwrapped all of our presents from Santa, he suddenly got up and went and got another present, which wasn’t wrapped. I was a little confused as I didn’t get presents from my parents, only from Santa, and this one wasn’t even wrapped. This gesture really showed me that he cared a lot about his children and their learning, and was the spark that ignited my fascination with electronics. He loved helping me build the kits and source the parts and eventually he’d taught me all he knew and I was teaching him.

I remember one day, he rang me up when I was a bit older and said he’d found this awesome assortment of electronics in the paper. He wanted me to come out and take a look and tell him if any of it was any good. When I got there I could tell he loved the pile of junk and I wasn’t about to tell him in front of the seller that they were simply wanting to get rid of it. It was funny really, because this was one of the things he was good at doing, selling junk, almost as good as he was at collecting it. He occasionally had a Trash n Treasure store, but he came back with as much as he sold, and we won’t mention the shed full of stuff from revolve.  Just recently he had to build a new shed to fit all of his things, including an amazing assortment of beautiful tools. He even collected screws so he was never caught off guard.

When us kids were a bit older, Dad was able to indulge his love for sailing once more, and the Whitsunday family holiday put dad back in his element. I remember everyone getting very excited when a whale surfaced some 15 metres away from the boat.

Dad loved to party and always loved a good beer. At my 18th he got very excited when I told him I wanted a couple of kegs. Needless to say he enjoyed himself immensely, and probably had a bigger hangover than me the next day.

Dad had many jobs, from driving trucks in the mines in WA, checking fishing catches, tracing the birth rights of plants to changing Jessie’s nappies. His forestry degree and love of trees enabled him to put his chain saw to work and even dabble as a tree surgeon for a while.

But it was in 1995 that he decided he wanted to try something new. With the green movement gaining momentum, Sawmilling seemed the obvious choice. Dad purchased a portable sawmill, which he would drive to the forest. To pull this great machine, he had to purchase something with a bit of grunt. “The Beast” was a V8 supercharged ford ute and he loved fanging it around with Jessie, and even when the land rover was finally delivered, the beast seemed to hang around. To operate this sawmill involved a lot of manual labour, and I was often roped in. The job took me to some amazing forests on peoples properties in the Canberra region and we stayed in some picturesque huts. Dad even built himself a temporary log cabin on site in the tindery ranges, complete with suspended timber floor.

Dad really enjoyed being outdoors and when Bob Brown had made everything a national park he decided there was more of a future in taking tourists on bush tours in the cold Canberra highlands.

Dad always wanted to move to Queensland to get away from this cold climate in Canberra and as a kid I remember him asking us often if we wanted to move. I always pictured a hot dusty town in the outback from our amazing family trip around Australia which didn’t sound that appealing.

However, while on a visit to some friends in a hot dusty town in Queensland Mum and Dad discovered a beautiful coastal village and finally in 2008 Mum and Dad made the sea change. Dad loved Yeppoon, he was close to the ocean and he fell in love with the place straight away. Dad often said that this “was just another day in paradise”. Eventually they found a beautiful home and dad was rapt with a great view of Keppel bay. That was until the neighbours trees grew in the way.

To complete his retirement he found another catamaran, in the nearby port of Melbourne and spent the next year putting it together. He loved it, and loved the challenge of improving parts of the design in the process.

Its maiden voyage took us out to the islands on what started out to be a beautiful sunny day with plenty of wind. We dropped anchor at Great Keppel Island and had lunch at 3, Dad wasn’t exactly known for getting away on time. We had a great time swimming and enjoying being outdoors. There were a few delays on the infamous return which saw the design of the vessel tested. It didn’t quite hold up with the strong easterly behind us but we limped home and with super dad on the helm sailing on a postage stamp through the heads in the pitch dark and no engine to navigate the marina we landed safely into the jetty with the gentlest of thuds.

We then had our next project and dad again became a boat builder. He beautifully restored the boat and took on the world in the process. He had some of his thoughts published in a magazine to try and help others and improve the engineering of custom boats.

Dad also really enjoyed his garden, growing passionfruit’s, sweet pineapples, beautiful pawpaws and thousands of bananas. He has always loved growing vege’s in the garden and his Kambah corn cooked on the bar-bee was amazing.

The last 18 months gave mum and Dad the impetus to implement the improvements to the house and so he was able to see his vision come to life. He loved being immersed in the nautical theme.

Dad said that this disease was a gift. He said he was able to see the world now with such amazing clarity and see things that others couldn’t.

His biggest gift to me was showing me what was important in life. How important it was to live every day to its fullest. Dad was always proactive. He was up early and wanted to make hay while the sun shone. He taught us this the best way he could, by coming in while we were still asleep in the morning, ripping off the doona, opening the curtains and telling us that this was the best part of the day.

Dad was unlike most other people, he saw the world in his terms and what he could do to improve it. He very much influenced me and my sisters and shaped us into the independent and capable people we have become today. While I was writing this I was needed some advice on how to make a good speech, and I thought I know I’ll go ask dad. So he’ll be solemnly missed, but he’ll never be forgotten and he lives on in all of us.