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John OAM

Born in 1939. Grew up on dairy farm “Allawah” Swamp Road Dunmore.

Moved to Barrack Heights in 1974.

Sporting Administrator (particularly rugby league and cricket) including 40 years as Secretary of group 7 Rugby League.

Alderman/Councilor of Shellharbour Municipal then City Council 1968-86 including two terms as Mayor.

Received Order of Australia Medal (OAM) in 1991 for service to sport and the community. Sporting Oval named in my honour at Croome Complex Albion Park 1987.

Executive positions held in Rugby League, Cricket, Academy of Sport, Saint Vincent De Paul, Heritage society, Sports Star of the Year, Catholic Church, Irish /club, Order of Australia Association, Probus and others.

Correspondent for local newspaper and wrote a sporting column in Kiama Independent/Lake Times for almost thirty years. Life member of thirteen organisations.

Sporting highlight. Sitting with Sir Donald and Lady Bradman at the Bicentennial Cricket Test in Sydney in 1988. Always followed the motto “never forget the people who came before you”.



I was born in Broken Hill. My father worked for the GPO. He was transferred back to Sydney when I was 2. He was a telegraphist and used Morse Code which was considered an essential service in those days during the war. He taught me how to use it.

The reason I put my hand up to be the Bulletin Editor is because of two words that were said while I was sitting at the first meeting. The first was “Editor” and the lady sitting behind me said “You have to be able to type to do that”. Both were a part of my very first job when I turned 15. Norma Gibson was sitting beside me and said “Put your hand down!” So, I decided to use the first photo taken of me when I worked for Consolidated Press. A photographer walked into my office and said “Smile Carole” and left

I worked in the Competition Department and our job was to go through every entry until we got the winners. I worked in Pier Street Ultimo and the head office was the building in Castlereagh Street which housed The Daily and Sunday Telegraph and the Women’s Weekly. The CEO at that time was Frank Packer. His two sons Kerry and Clyde Packer worked with him.

Fortunately, the man in charge of the Competition Department was John O’Donnell, a perfect gentleman. Frank Packer would fire a copy boy just for whistling in the corridor.

The biggest competition we had was called Teleword. It ran weekly and every Friday night we would get Reporters, Journalists, and other staff members from the Telegraph to help finish off the Competition as the result had to be in the Saturday Telegraph. It was worth winning.

Frank Packer would come every Friday night with his sons because he had the winning word, he didn’t trust anyone else.

They would hire casual workers (Women) to help through all the major competitions. I had just lost my mother but I ended up with about 20 mothers as they would all give me advice and a lot of love.

Channel 9 used our office space when it first started while they were waiting for their building at Willoughby. So, there was more typing to be done. My shorthand went out the window because when they wanted a message sent, the guys would just stand behind me while I typed it up on copy paper. The person who would give me the most typing to do was Bruce Gyngell, the man who you would have seen as he was the first person on TV saying “Welcome to Australian Television” Manual typewriters were in use as well as the Sylvester Switchboard.

After I was married and had my family I went to work for the Department of Education as a Library clerical in two High Schools for the next 25 years. This is where the technology began to change. The electric typewriter came in as did the photo copier. We just got used to them when the computers arrived. Major changes. We never had to type up any more library cards, the information all went on computers which the students could access themselves. No more switchboards just ordinary phone. Now of course I have had to keep up learning how to use the new computer systems. iPad, printers, mobile phones, emails. Now if I need any help I just call my granddaughter, Kate, and she comes to show me what to do!

It has been a great journey and I have enjoyed every minute from day one starting at Consolidated Press to being your Bulletin Editor.



I am fortunate to have lived through a wonderful period in Australia. As a child I used to wander all over Bondi climbing down cliffs (unbeknown to my mother) stole golf balls from the fairways on Bondi Golf club caddied for obscene money at Royal Sydney and of course learned to body surf. At four years old my mother was sick so I was left in my aunties care and was such a handful that she enrolled me in the local school (the building is still there) telling the staff that she didn’t know how old I was . We moved from Bondi to Bexley and from the public school there I was sent to Hurstville opportunity school and from there invited to go to Sydney Boys High and from there earned a scholarship to Sydney University

       Upon graduation I went to work for my father in a manufacturing business making metal toys (trucks and bulldozers etc) as well as components for the car industry. When that company closed I went to work for various divisions of Repco and worked (against my wishes) to close down 4 of Repco's manufacturing divisions (switches, car mufflers, batteries and car air-conditioning). I then went into partnership with three other managers in an air conditioning company until the then Prime minister gave the country the depression we had to have which sent the company broke (in this day and age it is salutary to note that the interest rate on our borrowings was 28%). I then ended up doing numerical control programming for a machining company in Sutherland mainly making parts for Joy manufacturing who were making some of the most advanced coal mining machines in the world until they were taken over by their American competitor and closed down

       At 8 years old I joined the cubs and went through scouts to become a ranger. To this day I still believe that the scouting organization is one of the best ways to train young people in self reliance and leadership. I learned chess from my father and played it a high school and became further involved in an amateur way at Uni playing many games with Fred Flatow who beat me most of the time as he played from the “book” a large manual of all possible moves in chess for the first 30 moves. He went on to become chess champion for NSW. I remember at Uni we all discussed the possibility of computers playing chess and we all agreed that it would be 100 years before computers could beat a skillful player let alone a grandmaster HA HA. I restored my confidence after graduation by becoming chess champion for the Sharks Leagues club.

       My father enjoyed golf so of course I was taught golf and have continued to enjoy it even now. In our early teens our family were one of the first to start caravanning around the east coast of Australia for our holidays with friends and many a time we would park overnight by the side of the road (can you believe that) and the adults would play 18 holes of hole whilst the kids would wander onto the golf course with 3 clubs each and play in a group of 8 down the deserted fairways

       I was a member of Caringbah Rotary for many years and am a foundation member of Burraneer Probus and also Shell Cove Probus. I coached my sons soccer team from the under 8’s through to the over 21’s at which stage I was just the beer carrier. I have had the great honor to be married to a wonderful lady who has given me 4 precious children all of whom I love dearly but I will leave their story for Lyn to tell when she gets around to her amazing life

       As a last statement I have also enjoyed sailing and have done over 23000 miles on the ocean but that is something for another day




I was born in the German speaking part of Czechoslovakia (Sudetenland). Despite the war raging all around us, the first few years were a peaceful time for my two sisters and I. My father was an engineer and running his own small factory producing pumps. All this came to an end when, a year after the end of the war, all German speaking people had to leave the country. We had 24 hours’ notice and were allowed one suitcase each before we were all herded onto trains and send west into Germany. As all the big cities were more or less destroyed the train stopped regularly in small towns and a number of people were offloaded. We ended up in a tiny village near Frankfurt where we had one room for my parents, Grandma, and the three girls. Times were tough but slowly improved. Father had managed to smuggle two valuable cameras out of Czechoslovakia which he could sell. From the proceeds he was able to buy the material for a pre-fabricated home which he had designed. This little house is still standing.

My parents didn’t like the atmosphere in Germany. Refugees were seen as second class citizens and times were uncertain. They got in contact with father’s uncle in Melbourne who had migrated to Australia in 1914. He offered to sponsor us and in 1951 we came to Australia.

While I attended Brighton High School in Melbourne, in 1956 the school was approached by the unofficial fencing coach for the Australian team who was looking for students interested in learning fencing. So began my eight years fencing career. I felt comfortable with the sport. I had done some swimming and some athletics, but fencing felt the most natural to me.

In 1960 I was chosen as one of the two women fencers to represent Australia at the Rome Olympics. I had to raise £700 myself to go to Rome. The money was raised by my high school, from family and friends, sausage sizzles and other methods. Competing at the Olympic level is stressful and there was little support from anyone. Dawn Fraser was the only non-fencer athlete who had a kind and supportive word for me. I didn’t win a medal but it was a life changing experience.

In 1962 I won a silver medal at the Commonwealth Games in Perth. This time I didn’t have to pay myself for the honour.

The following year my sisters (who were also fencing) and I spent time in Europe to compete at a higher level than was available in Australia. There was no government funding for the lesser known sports. We were supposed to be amateurs. We financed ourselves by working in all sorts of odd jobs to keep ourselves afloat. We competed in the European “Circuit” ending up at the World Championship in Gdansk, Poland where I placed 32.

At the end of 1963 we had to return to Australia to qualify for selection for the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo. All three of us were selected for the Australian team but, my two sisters had to find their own money to participate.

After the Olympic Games the time had come to think of a career other than sport. There was no money to be made in fencing. I was interested in the hospitality industry and in 1965 I went to Vienna to attend the Hotel Management School for two years. Once again I had to finance it all myself. Whatever little spare time I had I used to fence in local clubs.

Three years later, back in Australia, I worked in management positions in the hospitality industry before I joined the Ryde College of TAFE as teacher in 1983. The only college in Australia solely dedicated to that industry. I worked at the college till my retirement.

The last time that I picked up a foil and mask was for the World Masters Games in Toronto, Canada in 1985. It was a lot of stress free fun and I managed to reach the finals.



My parents lived in Germany in the industrial city of Duisburg in the Ruhr Valley. My father was a soldier throughout the war, mainly on the Eastern front. At the height of the bombings many women and children were evacuated to the country side. That is why I was born in a small town in what was then West Germany but grew up in Duisburg. On my way to school in the early 50s it was normal to walk past the ruins of destroyed houses but they made excellent playgrounds. I always wanted to be a merchant seaman but was told that I had to learn a trade first. My choice was cooking and whilst all the boys went to woodworking classes I joined the girls in home science. At the end of my schooling I was lucky to land a chef apprenticeship in a newly opened 5-Star restaurant and so began my career in hospitality. The work was hard and the hours long. We had the so-called split shift – from 9.00am to 3pm and again from 6pm to 10pm, 6 days a week. At the time I didn’t mind and thought it was all very exciting, working with people who had travelled the world with many of them speaking a number of languages. After my apprenticeship, to gain experience, I worked for a number of years as a chef in large hotels across Germany. And then came the Army. Young men were compulsorily drafted for 18 month and after the first three months of basic training I ended up in the kitchen of an artillery unit where we fed 1000 men three times a day. In those days it was just men no women. The Army opened my eyes to the fact that there is life outside of a kitchen and I had met a girl who understood why I was hardly ever at home but would have liked to have me around a bit more.

After military service I worked for another year in a hotel but could see that a professional kitchen is a place for young persons without a family. Meanwhile, I had become a father and something had to change. I decided to go to College and study a Batchelor of Hospitality Management for two years. With my new degree I was then able to gain a job with an Energy Supply Company as an adviser to Hospitality establishments, Bakeries and Butcheries, on how to use electricity efficiently. For the next ten years I had an office in the city of Essen but travelled extensively all over Germany to talk to and advise such establishments. Life was good but “all too boring”. After a holiday in Australia we decided to apply to migrate to this country. It took nearly a year and many hoops to jump through to get the visa.

In June 1982 we arrived in Sydney on a cold and rainy day. This was not the Australia I had in mind. We first stayed in a motel in Hornsby and then searched up and down the North Shore to find a rental property, finally ending up in Berowra of all places. We needed a good size house because all our furniture was arriving soon by sea container. Our son (14) was the first to commence a “normal” life in Australia after we enrolled him at Hornsby High School. In the first year he was bullied a lot because of his German background. He quickly learned how to be a proper little Australian. My wife and I were struggling to find work. We were either over qualified or didn’t have enough Australian experience. My wife was a laboratory technician but in the first year could only find a job in a nursing home as nurse’s aid, doing the night shift before she finally was employed in her field in a laboratory in St. Leonards. I couldn’t find a job in energy management. Energy was cheap in Australia in the 80s and no one thought about recycling or using it more efficiently. I had to fall back on my old trade and became a Sous Chef in the kitchen at the Sheraton Wentworth Hotel in Sydney. After a year there I was approached by a Tafe head teacher whether I would be interested in a position as teacher of commercial cookery at Ryde College of Tafe. In the 80s the government still paid for teacher’s training. So I taught classes 3 days/week and attended Teacher’s College 2 days, completing after 2 years a Bachelor of Education. Till my retirement in 2006 I worked at Ryde College. The 22 years at the college, where, on the whole interesting and a lot of fun despite the odd difficult student. After the breakup of my first marriage I got to know Johanna, who was a colleague at the college and thirty years later we are still happily together. We left the “mad house” that is Sydney in 2016 to end up first in Shell Cove and now in Kiama. We have always liked the South Coast as we have old friends in Kiama and new friends in Shell Cove which is making this change in life a lot easier.